Monday, January 28, 2008

Got my passport and tickets, leaving tonight

Thank God, I've got my passport and my tickets. I leave tonight from LAX and will arrive on Wednesday early morning, I belive (not sure).

This is going to hit us hard financially. It will cost about $1200 just getting there between the ticket ($970) and all the fees and taxes. Once there, I only have until Monday (USA time) of paid days off, and after that I am on unpaid leave. I won't get paid from church (I'm a contractor, not an employee) and I won't be doing any side jobs. So, it's a lot more money out and less money in. Well, God will take care of that, too, and I will do what I can when I get back. That also means I will probably be back by next Wednesday.

I've left a message for Veteran Affairs, but they have not called back yet. A review of their web site seems to indicate that my mother is elligible for annual monetary benefits. There is also some form of medical benefit, too. I would have to make up the shortfall, and I still think it would be easier here instead of there. But, I will have to talk with mom and assess the situation when I get there.

Please pray for safe travel and successful entry into Taiwan. I will need wisdom and discernment in reviewing my mom's situation. When the right course is apparent, I will need cooperation from my mother. Please also pray for God's provision and protection over Cathy while I am away. And, please thank Him for providing the means to go today.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

My father died; how will I care for my mother?

My father died this morning, about 11:30 AM California time (3:30 AM in Taiwan).

I was praying that we could make arrangements to take care of my mother, but I'm on my own for that, now. The hospital opens at 7:00 AM and I can get a death certificate, then my emergency passport, then get on a plane to Taiwan.

My father was a great father to me. I will miss him very, very much, and look forward to seeing him again in heaven very, very much.

Here is what I am praying for now. That I can get to Taiwan and help make arrangements to move my mother stateside, and get my father's military benefits applied to my mom. I want honor my mother while she lives. She is relatively young at 57. I don't think I can support her remotely, so I'll need to move her here. But more will become clear when I get there, and after we've made a few calls about how military benefits apply.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

A specific prayer request, and notes for me

Prayer Request:
Here is what I am praying for now. I am praying that my father will recover, that I can get to Taiwan and help make arrangements to move my parents stateside, and get my father military medical care. During that, I want to work with my father to arrange for his benefits to apply to mom after he dies. And I want honor my father and mother while they live, to take care of them.

When my father was admitted this week, my mother attempted to contact me but had lost my phone number; my dad usually tracks these things. She did find my email address and asked a friend to contact me via email. Today, my mom found my cell phone number and called me. I promised to call her back, and mom went to the hospital to see dad.

My father's been in the hospital since Thursday or Friday (Taiwan) evening. My mom says he has been unconscious for two or three days. My mother is very distraught, and I think she is quite scared. Mom wants me to be there as soon as I can. I'll need a ticket right away.

I called Ruby, my sister-in-law. She calls two or three times a month, so she's got more current information, but was not aware this yet. My father has been sick for some time now. Dad has fought tuberculosis several times in his life, and it has occurred again. He's also had pneumonia for almost two months, with difficulty breathing and much coughing. He's been weak during this illness and been to the hospital several times. She'll update my other brothers.

Ruby says my parents did receive my letters and cards, but have not been feeling well enough to respond. My previous phone calls were unpleasant, so I simply quit calling. They couldn't write back, and I wouldn't call, so I did not know any of this. *sigh*

As soon as I hung up the phone with my mom I realized I would need a ticket. Then it struck me that I would need a passport, and mine had expired in 2005. You can call the Department of State at 202-647-4000 for an emergency passport, but the operator told me the after hours passport duty officer was swamped and would probably have to call me back. Also, the duty officer would probably need the hospital to fax over proof. I left a message and it's been five hours so far...

I already called my boss and made other arrangements for my duties at church...

I checked all my email addresses. I found the email in my Yahoo! spam box. I found the email her friend sent, and traded instant messages with. His name is San.

The situation is poor, and the doctor indicated that my father could die at any time. The chances that my father will recover is less than 15%. He is at the 林口長庚醫院 (Lin Ko Hospital). I saw a link for 長庚 and found the address, 桃園縣龜山鄉復興街5號. So, now I have a phone number and fax number for the hospital.

As soon as I get my passport, I will get tickets, and then go. I don't know how long emergency passports take, but I haven't heard from the duty officer yet. Cathy packed a bag for me, and told her dad's church in Georgia.

I messaged a couple of friends for prayer support, and Wallance gave me her calling card number to save me money. I got a call from my mom and updated her, specifically the need for a passport. She kinda lost it on the phone and told me what a rotten son I've been again, but I just let her yell it out; she's stressed.

I then emailed all my friends, blogged it, called my church prayer chain, and stopped to pray by myself. I didn't know what to pray for. But, after praying, it did occur to me that I need to take care of my mom, and I don't know how that will work. I called Ruby again, and she doesn't know if dad has a will, either. *sigh*

I know the Air Force will transport him for medical care. I think the Air Force will also transfer caskets, too, but only as far as U.S. soil. I don't know how my father's retirement benefits could be transferred to his widow, and how to arrange for my mom to have access to dad's bank account.

Here is what I am praying for now. I am praying that my father will recover, that I can get to Taiwan and help make arrangements to move my parents stateside, and get my father military medical care. During that, I want to work with my father to arrange for his benefits to apply to mom after he dies. And I want honor my father and mother while they live, to take care of them.

My father is dying

My mom called about 6:45, and my father is in the hospital. They live in Taiwan. He's been unconscious since Friday. He is 72.

The doctors say he has a 15% of living through the night.

My passport expired, so I am trying to get an emergency one. Then I'll need to get a ticket and fly out there. Cathy packed my bag already.

I haven't had time to worry, but I figure that I will break down when I run out of things to do. Please pray. That's what I'm doing now.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Cathy's dad is healed! No more cancer!

Wow! Got a call from Cathy at 12:45. She just got off the phone with her dad's, and the doctors have declared him healed!

As you may recall, Cathy's dad had cancer. Back in August Al found out he had lung cancer, which then spread. The chemo seemed to shrink the tumor, but they had to discontinue treatment due to complications with side effects. Al almost died, made a miraculous recovery (and the hospital staff nicknamed him the "miracle man"). Then a spot appeared on his brain, which disappeared but was replaced by another one. The doctors decided to wait to give him time to become stronger for more treatment as his heart was having troubles.

Now, there's no trace of the cancer, none at all! The doctors say that the only thing left of the cancer is the scar tissue in his lungs. Al's heart is reportedly back to normal. Wow.

God is good, all the time. Praise Him! :-)

Palm Desktop for Vista out of beta

Finally, almost a year (11.5 months) after Vista was released, Palm has finally released Palm Desktop 6.2 for Windows Vista. The beta has been out for about five months (as I posted in August). This update is not Vista-only, but extends support to Vista and Outlook 2007.

According to LifeHacker, there are some limitations:
  • Birthdays and anniversaries will not show up in the Desktop client.
  • VersaMail Hotsyncing is no longer supported.
  • Color coding of Calendar events is no longer supported.
  • Many older Palm devices including the Treo 650 and T5 are no longer officially supported, although some devices may work to some degree.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

I hate having to keep money in a bank

A little bit of whining: I hate how, if you deposit a check one one day, the bank considers the funds "pending" for a day or more. But if you spend a penny (literally!) over you balance, they'll instantly charge you a $23 overdraft fee. That's right, overdrafts and fees are never pending, but they'll hold your direct deposit hostage.

Anybody got a good suggestion for a California bank?

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Georgia Demographics and Health Care

Most of you know that I want to move to Georgia and work along side Cathy's dad at church and in the community. The idea is to do this outside of my day job hours... but who knows, maybe I'll win the lottery (I should buy a ticket).

CiteHealth offer a lot of information in one place. It's supposed to be about free information on health care providers, but I found a lot of demographics data about Georgia and a whole lot of other states. Since my father-in-law's church ministers to people who had drug and alcohol problems, it was interesting to see that there are no rehab centers near him. Who knows, maybe CiteHealth doesn't have a complete list.

According to them, Georgia only has 3.6% of the workforce in IT jobs... so maybe if I move I can find a decent job (still hoping for that transfer, though).

Oh, and get this: they give you a Starbucks card for linking back to them about their Health Care Reports. Since I am posting this anyway, I'm getting Cathy some coffee!

Monday, January 07, 2008

God is good, even though leaking pipes are bad

The weekend was ugly, I must admit. However, having called Adee Plumbing on Friday, they sent out a plumber who found the leak, rented a small jack hammer, found the leak (update: there were two, next to each other) and fixed it. The concrete should be about dry now, so I'll be going by tonight to cut off a section of water-damaged drywall.

Fortunately, the carpet survived as it was not wet for long. Cathy's got a repair and cleaning place coming tomorrow morning, so the folks in #2 will be able to let their toddler run around again.

Although the ordeal will cost us upwards of $2,500 it is a blessing that Adee Plumbing is extending us financing options. Thank God!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

James 1:1-8 and Plumbing

I had to comfort my stressed-out wife last night, hugging her in the laundry room, when I realized that she was being strong, but at the end of her strength. It is painful to me, as a man, to hold my God-given woman in my arms as she cries. I did my best to reassure her, as much as I was reassuring myself, that God is good and faithful, and He would take care of this, one way or another.

After shutting off the hot water (thank God we still had cold water!), I took Cathy out to dinner just to get away for a bit. We informed the tenants and made arrangements for plumbers the next day.

So, like I said, I read James chapter 1 last night, and I did devotions from it this morning. The verses most people focus on are James 1:2-4...
“Consider it nothing but joy when you fall into all sorts of trials, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect effect, so that you will be perfect and compete, not deficient in anything.”
James 1:2-4 (NET)
Reading on, we are told to ask for wisdom:
But if anyone is deficient in wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed around by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a double-minded individual, unstable in all his ways.
James 1:5-8 (NET)
How do I proceed? What must I do next? I do not know how to handle this difficult circumstance, but God does. The key to a proper response to difficult circumstances is a proper response to God; we must trust God full, giving Him our undivided devotion and total dependence.

It was thus that I had my faith in God reinforced at the beginning of this day, a day I was planning on taking a cold shower. The plumber is here, now, so we'll see what the financial damage will be. However, these days will only push me willingly closer to my our God and to trust Him more.

Friday, January 04, 2008

What, another slab leak?

Just after Christmas, Carrie in #2 told me that she hears water running in her tub, and the floor is hot. I looked at the crawlspace under the tub, couldn't find any leaks, but tried to listen as closely as I could for the source. It sounded to me like it was coming from the wall. I worried that I would have to take apart the drywall to fix a leaky shower pipe, but could find no evidence of water.

That's when I began to worry... another slab leak?

After failing to shut off the water at the base of the tub (old valve, won't turn without a ratchet), I figured it may just be a faulty shower valve. I resolved to fix it after the new year, and just pay a higher water bill.

Well, Carrie from #2 just called and said that, this morning, she felt a wet spot on the carpet and thought her cat threw up. Now, the carpet is soaked and water is definitely coming from somewhere! *sigh*

Cathy's on her way home, and I'm calling a plumber now. We'll see what's next... probably an expensive re-pipe that I don't have the money for.

Update 1: It is hot/warm water, so at least we won't be completely without. However, I am not looking forward to a week of cold showers (while we get it repiped).

Update 2: Cathy found the spot it is coming out of the carpet, so it is a confirmed slab leak. Crud.