Lost but Gained a Lot More

February 13, 1972. Thirty-eight years ago. It was the first harvest of star apples (locally known as “kaimito”) in that family orchard in Pangasinan. Ellen, a gung-ho 12-year old, climbed a tall tree to get a fruit for her crying brother. She was already reaching for a ripe fruit when the branch she was stepping on broke. On her way down, her left arm got caught in a Y-shaped branch. She pulled her arm then fell down and landed on that arm. It got twisted 180 degrees. It just took 15 seconds… just a blur. But it changed her life totally and entirely. Her mother rushed to her aid. She pulled what she thought was a sharp branch sticking out of her arm above the elbow. It was her broken bone protruding. The injury severed the artery in her arm. Two days later, the surgeon had to amputate the arm to avoid gangrene. (In anger, her grandmother ordered all the “kaimito” trees chopped down.) After the surgery, while her arm was still swollen triple its size and in terrible pain, her mom comforted her with these words, “You are special. You will do things with one hand what all the other girls will do with two hands.”

And she did… and still she is doing it. She peels fruits and veggies, cooks well, washes clothes, irons them and does other two-handed chores. Through her patient, loving encouragement, her husband became a pastor. She takes care of him and their three sons. She loves ministering to women. She leads a small group for young married women, teaches a class in a course for pastors’ wives in the International Graduate School of Leadership and facilitates a Sunday school class for college students and young professionals in the church. She is also an active core member of a national women’s group. She does all these singlehandedly literally. The story of her arm has encouraged countless people. Almost anyone and everyone who would ask what happened to her arm would hear her testimony. The 700 Club has featured her twice. She even wrote articles that got included in two books. That amputated arm is her launching pad for the Gospel.

As you may have guessed it, I’m writing about my wife, Ellen. She lost a limb but gained a lot more in life. She is a living proof of this promise: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness… For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9a, 10b, NIV)

Brethren, our loss can be our gain.

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