Judicel Eslao: I was sitting at my computer. I had five minutes before I needed to log in to Webex for a special gathering to take oath as a youth officer when I got a message from my mom. “Let’s pray for papa. He might be getting a liver transplant today or tomorrow.” I was not prepared for that at all! I didn’t even have time to process it. All I could think to do was pray, but in that moment all I felt was scared.
We first found out my dad was sick when my twin sister, Jonacel, and I were only nine years old. Growing up in the Church, our parents always reminded us [of] the importance of prayer; when to pray, how to pray. Our parents always told us, “Never forget to pray. Even if you feel like you’re not getting an answer, especially if you’re not getting what you asked for, just pray. Because in the end, God is the only One that can help us.”
So when dad got sick, my mom said, “Just pray. The doctors urgently need to find a new liver for him before midnight or else dad will not survive.” I know, at 9 years old, I didn’t fully grasp what was happening, but I was worried and I prayed, “Please God, keep my dad alive.” It didn’t dawn on me that dad might not make it through the night, or that he wouldn’t be there to celebrate my next birthday with me. But that was all I had—a prayer.
Well, dad did get the liver transplant he needed and I would like to end that story with, “he’s stronger than ever and we have no worries anymore!” Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Just thirteen years later, in 2019, his body started rejecting the liver. When we heard the news, it was like 2006 all over again. Without this transplant, he had a less than 50% chance of survival. For the second time in my life, my dad was given a chance of survival rate. This time I understood what that meant or what it could mean for my future. I didn’t want to imagine, a day after receiving bad news, I didn’t want to picture my wedding day without him walking me down the aisle. I didn’t want to visit my mom and then visit a grave with my dad’s name on it. Yeah, that was a little dark. Sorry!
We were scared. But Dad was so strong. He never let his lack of strength keep him from performing his duties. Those were his constant reminders: “Always pray, and perform your duties no matter what.” So that’s what we did. We prayed, always hopeful, always trusting that whatever happens is God’s will for our family.
So, we asked our minister for advice. He suggested that we write to the Church Administration to let them know about my dad’s health. And all I could think was, “We can do that? He’s so busy! Does he have time for this?” Once again, we asked for God to guide us in what to say. We wrote the letter and sent it.
A few days later the minister called us back and told us, “The Executive Minister would like to meet you and your family.” The words replayed in my head and I felt my heart racing. The Executive Minister wants to meet us! He would pray to God on our behalf. You know those times when you feel shocked and amazed? Well, this was one of those times. Shocked because we received a response, and amazed at how God answers our prayers. I felt beyond blessed that day and extremely humbled.
We knew that God was showing us His love through the Church Administration, through the prayer he said for us. In the following days, when my dad went in for his check-ups, to the surprise of the doctors, my dad would be a little stronger than the last despite his need for a second transplant.
We waited 17 months. And on the day the Executive Minister celebrated his 10th year as our leader, God answered another prayer for us.
Needless to say, mom’s text telling us to pray for dad to have a successful surgery was definitely answered. In September 2020, my dad received his second liver transplant. Still alive and kicking, and reminding us to always pray and perform our duties no matter what.
Prayer works! Not a theory, it’s fact. When you have an experience to practice the actual theory on, it becomes proof. I am who I am today because of how our parents taught us to value the power of prayer.
As for my fears, all the moments that I might have imagined without my dad are very different. It’s my dad blowing out his candles on his next birthday. It’s him walking me down the aisle when the time comes. It’s me and my sister visiting them, and my dad telling my mom how pretty she is even in her pajamas.
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