A Missionary Receives the Gift of Sight
David Hall is an American who has worked as a volunteer missionary in the Philippines for many years. In 2014, he lost his sight to cataracts. He sought treatment from a SEE clinic in October 2014.
I am an American. My father spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force and he had the wisdom to utilize his tour of duty to introduce us to distant lands and cultures. He instilled in us a desire to travel and learn. His last duty station was Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio. He was born in a small farming community near Youngstown, Ohio, so it was a logistical move to be closer to our relatives. My grandparents and my favorite uncle were farmers. My brother and I spent many summers on their dairy farm milking cows, baling hay and picking apples; my uncle also had an orchard on his property. My cousins had breeding-stock sheep and we traveled the county fair route showing those sheep in contests. It was a great experience for two boys who spent most of their early years on military bases.
Later in life, my parents divorced and remarried. My stepfather was a talented musician from the Philippines and a band director for Holland America Cruise Lines. During my mother’s first cruise she met him and they communicated over the course of several months. At his invitation she returned for two additional cruises; it became a “Love Boat” story. On her last cruise they married in Barbados. He was a kind and loving man that taught me about family.
In 1987 the travel bug bit me and I desired to meet my Filipino brothers and sisters. My stepfather’s wife had passed away years before and he worked to meet the needs of his children born during the years she was alive. At the time I was raising my two sons myself as a solo parent. Following my father’s footsteps, I wanted to introduce my sons to distant lands and cultures. We spent an entire summer in the Philippines. I remember boarding the airplane for our return flight and saying to myself, “I will return.” It took 25 years, but I fulfilled that promise.
During those years, before I returned to the Philippines, a great deal of water passed beneath my bridge of life. All of those life-changing events were to prepare me for that eventual return to the country where my heart resided. The ministry was the key factor that directed my path. Over the years I would sit in church and listen to the presentations by visiting missionaries. After listening to those missionaries my spirit was always stirred and I surrendered to every ministry opportunity that was available to me.
I was a pastor and an evangelist. As an evangelist, I worked and supported my travels with income derived from trucking. This follows the example of the Apostle Paul, who was a tent maker and also worked to support himself. I bought a small, custom-built truck, designed to carry expedited freight. It also doubled as my living quarters when the truck was empty. During the course of several years, I traveled to 48 states, preaching, teaching and working as I went from church to church.
I also had a heart’s desire to be a blessing to the truckers who were unable to attend traditional places of worship because church parking areas were not designed to handle semi tractor trailer units. These men and women were always forced to stay within the confines of truck stops. But thank God for Truck Stop Ministries! A kind man started that ministry years ago. He got companies to donate 40 foot shipping containers and converted them into chapels that were placed at truck stops all across the nation. By the grace of God I was able to preach in these chapels.
During the winter months I would run the southern states to avoid the cold. I was on a long run from Calexico, California to Huntsville, Alabama. As I journeyed though the desert in the stillness of the night I began to hear that small, still voice inside saying, “It is time to go.” What? I began to think out loud, “I have very little reserve income, I will not be permitted to work in the Philippines, my business is doing well, it would be 2 years before I could collect Social Security, my children and grandchildren will miss me and considering the economy no one will buy my trucking business.” The small, still voice persisted.
Oddly enough, I soon found myself in Miami, Florida. While sitting in a coffee shop and reviewing available freight offers, I saw a load going from the airport to a Naval Base on Key West. Nobody goes to Key West because there is no return freight to justify the trip back to those areas where available loads could be found. I immediately calculated the distance from my position to the airport, then to the delivery point and the distance back to where I was currently parked. I submitted a bid for all miles paid. I thought to myself, “They will never award that bid to me at that rate.” My cellphone rang, the dispatcher said, “I will send you the Bill of Lading for that load.” Wow! Oh, ye of little faith.
As I traveled down the bridges and causeways the ocean and warm breezes brought solace to my soul. After unloading the single pallet of freight in Key West, I gingerly made my way back toward Miami; stopping for days on different Keys. I felt drawn to the island life; I became one with the environment.
A few weeks later I was in Corpus Christi, Texas. I drove out to Padre Island National Park. I was able to drive the truck right onto the shore and parked about 6 feet from the water. As I sat and listened to the waves, that small, still voice began speaking once again. I prayed, “Lord, if I am supposed to go back to the Philippines, then You will have to find a buyer for Your truck.” Later that day, I posted my truck for sale on a website for those who are in the expedited freight business. About 7 days later a man in Ohio contacted me and promised to buy the truck….the rest is history.
I have never followed the traditional denominational route of visiting churches and presenting my burden regarding the Philippines; a process commonly known as deputation. The scriptures do not tell us that this was the way of missionaries during the time of the Apostles. So why would I do something that cannot be found within the pages of the scriptures that I believe? Many years ago I read a story about the life of George Muller. He had done great work for the orphans in England during the 1800’s. Muller never made the needs of the orphanages known to any person, but only to God. He never asked for financial support; trusting all to the providence of God. The orphans never went hungry.
I have followed the same pattern as Muller. To date, God has met every need and I have never asked for a penny from any church. My only income is a monthly Social Security benefit of $1,068.00. God has amplified that small amount and met every need. God has also put me in contact with printing ministries that have shipped Bibles to me for distribution to those who have requested them. I still preach at conferences and have made two trips to Malaysia to be a blessing to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW’s), as I remember the sadness of my stepfather who also had to work outside of his home country to support his children.
In September, I had made a trip to the Bureau of Immigration in Manila. Strangely enough, the office was adjacent to a satellite location of Medical City. My helper inquired at Medical City as to the projected cost of cataract surgery. I had determined in my mind that it was time to correct my vision problem, but as a volunteer missionary my only challenge was to save enough money to proceed with the surgery. Barring any unforeseen expenditures it was my hope to have the procedure sometime in the first or second quarter of 2015.
When I returned to Palawan, I began to pray for guidance. Previously, I had assisted in medical missions here on Palawan and I began to wonder if it would be possible for me to be the recipient of such services. It was then that I sat down in front of the computer and did a simple search. The very first listing was SEE International. As I looked at the itinerary for the teams, I could only find one scheduled mission here in the Philippines; it was Candon City on October 26th. It was already late September and my hopes began to wain. It seemed impossible to make the necessary arrangements in the short period of time before their arrival.
I found the email address on the SEE International website and sent a message that explained my situation. Much to my surprise, Rachel responded to that inquiry in short order. She told me the team would be able to see me in Candon City. Immediately, I made arrangements to fly to Manila.
I went to the Candon City Hospital Sunday morning, as Rachel had instructed. Before the team arrived the local hospital physician spoke with me and he did not think they would do the procedure because he, as a hospital physician, would have required several tests. I explained that I had also been a nurse and this procedure was not extremely invasive as the incision was not being made into subcutaneous tissue and the anesthesia was a local. After we talked he said that he would leave the decision up to Dr. Westfield. When the team arrived, I explained the status of my health and my understanding of those medical conditions that might have posed a risk. Dr. Westfield said, “Well, let’s have a look at you and we will discuss our options.”
Words cannot even begin to describe the kindness afforded to me by Dr.Westfield and the team. Originally, they had planned to begin the procedures on Monday. I explained my situation as I was assuming they would begin on Sunday and I had already booked my flight back to Palawan for Tuesday. Performing the procedure on Monday would have caused me to forfeit the airfare for myself and the helper that traveled with me.
By the grace of God they performed only one procedure shortly after they arrived. Yes, they repaired my cataract via pharmomuscification on Sunday. I returned Monday morning for a follow up exam and they agreed I was good to go.
On the 8+hour return bus ride to the airport I actually marveled at how well I could see things again. The equilibrium of vision also improved my ability to walk normally again. Before, having one eye out of focus, my gait was at times unsteady.
Now, almost one month later I continue to progress in the healing process. I have an appointment to visit a local ophthalmologist for follow up exam. I will also be getting a new pair of glasses.
Thank you to SEE International for restoring my sight. Your generosity has allowed me to return to the missionary work that God has called me to do in the Philippines.