Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Walk by faith, not by sight

My papabuelo handed me a book called "Supernatural Healing" by Sid Roth and Linda Josef and asked that I read it. It's a book that highlights the power of faith and its ability to heal.  The entire book consists of testimonies from people suffering from different ailments (Lupus, cancer, paralysis, etc)  or simply those who had lost their way ( one story told of a wealthy drug lord who one day overdosed and nearly died) and how through faith in God they recovered. Some completely recovered from cancer, and not even doctors could explain how it was possible. It was just a miracle. Even more interesting was how a couple stories revolved around doctors who realized the power of believing (one doctor was told that his unborn daughter would be born without half a brain, rendering her mentally challenged. Through faith and prayer, his daughter came into this world as a healthy child). Not all initially believed in God, but later realized the saving grace of believing.

When I first started reading the book, I was a bit skeptical. Honestly, it wasn't my kind of book. Despite attending 10 years of Catholic school and being raised as a Christian ( even though we never go to church, the faith is in our hearts), I had read plenty enough to know the various interpretations of the bible as well as criticisms. In college I learned more about the bible's  historical background and studied the bible as a piece of literature. I had seen many documentaries that simply led me to alter my perception of the bible and religion in general.

Some believe they are healed through the Holy Spirit. Often I have read of the power of  Qi (Chi) and its healing properties. I have  read about and  seen many miraculous encounters in documentaries, books, and in my life. There is no denying that many miracles have occurred.  Maybe it's the power of the mind, a higher power, our energy, deep faith, but whatever it may be, it intrigues me and it exists.

The book harbors sentimental value to me because after I finished reading it and told my papabuelo, he told me, "That book saved my life." Although I didn't say much in response, I couldn't help but take to heart what he told me.  As someone who suffered from kidney cancer  a couple years ago which left him with one kidney, it terrified the family when this year cysts were found on his remaining kidney. Constantly he told us that he was ready to go "home."  So often I laughed aside what he said, scolded him even. I told him that he was going to be okay (as I always do, because I truly believe so). Looking at the scans with him, I admit that a part of me was fearful, but I wouldn't show it. Someone had to be strong. Prior to visiting the doctor, he read that book.When he visited his doctor, he was told he would have to be monitored for half a year, but that he looked fine. What he said to me clicked once more, "That book saved my life." Those words meant so much to me because it was coming from someone who had lost faith. The one who wanted to give up and go home. The one who told me he was going to heaven. Suddenly, he had regained faith. That's why that book is important to me.

Even more recently, my aunt's friend was diagnosed with cancer. She was undergoing dialysis due to kidney failure. My aunt gave her the book to read. She called my aunt and told her she is cancer free (I found out today that she's cancer free, but I'm not exactly sure when she told me aunt). There's something about faith that keeps us going. When you believe in something, when you have something to live for, then even the impossible is possible.

A cousin of mine shared a very touching story with  me, but which I won't disclose. It was a beautiful story that allowed her daughter a chance to live. Truly there is something beyond complete comprehension at works out in the universe and in us.

Never lose faith...Believe in something...Live for something...but never ever give up

Friday, June 24, 2011

There's no sense in giving to a black hole

I came up with that quote during a discussion with a friend regarding selflessness. A black hole is an empty void that pulls in all light and all that enters it (planets, stars, etc), and nothing can escape from it. Now imagine continually making sacrifices for someone to the point that you lose yourself. Never be so selfless that you become a self less (or less than yourself). Now imagine that this person is apathetic and shows little appreciation for the sacrifices made. I explained to my friend that there's a point where you have to stop and realize that as sweet and thoughtful as it may be to harbor that level of consideration for anyone, there are some people who simply take it for granted and people who, quite frankly, don't deserve it.

When you make a sacrifice, you're not doing so with the hope that the other person will kiss your feet and shower you with praise, but you'll just have to be careful of who you choose to be selfless with. It's a terrible sensation to constantly give to someone who is selfish, to someone who sucks out all (correction, who pulls out) the light in you, leaving you feeling empty and insubstantial. At some point, you'll realize that your sacrifices have all been in vain.

So, like I said, there's no sense in giving to a black hole.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Congo: 'The Worst Place on Earth for Women"

"Congo’s child death rate is twice that of sub-Saharan Africa, which is already the highest in the world. Fifteen hundred people continue to die every day as a result of the war. In fact, less than one-half of one percent of the war-related deaths in Congo are violent. The vast majority of the deaths are due to the war’s aftershocks, primarily easily curable illnesses. Almost half of the deaths are children under the age of five." - Lisa Shannon

In 2005, Lisa Shannon is shocked after watching an episode on Oprah about Congo. Determined to make a difference, she runs 30 miles to raise money for Congolese women and begins the movement, Run for Congo Women. She leaves everything behind, (her fiancĂ©, job, house, family) to help Congolese women. She truly is a munificent woman  that has touched the hearts of many and is beloved to Congolese women.

So I read "A Thousand Sisters" by Lisa Shannon that details her courageous journey into Congo to help women who suffer from the various atrocities committed by rivaling militias that raid villages indiscriminately killing women, children (even babies), and men, burn down houses, loot the villages, and rape a majority of the women (to the point that one individual in the book said rape was cultural).

“You don’t consider rape a security threat for returning refugees?”

"Rape here is so common,” she says. “It's cultural. 

Truly the barbarity that occurs in Congo are appalling.  In Shannon's account, one woman, Generose, saw her husband shot to death, had her leg chopped off with a machete, and saw her son refuse to eat a piece of her and he was, thus, shot. There are many horrors permeating throughout their lives, and yet...

Despite all the crimes committed against them, despite all their losses, despite all their fears,  they manage to forge a community filled with love. Many women, although they have nothing, still take in orphaned children and try their best to care for them.  They push forward and make the most of what they have,  share what little they possess,  and value what matters most: one another.

Please watch this short video. It's remarkable.

Also visit:

On the site, you can learn more about the sisters, a bit about the history of what's transpiring in Congo, about what you can do to help, read news articles, and even read her blog! Definitely check it out.

Note: I had some amazing quotes I hoped to shared but since my kindle is now defective, apparently none of my highlights registered online (wonderful). In any case, please check out her book. It truly is inspirational.

"Congo is one of my favorite places on Earth. You have the worst of humanity, and the best of humanity." -Zainab Salbi, Women for Women International Founder

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Bon Appetit?

While watching a BBC documentary discussing the Kombai's unique treehouse building skills, they also mentioned that the tribe, at times, they eat sago grubs. I. then, recalled watching a show, of which the name escapes me, where the host tastes various exotic foods from around the world. Here are some that I've read about and wondered if I would ever eat. Would you?

1. Sago Grubs- These juicy and plump grubs-- a delicacy in some regions, such as Papua New Guinea (location of the Kombai tribe) and Malaysia (where sago grubs can be found nicely packaged)--are found in the rotten trunk of the sago palm. They are in the larva stage of the Red Palm Weevil. If eaten raw, it is recommended that you bite the head off first (the dark area of the grub) because they have teeth. They become a bit feisty if you touch their head and can bite you. However, you may also enjoy them slow-roasted over a warm fire or fried. Apparently, they taste like crab, but some say they are slimy and a bit salty.

2. Maggot Cheese (Casu Marzu, formaggio marcio)- Who loves Italian food? I do! But would you try this? If you want to enhance the flavor of cheese (because the maggots release an enzyme that helps the cheese ferment),  try adding some maggots into the mix. Maggot Cheese is quite popular, and illegal, in Sardinia, Italy.The recipe is quite simple. Place the cheese, made of sheep's milk, to rot in the hot sun, and then allow insects to lay their eggs. You'll know it's ready once it is covered with lots of maggots. These little guys soften the cheese. You can remove the maggots or enjoy this delicacy with some extra nutrition!  Warning: If you choose to eat with maggots, maggots may try to jump in your eyes so it is recommended that you cover your eyes. Also, be mindful that the maggots live in the cheese and so will also defecate in it...just some food for thought :) If the maggots are dead, then it should not be consumed as it is dangerous and toxic.

3. Baby Mice Wine -  When I read " A Hundred Secret Senses" by Amy Tan I recall her mentioning baby mice wine as well as balut (fertilized duck embryo). The wine, typically found in Korea and China, is so fresh that actual baby mice lie, visibly, at the bottom of the bottle for your viewing pleasure.  Newly born mice (no more than 3 days old) are torn away from their mother's teat, drowned in rice wine, and left to ferment for about a year. Some say it tastes like gasoline. It is believed to have healing properties, possibly curing liver problems and asthma issues. Warning: You may swallow a mouse.

4. Balut ( Fertilized Duck Egg)

Who doesn't yearn to one day try an almost fully developed embryo? Apparently, this dish--popular mostly in Asia--is very delicious and is believed to be an aphrodisiac. In order for the fetus to develop, it's essential to keep the eggs warm. For this reason, the eggs are placed in the sun to absorb heat and then transferred to baskets to keep the eggs warm.  About 9 days later the embryo is revealed upon shining a light on the egg, meaning that in 8 days it will be ready to be boiled  and consumed. Enjoy the feathery goodness of soft-boiled duck fetus.

5. Codfish Sperm

First of all, I have to admit that I am glad to know that we can eat almost anything and survive. The creamy texture of the codfish sperm dish melts in your mouth. It is believed that it boosts one's stamina. There are plenty of photos that show that it can be prepared in a manner that looks appetizing. Dismiss the brain-like appearance, because it is is a delicacy in some parts of Asia, and you might actually enjoy it. Don't knock it until you've tried it, right?

6. Goliath Tarantulas-

So I'm not fond of spiders, and even less so of tarantulas. When I saw a couple of Venezuelan kids hunt for goliath tarantulas-- the largest of all spiders-- simply bend back their legs and roast them over a fire for dinner, I was pretty impressed. Not only are these spiders the most poisonous, they also have large fangs and they shoot out hairs that irritate the skin by causing a stinging sensation. According to the BBC documentary on jungles, they taste like crab.