I was recently in a terrible auto accident and many of you have probably seen the many updates about it. I wanted to write a complete account of what happened and what God has been teaching me through this process. During this experience we were reading from Romans 8 and we stumbled upon this verse:
Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.Romans 8:11
This verse has taken on new meaning through this experience because I feel God has brought me back to life after the accident and I am certain it’s the Spirit living in me that was able to restore my life.
The auto accident happened in Hermiston, Oregon. To understand what we were doing in Hermiston, we must go to the beginning of our family vacation to Oregon. My wife and I and our 4 children were on a road trip where we planed to visit our relatives in Oregon as well as the Pacific ocean. This was supposed to be the last time we would be able to visit our family in Oregon before we followed God’s call to Romania this summer. We were also planning on speaking at a few churches and raising prayer support and financial support if people felt led. The trip did not start off well. Our minivan, which had over 270,000 miles on it, began to overheat when we were going through the Blue Mountains on I-84. Since we were planning on moving to Romania, we didn’t want to spend money on getting a different vehicle. In spite of my best efforts to keep our van going, we ended up getting a tow truck to take us to Pendleton, Oregon.
It was very late when we got to Pendleton, so we decided to get a motel. I chose a motel that seemed to have decent reviews and a good rate. Unfortunately, after we were dropped off at the motel, we found out that it was nothing like what it had seemed online. It turned out to be the worst motel or hotel my wife and I had ever stayed at and if we had had a vehicle, we would have left and found somewhere else to stay. In the morning, we found a van we could rent from Enterprise rent-a-car in the nearby town of Hermiston, Oregon. We planned on using this rental van for the remainder of our trip and returning it to our hometown in Nampa, Idaho. After a mechanic checked out our overheating van, he said it could make it to Hermiston but not much further. So we drove the old van to Hermiston, got the rental van, and loaded all our stuff into it. We were then able to continue our trip with no further auto incidents until we started coming home.
We had a great visit with the family and we got to visit Seaside, Oregon, which was unusually crowded, but still pleasant. I was able to speak at 2 churches and share how God had called our family to Romania. We were blessed by everyone’s response. We were also fortunate to spend time with several friends in Western Oregon.
We were worried about what to do with our broken van which we had left in Hermiston. We eventually found someone who would purchase our old van for scrap even though we didn’t have the title with us. So we arranged on our way back home to stop in Hermiston and make the transaction.
We were able to sell our old van for what I thought was a fair price. After we finished all the paperwork, we were pulling out of the parking lot turning left onto the highway when a pickup truck came out of nowhere and T-boned our rental van.
I was driving, my wife and 4 children were in the van with me when the accident occurred. It is likely the truck that hit us was speeding at 55 MPH in a 45 MPH zone. I have a vague memory of seeing a pickup truck before I pulled out but thinking it was far enough away I would be able to cross traffic without a problem.
I have no memory of the collision itself as I was knocked unconscious for nearly 48 hours. My wife was also knocked unconscious for a while and remembers waking up to one of our children saying, “Yay, the ambulance is here!” All of our children were saved from serious harm, except our oldest son, who suffered from a fractured arm because he was sitting directly behind me. My wife received a traumatic brain injury, a small laceration on the top of her head, broken ribs, and 3 pelvic fractures on the left side. I received a traumatic brain injury, multiple facial fractures, a fractured jaw and 4 broken teeth.
I was life-flighted to a Portland hospital because I was in critical condition. I spent 2 days in the ICU before going into surgery. I remember going in and out of consciousness like waking up from a nightmare. I couldn’t talk because of a breathing tube that was in my mouth, but I was concerned about my family so I pointed to my wedding ring to ask how my family was and the nurses assured me they were alright.
During the surgery they reconstructed my face with several bolts and plates on my nose and under my eye sockets, as well as several bolts and wires in my mouth holding my teeth and jaw together. I was so grateful for all the nurses and doctors taking care of me during this time as I could do almost nothing for myself. I lost about 15 pounds during the recovery at the hospital which took 10 days. I am on a pureed diet, which was difficult at first because my lips were not working properly, but now I am able to eat without dribbling everywhere.
My wife was also life-flighted to the same hospital because of fetal distress. Yes, she is pregnant with our 5th child. She was able to actually enjoy the helicopter ride because she was conscious by then and aware of what was going on. I was very happy when she was able to visit me 2 days after my surgery. We both spent 10 days in the hospital and were discharged at the same time for rehab. Unfortunately, we were on different floors at the hospital but still managed to see each other most days. I’ll let my wife write about our adventures in rehab in a different post.
I know that it was God’s hand which preserved my life and all of my family through this accident. When I spoke to the police officer who was at the scene over the phone a few days after surgery, he was very surprised to be able to speak to me. He had expected me to either be dead or have such a severe brain injury I wouldn’t be able to have a conversation. I am grateful that God preserved my life, and my brain, as well as my family! It is a complete miracle that my pregnant wife did not loose the baby when her pelvis was fractured!
I know God heard the prayers of the hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who were praying for us. I am grateful for each of you who prayed for our safety and recovery. God is faithful and will answer any prayer that brings him glory.
I learned later that while we were unconscious in the front of the van, our children cried and panicked at first then unbuckled each other and tried to get out of the van. The doors were jammed so they immediately started praying and prayed until the EMTs arrived. I am confident that if our children can respond in this way in such a traumatic situation they are prepared to handle any situation they may meet on the mission field.
During my stay in the hospital I had difficulty sleeping at night which is a common symptom of a traumatic brain injury so I asked my nurse to read to me from the Gideon bible. I asked her to read from the book of Job, and she read the first few chapters. In the first chapter Job looses all of his wealth and all his children are killed. Then the Devil comes back to God and says, “Skin for skin! A man will give all he has for his own life. But now stretch out your hand and strike his flesh and bones, and he will surely curse you to your face.” I realized then that the devil was wrong! Of course, this is nothing new, but in this case the devil was saying it’s easier to bear loosing one’s wealth and children than it is to bear physical pain and affliction. For me I would much rather bear the pain and injuries I sustained in the accident than for any of my children to have perished. I was is in the position of the van which took the brunt of the impact and I would not have had it any other way. I love my wife and children more than my own body and thank the Lord everyday that they are all still with us.
I know it will be a slow road to complete restoration of my brain. I am very sensitive to light right now, and I have difficulty using a laptop or smart phone. During the recovery in the hospital I feel like I was brought back to life because each day I felt significantly better than the one before. I am confident I will be able to make a complete recovery and my mind will be sharp again.
After 23 days of recovering in Portland I am finally back home in Idaho with my children. It was hard for us to be away from them and hard for the children to be away from us. I am fortunate to have kind and loving parents who were able to take care of their grand-children while we were recovering. What a huge blessing!
What I have learned through this event is that when you are on the right track and following God’s plan for your life the devil likes to through difficulties and stumbling blocks at you but what the devil intended for evil God can use for good. I know for certain that God is using these circumstances for his glory. I have been able to share our testimony of this miracle with countless nurses and medical staff already. I just posted the whole story in a blog that everyone at my work sees and many co-workers have sent their prayers our way.
We are still looking forward to moving to Romania after the baby is born and we are fully recovered. Our current plan is to move the end of February 2021. I know God has something special in store for us in Romania and I can’t wait to find out what it is.