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Garys February Coin of the Month



Februarys Coin of the Month is not rare; it has a mintage of 664,833,000. It is not made of silver or gold; it has a bi-metallic composition of stainless steel with an outer ring of bronze plated steel. This coin is not old; it has a date of 2008. This coin is not valuable; you can buy one on EBay for a dollar.

In fact, it is unlikely this coin will ever be more valuable than the cost of NGC encapsulation. Nevertheless, I consider this coin priceless for the memories it represents.

Februarys Coin of the Month is an NGC MS-64 Brazil 1 Real coin I plucked out of circulation on a 10-day mission trip to Sao Paulo, Brazil five years ago in January. Although I have researched the coin's allegory (Effigy of the Republic), this coin is more about my personal testimony than about anything else. Thus, in this months column I intend to chronicle the events of those 10 days rather than the coins description and historical context. By the time you finish reading my testimonial, you will know why this coin is so important to me.

My wife and I as part of a 10-member team departed from Chicago via Toronto for Sao Paulo, Brazil intending to minister to orphan children. Our host family in Brazil was members of our church 10 years prior before they themselves became missionaries to an international school (PACA Pan-American Christian Academy) in Sao Paulo.

Our plane landed in Sao Paulo on a Friday afternoon. From there we proceeded to our housing, had our first Brazilian dinner, and attended an evening briefing before finally bedding down.

Awakened in the middle of the night by severe abdominal pain, my missionary journey took a sudden and unexpected turn. I called my host to take me to the emergency room at Albert Einstein Hospital in Sao Paulo. There my doctor ordered a number of tests to diagnose the source of the pain.

Miraculously, the pain subsided before I received any pain medication and I thought to myself, Lets get this over with so I can go home and re-join the team. Even my doctor who had an idea of what I had marveled at my calm saying, People in your condition are usually writhing in pain.

Then the diagnosis came and I had acute pancreatitis caused by blockage from a gallstone. Now not only was I not going home, I was going to have surgery to remove the gallstone. The next thing I remember after my surgery was the surgeon telling me the procedure was a success.

With the subsiding pain and subsequent diagnosis, I knew this was where God wanted me to be and that he used the pain to get me to the hospital. It never dawned on me how sick I was until much later when I learned that left untreated; I would have been dead in a matter of a few days.

Not coincidently, I also learned there was no better place in the world to have this surgery than right where I was. The non-intrusive (no cutting) laparoscopic procedure to remove the blockage was done by the very surgeon who pioneered it. I also learned that my surgeon traveled all around the world to train other surgeons on this procedure.

The following day after my surgery, my doctor told me that my blood tests showed a rapid improvement in my condition. However, I still needed to remain in the hospital until the swelling in my pancreas subsided.

Two things now stood out in my mind. The first, I thanked God for his healing power in my life and the next, I had a choice. Would I complain about spending my mission's trip in the hospital or would I try to discover Gods purpose for me here? Fortunately, I decided on the latter to begin a mission to the hospital staff.

Meanwhile, the rest of the team went on with the mission as planned. Although I was one of its leaders, the team went on without missing a beat! This is where our pre-trip training really paid off.

My wife on the other hand, had a rough go of it and I tip my hat off to her. The team visited me once and I think my wife was only able to visit me by herself on one other occasion.

I cannot say enough about our hosts. With only a few of the hospital attendants speaking English, our host church arranged to have translators sit with me on a 7X24 hour basis. Thus, I enjoyed a number of fascinating conversations with a variety of interesting people. Moreover, our host church provided me with a number of Portuguese New Testaments that I in turn handed out to the hospital staff.

Because of the steady improvement in my condition, my doctor released me from the hospital after only a week to re-join the team for the final three days of the mission trip. Before I left, I presented my doctor with a signed Portuguese New Testament expressing my heartfelt thanks for his care. After I returned home, I followed up on my recovery with my primary care doctor and had my gall bladder removed a month later.

Now five years later that trip still has a profound and lasting impact on my life. To experience God's healing power and see him work in so many different ways is nothing less than amazing.

In closing, many of you who read my columns know of my Christian faith because it occasionally enters into my numismatic writings. However, in this case the coin is only memento to something much bigger and more important in my life. If you have any questions concerning my Christian faith or the details of the events chronicled in this post, feel free to comment on the chat boards and I will do my best to answer your questions.

Please join me next month when I delve into the allegory of a Conder Token that makes a political statement concerning debtors prison.



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