Rev. Austin Miles, a chaplain in Northern California is a writer and historian. He is the author of Santa's Surprising Origins, a story that received worldwide circulation and resulted in him being cast in the 2004 Hallmark Christmas Movie titled, Single Santa Seeks Mrs. Claus. He played the mall Santa who magically received the gift of sign language.

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Friday, August 20, 2010

Society • Amazing Love Story In Face of Death Unfolds in Oakley School

One of the first individuals to be encountered when coming to Trinity Christian School in Oakley is School Administration Assistant, Dee Halog. The attractive young woman behind the Reception Area desk possesses a compelling friendly face. Her name wasn’t always Halog. She was formerly Dee Strongren. Nearby, one might notice a young man doing various duties, whose distinctive continental (yes exotic) look was moulded from his mixed Filipino and Japanese heritage which, mind you, is becoming. Sean Halog stands out even though his is a quiet presence. Whoever sees them at their work have no idea of the phenomenon of their lives underneath the surface, which is true of most people…

Sean and Dee have demonstrated a deep, devoted unconditional love and sacrifice that has touched everyone involved in Mountain View Christian Center and Trinity Christian School. Theirs is the ultimate love story.
Sean had reached a point in time where he longed to turn his life around so he began attending Mountain View Christian Center. Dee worked at MVCC and couldn’t help but notice him when he began coming. He noticed her too. Indeed, the first glance unveiled the deepest of feelings that startled them both. It was instant.  They really didn’t know what to do with those feelings, but did become good friends and managed to talk every day and texted each other so much that their thumbs developed callouses. This went on for two years until Dee finally told her sister Lorie, who also works at MVCC, that her feelings were growing for Sean.
Then a crisis. Sean’s health began to fail. Seriously so. He had begun working with the youth of the church and she would go to help him with that ministry which drew them closer and lifted the veil between them. They both felt that the other was who they were created for.  They had a coffee date at Starbucks, and discussed Sean’s worsening health challenges.
Not only did Sean have diabetes and heart problems,  but he also desperately needed a kidney transplant or he would die. One kidney was shot and the other one operated at only 8%. He had dialysis 3 times a week, each lasting 4 hours, then, 4 a week, each 3 1/2 hours.
Meanwhile, Sean had been accepted in the minister’s intern class and as ill as he was, attended faithfully. He was on the list for a transplant for about 7 years. He had an “O” Factor in his blood that made a match-up difficult. His future did not look bright.
Still, the miraculous power of love took center stage. The proposal came from both of them simultaneously. To be sure that it took, Sean also texted his proposal to Dee. That absolutely made it official. And fully knowing he was very ill, Dee said, ‘yes” and was very peaceful with her decision. Love cannot be stopped. And her mother, her sister, and his future brother in law, who are connected with MVCC all approved.
On July 17, 2009 at the magnificent Hanoum Estate in Oakley, Sean and Dee were married by Pastor Tyrone Holmes of MVCC.  The church staff provided their honeymoon stay in Monterey.
Having finished Intern class, Sean was ordained to the ministry which must have been God’s timing for the future. He was scheduled almost immediately for the transplant procedure. After no donors could be found with the blood type needed, Dee decided—rather felt she was prompted, to have herself tested as a possible donor for her husband. To the astonishment of everyone, Dee had the rare and required “O” factor. It was a (another) perfect match.
On June 17, 2010, Sean and Dee were lying in beds next to each other at UCSF.Medical Center. As the anesthesiologist began his work, they looked over at each other and with a smile whispered, “I Love You.” Then the surgeons took their places as they dozed off.

In the Trinity Christian School Library at MVCC, the teachers had gathered for an orientation meeting regarding the upcoming new semester. One of the teachers kept her phone in front of her, checking update texts from Lorie at the hospital; “They’re in surgery;” then later, “They have successfully removed Dee’s kidney.” The teachers cheered and praised God as each new text came in.  “They have just put her kidney in Sean.” Then the best of all, “They are closing them up.”  Finally came the word everyone longed to hear: “The transplant is a success! Everything is working!” which provoked another cheer from the library.

When they were introduced at the next church service, there were more cheers and tears. They both looked wonderful, and Sean looked better than anyone had ever seen him. When asked how he’s doing, Dee proudly proclaimed, ““Great….he’s peeing all the time!” Neat how, depending upon circumstances, avoided words can have an extremely sweet sound. This was a very big thing for Sean. He would never again have to rely on dialysis. Everything would happen naturally.

Dee and Sean are more in love than ever. With a part of Dee inside Sean, they have truly become one flesh. They have and continue to set a very positive example of the power of love, commitment,devotion, sacrifice and trust. God’s plans and timing is always perfect. He has everything under control, even those things that make little sense at the moment.

It is a joyful peculiarity that right after Sean received and entered the call of God, went through intern ministry classes, then was ordained, that the donor for Sean was found, his own fiance, a perfect match,  the transplant was immediately scheduled, performed successfully giving Sean new energy, a new body and the strength to carry out the ministry that God opens to him. Through it all Dee and Sean have given all of us a perfect example of what unconditional love is all about.

Sean and Dee at her desk in Trinity Christian School.
Photo Credit: Tim Vaughn Photography, Oakley, CA




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