Our community has, therefore, gone through another vaccine campaign in response to this exposure, as he was in the community for a week prior to testing positive. This news was taken very seriously by the community at large and schoolchildren were vaccinated, etc. Praise the Lord, we made it through without any cases of community transmission! I am proud of our community and hospital. I believe it is a testimony to the Lord and His ability to direct and protect our medical teams. It is my prayer that we remain vigilant in triage and transferring suspicious cases.
We are also currently experiencing a measles epidemic (see road sign announcing vaccinations). There is a spike in measles cases around the world and DRC is leading the charge with countries like Madagascar! There have been more children who have died of measles than have died of Ebola this last year in DRC. The recent spike in cases is likely due to widespread displacement and health zones affected by Ebola with delays in measles vaccinations, etc.
Building a Fence Yesterday I was reminded that “small things really matter.” Let me illustrate. We ordered some high quality aluminum fencing materials from the USA for our upcoming pediatric garden. I also ordered materials for our house…posts, fencing grill, end posts, top bars. The only thing I didn’t order was the connectors for the fence posts. It turns out that these pieces are quite important because they tie the top of the fence together. You also suspend the chain link portion of the fence from this piece. Seemingly small and important, yet so critical to our being able to put this fence together. We wait to cement the fence posts in place until we have all the proper pieces. It seems like there is a life lesson here. Small things matter immensely. Salt is a small thing, but it can make or break a good soup.
I think there are many parallels in life, particularly in how we value people. Often we value people in a differential way. Some people have more glamorous gifts and abilities to offer others. Maybe they are gifted musicians or the person who always know the right thing to say or is always right. Some people just seem more important than others.
I am reminded of many things that Henri Nouwen said about leadership in the Church. Maybe leaders, missionaries even, are a bit like fence connectors. He said, “If there is any hope for the Church in the future, it will be hope for a poor Church in which its leaders are willing to be led.” He describes a leader as someone with outstretched arms, one who chooses a life of downward mobility. “It is the image of the praying leader, the vulnerable leader, and the trusting leader.” Not only that, but a leader is one who suffers alongside. There is a human temptation to be powerful and respected and known. But Jesus says has a different view of someone’s value. It is about someone who knows their truth worth as beloved by God. This person seeks to share this love with others. This kind of leader can bring people together in a powerful way because each member knows it unique worth and what they can contribute. This kind of leader is like the connector on top of the fence post.
Sam the Goat For the last week we have been nursing our newborn goat, named Sam, back to health. I have been amused to see that my recent Facebook post about Sam received more “likes” and “loves” than anything else recently.I have become friends with a local veterinarian who is amused by my love for this animal. I joke about my patient, who just happens to be an animal. I realize that baby animals usually don’t survive these illnesses here. It started with rapid breathing, weakness, and inability to stand on his front leg. We have been treating him for tick-borne illness and generalized pneumonia and he seems to be gaining strength with nasogastric feedings. Now he needs to learn how to eat grass! It has been fun to learn a few things about animal husbandry.
Homeschooling I have been homeschooling Emmanuel this last month. It has been an unexpected blessing to watch him finding joy in learning how to write his first words, to make connections between sounds and letters on a page. It is fun to watch letters pouring out of him on the page. Sometimes his name has an extra “M” or an L before a U and I smile. There are times to correct spelling, but mostly to really encourage listening for understanding…and correction will follow. We are happy that Emmanuel’s teacher is with us again, so I will once again take a backseat. But this experience will help me to better assist him at home. It is fun to see his creativity and facility with shapes/design. It has been fun looking at things under the microscope and doing little projects together. I want to encourage him and see his giftings develop. I love that he has the opportunity to do this in Africa! We can learn about reptiles and then see a chameleon or monitor lizard and understand things in real life.
· Pray for us as we continue to serve in this challenging environment where Ebola remains a risk. Pray that our presence here will be an encouragement to the Congolese. Pray for Emmanuel as he continues learning in kindergarten and for a desire to know who God is.
· Pray for an upcoming trip to Uganda to acquire materials for our home and the hospital.
· Pray for a terrazzo flooring project in the ICU/OR as it begins this next week. Pray for a Bible study in the book of Joshua, that participants would be hungry to know God in a deeper way and encourage others to do so.
It has been extremely rainy here in Congo and we finally are seeing sunny days which makes life much easier!
Lindsey for the Coopers