Archive for World Events

Pandemic Observations

Here are some of my random thoughts and observations during this corvid-19 epidemic and shutdown.

Who would have thought the gears of this country and the world could grind to a halt so dramatically and so fast. What will be the long-term affect? How fast will the sleeping dragon be able to awake and stir back into action. Time will tell.

We have worried about terrorist attacks, electrical grid outages, computer sabotage, contamination of major water supplies, and nuclear missiles, but it was a microscopic, unseen virus that got us.

We have been living as if our “wants” are necessities. Shortages and empty shelves are turning us into panicky, selfish hoarders. Our system of supply and demand is very fragile. We expect grocery shelves to always be full and all our “wants” to be satisfied. So many people live on the edge and don’t know how to preserve food or cook. We depend on weekly (or maybe daily) runs to the grocery store. It is shocking how many people depend on restaurants and fast-food for the majority of their meals, including breakfast.

Almost all businesses, retail giants and small, operate on the edge. To close down, even for a week, is devastating. This is really scary. Families live pay check to pay check. There is no reserve. How many business will survive a month or more shutdown?

This worldwide shutdown has affected every country, every nation and every aspect of our life; food, medicine, medical care, recreation, education, worship, banking, transportation, social activities, shopping, interstate commerce and transportation of goods, and even online shopping. We depend on the world for our energy, food, medicine and manufacturing. Every business and job has suffered the consequences-even the essential.

It is amazing how quickly your schedule can go from hectic full to nothing. No meetings, no sports, no appointments, no church, no school or school events, and no family get togethers. Nothing. No places to go, no things to do. Families are starting to reconnect, parents are cooking, cleaning, doing home projects, and helping kids with homework. Suddenly there is the urge to homestead with a few chickens and a garden plot.

Isn’t it amazing how the earth is healing itself? I read and hear reports of smog free air in major cities and countries for the first time in many, many years. All it has taken is a few short weeks of staying at home! I even read one seismology report that says there has been a sudden and dramatic decrease in the earth’s quivering. Who would have thought that all our running hither and yon has made the earth quiver!

It has been difficult for some people to take the virus restrictions seriously. Why do parents take their most precious, irreplaceable possession (children) to stores and with no protection? Why do they flock in droves to Walmart and Lowes for nonessentials and ignore the order to stay home? Why are they still having parties, going to the beach and visiting grandpa and grandma as if it doesn’t apply to them?

How quickly our lives have changed…for the short-term. We wash, scrub, sanitize, disinfect, cover, schedule curb-side pickup, wait in drive through lines, worry about getting within the magical six feet of another human, and won’t leave the house without mask and gloves. We no longer hug, fist bump or shake hands, and Lord help us if we cough or sneeze in public.

Church and worship is a very important part of my life. In fact, I have discovered going to church is the anchor for my week. I find it difficult to keep track of which day of the week it is! It is harder to keep Sunday a day of rest when we don’t go to church. I miss my church family and friends. Worshiping Jesus and following Him does not depend on church but it sure does help. In fact, I think long-term, it depends on it. Listening to youtube sermons is helpful and suffices for the short-term, but it still leaves a void in my life. Giving my church sisters a hug is not the same as a phone call or text message. I know, missing a few Sundays will not be the end of church, but it has helped me to appreciate the freedom to worship in our country and to not take it for granted.

We have had persons at our church going through some difficult things; surgery, death, illness, and hospice. We so desperately want to visit, hug, help and be with our loved ones when they grieve and suffer alone. When we gather around hurting loved ones to pray we feel the loving arms of God through our brothers and sisters in Christ. It gives us strength, peace and care. Leaving a pot of soup or a loaf of bread on someone’s porch is nice, but it leaves a huge gaping hole in our emotional care for them and us.

The natural tendency of people is to complain and criticize. Instead of being grateful the virus has been slowed down due to restrictions, they whine that they have been misled. Instead of praying for our country, President, leaders and health care workers, they mock, belittle, criticize, destroy, and place blame. Instead of giving thanks to God that lives have been spared, they politicize and fear that government is trying to take over their lives. Instead of turning to God in our time of great need, we harden our hearts.

I leave us all with a challenge to seek God with all our hearts and not take for granted the freedom we have to worship freely. Pray daily for our President and leaders as they carry the weight of our nation and the world on their shoulders. Respect and obey our leaders as they give guidance through this difficult time. Confess our sins as a nation that times of refreshing and healing can come. Humble yourself before God. Be grateful and give thanks for the many blessings we enjoy. Show kindness and care for one another. Reach out in appropriate ways to a neighbor or friend. We have all received a wound from this battle, some more than others. the wound will heal and maybe a scar will remain. Will you let it make you stronger, wiser and more caring and appreciative of your many blessings? Remember, this is for the short-term. God be with you dear friends.

Hope for the Desperate

In some ways our stop at Ellis Island on our New York trip was the most meaningful for me. In 1748 my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather Johann Matheus Hutwohl took his wife and two little girls in search of freedom from religious persecution in Germany, booked voyage on the ship “Two Brothers” and sailed for the “New World”.  Their story can be read on my blog post “A Family Story: Death on the High Seas”.  The Hutwohls (later changed to Heatwoles), along with millions of other desperate immigrants who fled Europe, were driven by hope for a new life as they left behind relatives, friends, a church community, their homeland and all they owned. There was promise not only of religious freedom but freedom from war, poverty and the bonds of an oppressive tyranny government.  The New World beckoned with open arms.

The dock were the cargo ships carrying the immigrants would dock.  The immigrants were ill prepared for the densely packed conditions and lack of food and personal hygiene.

Ellis Island Processing Center

I had gotten myself a little confused when I was at Ellis Island and thought that was the port of entry for Matheus. I kept trying to visualize him in that great hall and seeing the Statue of Liberty as the ship entered the Hudson River. I could almost feel his grief as he walked down the plank alone, a young widow in a strange land with an unknown tongue. He had buried his dear wife and two precious daughters at sea. When I got home and reread his story, I realized he landed on Mud Island at Philadelphia and entered America through that port of entry. But I am sure the process and feelings were the same regardless of which port they entered.

The Registry Room where shiploads of immigrants would come and wait for their name to called so they could be processed. The room has been restored to it’s original beauty. Most immigrants had never seen such magnificent buildings.

I realized as we toured the museum and read the history that immigration was as difficult emotionally, physically, and politically then as it is now. Most days Ellis Island processed 4-5,000 immigrants. There was concern about health, mental stability, crime and whether the immigrants could contribute to the new society to which they had come. The processing facilities, health resources and physical needs were stretched to the limit. They had to have money, the promise of a job, and people waiting for them to help them adjust and find their way. Each immigrant had to go through several screening processes:  legal hearing, and a mental and medical exam.  There was great concern about the many contagious diseases that the immigrants were bringing to the new land. Those who were sick were marked with white chalk on their clothes and taken to the “dorm” on the island for a designated period of time.  At the end of that time if they were not well, they were returned to their native land. Many lived in desperate poverty until they found jobs and could get on their feet financially. There were periods of years when all ports of entry were closed to immigration and for years no Chinese were allowed to enter.

The health dorm.

Cots for the immigrants to sleep on.

View of the New York skyline from Ellis Island on a misty, foggy morning.

Almost all Americans can trace their roots to immigration. Depending on different world crisis and situations, different ethnic groups came at different times. I found myself very grateful that Matheus took the risk and came to the New World.  He paid a heavy price. I realize that immigrates, whether today or in 1748, all have the same desperate hope for a new start. There is something that drives them from their native land, usually with almost no earthly goods, in search of a new home. There is a huge risk and they are willing to sacrifice all to make the journey. America has and still beckons as the land of promise, the land of opportunity, the land of freedom and hope. The big difference today is that illegal caravans are demanding and forcing their way in even when the legal option is there. Our forefathers came legally; their paperwork was in order.

I was especially interested in these to information plaques since my ethnic roots are German and my spiritual heritage is Mennonite.

 

We cruised in on a comfy ferry with a food concession stand and restrooms for the 20-30 minute ride from the mainland. This was much different to the conditions the immigrants endured during the weeks and months as they crossed the Atlantic ocean.

Other New York trip blog posts:

We Remember……when America’s heart was broken

There are tragic events that are seared forever in our memory: we remember where we were at, what we were doing and other details that surround the event. September 11, 2001 was one of those events. I was working in our retail feed store when a customer told us the news. The rest of the day was consumed with sitting in front of the TV, eyes glued to the screen, trying to absorb the horrific details of untold horror unfolding live in our nation.

Picture of a picture of the New York skyline before 9/11.

I remember feeling fear: fear of the unknown, fear of the unimaginable destruction and death, fear of what may happen next. I remember the eerie calm and quietness that settled over the land for several days as all planes nationwide were quickly grounded. I went outside and looked up. There was not a single white exhaust airplane streak or noise in the sky for several days.   I remember the pit in my stomach as we watched humans fall to their death from the burning inferno raging in the two World Trade Center towers.  I remember the dust-covered alien-looking ghost city as the collapsed towers crumbled into smothering heaps of twisted rubble. I remember watching people fleeing for their lives, running in heels and business attire. I could only imagine their fear, horror and confusion. I remember watching the towers burn, then crumble, knowing there were people trapped and unable to escape, experiencing unimaginable terror. I remember trying to imagine people attempting to flee the towers, descending more stairs than I can imagine or is physically possible. Some were even carrying other injured strangers.

I remember people helping people, saving others to only die themselves.  I remember feeling great sadness and anger that humans could and would impose such evil destruction on innocence people in the name of their “god” and their hate for a nation not their own.

This past weekend we finally got to visit New York City and the 9/11 memorial. It was a very well done and touching memorial. I would highly recommend it. It brought back the memories, the feelings and most of the pictures and videos we had already seen-in real time. It was eerie to see actual pieces that survived the destruction, pictures of those killed and stand on the actual footprint of the site.

One of the reflective pools that covers the actual footprint size (1 acre) of one of the towers. It was bigger than it looks but smaller that what you would think. The names of the victims were written on the edge. White roses are placed each day on the victim’s birthday.

 

The front of the new Freedom Tower.

Looking straight up. It was a foggy day and hard to get good pictures. There were two planes attached to the front of the building near the top.

 

There were at least four walls of pictures of the almost 3,000 victims, plus those killed in the bombing of the tower in 1993.

 

Survivors’ Stairsteps: the actual steps that survived and that people used to flee to safety.

Another set that survived.

An elevator motor.

The base to the signal tower on top of the tower.

 

New York Fire Department #3 Ladder Truck.

A steel beam.

As steel beam bent into a horse shoe.

Another beam.

Another beam. That is not graffiti. It is codes left by firemen to note their location.

Our tour guide. We were standing on the footprint of the tower with one of the walls in the background.

Column pillars.

“Dedicated to those who fell and to those who carry on.”

Trinity Church is located about 2 blocks from the towers. After 9/11, it opened it’s doors to the first responders and volunteers as a place of rest and refreshment. Food was served, the pews were used for sleeping, and spiritual counseling was provided.

 

The towers could be seen from the back street of the church. That is the new Freedom Tower in the background. I am thinking the dark strip marks the height of which the plane penetrated. But I do not know that for sure.

Another business very close to the towers that became a hangout for the many volunteers during the cleanup was O’Hare’s Restaurant & Pub. We ate supper there.  The walls and ceilings are covered with badges and shirts donated by the first responders from all over the country. Thousands and thousands of them. We found a few from Virginia by our table. The place was packed.

Another memorial that was very touching to me was the “Tear Drop Memorial”.

There is a lot of symbolism in this very thoughtful, sensitive and well designed 10–story sculpture by Zurab Tsereteli  and donated by the people of Russia.  Twenty-six Russians died in the trade center bombing in 1993 and 9/11. Freedom Tower can be seen through the eye of the memorial.  It was given to the state of New York who refused it. Finally, New Jersey agreed to accept it.  You have to know about it to find it. It is on a canal street by the Hudson River in Bayonne. There are no signs to direct you and no advertising to draw your attention to it. You think you could not possibly be going to the right place as you wind through a shipping area with containers, warehouses and sea ships. It is very disturbing to me that this lovely gift as been treated in such a disrespectful way.

The walk way around the memorial list the names of the people from New Jersey who died on 9/11 and the bombing of the tower in 1991.

 

Something about this does not set well with me.  To me, it is embarrassing to think that New York would refuse such a gift. Putin came for the dedication of the memorial.  I say to the people of Russia, thank-you for the beautiful, thoughtful and kind expression of sympathy for America and Russia’s grief. Our hearts were broken that fateful day, many tears were shed and the grief of loss is still felt by those who lost loved ones.

For more information about the controversy surrounding the sculpture click on this link.

We will remember…….

 Other New York trip blog posts:

The Morning After

Image result for prayer for our nation

Wow! What a night! Has there ever been an election where so many people had so much raw emotion and passion at stake in an election?

But this morning I want to pause and express a few feelings. I have never before blogged about politics and only once this season did I make a single statement on fb, though I was tempted many times. We are all open to our views and beliefs; that is the beauty of democracy. But now I want to say that I, personally, want to be respective of the opposing “blue” side.  After all, some of you are my friends, customers and relatives. You are real people, with real faces and feelings, who didn’t vote as I did or see the world through the same lens. I love and care about you and your feelings and do not want to arrogantly flaunt our win or your loss with contempt, unkind words or a mean-spirited attitude.

It is time for a change. Will the “Red Team” be perfect? Absolutely not. Is there corruption in their ranks? Unfortunately, yes. Is Donald the perfect candidate? No. Will he make mistakes? Of course? Do I approve of everything “the Donald” says and represents? No. Is he a threat to our nation and the world? Of course not.

Mr. Trump has built his whole platform on taking back America for the people. He understood and heard the call of the people of the heartland. He owes no man anything as he basically funded his own campaign. He triumphed in a historical election against unbelievable odds.

I prayed often and passionately for this election.  God knows and sees the long-view. I can only see the present. So, I prayed for His will for our land.  I prayed for mercy and that people would humble themselves and turn to God so that He could heal our land. I prayed that the God-given right to be born would be protected and cherished. I prayed that the Constitution and laws of our land would once again be honored, obeyed and enforced. I prayed for the right to express our faith without fear and intimidation. I prayed for God-given justice. I prayed that the hidden, dark secrets of corruption would be revealed.

I plea with all of us, me included, that we guard our tongues and that no corrupt, evil, unkind, belittling, untrue words spout from our lips; that we guard against pride and arrogance. I pray that we respect the differing views of others.

Yes, the victory was sweet last night and we celebrate that win. I voted for Trump but not because I approved of everything he has and probably will say and do-far from it.  I voted for him because of his policies. I voted for him because I feel change is desperately needed in this country.  I see him as a man who will stand against the status quo. I see him as a man who can help our country become more fiscally sound. Was he the best that our country could offer? I don’t know. But he prevailed through the vetting process and has come forth as “the man” for this hour and this time in our nation and world.

I want to pray that Trump will have wisdom for the huge, almost insurmountable task before him; that he will be God honoring and humble, not vindictive or careless with his words and actions. I pray for his family and marriage. I pray for God ‘s protection, care and blessing on him as he prepares to lead our nation and navigates the troubled, stormy waters of international affairs and tensions. I pray that he will seek to know and understand the heart of God.

I pray also for Hillary as she is experiencing the disappointing and crushing blow of defeat. I appreciated both her and Obama’s gracious tone this morning. I pray that she will search her soul with the truth of God’s Word and yield to His redemptive work in her life.

A new day has dawned and new opportunities lie before us. As a nation, we will need to come together for our common good or we will stay entangled in a bitter web of confusion and partisan politics.

May God help us.

Ebola-Too close home….Update

I want to personally thank everyone who prayed for my niece and her family who were in the midst of the Ebola crisis in Liberia.  I can report that they are safely home in the states and doing well. They have completed the 21-day quarantine and are now able to freely travel and mingle with people.  I know we all  are anxious to hear their story and the stories of others who were caught in the crisis.  We prayed for them while we anxiously awaited news that all was well.  To know their stories satisfies our curiosity but it also puts a human touch to the crisis that made international news.  We are anxious to hear their faith journey but we will have to wait until they are ready. In time some will write and talk.

In the meantime, continue to pray for the team and health care workers as they try to figure out “what next”.  God led them to Liberia and now they have to discern what and where God wants them now  as their lives and careers are temporarily on an unplanned “hold”.  This has not caught God by surprise.

The Ebola situation in West Africa is troubling and the news coming from Liberia is dire.  Let us petition our Heavenly Father on behalf of the thousands of suffering people who have no hope and no chance of rescue.  Continue to pray for Samaritan’s Purse as they are dealing with multiple world crisis.  Their ministry is far-reaching and they need the wisdom that only God can give.

I am reminded of the precious promise of God in Isaiah 41:10…

Fear not; for I am with you.

Be not dismayed for I am thy God.

I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you.

I will uphold you with my right hand of righteousness.

Wait for the Doctor with Ebola to tell his own story.

September 5, 2014 The doctor tells his story….  “Saving Dr. Brantley” on NBC.  This is a six part interview with Matt Lauer.

Rescuing the Fallen

I have been thinking about the negative reaction of some to bringing home the sick doctor and nurse from Liberia.  Maybe people are reacting out of fear of the unknown, or lack of knowledge.

Picture with me a family on vacation at the beach. The children are playing in the water and suddenly there are screams.  A child is swept out to sea in a riptide. Instantly and without consideration for his own safety the father leaps into action and does everything within his ability to save the child, even risking his own life.

Buckroe Beach

Picture with me soldiers on a  battlefield. They are in a fierce, bloody battle and one of their own is hit by mortar and falls to the ground. A  soldier’s honor will not desert their fallen buddy-dead or alive- even at the risk of their own life.

 

Picture with me young men on a grueling trek to fulfill a lifelong dream by making it to the top of Mt. Everest.  Along the way one slips and falls off a cliff.  A rescue team is assembled to come to the aid of the fallen hiker. They use every available resource to make a safe rescue.

Mount Everest Image Gallery

Picture with me a horrific accident on interstate between a tractor-trailer and numerous cars.  Suddenly one of the cars burst into flames. Bystanders spring into action when a frantic mother screams “my baby is in the back seat”.   They are driven by the desperate plight of one needing rescue.

There is something in our God-given nature that causes us to react and help in emergency situations with compassion for the fallen.  There is usually no wavering on the sidelines and no evaluation of a person’s worthiness, status or wealth.  Usually the rescuer does not even count the cost or risk to their own life.

Now think with me of the “fallen” doctor and nurse.  They have become victims of a vicious virus called Ebola.  They are Americans who have left the comforts of our country to minister to the “least of these” because they have felt the call of God to do so.  You can read their stories online.

Dr. Kent Brantly cares for an Ebola patient in the isolation ward before he tested positive for the virus.

 

They have chosen to leave extended family and friends, the lure of financially stable incomes and state-of-the-art medical facilities to help bring healing and hope in a country that has so little.  They have chosen to help those with little or no resources to help themselves.  They are driven by God’s call to love and show compassion by living among and helping those in an impoverished country.  Now they, the ones providing care and aid, are in desperate need of help and rescue in a life and death situation. How can we as fellow Americans stand smugly on our shores and show no compassion?  How can we not go to the rescue and especially when we have the resources to do so?  Would we not go even if there was a slight risk or would we leave them stranded?

Do we not hear our top medical professionals saying they can safely do this?  Do we not understand that we are privileged to have the best medical facilities in the world and we are equipped to handle this?  Do we not know that there are some who are really willing to put their own lives at risk to save another?  Have we not seen our country rush to the aid in many world disasters over and over and over, even to the risk of losing some of our own in the process?  Have we not seen and understand that safety IS a top concern and the utmost care IS being taken to protect all involved and not involved?

Heavenly Father grant us compassion and forgive us for our selfish fear and complacency.  Keep our hearts sensitive to the plight of others.  Grant us your wisdom.  Thank you for the ability our country has to be able to respond and help in times of disaster around the globe.  We pray for all those who have “fallen” to the plague of Ebola.  Thank you for those who are willing to put their lives on the “front-line” to rescue others in times of disaster whether it is an accident, disease or war. Amen

Maybe, just maybe, in bringing these two home it will help bring about huge advances in the medical field to find a cure and as a result thousands of others can be “rescued” from the death grip of Ebola.

Related Posts:

 

The Battle is Not Ours

If feels like there are so many world crisis right now reeling out of control; the Israel & Gaza conflict, Christians persecuted in Iraq,  the crisis at our own borders with children and immigrants, the aggression of Russian in Ukraine, the Ebola plague in West Africa and numerous others.  Often we feel concern but are basically untouched until it hits home, then it becomes personal. The crisis takes on a face and a name and we feel the weight of the battle.

For our family it is the Ebola plague that has us watching, waiting, worrying and praying.  I wonder, will I still care about Liberia when our family is safely out of harms way?  Will I still pray for the thousands of suffering, dying people trapped in superstition and hopelessness?  Will I still pray for wisdom, safety and strength for the numerous faith and health organizations on the front lines of this crisis?

Sometimes our unconcern stems from the fact that we feel helpless, unable to do anything.  What can I do about missiles in the Middle East?  My voice is small and weak at the injustice in our own land.  I can not get my arms around the tragedy of children stuck in “no-man’s land”.  I can’t tell Putin a piece of my mind or stop his aggression.  I can not stop that horrific Ebola virus but I can pray.

When the reality of the our family situation hit this past Sunday I thought immediately of the verse in II Chronicles 20:15b,  “The battle is not yours, but God’s”.   That very evening, would you believe what I read in my daily devotions…..II Chronicles 20! I am using the Daily Bible and that was the reading for the day. Isn’t God good?!!!

Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and he received word that a vast army from numerous countries (Moab, Ammon & Syria) were enroute to battle against him and were already at En Gedi.  This was the biggest external threat of his reign and he was greatly afraid.  King Jehoshaphat humbled himself and sought the Lord. He called his people to Jerusalem and proclaimed a time of prayer and fasting.  The King stood before his people and prayed.  He not only acknowledge God but proclaimed their unfailing trust in God even in the midst of incredible odds. “Even if disaster comes on us-sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine-we will stand in this temple because this is where your presence is.”

An amazing thing happened. The Spirit of God fell on Jahaziel and he prophesied, “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.  You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”

The King and the people knew they had heard the voice of God. They fell on the ground and worshipped.  Then they rose up and sang praises to God. What a time of spiritual refreshing that was.

The next morning they were up early and the King stood before his army and said, “Believe in the Lord your God.”   After consulting with his people they appointed everyone who could sing to go before the army and sing praises.  Can you imagine an military army coming at you in battle with a huge choir in front singing about the goodness and holiness of God?  The forces of evil were turned into total chaos and the advancing armies turned on each other and the battle against themselves was so intense that no one escaped.  Victory came in a strange but powerful way.

There are so many good lessons to gleam from this incredible story of God’s goodness, His faithfulness, His care and protection. Sometimes I feel crushed by the weight of a challenge I face.  But I am struck how powerful praise births victory over insurmountable battles in my life.   When I face difficult circumstances, the dark season of night in my life, I usually retreat in prayer  but true victory comes when I began to sing.  Psalms 22:3 explains that God is enthroned in the praises of his people.  Somehow prayer releases the power of God. Somehow praise becomes oil of joy for a weary, burdened soul.  Whenever and wherever God’s people praise Him, God moves in their midst and miraculous things happen. It may not be as expected but like the people of Judah we experience God.

This past week in church we sang “Put on the Garment of Praise” and that has become my heart cry this week.

Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness

Lift up your voice to God.

Praise with the Spirit and with understanding

O magnify the Lord.

All you that mourn in Zion, I have authority

To appoint unto you in Zion, oil of joy that will set you free.

Lift up the hands that hang down. Lift up the voice now still.

Give unto God continuous praise. Sing forth from Zion’s hill.

Sing to Yahweh, alleluia. Worship and praise our God.

Praise and adore Him, bow down before Him, O magnify the Lord!

We don’t know how God will work or intervene in Liberia.  But we do know He knows what is happening and His heart breaks at the pain and suffering.  I wonder why the life of a young doctor, 33 years old with a wife and young children, and has a heart for medical missions, is hanging in the balances?

 I am reminded of the moving story of Jim Elliot and the other four men who were killed by the ambush of Auca Indians as they were landing their plane in the jungles of Ecuador.   They had felt the call of God to bring the gospel to an unreached people.  God was able to use their seemingly untimely deaths to bring about what life could not give and the hearts of many Aucas were changed as a result.

His story can be found at http://www.inspirationalchristians.org/biography/jim-elliot/

Maybe these battles are not ours to fight.   Maybe if we just declare His praise and then stand back we can watch God’s glorious victory!

Praise the LORD

For His mercy endures forever.

II Chronicles 20:21

Related Posts:

Ebola in West Africa – Too close home

(Journal of events as they have unfolded for our family this week)

There is much unrest and very dangerous situations happening in the world right now. They sometimes are hard to grab ahold of,  understand and feel compassion for until they hit home and you have family and/or friends there it can suddenly feel very personal. Right now this is happening with the Ebola crisis in Liberia in West Africa.

See my blog post “The Battle is Not Ours” for more of my personal thoughts on dealing with difficult circumstances.

 *****

Sunday-July 27, 2014: I don’t know if you are following the news but there is a very serious situation in Liberia with the Ebola outbreak. It is getting worse as the day progresses…. Here is the situation my brother’s (Richard) family is dealing with.

My niece, Melanie, and her husband, Jake, are serving with Samaritans Purse (SP) in Liberia. The outbreak has now hit their compound and their house. They live in a duplex and the doctor next door who shares the duplex is the one making world news today. He is the lead doctor and now he has Ebola. He is from Texas and they were due to go home for a family wedding and much needed vacation. His wife and children flew home last week and he was due to leave today.  Now today word has come that a nurse also has contracted Ebola.

Yesterday morning Mel talked to Dr. Brantly on their front porch.   Later in the day on Saturday he realized that he too had become a victim of the dreaded disease. Yesterday Mel & Jake were given 5 minutes to evacuate their house. They are temporarily living with another family. Their home will probably be turned into a hospital unit and probably their possessions burned. It is questionable if they will be able to retrieve anything else.

Mel and Jake have 2 children and are expecting a third. This is a scary time for everyone and particularly for family back home waiting, watching, worrying  and praying.

Tomorrow morning SP is having a meeting and it is highly likely that only essential personal will stay and everyone else sent home before doors close and the country does not allow anyone to leave. Much is at stake. You probably haven’t been really following the situation as we have. Here is a little clarification.

The compound where the Neiss’ are at was not a medical compound. Jake works with maintenance keeping all of SP helicopters in the area running for the larger ministry. When the first wave of Ebola hit this spring SP sent Mel and the children home for six weeks until it abated. (It was only in their area) In the mean time SP felt that they were there in Liberia “for such a time as this”. They set up a hospital on the compound and have been on the front lines helping the Liberian people. From Mel’s fb page it sounds as it the hospital just started receiving patients a week ago.

This disease is brutal and swift. They will know in several days if Dr. Brantly will live or die. There is a 90% death rate. It is unreal what they have to do to work in these conditions. Here is a link to a SP video from that unit that is a real eye opener.

http://video.samaritanspurse.org/samaritans-purse-responds-to-ebola-in-liberia/

This is a huge blow to SP ministry there and a dangerous situation for all the workers. Please join us as we pray that SP will have wisdom how to proceed and move forward and how to protect their workers.

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Monday July 28: Here is word from Rich & Marj this morning…… Keep praying.

This is the word from Melanie after their meeting this morning. Samaritan’s Purse is evacuating their whole team from Monrovia. They’re leaving for the airport today at 3:00 their time (11:00 ours) and flying to to an undisclosed location. They will all be together at a motel for the next 21 days, which is the gestation period for the Ebola virus.  She didn’t know how much they’d be able to get from their house. Someone does need to go in for their passports, at the least.   I didn’t think to ask what they’re doing with Dr.B. In answer to my question as to how he’s doing this morning, she said, “very bad”. Keep praying for him!!

Marj wrote to family…”One may wonder (here where we’re nice and safe) about Christians pulling out at a desperate time of need like this. However, the culture there is quite different. Superstition and distrust often supercede truth and the reception of assistance. The clinic has been receiving serious threats and last p.m. there was an attempt to take life. Please continue to pray for mission agencies who have tough decisions to make, and for the individual people like Jake & Mel who are there because the LORD led them there. We are confident that none of this is a surprise to Him. May He be exalted, even now.”

PS: An informative article about ebola is http://www.vox.com/2014/7/23/5930311/ebola-virus-disease-outbreak-africa-facts-guinea. There are many other sites you can google if you’re interested.

Here is a blog from the sister–in-law of Dr. Brantly.   http://www.carrollcrossroads.com/blog/urgent-prayer-request

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Tuesday-July 29: The prayer concern today is not only for the doctor (last evening the word was he was in grave condition) and nurse but also for the safety of the rest of the SP staff that did not make it out of Liberia. After the group that Melanie and Jake were in was evacuated the border closed. It’s a bit more tricky now and they say to stay could be a life and death situation. This is being taken into consideration. You will find more info and details about what’s happening at this at

http://bit.ly/1rv5RcR Samaritans.Purse link.

The word from Melanie this morning is….”we made it out of Liberia this morning. We had no hassle at the airport except for temp checks and some new forms asking us how our health is and where we are staying. Lucas slept for only 1 hour during the flight, so we are super tired!!! Both kids did very well. The plane food was delicious—meat!! SP put us up in a small Christian hotel and it has a restaurant. The temperature here is very cool for us sea level people.:)

I’m overwhelmed with gratefulness to be able to have my most precious people with me- my family. Jake was able to get some things from our house, so we have clothes and money etc. There are many more SP staff that still need to be evacuated. They flew oxygen machines in for Kent and Nancy but we have no updates on their status this morning. We are trusting and hopeful.”

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 Wednesday-July 30: Last evening word came that the doctor’s status is deteriorating.  My heart aches for his wife and children as they watch, pray, and worry from a distance.  All the staff was involved in helping in some way; washing clothes, sterilizing, recording, etc.  They are monitoring their temperatures and we are praying that all are safe. As of last evening SP has not yet been able to evacuate the remaining staff. This is a very dangerous situation because of death threats and attempts on the lives of the staff. There is much superstition and distrust of the native people as they think the Americans are bringing them Ebola. The article below explains that situation.

Death and Denial in the Hot Zone:

Update today from Samaritans Purse:

Slight Improvement for Doctor with Ebola

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Thursday, July 31:  There is a very informative update today from  Samaritian’s Purse on the status of Dr. Brantly and Nancy.

Samaritan’s Purse physician gives experimental serum to stricken colleague

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Note from Pat:  Samaritians Purse website and fb page and Franklin Grahams fb page are posting updates on the situation. Follow them for more information.

 

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