Thursday, January 29, 2015

Come To Me All Who Are Weary and Heavy Laden

Cessna Caravan
Dave with Samaritans Purse pilot Mike Kerls at Spriggs Airport Monrovia, Liberia.  Five minutes later part of our SP team will be loading up for a 45 minute flight to Foya to visit the Ebola Treatment Unit.  This is the ETU that just over 4 months ago was seeing hundreds of patients as the Ebola epidemic was expanding in Liberia.  Today the Foya ETU is having a Commissioning Service as it is being changed from an ETU to a Transition Center.  The local hospital will refer suspect Ebola patients to the location but the celebration today will be that currently there are no patients!

As you roll out onto the runway it is always comforting to see the helpful presence of the U.S. Military that has responded to assist with the Ebola crisis.
Sitting in the right seat I am itching to get some right seat time.  As a single engine (very non-complex) pilot I know just enough to be very dangerous.
Dr. Natahlie MacDermott giving me that look, "You are not flying...right Dave?"
Final Approach Foya Airstrip
Foya Ebola Treatment Unit
With hundreds of patients just months ago the Liberian staff were stressed to the limit but courageously fought back the epidemic.  One side was for suspected Ebola patients and the other was for confirmed Ebola patients.   
The Sign says it all...DECONTAMINATION
The doctors, nurses and staff were working around the clock when the tragic day came that one of there staff contracted Ebola and died.  Many staff could have left and the fear was real and could be felt all around them.  They stayed.  They not only stayed they did not give up and fought back this incredibly unforgiving virus that knows no people group, no boundary or international border.   They are the unsung heroes.  Today was a day to celebrate with the Commissioning Service to rename the Ebola Treatment Unit to the "Transition Unit."  Today there were no patients being treated and we prayed that it would stay that way. 
Just give me a few moments off camera to work on this photo...
Much better...almost 100% participation.  The party began and you would have to see the video clips I have to see the dancing - including our SP staff!
From the Commissioning Service we left for some more serious business due to the possible need to do some contact tracing to confirm a potential Ebola case was not developing in the town.  We drove to the Foya Hospital to check on a 9 year old girl who was in stable condition but in pretty bad shape due to a brutal rape.  Another girl also 9 years old needed to be checked on in town at her home.  The investigation did not lead to a concern for Ebola transmission but it did raise the concern of adequate care for both girls if they were left in Foya.  Today we would transfer the 9 year old from the hospital with her mom back to Monrovia.  Later in the week plans were made to bring back the other 9 year old that we spoke to at home. 
The second girl may be pregnant.  With gender based violence a severe problem in Liberia those of us in the West almost have to make sure we just read that correctly.  9 years old and possibly pregnant.  Please pray for both these girls and the many other young children in Liberia that are at risk.  The government with the help of many outside agencies is trying to slow these horrific crimes and improve the conviction rate through their judicial system.  There is still much work to be done as many of these children have been through more tragedy already than most of us could experience in a lifetime or more. 
The little girl pictured below probably had never or rarely been in a vehicle.  Now she was siting in a big airplane about to fly to the large city of Monrovia which she could never imagine from her small corner of the world in Foya.  She needed surgery due to her injuries, antibiotics due to infections and nourishment due to her malnourished condition. 
Sometimes it is about just saving one life!

Please continue to pray for Liberia and the surrounding countries in West Africa.  We are hearing good news of Ebola cases going down but are also aware that February 2nd school begins with all the fears that go along with it.  Lessons have been learned and hopefully the world leaders that control the response to such world threatening epidemics will not again be slow to respond allowing a virus like Ebola to dig deep roots before it can be contained. 
Now everyone is here and the current need is that the vast amount of supplies and financial support will be placed in the right hands to do the most good resulting in economic development for Liberia.  Most importantly pray that spiritual development will result from the many families that are putting there lives back together. Many of them have little or no hope. 

Come To Me All Who Are Weary and Heavy-Laden 

Matthew 11:28-30

I believe the Lord wants us to reach out to those in need and that does not need to be all the way over in Liberia.  I also believe that we need to offer others the true hope that lies within us as the result of becoming followers of Jesus Christ.  In the end whether we live in a beautiful home in Newport Beach, California, the inner city of Los Angeles or the recovering country of Liberia our efforts will always fall short.  That is because it is not about us!  It is about Jesus living through us.  Are we trusting Him because our circumstances are comfortable or are we following Him at all costs?  I have been asking myself that a lot the past weeks.  It would be much easier to say "Lord, you know I am not the one.  I have messed up too much and failed more than I have succeeded."  I really liked that line but then realized that I was again making it about me!  Who am I to tell the Creator of the Universe that he is not capable of restoring my life and continuing to use me as he has planned before the creation of time?   
Jesus died on a cross and gave everything to give me a free gift.  Am I willing to give everything and follow Him?  I don't think this is about "where" we are serving the Lord but I do think deep down we all know the answer to the question when the Lord asks, "WILL...YOU...FOLLOW...ME?"   Some days I just feel like I am getting back up with my "go bag", dusting myself off and saying, "I'm in Lord...I'm coming."  I picture the Lord always standing there with a smile saying, "No problem, lets go.  Nothing will be more fulfilling, nothing as exciting and we will do it together."   


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