Sunday, November 7, 2010
Every year is a challenge in Haiti, but this year has certainly been the exception. A week ago Sunday, we discussed the coming hurricane, Tomas, during a missionary meeting. Gary said, "I am going to stand against this hurricane, it will not hit Haiti." Pretty bold statement but I was in agreement with him. Needless to say we watched the weather reports several times a day and speculated, praised the Lord that it would not come. If you happened to watch Tomas in his various wind speeds, twists and turns, you would have to agree that it was a confused storm. Thursday came, we obeyed the Presidents order to close all schools. Nothing much happened, Friday nothing much happened, intermittent rain, some gusts of wind. Gary worked making shelving that we need to get more organized, I got things done that we'd not had time to do since we moved. The sun came out for a while. About 9PM, Friday night, we were surprised by the wind and rain. I thought about the books I'd left on the porch and imagined them being blown about and soaked, actually ruined. Saturday, we canceled Bible school because of rain. When I checked my books, they were not even wet. No explanation for that, plenty of rain came in that porch. In other parts of Haiti, there is real suffering, homes gone by flooding, and the threat of land slides. We continue to pray but we believe Haiti was spared this storm.
Our guest, Charlie Young and his son Kenny tried to get out of Haiti on Thursday evening, only to get stranded when the flight was canceled. We arranged for them to stay at a guest house of a missionary friend of ours. They finally flew out on Saturday. I'm sure they were very happy to get back to Tampa, but we missed them when they left. Charlie taught how to plant seeds in tires to the school and to Haitian farmers. The children will enjoy watching the seeds grow.
The Cholera reports more numbers dying and it's popping up everywhere. I received a World Health Organization report today which says:
But the really big story here is that it then broke out in Nepal, around 2003-04. It now appears, though we're awaiting more confirmation at the laboratory level, that this pandemic in Haiti started with Nepalese peacekeepers who were the carriers. We have similar outbreak-carrier situations now in several places in the world. In fact, the largest cholera outbreak at the moment is Nigeria, with far more cases than are being seen in Haiti….. Actually, if aid workers and peacekeepers were taught proper hygiene and provided with toilet paper and proper soap and so on, they would not be transmitters. The problem with cholera is that it really is a classic hygienic issue. The spread of cholera is about water, it's about dirty hands, touching water supplies and food supplies, and about the inability to limit what's going into the water because either there are improper sewage systems; or people are drinking from, washing in, and defecating in the same water supply.
It's inexcusable that we cannot control cholera today. We fully understand the disease. It is generally treatable with a combination of appropriate antibiotics. But most important is heavy-duty hydration with consistently safe water.
The other issue is part of the reason cholera is always a crisis in the Bay of Bengal region--because the microbes, especially this 01 form, can live inside of other microorganisms that float around in such things as red tides and algal blooms. Wherever you have very warm surface temperatures, relatively still waters, lots of sun, you're creating a kind of stew that's ideal for the growth of the microorganisms that the vibrio cholerae [the organism that causes cholera] can live inside of. You get this constant feedback-replenishment thing going on where problems on the land mainly associated with humans--waste and water runoff--feed into breeding colonies in the sea, and vice-versa. We had a classic outbreak of cholera that hit Latin America in the 1990s, and it turned out to have reached Latin America because of ships loading bilge in the Bay of Bengal, going across the world, and offloading the bilge water into coastal waters where they were absorbed into clams, shell fish, oysters, and so on. Then you had an epidemic that spread across Latin America. If you don't have very good public health tracking systems, general population hygiene, and water safe systems, it spreads extremely rapidly.
So, based on the previous information, the Haitians were correct in blaming UN people from Nepal. We encouraged the church to continue taking precautions and to pray.
First you need to get the picture of what the church is like. It's being built. We sit under tarps because there is no roof and we walk in mud after any kind of rain. So, there the people are, mud caked to their Sunday shoes. The children climb a ladder to get to the adjacent building's second floor, they too are under tarps.
- We have a medical team coming in on the 14th. They'll plant themselves at the hospital and be a viable force there.
- Testimonies shared today at church. The testimonies were given by two women, both of whom had been sick with vomiting and diarrhea, (cholera symptoms) they rebuked it until they were better. It was definitely time to shout HALLELUIA!
As I sat there looking around at the faces, their love and dedication to the Lord, I thought about the excuses each one of them could have given for not attending church today. I thought about excuses that I've made in the past. For a moment my emotions wanted to spill over because the realization of how God looks at their dedication was overwhelming. I told Gary, "God doesn't take this lightly…..and in North America we argue over the color of carpeting"... or miss church because it's raining and walking to the church from the car will get their Sunday clothes wet. If you could see this church………….and it's crowded. One teenager stood up to tell about how he's given his heart to the Lord and sharing Jesus with classmates. Five of them accepted Christ and were with him in church today.
(Because of the rain, the tarps had filled with water. It was breezy today. The tarps blew up and dumped water at our feet. Pastor Chery was so embarrassed when it hit Pastor Gary, he apologized over and over again while calling someone to get a barrel to catch the water).
While Haitians meet the struggle getting through 2010, God is building His church. Jesus said it so clearly: Mat 16:18
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means 'rock'), and upon this rock I will build My church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. We see it over and over again, in every church, every Sunday, people are coming to the Lord and they are hungry to learn of Him. Hurricanes, cholera, poverty, muddy churches with no roof, mud caked shoes, nothing can separate us from the love of God. Romans 8:38.