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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Ebola Bundibugyo: Mid Wednesday

Since every day seems like a week, multiple posts seem appropriate.  Joshua Kule, the senior clinical officer, and the head nurse of the hospital (?Peluce) also died this morning, so with Jonah that brings 3 of 6 health care workers admitted dying within 12 hours of each other.  So it is not surprising that both Scotts found the hospitals rather empty of patients and short on staff.  Many are afraid, but a few brave and hard working souls persist.  Scott said it was very disturbing and poignant to be given the key to Dr. Sessanga’s office and told to use it . . . And to find the top paper on his administrative stack was a request by Joshua Kule for his month of annual leave to begin today.  I know that Dr. Jonah was also planning an annual leave beginning this week.  . . . A Uganda Police Surgeon assisted Scott in seeing all the non-Ebola hospital inpatients, and then he worked with the administrator to designate a cemetery area. It seems the district feels it would be a fitting honor to health care workers who die to offer burial on site, and to create some sort of memorial for them.  We’re OK with that as long as they aren’t coerced out of fear of transporting the bodies home.  Meanwhile our airstrip might need an air traffic controller.  I met a mid-morning flight bringing in the director general of the Ministry of Health as well as an assortment of WHO officials and someone with MSF too I think, it gets confusing.  We don’t shake hands here anymore, so that puts an odd crimp in introductions.  I hear another flight landing now, and I know there’s a third one this afternoon, with CDC officials and I hope an MSF doctor.  There are actually a significant number of doctors here now . . . But only three (as far as I can tell) are actually seeing patients (Scott, Dr. Yoti, and the Police Surgeon).  The others are one step removed, tracing contacts and managing data and handling logistics and reports.  By the end of the day we hope that will have changed as a new medical superintendent is promised, and the MSF team expands.  

Our mission sent a prayer guide based on Psalm 91 that was very appropriate and encouraging, pleading with God to save people from this disease, asking Him to use it for good in some way that we can not yet see, confessing our bewilderment over the death of Jonah.  In the church meeting here this morning people took turns standing up and giving testimonies, comments, etc., it is very African for everyone to get a chance to speak.  I noticed that some chose John 9 as a text, the story where the Jesus rebuts the idea that sickness is a punishment for someone’s specific sin.  I’m glad to see people wrestling with the “why”, looking for meaning in a bleak and frightening situation.  Even in the task force the idea of blame sort of swirls below the surface, if that patient died then maybe it was someone’s fault . . . But the truth is that Ebola is a powerful virulent organism, and there is not much one can do to stop a patient from dying once infected.  

Concern is mounting all around us too.  Two districts within Uganda announced that they would close off access to anyone from Bundibugyo, and the DRC announced closure of the Congo border (though I doubt their ability to enforce that).  If the CDC lab can become operational today and the samples from scattered patients (Fort Portal, Mbarara) be confirmed negative that might help the general sense of this thing spiraling out of control.

More from the front lines when Scott gets back, he’s been gone all day again.  Since so many are reading and praying, please pray for SLEEP.  We are in a situation where the difference between life and death might be the overall resilience of our bodies to resist or pull through this infection; yet we’re also in a situation where the work is tremendous and the stress keeps us on edge, making it hard to get healthy rest.  So when one of us feels particularly tired, we have that sickening knot of wondering deep in the gut, is this because we laid awake for hours last night, or is this the beginning of a fever?  Thankfully so far it is the former.  Pray that for the MSF nurse Rosa too, who is the primary Ebola care-giver.  And Dr. Yoti.  Thanks.

14 comments:

Kim Nalda said...

Dear sister and brother in Christ, You do not know me but I first read your blog this morning. My tears must be but a tiny portion of what you are feeling. As a doctor myself, I can only imagine the conflicting emotions. Your passion for the Ugandan people is evident, and a testament to your ministry that you remain to care for them. I am praying for SUPERHUMAN strength for you to endure this crisis. God is nearer to you now than ever, and you to Him. Although your emotions waver, you are STILL THERE, and that deserves praise and thanks from all over the world. I will be on my knees with you. Today, I will pray specifically for strength, sleep and doctor(s?) to help at the hospital. Your life and your mission are amazing to me. Press on, dear sister and brother. Hold fast to the hope that sustains you.

Anonymous said...

To all of the health team there, I am praying without ceasing as I too, Jennifer, cannot sleep. Parts of Psalm 143 are helpful to me, Judy in HMB,: "An enemy is in deadly pursuit, crushing me into the ground, forcing me to live in darkness....my spirit is faint and within me my heart is numb with fear...I recall the days of old and ponder the works of Your hands, I stretch out my hands to you, my heart like a land thirsty for you. Answer me quickly, oh God. My spirit is worn out. Let dawn bring news of your faithful love. for I place my trust in you, Teach me to do your will for you are my God. May your generous spirit lead me to level ground...for I am your servant

Craig Pohl said...

Dear Myhres: You don't know us, but we're praying and encouraging others to do so as well! Stacy is good friends w/ your former teammate, Amy Hudson, and we know the Grays a bit through MTW. As Stacy served two years as a single in Kenya, your reports resonate with her deeply. Standing with you in prayer, Craig & Stacy Pohl (MTW Ecuador)

jane. said...

* praying for sleep. and restful sleep. the kind where you wake up refreshed.

Sharon said...

I cannot even think of words that would help anything; I am just so sad and full of grief with you. I am praying for the supernatural power of God to be extremely evident, vividly clear to all who watch, and I am praying for healing and an end to this evidence of the fall and need for a Redeemer.

Roberta Simmons said...

Thank you Jennifer, for your deeply moving and honest posts ... we are still praying for everyone there with you for protection from the illness and for the strength both physically and spiritually to handle this crisis ... praying that your children feel Christ's presence and comfort during this time of separation from you.
From Zephaniah 3:17 ... "For the Lord your God has arrived to live among you. He is a mighty saviour. He will rejoice over you with great gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with singing."
We join the many others in fierce prayer for you and everyon involved.
Roberta & Russ Simmons (Tennessee) also for Mary and Knox Campbell (Asheville NC)

rnp said...

Psalm 91 is indeed appropriate! I lived with your teammate Stephanie in Chapel Hill several years ago and have been following the team's ministry through your blogs. Thank you for serving and giving of your lives for those so dear to our Father in Uganda. We are praying with so many others around the world and trust that God is holding all things together (Col. 1:17). I'm praying too for safety, protection, comfort, and strength for your children and team in Kampala and for Jonah's family--are there other specific requests for them in this time?

rnp said...
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Steve and Beth said...

Dear Scott, Jennifer, Pat and the team scattered around Uganda and the world: We are joining you and so many others today in pleading to our Father for mercy in this time of great need. May you hold firmly to his great and precious promise of his nearness (He is within you) and His great love (He gave his own Son for you....how much more will He give you everything you need for this time of trial). The hour seems dark. We pray for light to come soon - an end to this outbreak and much spiritual light to shine on Bundibugyo province and all of Uganda so that Jesus would be glorified and many many more would put their faith in Him. With love, Steve and Beth

Chrissy Ludlum said...

You are covered in prayer from Ireland and from the far corners of the earth. May the Lord's mercies renew you every day and may you see them renewing you...

Dan Calhoun said...

I am profoundly moved by this crisis unfolding in Uganda. When World Harvest released the "mission/vision" statement several years ago, I was proud of it partly because it had a bold "ring" to it. But now the thought of people I personally know actually laying down their life to die does not fill me with bravery or boldness but with sorrow and fear.

The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold Psalm 18:2

Lord, I believe, Help my unbelief Mark 9:24

Tonight, our church, Southside Community Church will gather to lift up your names to the God who saves.


Dan Calhoun

Anonymous said...

We have never met, I don't know you & you don't know me, but we are united through Christ. I heard of the Ebola crisis from Cheryl Cash's blog(Ft.Portal). Just wanted to let you know that we are lifting this entire situation into the throne room of our heavenly Father asking Him to act powerfully & swiftly in the name of Jesus Christ. Please know you are being prayed over by many brothers & sisters in Texas! May God grant you mercy, strength, rest & peace! In Him, Lori

kristi w said...

As with so many others, we are praying for you and the people of Uganda today. We are family in Christ and so we feel anxiety and fear for your corner of the world, just as we have hope and trust in the Lord.

Overflowing blessings on you today-

Kristi
(sister of Jeff Cash in Ft. Portal)
Portland, OR

Deb said...

Dear Myhres, I received a pleading for prayer on your behalf from friends of mine (Don & Wilma Graham in Ireland) and wanted to just let you know that I am indeed praying and my heart goes out to you all. Christ be with you.