Ebola has struck Uganda four more times since then, not the same strain, but popping up with a few scattered cases here and there every year or so. In our epidemic 39 people died; there were 116 confirmed and probable cases, 147 listed in the newspapers, and 192 suspected cases. Scott, Scott Will, and I were all exposed but not infected, and the only other doctor in the district besides Jonah and us was infected but survived.
Jonah left his wife Melen, who was six months pregnant at the time with their only son, and five daughters.
Those were dark days, the kind that put my stomach in a knot even now, though they were still pierced with light. The sobbing desperation of loss, the beautiful community of friendship. The inexplicable end to our plans, the beginning of redemption along other paths.
Melen has weathered much work and disappointment, betrayal and jealousy by those who should have supported her. But she remains rooted in faith and forges ahead with her nursery and primary school project, caring for her children as mother and father to them all. The tottering health care system that could not afford gloves to protect us back then still limps forward, but with Dr. Travis and Dr. Jessica and renewed interest in nutrition and sickle cell disease. I still find myself occasionally seeing someone on a motorcycle with just the sort of stance, or yellow helmet, that I begin to believe is Jonah, then remember. I know Melen does too.
On the day Dr. Jonah was buried, Scott read the passage about the seed falling into the ground from John 12. Today seven young men are in med school to become doctors and public health practitioners from Bundibugyo. Six of them are sponsored through the Dr. Jonah Memorial Leadership Fund (and the seventh through another ebola-connected sponsor) of WHM. They should have been the generation to learn from working alongside Jonah, instead they are the generation who only exist because his blood poured out.
Today please take time to pray for Melen, for courage and strength and God's mercy on her and her children. Please pray for these seven to return and transform Bundibugyo in the ways that Dr. Jonah began, by working with absolute integrity in hard places. Pray for God's provision for them as our sponsorship fund (http://www.whm.org/project/details?ID=11129) has been drained by rising tuition costs and adding on new students. Pray for our team still laboring in that place that has known too much death. Pray for Scott Will in South Sudan, and Scott and I here in Kenya, to wholeheartedly live the bounty of years that could have been lost, for the Kingdom.
But mostly thank God for Jonah Kule, his life, his friendship, his unflagging cheerfulness, his ramrod insistence on honesty, his easy encouragement to communities, his listening ear and wise counsel, his vision, his love for God and God's people. His death does not make any more sense five years later than it did then, but we acknowledge that we see through a glass darkly, and look forward to knowing face to face.