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Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola

We have been avoiding the topic, honestly, because it is a raw one for us.  In 2007 we lived through an ebola epidemic.  In the remote area of Uganda where we worked, along the Congo border, ebola crossed over from the animal reservoir in the Ituri forest and began infecting humans.  We were both exposed before we knew that the disease was ebola.  Our best Ugandan friend and colleague Dr. Jonah Kule died, and the only other doctor besides us in the district of over 200,000 people became infected but recovered.  When the disease was confirmed, we sent our kids away to stay with other missionaries until we completed a 21 day disease-free incubation.  We decided at one point that only Scott would see patients and I would not, to minimize the risk of both parents going down.  For months we lived with the lingering cloud of doubt, the on-edge expectation of potentially deadly touches in our medical care, the grief of losing our friend.

So we have been following the news of this epidemic very closely, communicating with some of the organizations involved, praying.  It would not be an exaggeration to say that it has dominated much of our mental and emotional energy for the last month.

Now that 2 people have been infected in America, and there is mass hysteria, perhaps a few words are in order, even though we are actually no closer to the epicenter here than most people reading from America are (we are several thousand miles away).

This is a West African epidemic.  It is sad and regrettable that one of the hundreds and hundreds of travelers who come to the USA from this area happened to have been exposed in an act of kindness, and got sick.  And that two nurses are now infected.  However this in NO WAY makes the American experience in any way comparable to Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone.  That is two transmissions out of hundreds of millions of people.  The risk in America is extremely low.   Americans have gloves and masks and running water and bleach and hospitals and suits and disposable everything and money and transportation and doctors and nurses and janitors and experts.  Americans have panic, and demands.  In American culture, no-risk of a disease is considered to be a birthright; yet people routinely drive too fast, eat and drink too much, play with guns.  Or fly in airplanes or rock climb or do a thousand other things more likely to kill them than ebola.  The point is that in spite of headlines about school closings and plane cleanings and it's all Obama's fault somehow, the virus will be contained in America.  West Africa is another story.

Ebola is a tragic and frightening disease, because it is transmitted by the most basic human acts of community.  Wiping tears, carrying a child, cleaning up a mess, hugging.  And it seeks out those most caring.  I think it frightens by being mythically diabolical, killing the very people who are most bravely fighting against it.  The PPE's turn people into spacemen, aliens.  The origin is in Africa and that is always suspect.  So it is hard to separate the emotional layers from the facts. (This graphic on health care workers is from a Forbes article: 232 deaths out of 404 infections).

Ebola does not have to have a 90% mortality.  One of the surprises of this epidemic is that a good number of the people who by nationality or connection got airlifted out and received intensive excellent care actually survived.  The official stats are running at just over 50% mortality, though the treatment centers see more like a 70% fraction of death.  Our own epidemic was less than 50%.  I thought that was because our virus was different.  But maybe it was just good care (smaller numerator) and compulsive case finding (bigger denominator).  Medical care makes a difference.  The sick should not be written off as hopeless, and locked in isolation to die.

The leaders in compassionate response are the African doctors and nurses and community health mobilizers and ambulance drivers and taxi-owners and parents and friends.  But they were too few six months ago, and they are many fewer now.

I am glad that the American military is responding.  I know it is not politically savvy to be in favor of marital law.  But this epidemic needs an infusion of organization, of money, of can-do, of discipline. In Bundibugyo, MSF came in with tents and supplies.  Our airstrip became the staging area for sending samples out and people in.  Our district leader (RDC in Ugandan parlance) was ex-military, and he kept everyone working together.  Every night we had a close-of-day meeting and coordination time.  It was local, and we were far from the rest of the world, and it worked.  In the current epidemic, decades of civil war, resource pillaging, injustice, poverty, distrust, corruption, etc. have weakened not only the health infrastructure but the political organizing ability to gain momentum.  So if that requires a temporary military infusion, so be it.  Allowing people to continue to suffer insecurity and chaos is not helping anyone.  If we say we care about justice, then it is legitimate to respond to this need JUST BECAUSE PEOPLE ARE SUFFERING and not because we're trying to protect the plague from coming to America.

There are two things that will stop the epidemic:
1.  Treat the sick, humanely, safely, respectfully, compassionately, expertly.     For this we need those treatment centers built, now.  And staffed. The American military is one of the best organizations on earth poised to mobilize buildings and equipment and expertise.  So please don't object.
2.  Trace and monitor the contacts, isolating anyone with symptoms the very hour they become sick.  In Bundibugyo we had massive community mobilization.  There was nowhere to go really.  It was horrible to never touch anyone, to sit apart, to be so careful.  But when we were in our 21-day riskiest period, we did that.  It is possible to stop transmission if this is carefully followed.  Personal liberties have to be curtailed for a while.  Asymptotic people are not a danger to anyone else, but it makes sense to lay low in case this is the day symptoms would start.

And neither of those two things are happening very fast.  The countries involved have resources similar to Bundibugyo, meaning not many.  The few responding organizations are overwhelmed, and don't even have the administrative capacity to do much more.  So . . .
1.  Be informed.  Here is Paul Farmer's analysis.  The New York Times and the Washington Post have sane and thoughtful articles.
2.  Support SIM, MSF, IMC, Americares, Samaritan's Purse.  Support our troops.
3.  Pray.

Jesus would be more concerned about helping the sick in Liberia than castigating the CDC in America.  He would be touching the contaminated, and comforting the mourners, and bringing hope.  Let us do the same.




57 comments:

Barbara Elwood said...

Thank you Jennifer. These are good words for us to hear.
Well said-- once again.

geniene simrak said...

I haven't read an article about Ebola since the craze first began because I know people are terrified out of their minds and generally don't know what they're talking about. They love shock value. And the public loves to hate. Loves to fear. But when I saw you wrote about it, I knew if I was going to read an article about it, I'd read yours. So thanks. It was clear-headed yet I could heart the grief and gravity behind your words. Thank you. Thank you for being in Africa. Doing the hard things. Living out your specific purpose day by day, moment by moment. You and Scott make quite a team.

Tom Blair said...

So well said!

dnakhla said...

Wonderfully helpful article! Thanks for writing!!

The Nelsons said...

Thank you for writing this!

Anonymous said...

Anyone that's not worried about this needs to get their head out of the sand.
This is a DEADLY disease and our President has not done right by the American people. The very first thing he should have done was stop all flights from that area.
I feel better now that he has appointed an "Ebola Czar". Lol. Ron Klain, what a joke, he's not even a Doctor. What's worse? He's a lawyer and was chief of staff for both Al Gore and Joe Biden. Yet I'm not surprised. Obama has yet to do the right thing in his 6 years. Total incompetence!

Anonymous said...

Thank You. You guys are truly God's Missionaries. You love and carings way so shine thru, just as Jesus. SO humbling and thankful that you are right where you are, The Lord's children. ((hugs) and thank you for sharing.
2903
2903

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous that wrote at 2:41p

Bob said...

Your perspective is unique. You know what you are talking about, you have lived in the midst of a previous epidemic, and you have an extraordinary amount of love and compassion for the afflicted and their caregivers. Thank you for writing.

Kim Hall said...

"Ebola is a tragic and frightening disease, because it is transmitted by the most basic human acts of community."

I appreciate the tone and wisdom of this article. It is gospel-forward and life-giving.

Peace to you, and continued faithfulness to your call.

Kim

Saintly Nurse said...

I've been reading this blog (lurking, mostly) since the 07 Ebola outbreak and remember vividly the pain, grief, and fear you all felt. I wept with you from the East Coast (of the US) when Dr. Jonah died.

Agree 100% that the risk to the average American going about their business is virtually nil and there's no reason for people to freak out like they have been. And that what we are dealing with here is less than nothing compared to what people are dealing with in West Africa. It's embarrassing that people in the US didn't seem to care about Ebola while it was killing thousands of Africans; we only got our knickers in a twist when two nurses got infected here. People are clamoring for all flights from West Africa to be stopped and all kinds of nonsense. I very much appreciate your perspective here.

As a nurse, though, I do think it's fair to ask that if I'm going to be asked to care for someone with any infectious disease (Ebola or otherwise) in a country with the resources of the US, that I be allowed those protective resources. That's all I ask, for the sake of my family and my other patients. My individual chance of being asked to care for a patient with Ebola is very low ergo the exposure risk is low as well, but it is probably slightly higher than that of the average American. Seeing how much incorrect advice has been given to healthcare workers here has been frustrating.

This post is probably more practically useful than just about anything else I've read in the last few weeks. God bless and keep you all. Thank you for your work.

Anonymous said...

Doctors, if you want to go skinny-dipping unprotected in Ebola juice, go right ahead. That may very well be YOUR calling. But others of us may be called to do something else, like advocate for proper protection for caregivers and the general public so that this crisis doesn't become worse than it already is.

Lovelyn Palm said...

thank you for your work on the front lines and for your wisdom here. praying for all involved and for the rest of us to support like you recommended here.

Anonymous said...

Thank-you so much for writing this ~ I agree with you.

Elisabeth said...

Well written, and thank you.

The amount of fear and mild hysteria do underscore the entitlement attitude of most Americans. And, banning flights from these areas will not help. That would only provide a false sense of security since there would be no way from keeping folks from flying to another country first and then the US.

Compassion, folks, and common sense.

howitallbegan said...

I've followed your blog since 2007 when you guys were exposed to this and it was emailed around through some USNA contacts with prayer requests. I've commented occasionally, but always have read and appreciated your perspective on life. I loved this. I'm in Dallas, walking distance from all of this and where it is unfolding. But I love what you've said. I've shared it on Facebook because I think it's a perspective we need here. Thank you for your service to the least of these and your work in advancing God's Kingdom on earth.

Michael Mara said...

Thank you Jennifer. You and Scott, as doctors, African residents, Ebola outbreak caregivers and survivors, and holding a Masters in Public Health from the top program in the world, are arguably the most qualified people in the world to discuss this. Thank you for your wisdom. Why are you not the Ebola Czar?

dannadesignsthings said...

Thanks Shawn Profit Hatfield for posting this and seeking experts to speak reason in what could become pandemic! Trusting God to do His will and bring peace to our world.

Sandy Feemster said...

Thank you....just Thank You! I wish I could get this article on the local news here in Dallas. As my husband told someone who didn't want anyone from Africa to be allowed into the U.S., following that logic, we would need to restrict travel from say Seattle, Washington to New York City because we have Ebola in Dallas. That logic would also mean people in Texas should not be allowed to leave Texas & travel to any other state. We let fear take over our minds & we lose our ability to reason or think logically.

Nahna said...

Thank you for posting your article regarding Ebola. That gives us an avenue to pray that we did not know. Prayers and thanks be to God for your recovery from the disease and may God continue to bless you as you minister for Him there.
My son and his family are with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Solomon Islands, so I have an understanding of the prayer life for those dealing with all kinds of things that we, here in America, have no clue about.
Thank you again.

Nahna said...

Thank you for posting your article regarding Ebola. That gives us an avenue to pray that we did not know. Prayers and thanks be to God for your recovery from the disease and may God continue to bless you as you minister for Him there.
My son and his family are with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Solomon Islands, so I have an understanding of the prayer life for those dealing with all kinds of things that we, here in America, have no clue about.
Thank you again.

Nahna said...

Thank you for posting your article regarding Ebola. That gives us an avenue to pray that we did not know. Prayers and thanks be to God for your recovery from the disease and may God continue to bless you as you minister for Him there.
My son and his family are with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Solomon Islands, so I have an understanding of the prayer life for those dealing with all kinds of things that we, here in America, have no clue about.
Thank you again.

Nahna said...

Thank you for posting your article regarding Ebola. That gives us an avenue to pray that we did not know. Prayers and thanks be to God for your recovery from the disease and may God continue to bless you as you minister for Him there.
My son and his family are with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Solomon Islands, so I have an understanding of the prayer life for those dealing with all kinds of things that we, here in America, have no clue about.
Thank you again.

Carmen Thomas said...

Thank you for posting your article regarding Ebola. That gives us an avenue to pray that we did not know. Prayers and thanks be to God for your recovery from the disease and may God continue to bless you as you minister for Him there.
My son and his family are with Wycliffe Bible Translators in the Solomon Islands, so I have an understanding of the prayer life for those dealing with all kinds of things that we, here in America, have no clue about.
Thank you again.

Unknown said...

Jennifer and Scott, it's so helpful to have your perspective on this. I've forwarded it widely to various friends in the U.S.

Being quite near this current epidemic in W. Africa, I've been following it very closely and mobilizing much prayer.

I've often thought of you in recent weeks, remembering your experience from 2007 and how earnestly we were upholding you in prayer during the crisis.

May the Lord continue to make you a blessing to many and a light for the glory of His name.

aruanan said...

Note the disconnect between the previous paragraph that states Ebola WILL be contained n the U.S. and the following:

"Ebola is a tragic and frightening disease, because it is transmitted by the most basic human acts of community. Wiping tears, carrying a child, cleaning up a mess, hugging. And it seeks out those most caring."

So, apparently it will be contained in the United States because no one here engages in "the most basic acts of community." Also, such personalization as "it seeks out those most caring" is untrue and unhelpful: it is a deadly virus transmitted through contact with the infected person who is shedding it. There's no intent, only cause and effect. The best thing anyone can do at this point is to look at previous epidemics, note similarities and differences, and then make predictions based on that knowledge. That's medical science. Characterizing Ebola as a "West African epidemic" is not.

Look at the 1918 Spanish flu epidemic for comparison. Like Ebola, it was spread through contact with infected individuals or with bodily fluids, even minute amounts, left behind by infected individuals. Back in 1918, a time when the only intercontinental travel was by a week or more on a boat, and when most of those traveling were soldiers, the flu was spread around the world in less than a year, infecting more than 500,000,000 and killing millions. Yearly international visitors to the U.S. now number over 150,000,000 per year.

Unlike Ebola with a 50-80% mortality rate, the Spanish flu, the respiratory illness that reduced life expectancy in the U.S. by a decade in a single year, had the devastatingly high mortality rate of 2.5%; oops, just 1/20 to 1/32 that of Ebola.

In Ebola we have a disease of unprecedentedly high virulence combined with easy mode of transmission combined with levels of international mobility never before seen in human history. Spanish flu had an incubation period of between one and three days. After onset of symptoms, it was so devastating that infected individuals were not likely to be wandering around shedding viruses and infecting others. After the onset of symptoms with Ebola, the patient is mobile and infective for much longer than with Spanish flu. Finally, many did not die directly from the Spanish flu but from pneumonia that they developed as a consequence. It is Ebola itself that kills you. There is no vaccine.

Again, before taking solace from the comment that Ebola is not 90% fatal but, with excellent medical care, maybe 50% fatal, keep in mind that a fatality rate of 50% is still 20 times greater than the fatality rate of 2.5% for the deadliest epidemic over the shortest period of time in human history. In the 20th century, only governments killed more unarmed citizens and abortion more unborn citizens than the Spanish flu killed.

So when someone tells you that we are not in much danger compared to the folks in Africa, you are being told something completely inconsistent with epidemiology.

Karen B. said...

Friends of mine who run an Anglican prayer blog have been compiling lots of Ebola prayer resources here:

https://anglicanprayer.wordpress.com/tag/ebola-crisis-prayers/

Good prayer resources from
- Tearfund
- Christian & Missionary Alliance
- USPG
- Caritas
- Samaritan's Purse
- SIM
as well as regular updates with the latest WHO figures from West Africa, etc.

Anonymous said...

to aruanan: Influenza such as the Spanish Flu is transmitted from infected mammals through the air by coughs or sneezes, creating aerosols containing the virus. Ebola is not. Your talking about apples and oranges.

Anonymous said...

Exactly!

Anonymous said...

Not a missionary. Not a Christian. But have lived in Africa for 20 years, including a stint in Uganda during the first Ebola epidemic 2000-2001, and I'm a public health worker. Your article is one of the very best I've read so far on Ebola in West Africa. Its superb and to the point. The US appears to be succumbing to a baseless - and often blatantly racist - hysteria that - just watching from a distance - makes me flabbergasted and infuriated. The West Africa epidemic is at the scale it is a) because the virus was mistaken for Lassa for over 3 months and not caught early; b) because there was not early leadership at national and district levels; c) because the three countries in question have a fraught history and failed to coordinate with one another; d) because communities were never effectively engaged; e) because, yes, health systems are broken (but...this alone hasn't stopped Uganda, DRC, Nigeria and other countries - also with broken health systems - from stopping Ebola; f) because the countries in question had a massive health worker gap (so when health workers - like your courageous friend who succumbed to Ebola in 2007 - died, they couldn't be replaced; g) international agencies failed to really respond effectively until July. The American health system - as flawed as it is - in no way resembles this situation. Those nurses were exposed because of one thing - and one thing alone - bad management at hospital, state, state and federal levels. But bad management can be fixed very quickly. It will be fixed very quickly because in America - unlike in West Africa - people who screw up lose their jobs. The Ebola crisis is being manipulated by the media (for ratings), by global organizations (for money) and by politicians (for the mid-term elections and for power). These groups are driving public hysteria. And as public hysteria grows, the public health response ends up being reactionary - to quell panic, to reassure the public, to reduce liability, and to keep jobs. And in doing so, it ends up actually NOT responding effectively to the actual public health problem. Thank you so very very much for writing this. I think that people who are so far refusing to listen to the scientists, will listen to you, because you are missionaries (and scientists and doctors, I know....but you speak as Christians which maybe the turning point for some people who would otherwise refuse to listen to sense). I've posted it to facebook and twitter and I hope people pay attention. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

I'm also a Christian health care provider and married to a physician with 2 children and I stand amazed that you sent your children elsewhere and made a decision as parents "to minimize the risk of both parents going down" in 2007 and watched as colleagues and friends died from Ebola, yet remain in that environment for years to pursue your calling, fully aware of health risks. Now, you think nothing of calling on the American military to fix Uganda's problems and expect the American public to get onboard happily. Nigeria has cleared the 42 day mark and figured it out, maybe Uganda could reach out for some assistance from them.

Our nurses on American soil were at risk because our health care providers were not prepared for a traveler that lied to board a plane into the US, (as well as incredibly poor hospital management, agreed), but thank God, they are going to recover. We can only pray for the others under monitoring now and gear up to handle whatever comes as a result of continued international travel and our military involvement. Dr. Kent Brantly is a hero in my book, and he should be the Ebola czar.

I always support our troops, but as a taxpayer, I totally disagree that they should be put in this position to respond to this crisis. I'm sure if you spoke with some of their moms, dads, sons, daughters, you might hear a different perspective. They did not choose to go there, you did.

Anonymous said...

Did you even read the article? It is not all about us; it is not all about US politics. It is about an epidemic in West Africa. The "head in the sand" attitude is the myopic view of the world that plagues America.

Anonymous said...

We don't have to import this virus into America to care about it's impact on Africans. What other country has done more? Experts in America have been working on this (and many other) diseases for decades. Americans who have the expertise and the calling can and do aid and assist the African people every single day. Others of us donate to charities that support these missions and missionaries. Americans adopt children from Africa and other countries every single day while American orphans go without parents. But others of us may be called to do different things, in different parts of the world, to aid and assist different people who face different crises. Being judgmental of people who serve differently isn't terribly Christian. Putting yourself and others at risk doesn't make you any more Godly than anyone else. Protecting yourself and your family from contagion doesn't mean you lack faith. Calling on the CDC to get its act together or urging the American govt to restrict travel doesn't make you a racist. That's ridiculous! And Jesus healed the sick, yes, but he also had a few harsh words, himself, for those in power.

Annette Conrad Millogo said...

Wow. If this epidemic of Satan's seeks out the most caring people, Satan has hit his target. If caring people are not praying and looking straight to God as their Almighty and Only protection, where is their hope? May God in his love protect you!
Striking is the amount of fear; and that it is acknowledged! Remember that those who have sold themselves to the devil are working for that fear: as people are willing to state, it is induced by media, politicians, science, and almost everything else. Why do they want us to be afraid, confused, and in a constant mode of survival? The demons that possess people feed off that confused, fearful energy.
For Europeans and North Americans, who refuse to believe such spiritual world workings, let's look at this more civilized reason "they" might be spreading Ebola. In order to advance their world-control agenda, they must be the saviors providing the solution.
"The American military is one of the best organizations on earth poised to mobilize buildings and equipment and expertise. So please don't object." Certainly, that's exactly what they want people to do "don't object." Follow blindly, because they're putting their foot in the door for more control. As if they don't control African countries enough already. No, it's for fear that they created this problem. Yes, they created it so that they could provide the solution to advance their agenda.
Why is Nigeria Ebola-free? There are great Men of God in Nigeria, and people who pray, and pray, and pray. That is the only reason why. Angels, because of prayer, have been able to bring the cure there. Read Daniel 10:2-14 and Philippians 4:6-7...and more.
I am a North American living in West Africa and learning a LOT. Praise God and pray that it is wisdom - not just knowledge - that I learn.
I could be afraid. But I choose to pray and rest in the peace of God. That is all we have or need. Hallelujah!
"Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. ...read Ephesians 6:10-18
May God strengthen us to overcome business, fatigue - and all manner of devil's excuses - so that we Stop, Drop, and PRAY.
"There will be great earthquakes, famines, and pestilences in various places, and fearful events, and great signs from heaven." Read Luke 21 in light of the Ebola crisis or any other thing that troubles you.
Jesus Christ is not one solution on a list; he is the only solution. Everything else comes under seeking the kingdom of heaven.

Anonymous said...

Since the us gvt is long out of credibility, I'll be the bad guy and proceed as if they have no clue what they're taking about. Better safe than sorry, thank you very much!

Carol Nevin said...

Carol Nevin
My African missionary friend reminded us in his newsletter that malaria kills 6x more people in Africa than Ebola has. Maybe we should send more help for that too.


Jedi Master Ivyan said...

I appreciate your perspective, having personally faced this menace firsthand. But I respectfully disagree. This is not the office of the US military. I don't oppose sending aid. I don't oppose sending materials and medicine. But I cannot stand the thought of sending our soldiers off to be cannon fodder. Leadership can't even seem to decide if the soldiers will have the potential to be exposed and what levels of protection would be sufficient. It is wrong to send in a force to fight an enemy without weapons or defenses.

Thank you for your work in Uganda.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting how the article states how necessary and important it is for the American military to go over there and build stuff...help out ...of course the American taxpayers are paying for it out of their paychecks (the 50% , like me, that actually pay taxes that is). Yes, America is always expected to hand over the dough and help everybody out, yet at the same time I see a consistent attitude of disrespect and dislike and denunciation of "Americans and America" .

I also agree with anonymous at 2:41

Anonymous said...

It is foolishness of the highest degree to put American troops into the position of being infected and bringing it home to countless others... jeez, we can't even leave our babies in the church nursery with a runny nose, but we can be so careless with a known deadly disease?? And yes Obama has not done anything to show his interest in protecting us - flights should be stopped for awhile at the very least, and our borders closed. Love protects.

Anonymous said...

"Jesus would be more concerned about helping the sick in Liberia than castigating the CDC in America. He would be touching the contaminated, and comforting the mourners, and bringing hope. Let us do the same."
Jesus would be equally concerned about preventing its spread, ma'am.
You're confusing caring and love with stupidity and lack of caring which is manifest in your comments belittling the "fear and panic" of anyone or any country who wants to keep it away from them.

Anonymous said...

You might consider using black copy on a white page rather than this difficult- to- read white copy on black...it's makin' me crazy trying to read it

Anonymous said...

American leaders like Obama and his so-called CDC is causing panic by their lack of concern and acting like this is no more concern the the common cold - also you can't equate people choosing to rock climb etc with a known deadly virus that is highly contagious...

Your deductions are illogical and not helpful - Just long and caring for sick people isn't all there is to it - and why do imply that Americans don't care about the people of Africa?? That's pretty judgmental. Meanwhile you "demand" that we send our military with our money behind them to help.

The reason America IS a civilized nation is BECAUSE we take precautions for our people's health, safety and welfare. Not to put down nations that don't have the modern technology and conveniences, but that's simply a fact. So don't act surprised that we insist on precaution!

And please don't say that gun ownership means that we gun owners "play" with guns! Have you ever seen a gun killing someone all by itself?? Guns don't kill people, in case you haven't noticed. They are no different that plants, or tools. It's evil minded people who kill - and they will with any thing they can use. Guns PROTECT innocent people!! From foreign invaders, from criminals and potentially even their own government who would turn against them That's the beauty of America. Don't put down innocent, free people. Stop putting down America. Put down the criminals and those who would use a neutral object for evil purposes and not those who would use them to protect the lives of others.
Put on your thinking caps - It's great to have a heart - but don't lose your head over it!

Laura said...

Hi Jennifer, you don't know me, but I've been following your work for some time, before the days of Ebola in Bundi. I also wrote a blog that occasionally gained a lot of traffic, and I don't know if the negative comments affect you, but mine affected me more than I realized at the time. I just want to suggest that if such comments are a blackhole of energy for you, I don't think any of us will fault you for changing your settings so that anonymous comments are not allowed, or something along those lines. Just wanted to encourage you as a fellow blogger who spent more than one night having make-believe arguments or feeling very sad for how hard it was to communicate with some people, I vote you can run the comments sections and this whole site however you see best, without judgment from your usual readers.

kate said...

As always, your words and perspective are invaluable. Thank you for (bravely) sharing.

Lisa Gertz said...

To previous commenters who are quick to criticize this couple for their life choices and their advice about ebola: it would be well worth reading other things they wrote, particularly in 2007, such as this post for example. http://paradoxuganda.blogspot.nl/2007/12/on-being-home-and-on-counting-cost-of.html
To the bloggers themselves: thank you for your input, your testimony, and your sacrificial commitment to a beautiful people in a difficult place. I lived in Nigeria for 3 years, the daughter of medical missionaries who lived there for 21 years. I appreciate every chance I have to hear from those who have overseas experience and a different perspective from the typical American one. Thank you for sharing with us. (I'd have to echo previous commenter who said that white on black is hard to read, though, just FWIW!)

Kim said...

Thank you for this. You looked me in the eye and said "Kim, calm down. You are ok. Pray for those who aren't."

vicstar said...

Hi,
My name is victoria and I would like to receive updates from you e.g a newsletter?? Is there any way I can get a hold of it?
Victoria

Eric McCloy said...

Technology Side Note: For those who don't like reading white-on-black, there are two free services out there (Instapaper and Readability) which allow you to set your reading preferences and apply that style to anything you're reading online. They do a bunch of other cool things too (like grab stuff you like, format it for you, and send it to your kindle) but the simple changing content to your own preferred style improves online reading for all sites.

Eric McCloy said...

Jennifer, what encourages me about you and your family is that you have, for years, demonstrated love in practical, tangible ways. Your approach to risk is neither impetuous nor have you left cost unexamined, yet you continually choose to engage and touch people's lives in whatever messy (and sometimes dangerous) place they find themselves.

You were skinny dipping in Ebola juice long before it was cool.

hombre said...

Thank you for sharing your experience and perspective. A word of caution about your assessment of the reactions in the US: There is no mass hysteria. There is anger. The CDC deserves castigation. It has received billions of dollars to prepare for pandemics and has not done so. It has squandered much of the money on political trifles and may indeed be responsible for creating conditions conducive to the spread of Ebola. Additionally, it is clear that our troops have not been adequately trained or equipped for their mission and that they are not volunteers for the mission.

God bless and keep you.

Ashley Jurado said...

Thanks for this. Its crazy what people will post under the shroud of anonymity. Just don't dignify them with a response. Thanks for your insights and for the reality check! The American media capitalize on fear-mongering, drives me crazy.

Praying for divine intervention amidst the devastation in West Africa. God is able, and we are His tools!

Judy said...

I love your last pharagraph,
Jesus would be more concerned about helping the sick in Liberia than castigating the CDC in America. He would be touching the contaminated, and comforting the mourners, and bringing hope. Let us do the same.
Why do we always act like its so much worse when it comes to our land?

Anonymous said...

Yes, but clearly we have medication for malaria as well as prevention.

Michael Susan McMillan said...

It is clear that few people that responded to this post actually read what it said. Ebola is not Uganda. It is in west Africa. Not east. Thank you again Dr Myres for all the work that you have done over the years. May God bless you.

Anonymous said...

I couldnt have said that any better. Not all Americans feel entitled and many of us work very hard to help others every day. My sister and her husband work in Africa and are very involved in the ongoing lack of adequate healthcare there. I understand the frustration of people who are called to dedicate their lives and service to another nation other than their own. But I would like to point out that the America that you are so quick to admonish, is the same America that afforded most of the doctors and administrators working in all the orginizations the education and ability to minister the way you do. So by all means, feel free to be frustrated with the lack of orginization and ready resources, but please remember that our great country and the amazing people who live here are part of the reason that you are able to be there helping the people you have. No one should be faulted or insulted for being born in any country. That would be like holding the healthy people responsible for the infected getting sick. We all play a part in this world, and we all deserve to be respected for those parts.

Heather Burke Cody said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Heather Burke Cody said...

This.

"Jesus would be more concerned about helping the sick in Liberia than castigating the CDC in America. He would be touching the contaminated, and comforting the mourners, and bringing hope. Let us do the same."

Ah....Kingdom come. Thank you for these words. May the Glory and Goodness of Jesus be ever close to you.