A Conversation About Covid-19

A friend of mine is a doctor in the Northeast USA. Her husband oversees a major Covid-19 treatment facility. Over the past few days, she and I have exchanged emails, and I thought it might be useful to share what she said. Below is an edited version of our communication.

My friend:

The whole point of a lockdown is to “flatten the curve” so transmission doesn’t occur so quickly, rather than running like wildfire though society overwhelming the medical profession and hospitals. If we can slow it down, we can have time to look for cures, and possibly a vaccine, although I’m not getting my hopes up on that one.

We also need to protect our medical personnel, or we won’t have any left to carry on. We are already learning so much about who is at risk, the crazy and many ways this affects people of all ages.  There are loads of research protocols working on these things now and they are already coming out with information, even if it’s only things that aren’t working.

It’s sobering to look back at the flu epidemic of 1918 which started in Haskell, Kansas and killed over 50-100 million people worldwide in a relatively short period of time. I’m listening to the book The Great Influenza by John Barry.

We learned a lot from that pandemic, but clearly there are many today who are not taking those lessons to heart. Young people in particular were hit hard, particularly boys sent off to war. It was horrific and devastating. When the virus first hit in Kansas a small town it wasn’t as fatal as it became later when it hit the Army barracks. This virus could do the same. It can morph and take on more devastating effects. There were also areas of the world where it was not as lethal.

Influenza in a bad year in the USA in the last decade killed about 60,000+ people, and that was with a vaccine in America. Normally it’s more like 30,000/yr.  This is already beyond that and we are trying to contain it in the strictest way we can. We don’t even know if you can get immunity if you have it once. It could be like malaria (not a virus caused illness) where you get it over and over, and it could potentially kill you each time you acquire it. The residual effects this disease is having on people who survive might be lifelong. My daughter’s boyfriend who is a neurologist, just gave a lecture on all the neurologic manifestations they have seen with COVID, stroke being one of the worst ones. Continue reading

More News Regarding Congo Relief

More news from Damiri — 

Hello again,

Church on the Rock Beni proceeds with the second distribution. As I wrote before, the whole territory of Beni is still not safe, people get slaughtered. Last week 4 trucks were burnt in Ituri, many people were slaughtered. So keep it in your prayers.

For the distribution, 4 Families from Mantumbi received food, cooking oil, clothes, Soap and mattresses. 14 others Families of refugees also received food and Soap. 4 ladies and 3 children are being assisted with medical and psychological Care. One particular lady is seriously traumatized. When I visited them, she quickly recognized me, but the way she was talking too much, I thought she was mad. She has been in the hospital for three weeks now. Doctors say she needs to be discharged and continue with psychological assistance.

With the Relief Fund we have also been paying for medical bills.

Pray for another sister from Mantumbi that is admitted, ready for her baby delivery.

I thank God for bringing me safe back in Goma. I went to the air company to confirm my ticket, only to find out that all flights have been canceled between Goma, Beni and Butembo and cars will also be stopped from moving between cities in 48hours, because Goma had registered 3 cases of COVID-19, so I decided to rent a cab to Goma. The journey took the whole day on a narrow bumpy road, very scary.

I am very very grateful for all your contributions to make this possible. Brethren were very happy and encouraged by my visit. The food, medical Care and other home needs for the refugees are being covered with the support you sent. Today Butembo Church is proceeding to the second distribution of Food, Charcoal and cooking oil.

As we pray for all the nations, I want to add on your prayer list two more requests for Congo.

– Two New cases of Ebola was found in Beni, that is two days before the declaration of the end of Ebola.

– The Director of the President’s cabinet was summoned to the court and arrested the same day for embezzlement of millions of dollars, evidences are many. But this scenario risks turning into something else, as we know the former president is always looking for ways to Come back to power. He has the court, the senate, the Parliament and the army behind him. So pray that the will of God is done in this situation.

May God bless you for your Love and Care in such a time.

If you would like to support the work in Congo, serving those who lay their lives down for the gospel of Christ, you may send donations:

Online:
Visit http://www.sjumc.org
Choose “Cantrell Missionary Support”
Write “Congo Relief” in the notes section
Follow instructions to finalize the donation

Or

Make the check to:
St. James Missionary Fund
Write “Congo Relief” on the memo line

And mail to:
St. James UMC
111 West Lake Drive
Athens, GA 30606

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. . . because the killers always pass through the school yard.

We along with Mike Anticoli, Victory Christian Church and several donors recently sent financial support to churches suffering in eastern Congo. This was the first of an on-going relief fund helping our brothers and sisters in that area, a region that suffers from murderous attacks and a recent Ebola outbreak. Damiri recently visited many of the churches and has sent us this report — 

From pastor Damiri Paluku Wa Sumbusu:

I am very grateful for the privilege of coming to visit brothers and sisters from different Churches that are affected by the killings. Thanks for helping out and providing for my air ticket, meals and assistance to different needs. I met with pastors and Church members from six of our Churches in Beni, I also visited four of the churches: Biane, Eringeti, Oicha and Beni.

I want to share some News, Photos and Gratitudes from different our different Churches for the School Fees support and the Relief Funds.

When you leave Béni going to Oicha and to Eringeti, there are a lot of military camps both sides of the road; many abandoned, and burnt houses, a few civilians walking on the side of the road.

I was able to meet our brothers and sisters from Mantumbi. I was able to visit two sisters from Mantumbi in Beni. One was seriously sick and admitted in a hospital. The hospital did not give her a bed because she is a refugee, and they know that refugees do not pay, so they put her mattress on the ground and in a men’s hall. When they saw us coming to visit, they decided to give her a bed in the women’s hall.

In Butembo I had lunch with the couple of Papa Deo and many others from our Church in Mantumbi.

Pastor Robusta – From Oicha

Most people in Oicha have not been living in their homes for more than a year. They spend nights in balconies of houses a long side the main Road, and others spend nights on the football ground, fearing to be killed at night by the jihadists.

I saw a child that was almost 2 when they left their home, about one year later the parents went to visit their abandoned home with the child; seeing grown grass around the house, the child asked her parents: where had the owners of the house gone, not knowing it is their home; she had forgotten the house.

In this period of trial we testify about the hunger of the word of God that is Growing in our community.

We are Grateful for the Relief Funds that has helped get a place to stay, we got food and before that we have been receiving support for School fees. My children used to fail School because they could not finish a term, they used to bé chased because of School fees. But my daughter succeeded with 89%, she was surprises that she finished last year without being chased. She has promised to continue studying hard.

We organized Our Church to helped my neighbor build his house. December last year we had gathered 700$ (our work of 3years), we have been able to add 20 $ since January this Year.

Pastor Élu Ngwete – from Mongamba

We are very Grateful for the coming of Pastor Damiri. We are very Grateful for the Relief Support and the school fees, my children are not chased out of school any more and they are working very good. They used to fail, because they were always chased when they did not have school fees.

Pygmies and bantus from our community are enjoying God’s word, in May we are planning to have discipleship sessions. We are preparing to cut tree and make lumbers to build the Church we have fuel and the cutting machine is ready, we are still looking for some more money to pay the one that will cut the timber for us.

We are helping 3 pygmy orphans in my family.

Our village has experience a serious Time of fear and many have left and have gone to Butembo; we also have a challenge of poisoning, but God is taking Care of us. Pray for us. We need to build our Church. We hold meetings outside.

pastor Muyali – from Biane

We thank God for all that he is doing. We also thank our leaders for their love and care.
We have received the relief support and School fees for our children. I also received help for my eyes surgery.

Last December people had start coming back to the village then in January we were attacked seriously and people left. Many Church members testify of the way  the Relief support was a great help many have taken Church seriously to see how we care for them in the time of trouble. Some people are coming back to the village, so I decided to go back for them. But many are still in Beni and Butembo.

We are also planning to collect money to contribute on the purchase of the Oicha Church Land. We plan to make Charcoal and what we get, we will give for the purchase of our Church Land in Oicha.

Today we have an attendance of about 50 people. I am also doing discipleship with the new believers.

We need to work on our Sunday School, it has been forgotten for a long time.

For our School in Biane: the Fellowship helped us to go to Bunia work on our School Legal Documents. It is in process now. In case we get these papers, our teachers will be paid by the government. When that happens it will be a big step forward, because we have never been able to pay our teachers enough since we started school there, we always give them very little money.

For now, we abandoned our school facility because the killers always pass through the school yard. So parents did not want to send their children to that location. We are planning on moving the classrooms on the side of the main road. It is safer there.

Also, soldiers that came to defend us are occupying part of our Land.

Pastor Moïse – from Eringeti

We were happy to see our Pastor Damiri and the word of encouragement that he has given us.

We are grateful for the school fees of children, the school had started chasing my children when we received the funds for school fees, we got food for our families thanks to the Relief Funds. We say thank you very much

Before the attacks and killings, we had ask the Church to contribute for our Oicha Church Land, we were able to gather 75,000 Congolese Francs. We had left our Church building because of the killings next to our Church building. We have not been able to use the Church building for a little more than a year now. A small group had been Gathering in the pastor’s house. Now we are planning 4 cell groups, so far one has started.

Pastor Germain – from Apende

Apende was safe during the last killings, but now we receive many refugees. I received 5 Families at our church, they all received help from the Relief Fund. It was a big surprise for them. The unfinished house serves as a shelter for the families.

We are grateful for the support we get for the school fees of pastors’ children.

We have 4 groups for discipleship now. We are doing door to door Evangelism.

We had 8 cell groups last Sunday, the total number of people that met last Sunday in all our cell groups were 103.

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Help for Churches in Congo

Through the very generous donations of folks in the USA, we were able to send help to our friends in Congo. The pastors I’ve met in Congo lead churches in the heart of the current Ebola outbreak. They are heroes of the faith, sacrificing themselves for the gospel. Here is a word from one of the leaders:

We are so grateful for your generosity. We received the support you sent us, and we bought medicine, liquid soap and some other things that will help the families of our pastors. Thank you so much. May God bless you abundantly.

They also purchased disinfectants and hand-washing rigs for church meetings. As you can imagine, it can be dangerous having meetings in an Ebola outbreak, since the sickness is transferred by personal contact. The medicines are helpful in other situations.

Please keep these dear brothers and sisters in your prayers. It means a lot to them that we are with them in spirit and remember them in our prayers.

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About Valerie

As many of you know, we’re in the process of adopting a 4 year old girl. Here’s a little news about how she’s doing.

Valerie is doing very well. She has a few developmental delays, and we’ve been addressing them over the past several months. We especially thank Beth Shanklin, a friend and neuro-developmentalist, who assessed Valerie and wrote a personalized program for her.

A Russian speech therapist came to visit us said we are doing great. We don’t need to hire her for other than occasional visits and giving recommendations. Olga’s doing a great job helping Valerie and being a good mom.

We’re still waiting to hear from the court if they have set a date to consider terminating Valerie’s mother’s parental rights. We hope this will happen soon but it’s out of our hands now.

We’re at the very first stages of homeschooling. We’ve set up a little desk for Valerie and are looking for a full curriculum.

A walk in the park: