Well we are holding out for one more week. Next Friday we fly out back to North America making a stop through Ontario to visit Oshawa Community Church and Impact Church in Kingston, Ontario. The weeks just before we leave Haiti are always crammed busy with preparations getting ready, as well as lots of people wanting to see us before we leave. They all want to get there last-minute request in before we leave for the summer. There are also lots of meetings to plan for programs that are going to happen in our absence and to prepare materials and resources for each group of the church and ministry to use all we are gone. We have a great leadership team that will help keep things going strong over the summer months with mostly church activities happening. The elementary school will close in June and the technical school closes for vacation in July, then there will be kids programs, youth programs, women's programs and men's programs for the church. This Sunday before we go, the women's and men's group from the church are going to visit the prison in Petit Goave. We've had our friends Mark and Elisa visiting from Canada this week and they will be accompanying us and tomorrow we will go check out the port in Miragoane. A team from EM I just arrived today will be helping us with further plan developments for our campuses and projects. I haven't had time to think about packing yet although the girls have already packed their carry-on suitcases. I'll probably need to check what they've packed, but they've done a pretty good job as they are eager themselves and ready to go.
My main concern right now is getting out of Haiti healthy and strong with our family and our other missionaries and mission team that are here right now. There is been an epidemic fever that has spread across Haiti and throughout the Caribbean called Chikungunya, which is so painful in the bones and causes major swelling in the glands that most people who get it can't even get up and walk. It seems to affect those who are under stress or already weak or worse, but it can be debilitating for up to two weeks or more. There have even been some reported cases of death because of the fever, but seemingly only in children or older adults who were already weak. This is a completely new fever for Haiti and probably the Caribbean. They say it has been in Africa and southeast Asia since the 1950s but is just started to make its way over to the Western Hemisphere. It's carried by two kinds of mosquitoes that carry the same fever called Dengue and there's no vaccine or treatment known for it except pain relievers. I'm praying hard that none of us get it as we cannot afford to lose any days before we go nor can I imagine travel with this kind of sickness. For the past week we've kept the kids inside the house as much as possible, sprayed them constantly w repellent and even spray the house so that no mosquitoes have the opportunity to bite us after they have bitten another person with the fever. I even had to opt out of our all-night prayer service tonight in order to keep the kids home. More than half of our staff and our church people have contracted the fever and it seems like people are dropping like flies around us. Please pray with us and keep us in your prayers that this fever will not hit our family or any other missionaries. Please also pray for our staff that no more are affected and that those that are sick are healed quickly.
We are eager to get back to Canada and start traveling to share about all the awesome things that God has done this year. I would say in the last six months this fever is the only bad thing that's really happened. And I praise God for that! It has been an amazing time to see what He has been able to accomplish through the mission teams that we have had come down and the operations of all of the ministries going on. Today we had a great staff meeting with those that could be there evaluating the year together. We asked them three questions:
1. In your sector what do you believe Haiti ARISE has accomplished this year?
2. Overall how do you feel Haiti ARISE has impacted the community?
3. How have you personally contributed to the vision of Haiti ARISE?
Their group answers were inspiring and encouraging as they all shared them with everybody. It was also a great activity to help them see how much they have helped accomplish this year. For those of you that will be joining us for our Annual Meeting in September, we will be sure to share the results with you! Now as we get ready to go we are looking forward to seeing all of you when we come to visit your church and area. If you would like us to come to your church and we are not yet scheduled, please make sure you get in touch with us as we will be so happy to visit with you.
Also stay posted for our newsletter which will be coming out shortly and share a bit of an overview of what's been happening.