Have you ever been threatened by something you can’t see? Something that wasn’t physically manifested there in front of you? Something so dangerous it could force you to flee your home, but remained invisible? Have you ever lived life, wondering each day if it would be the last day in your home for an unknown period of time? Ever walked out to your garden and thought about planting something, wondering if you should bother? Ever lived life where your mind wonders at how dangerous it could be, to shake the person’s hand in front of you? To welcome someone in your home?
Now before you get too excited let me say that we are not living in fear each moment. These are just some of the thoughts that cross your mind when you’re living in a place where it feels like Ebola is looming, creeping closer. It’s not in our village, yet, but each day brings the possiblity that it will come. Each day brings the possibility that we will have to evacuate out to Uganda and ride out the storm there; wondering each day how our friends, home, animals and community are doing back here. We are not in a ‘red zone’ yet, but each day it could become one. Each day we could be removed from our home to become unsettled, living in survival mode in another country.
This is why we desperately need your prayers right now. Why our family, team and community needs your prayers right now, tomorrow, the following day and the days after that, until Ebola is gone from our area.
Our mission is on top of tracking it and we are safe for now, but the risk would be too great for us to stay if it came into our village. We would have to go pack up what we are going to bring with us, say a prayer before leaving, get on a plane and hope for the best. When will we come back? Will we come back to someone we know, dead? How am I going to deal with the guilt of leaving others behind to face the danger? Your mind can go crazy thinking all of the thoughts and directions it could go. So I find myself trying not to think about it too much; instead I lift up a prayer and do my best to let it go.
The looming threat of Ebola is different than other threats we have faced here. It’s one thing to have locks on your doors and bars on your windows that will stop a robber but they wont stop what can’t be seen. It is very strange to think about; we could have a life-threatening intruder and not even know it. It’s even stranger to live in the middle of the unseen with a sense of peace, living life normally as you would as if it weren’t looming. I live with peace, until my mind turns to the possibility of it coming to our village and of us having to evacuate. I’m not honestly stressing about it too much but there is some pressure there, while we live life this way. It’s another one of those invisible stressors that missionaries sometimes have live with; that we are living with right now.
It is another layer to doing life right now and we have been living with it for just over a month’s time, though almost a good week of that time was spent over in Uganda for our annual family conference. Good things came out of the conference for us and the team but it was difficult to go after only having been back here for a few weeks. Hopefully now we can remain settled, so long as Ebola doesn’t come to our village. The odds though, are against us, with the hospital right up the hill. It’s the opposite side of the coin; having the hospital there is a blessing most of the time but in this storm, it becomes more of a risk factor.
But life is continuing on. A couple weeks ago we had an unexpected litter of kittens, a batch of chicks and our new piglet was dropped off all in one day. We now have two litters of kittens with one on the way and two piglets; one to butcher and one to keep to breed once the new land is set up for animals. The kittens were being born out on the lawn as it was this mom’s first litter and unfortunately she also had no milk in the beginning, which meant I had to bottle feed them in the beginning. Only one has made it but is now doing well and thriving.
Our American Welsummers are doing well and have just started to lay. Hopefully they will all be laying regularly soon and we can start incubating more. Even saying that make me sigh, thinking about starting a batch of chicks in the incubator and having to leave in the middle of it. Ebola is looming across our country and in our minds. It wants to creep in and stop life from continuing on. But I digress. Our other flock is doing well and has picked up laying again, until most of them went broody and had to be put into broody breakers.
The garden is doing well and hopefully I’ll get out there and get some more planting done soon. The chickens and ducks have been demotivating in this because they keep sneaking in the garden to destroy things and eat young plants. It’s like they just discovered that they can jump the garden fence after three years of it being a secret. That crazy white woman waving her arms and whooping as she runs after chickens behind the fence? Yeah, that was me. Again. Annnnnd Again.
I am incredibly pleased to say that we have more carrots going to seed and the second generation seed has sprouted and is growing! It will be some time before we know if it too will go to seed but if it does – it’s a miracle that God is blessing the EDRC community with!
If it confuses you why I say this let me explain: Normally carrots take two years to go to seed and they simply don’t go to seed in the tropics. Normally they take a period of cold, over-wintering in the ground or a root cellar to be planted again in the spring before they will go to seed. This means that you have to buy imported seed each time you plant carrots here. It makes them expensive and a risky investment for farmers. If you invest all this money in carrot seed and a droubt happens and you loose it all, there went who know’s how many month’s of salary.
But if you have a carrot that you can plant here in the tropics and gives seed, the crop changes into a normal, wise investment that can then become a part of their diet; one more source of varried nutrition to help stave off hunger and malnutrition. Carrots going to seed in the tropics is a miracle! The test crop still isn’t finished but if it goes to seed, it will bless so many across this area and maybe beyond. We have four test lines going right now and things are looking promising.
We were able to hire a few guys to go back to our new land and cut down all the brush that had retaken it; a snake in our yard motivated me to make sure it got done a weeks ago. We had a meeting today with a friend who will be overseeing the fencing project, including the labor to get it done. We’ve started by exhuming the foundation that is on the property so we have a place to store the gravel and sand that is needed for mixing concrete to put the posts in. We used the tractor to level the fence line and the workers have finished it by hand and have all the fence post holes already dug. Now if the weather would cooperate (it’s been raining) we could get the fence post anchors poured! It’s progressing well and is very exciting.
As I watch the land behind our place start to transform into the EDRC Community Development Project my mind still goes to that place of knowing that Ebola is looming; that all this good work could be stalled if we have to evacuate. It can all be demotivating and hard to think about. Life is going well, good things are happening, God’s hand can be clearly seen along the way if you’re looking, but Ebola is still there looming, threatening our way of life here. So can I ask you all to start praying for us in this specific area? Pray that it is contained quickly, that it doesn’t come into our village forcing us to evacuate, and that people wouldn’t use the trajedy of Ebola to furthur their agendas. Pray for safety for all of us and give praise that we still are. Give praise that He is in control and pray that the hearts of missionaries here are reminded of that every day.
Oh sweet Ashley, my mom (Dawn) and I are always praying for you. There is enough danger and chaos in that region without the looming threat of Ebola. I’ve been anxiously monitoring the CDC and WHO Ebola updates, praying it skips over your village and that the outbreak comes to an end soon. With all the fighting going on, containment has been especially difficult this time, and the CDC had to pull their experts out a few weeks ago because of the violence. They are having some success with trying to vaccinate those in close proximity, but there is still limited availability and it’s not a guarantee of prevention. You and your family contribute so much to the local community, it would be terrible if you have to leave. Is the Mission certain you will be able to leave if Ebola comes to your village? Many countries are enforcing stricter travel restrictions now to prevent spreading Ebola to other areas. I pray that God will shelter your small community and that he will allow you to continue your good works. Just be sure to keep in mind what they tell you on an airplane: put your oxygen mask on before you try to help others. The same is true in your situation. You and your family need to take care of yourselves first. You won’t be able to help anyone if you aren’t healthy and safe. Don’t wait too long to get out. Looking at the reports there’s been 1 case about 20 miles from you in Komanda with the majority around Beni and Botembo. That’s too close for comfort. We will continue to pray for you and all who are impacted. You are a strong, caring woman with a lion’s heart!
Ashley, what about the vaccine? Is that something you get as a preventative?
It isn’t really something we can get our hands on. It’s more difficult to source and would be reserved for health worker who are working directly with the virus.
We’ll get everyone at New Hope Bible Church praying for you, for protection from Ebola and for success in all your projects, including the EDRC Community Development Project, that the Lord’s purposes for you will be fulfilled.
Dick & Jo Ann Matthew 6:31-34…You are a colony of God’s kingdom in the middle of EDRC and He will protect and honor your work for Him in His kingdom! Also, meditate on Philippians 4:6,7
P.S. Did you order the Ivermectin yet?
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Praying now and will continue to pray for protection against the ebola virus. Also for progress with the garden project. May your feel the arms of our Lord holding you and experience His peace. Blessings, Jeannette
Praying always for your safety and now even more fervently, for Ebola to be eradicated and for you and your village to remain healthy & free of it! I pray your work there won’t be disrupted. It’s exciting to see and hear of the progress being made. 🙏🙏🙏