Saturday, April 25, 2015

Redeeming Miracles... Part I

July 11, 2014.  Our team got a call that there was a suspect case just behind our Foya base.  Of course I was concerned, we had heard of suspect cases all that week-and many were in the Ebola treatment unit we worked at. As we headed out with our team and safety equipment I wasn't too sure what to expect. We winded through the back little bike trail where it opened up to a small mud packed house. A young woman was lying on a bench.  She was too weak to get up. We all knew this was Ebola. 

Our team started to get dressed- our leader and friend from MSF, went through with them what they were to do.  One of my colleagues who had just arrived, was with me and we both stood watching feel helpless.  The team did their job with care-all the while carefully following safety protocols.  They were a great group.  Our patient had a name-Mary-her mom told us, and Mary was pregnant.  Ugh. My heart sank again-as I knew the chance of survival for pregnant women with Ebola was very, very slim...She managed to get up, she was hot and needed shade-no one was dressed yet so no one could come and help her.  She slowly crawled to the truck and laid under the back end for shade.  I had never witnessed something so desperately sad-I could barely watch.

The day we picked up Mary...
We got Mary to the clinic and got her admitted, in a room with IV and drew blood to confirm what all of us already knew.  As the days went on-whenever I was in the unit I would check on Mary. As a hygienist I couldn't administer direct care-but I could make sure she was comfortable, talk to her, check that she had water, clean her area, talk to her and most importantly pray for her. Some days when I went to go check she would be sleeping-but I wasn't sure if she was sleeping or had actually passed-my heart would start beating faster and I would yell out "Mary! Mary! it's me oh!"  She would rouse out of her weak sleep and respond- "That me-oh, I here!"  Her eyes half open with that Ebola sheen on them-and I would breath a sigh of relief.  Death would not have Mary today. 
After doffing out of my hot suit I would go and find Mary's mom.  This sweet lady who didn't know English-would come everyday and sit outside and wait for whatever reports there were on her daughter.  I would find someone to translate into the local dialect of Kgissi-and tell her that Mary is still here and to keep praying.  We all tried our best to be as honest as possible -knowing full well how hard it was for family to not see their loved ones and having to trust a stranger with whatever news they could share with them.  This carried on for the a week-I would go in see Mary-come out find her mom, sit with her and tell her to keep praying. Everyday as I made my way to Mary's room I would pray "Lord please let her be alive-I don't want to have to tell this loving mother that Ebola has stolen her daughter from us."  I would enter-call her name and wait for her response..."I here oh! That me here!"  Thank you Jesus for one more day.
Then I had to leave. I had flew down to Monrovia to help the team there-take a much needed day off and see my boys.  I left Mary in very capable hands, my friends Taya, Karen, Tim, Aisha and so many more-who I knew would care for her as much as they could.  I also made sure they knew who her mom was and to let her know everyday how Mary was doing.  
I would hear from the team that Mary was still alive and then I was hearing that she was improving!  She was now able to come out to the courtyard-she had lost her baby but she was still alive, it was a miracle.  Then we left Liberia-broken, exhausted, shell shocked of the events we had all witnessed. I had heard that Mary survived-and yes, I was so happy-but it was hard from me to imagine-the whole experience seemed so surreal....

April 21, 2015. Foya base. It was time to go see Mary. One of our great staff members who lives in the same area as Mary was taking me back to the house-where  just over 9 months earlier I had picked up a sick woman, near death. Mary was now deaf-due to Ebola-but she could read lips in her local dialect - I got to the house-her sister called for Mary.  My heart was pounding-but in a good way, not like the past. There she was.  I barely recognized her-but she recognized me. Her smile. Her eyes. She was a perfect miracle. I couldn't stop smiling-because she had Ebola and can't get it again, I could give her a hug!  We talked through interpretation and lip reading-I couldn't stop staring at her, she really is alive. 

Mary on the right reading her sisters lips...

 This woman right here-MIRACLE!

Her mom had been visiting people in a nearby community and wasn't there however, a few minutes later the kids ran up the trail-she was coming! I got up and started walking towards her on the trail-when she saw me the smile on her face instantly was branded on my heart.  Words will never be able to express the JOY that was running through me-a joy I was convinced Ebola had stolen from me.  I was so happy that she remembered me-talking quickly and laughing I asked in eagerness "what is she saying?!" Translating quickly, our staff member told me how she was happy to see me, that she remembered me telling her to keep praying for Mary. She also exclaimed, that I was looking a lot better-back in July I was very thin and exhausted, she was happy I looked bigger and healthier.  We all laughed together -it was one of the most beautiful reunions I have ever been apart of.
 Mary's mom, me and Mary...together-thank you Jesus...

We visited, laughed, talked, took pictures and reminisced about those dark days.  It was the best and cheapest therapy I have ever had! My SP collegue John who was with me the day that we picked up Mary belived that God would heal her.  He was so confident. I was not. John left and would ask about her-and when I heard that she had survived I was happy to admit I was wrong.  Thank you John for your prayers for Mary! The team that cared for Mary-all of you-I was just a small part for a week, so thankful for you.  You helped her as she got better, encouraged her, prayed for her-I wish you could all come back to Foya and see Mary. You deserve more than I to feel that joy, to experience these redeeming miracles for all those we lost. There is so much more that could be written about Mary-so much that I know the team that cared for her could add-I wish I would have been with you all when she was discharged.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

As I walked back to base after our great visit my heart was so full, I could physically feel it almost bursting with joy, gratitude, much! Is there still hurt, pain, guilt and many more emomtions and feelings that I carry with me from this Ebola hell?  Yes. I fight many of these demons everyday.  But God in His love and His timing is replacing those with "Mary's".  Evidence for my small human mind-that He is God and He orchestrates miracles to build my weak faith.  Only God can bring such beauty from ashes.



  1. Just beautiful -- I love thisl! Thank's for sharing your heart and passion so well.

  2. What a heart rending account of the faithfulness of God...... Praise Him! I am so thankful you are able to experience it!

  3. So happy for you, Bev!!! I hear the healing in your words! God is truly good and working miracles!! You are in our prayers and thoughts daily!

  4. Bev, I have been away from your blog for awhile but today, as the world acknowledges Day 42, I was drawn to catch up and look back on this - and your- story. I need to tell you that again, your writing not only touches me deeply but inspires me to pray and to believe! Thanks for capturing some of the what must be many jumbled thoughts and emotions and for sharing parts of the intimate journey. From allowing your readers glimpses of the ugly and hard amidst the battle and now this most recent post that reveals such hope amidst the grief and loss that has blanketed so many in Liberia. I pray that hope, healing, peace and relationship with the Giver of these gifts will one day replace the heaviness and fear that must still reign in so many villages. And for you - Many times I have prayed and yes - maybe even worried for you - physically but particularly emotionally as things slow enough to allow for processing of the horrific trauma and grief you have seen and been a part of. I have asked God to walk you through tenderly, to heal, to reveal Himself in new ways and to show you the impact that your efforts and your standing in the gap has had - by allowing you glimpses of redemption. I have prayed over and over that His presence would be very real to you. Your story of reunion with Mary and her mom bears such testimony to this in profound and wonderful ways and I am so thankful for her story and life. I am also honoured that you would share this experience with us. Thanks for your obedience and faithfulness and for loving well. Blessings as you reunite with your North American family and then as you head back "home"!