21 and 42. These numbers have a whole new meaning for many of us due to the events of the past year. The first, 21 days, is the maximum amount of time the Ebola virus can stay alive in someones body. The second, 42 days is of course 21 days doubled and the numbers of days a country must have no confirmed cases to be declared Ebola free. Today is that day in Liberia. It really is a miracle and something that I don't think has really sunk in yet.
Since last late March, I have experienced four 21 day periods. The first being evacuated in April and waiting until there were no cases in Liberia for 21 days before returning back home. The second 21 days after we evacuated in August-and that 3 weeks was probably the most intense as it came after the most exposure working in the ETU. The third 21 days came when I returned in Nov. in an apartment at an undisclosed area where my family couldn't come see me for a while-alone with my thoughts a very lonely time. And now this last one...I find it ironic that I am flying back on day 42. I asked the CDC lady at the screening area if they would still be doing this for people coming from Liberia-she was not to sure. So I will have to take my temp twice a day and phone it in to health authorities again. It's almost become second nature.
Last week I visited ELWA 2 for the first time since July.
What it looked like last July, I am on the right with the sprayer.
Looking into an empty ETU...
I know that God will keep redeeming in all of us-revealing in His time the miracles that have happened because of this unprecedented outbreak. Every time I see our staff I thank God for the miracle that they never got sick. Every time I visit Mary, see Rick, Kent and Nancy and other survivors we can thank God for the miracle of their life. Every time I think back and don't cry or feel shame and guilt I know that little miracles are happening in me. In all of us.
Got to go to Foya one last time...
All of us will carry our scars-but that's ok. Those scars help us remember those that were lost, to remember a time when our lives were changed, to remember a faithful God that for some reason had us where we were at that time to do His work.
I pray that we don't have to go through waiting for another 42 days again. But I do know that until Sierra Leon and Guinea celebrate their 42 days we are susceptible to a confirmed case crossing our border. As long as there is a reservoir of bats in the region we are open to new infections. But one thing I do know- we are better prepared, we are much more vigilant and I have seen people changing some of there behaviors to ensure that we do not repeat the past. I pray these behavior changes continue.
I know much more will be revealed when I am in the presence of the Father-and He shows me the "why" of this experience. I know some of them he has revealed to me already-but I know there are more. In the meantime, I am grateful that Liberia has made it to 42 days. I am reflective on the events that got us here. And I still mourn for all the pain, death and darkness that gripped a country we have come to love and call home. But for now I will board another flight, I have lost count of how many I have taken this year, and see my family as we prepare to make our way back to Liberia. Together with our SP family again. That, my people is one of the greatest miracles...but that's our God, a God of miracles.