We have had to stop buying fish from any of the guys in our group because of the fear of the people that the fish that live in the ocean go and drink the water that comes out of the rivers and so they can make you sick. Our fisherman have just paid their money to put their kids all in school and now have no income because people are too afraid to buy fish. We do not have any cases here in Montrouis of contracted disease. The little mission hospital where we have our eye clinic has had 4 die and have treated hundreds. It is harder finding IV saline so keep that in your prayers.
This is Haiti's first significant cholera outbreak in 50 years. It is caused by a river in the Artibonite valley that became contaminated. We have seen about 3000 cases reported with almost 300 deaths. That is a terrible ratio even for a disease of this severity. The lack of understanding by the people of the cause of the disease and even bigger...fear. Fear killed many of the victims. They were afraid to drink more water because they heard water is what made them sick...so they died of dehydration. Tap tap drivers, local transportation, refused to carry passengers that were sick so they left them on the sides of the road to die...because they were afraid. Many hospitals and workers were afraid to take in patients and work with them at the onset because they did not know the cause of the disease...so patients died outside the hospitals. Fear is a powerful thing and a major part of life here in this little corner of reality.
People have some of the most irrational fears you can imagine. They are so scared of frogs because if it peepees in your eyes you will go blind...tough one to disprove but they get so upset with me for picking up frogs. Lucky for me, none have been able to pee in my eyes yet.
People fear all sorts of things concerning the spirits and voodoo. They fear many animals because it may be a lougau in disguise. They fear zombies. They fear witch doctors. The fear upsetting the family spirits. They fear dishonoring someone in power. They fear the government due to past leaders indiscriminately killing dissenters. They fear hunger. They fear food they are not familiar with. They fear a slight fever.
But out of all the fears that affect the people here, the one that is the greatest risk for them is the fear that comfortable Americans have of being drawn out of their comfort zone. The fear of millions of "Christians" that if they really give in to what God wants them to do to reach the world with His love, then He might send them to some crazy place like Haiti. When the reality is that if we would just surrender fully to God, He is most likely to keep us exactly where He had already placed us, but use us more effectively to fullfill our deepest desires and impact the lives of people from our home town to the far reaches of the world's densest jungles. But the fear that somehow God is going to demand something radical of us is a fear used by satan to keep us from really amounting to anything eternal. The fear is so strong that it triggers our defense mechanisms in our minds that cause us to build up walls to reality. We allow ourselves to be consumed by our surroundings in order to dull the sensation of reality. The sensation that just possibly we have totally missed it. Somehow we have convinced ourselves that our selfish, self serving, self helping, loveless, sacrificeless form of religion we inherited from our parents and perfected ourselves is somehow the Christianity described in the Bible.
That fear is the most dangerous fear in the world. More orphans, widows, homeless, starving, sick, helpless, and desperate souls die each year because of that fear than because of any fear I encounter here that we like to call "irrational". You want to talk about irrational? Is it rational to believe that a God who has ALL power in the universe and LOVES me more than I can comprehend could possibly devise a plan for me that is anything short of spectacularly amazing? I wish the greatest fear of my friends back home was frog peepee. Then maybe we could change the world.
Our greatest fear should be of the day we stand before a Holy God. We will give account for every thought, every action, every dollar, and all of our skills. I somehow don't think excuses like our kids are too small, our parents are aging now, when I get that raise we will give more, when we pay off some debt, if I could just hear from God, we're just waiting until we know for certain, I just don't feel "called", I just don't think this church is feeding me, I can't align myself with that pastor, that youth group is too culturally relevant, that church is not culturally relevant enough, etc. is going to pass when God asks why we would not obey the hundreds of instances in His word that He commands us to reach the world with His love. If we all feared that day as much as the Haitians fear zombies we could take care of the millions of orphans in subsahara Africa that become prostitutes because we are not there to give them a home. Or the sick in India that die because they don't have access to antibiotics that cost 75 cents. As I was typing this a man showed up from PAP crying. He has interpreted for us before at crusades. Degraff sat in my yard and cried as he explained that 3 days ago his 18 month old only son died of respiratory arrest and is in the morgue because he can't afford to have him buried. At the same time Joy was walking and met a man from another village sitting by the road holding a dead baby. The child died after leaving the hospital and the father had no money to get a tap tap to get back home. The world is literally dying and we spend our days complaining about the lines in Walmart.
On a lighter note, Luke arrived here in Haiti 3 weeks ago. He is doing great. He is a 16 year old missionary and not just a missionary's kid. He has already begun to have an impact on the people here. He is working with the fisherman and has gotten involved in the basketball community here. He is home schooling and doing well. You can see the first episode of his video documentary by clicking the link below.
We will try to keep folks updated about the cholera as things change.