Monday, March 30, 2015

God first, and the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit Team second

Last weekend, Rick and I traveled to Omaha to help the Biocontainment Unit Team celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the creation of the unit at Nebraska Medical Center for the treatment of patients with highly contagious diseases.  For 9 years, a team of nurses, infection control experts, lab techs, and doctors trained and studied without caring for a single patient.  And finally, on September 5, 2014, they admitted their first patient.  Yes, that would be Rick.  As he said in his comments, he put the "Bio" in "Biocontainment" 
This was Rick's room
It was a special time to be able to thank all of the team members who did so much to save Rick's life. They are really an exceptional group of professionals.  Since Rick left, they have had two additional patients.  They have also become a resource to other hospitals all over the USA in preparing to handle an unexpected contact with an Ebola patient.  They have traveled around to evaluate newly established isolation units and invited thousands of doctors, nurses and administrators to Nebraska to learn the essentials of setting one up.  We are so impressed by them.  They are also heroes of the Ebola epidemic, because they make it possible for volunteers to go to West Africa to serve in such a high risk situation.  Even this month, they were monitoring a small group of workers who had an exposure in Sierra Leone while they went through their 21 day observation period. Today is their 21st day, and none of them became ill.
Most of the leadership team
We really thank God for the team of doctors and nurses and support people who took care of Rick in Nebraska. It was super fun to go back and see them again.  They were all so pleased to see that Rick had gained weight and had his color back--- "You look good" was the most frequent comment.  We shared memories of good moments in the midst of Rick's illness: homemade Runzas by Nikki's mom, Kendall's chicken soup, and a midnight air guitar dance party that had not previously been exposed. We got to meet Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts, who was bursting with pride in his state and his people. It was really fun to be a part of their celebration.
But most of all, it was good to take a moment to thank God for what he has brought us through.  As they say in Liberia "Thank God for life!" 

Friday, March 13, 2015

It's All Grace.

Last weekend, we had the privilege of participating in the 58th Annual Missions Conference at Black Rock Congregational Church in Fairfield, Connecticut.  Black Rock has been supporters of former SIM-Liberia missionaries Jon and Pat Shea, so they were familiar with the work of ELWA in Liberia.  We were welcomed there as if we were long time friends. 

Rick preached the morning message on Sunday, which he had to do 3 times!! God gave him a challenging word to share from Philippians 1:29-30: "For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have."  In the sermon, he told a very powerful story of one of the ELWA staff who contracted Ebola and spent his time in the ETU ministering to others that we haven't told in another place.  I listened to the sermon all three times and the story still got to me on the third time through it. The story starts at 18:35.

March 8 - Missions Conference: Engaged In The Conflict from Black Rock Church on Vimeo.

Thanks for tuning in.  Also, thanks for praying for us in these great opportunities that have come up-- to share God's word, to encourage the church in missions outreach and to keep the Ebola crisis in West Africa in the prayers of His people.

For the Kingdom, Debbie and Rick

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Thanks to all!

It was cold outside, but warm and friendly inside at First Congregational Church of Holden on Friday night.  A big thank you to Pastor John Barber (who recounted some of our history with him) and the hospitality crew at FCCH who took care of everything with regards to the facility. I think that over 200 people attended from all over the state.  The music by Michael Borkay and the "Five Golden Rings" from Trinitarian Congregational Church in Wayland, MA was enjoyable and suited the theme of the occasion.  Rick shared some moving stories of his time in Liberia and gave us a glimpse of what Liberia has been through in the last year. 

You can watch the video of the entire program here:
Rick Sacra's presentation at First Congregational Church of Holden
It begins at about the 7 minute mark

The evening concluded with a fundraising appeal.  If you would like to give to the projects Rick explains in his presentation you can use this link:
enter country: Liberia, keywords: ELWA Hospital and select “All”

Choose any of the following:
Benevolence 082876-091:  this project will provide assistance to patients who cannot afford to pay their hospital bill
Family Medicine Residency 095213-091: this project will be used to start a Family Medicine Residency program to train Liberian doctors
Hospital Transition 095212-091:  this project will allow ELWA to replace lab equipment that is urgently needed.
Rick has set an ambitious goal of $50,000 for these three projects.  So far from Friday evening, we have received gifts of over $3000.  Thanks to all who responded so generously. God bless you!
Here are some photos from the evening -- we should have recruited a photographer to get more photos than we could do on our own!

Pastor John Barber of FCCH

Michael Borkay

A Capella Group from TCC -- "It is Well with my Soul"

Arthur David surprised us - another Liberia missionary, with the Church of Christ.

Joe and Jemimah Teh, co-workers from Liberia