While I was in Haiti in April, two of our young interpreters, Rachel and Jullie came down with a strange illness. The symptoms were of a flu but with severe joint pain, swelling and high fever. They were very sick. Four or so days later they recovered.
Upon returning home I learned that a new epidemic is raving Haiti and the rest of the Caribbean. It had even reached several areas of the US and is called Chickungunya disease. It is being referred to as Chik disease and is transmitted by a mosquito bite. The symptoms will return for up to two years but is usually not fatal.
In the coastal areas, there are always mosquitos, summer, winter, spring and fall. We bring insecticide and mosquito repellant normally and often sleep under mosquito netting. There’s not really any way to get away from it, you will be bitten by mosquitoes. If it doesn’t rain, they won’t be so bad but a few days after a rain, they will be much worse.
I started hearing that many of the villagers were ill and later I heard that most of the villagers were sick with it; some having it as many as three times. I called to find out for myself and found out that one of the young men from a good family had just died from it and also a cousin from another family. I was told that the villagers were afraid to go to sleep for fear of being bitten and that people were unsure what to do.
I had wanted to return to the village in July to register over 100 children into school but wondered if I should go during this time. I decided to go ahead and go as the children’s best chance to get out of poverty is to get an education.
Our team of seven came prayerfully on July 3rd and started interviewing the 450 villagers and deciding which children would get the scholarships. That was nine days ago and two or three rains ago and I have only seen one mosquito so far.
I can only call this a miracle as it makes no sense not to be here in the midst of many mosquitoes, as usual. God always seems to bless us in such wonderful and unusual ways and we want to acknowledge this blessing and praise Him for His protection on this team.
In Christ….John Leininger