Greetings Dear Friends,
We wanted to update you on some very recent and very important changes in Liberia and in our placement. If you have watched any news in the last several weeks, you have most definitely heard of the "Ebola Virus" and the devastating affect it is having on Liberia, as well as much of West Africa.
This virus has no known cure, no preventive treatments, and reports indicate that this virus has a 60-96% mortality rate, having killed well over 1,000 people in Liberia and other parts of West Africa. In efforts to stop the spread of this disease, Liberia's President Ellen Sirleaf has closed the country's borders, cancelled school, outlawed public gatherings, given military officials the right to search houses for suspected Ebola victims, etc.
Airlines have quit flying into and out of Liberia and many are considering canceling all incoming and outgoing flights to all of West Africa. All volunteer workers that were present in Liberia have been asked to evacuate. This includes US Embassy families, 340 Peace Corps workers, and several other aid agencies have removed their personnel. We have also been in contact with the other US based AGWM missionary couple and they were able to obtain one of the last outgoing flights from Liberia.
In order to safely enter Liberia without risk of contracting the Ebola Virus, there will have to be a 42 day window where no case of Ebola is detected or reported. We have been in communication with medical personnel that are currently working to control this outbreak and they estimate that it will be at least 6 months before this could possibly happen. Their opinion was that this time frame was a "best case scenario."
We have spoken to our leadership within AGWM and they have informed us that we would not be able to continue as planned for Liberia. I have visited with our Area Director about other possibilities in West Africa and the selection is limited. As such, we have requested a meeting with the Regional Director over the entire continent of Africa in order to gain a more comprehensive picture of where our calling, passion, and skill sets can best be utilized within Africa.
I have prayed a great deal about how to best inform you all of these recent transitions and I while I realize that many things are up in the air, I also realize that transparency and communication is vital. We have always tried to conduct ourselves with the utmost of integrity and this is no exception.
We ask that you continue to remember Liberia and her people and pray that the Ebola Virus is controlled and eradicated.
Many of you stood with us in prayer over the last couple of weeks while our son, McCoy, was in LeBonheur Children's Hospital. Jessica and I appreciate your prayers and expressions of concern more than you can possibly imagine. We received literally hundreds of messages, pictures, prayers, gifts, and other outpourings of love and concern for him (and us) and we are forever grateful for your efforts, your prayers, and your compassion.
After a lengthy stay and numerous medical procedures, McCoy has been diagnosed with Kawasaki Disease. This disease can potentially damage the heart and surrounding coronary arteries, resulting in an aneurysm of the heart. Statistics show that he has a 25% chance of this happening. As such, McCoy will undergo a series of echocardiograms over the course of the next 12 months in order to keep a watchful eye on the any changes and/or developments.
Kawasaki Disease also causes other health issues that McCoy is experiencing. The level of ongoing medical care McCoy will need will also be a great influencer of where we become placed in Africa. Regardless of the situation with the Ebola virus, Liberia simply does not have the medical technology nor the resources available to perform these echocardiograms, much less any other advanced care that may prove necessary. Again, there are many variables that we simply do not have the answer to but we want to be as open as possible and let you know where we stand on issues that are dear to our hearts.
In summary: the Ebola Virus has caused Liberia has become a closed door; we are fervently seeking God's direction and AGWM's wisdom in regards to placement in another African country; McCoy's health concerns could possible play a role in determining our new country.
Past that, nothing else has changed. Our time frame for departure in October remains unchanged. We will continue with our fundraising efforts and we will continue to share our story of how God called us to abandon our non-Pentecostal background, our professional careers, and the lives that "we" had created in order to serve "Him" on the mission fields of Africa. We are still 100% fully committed to life as missionaries and cannot wait to share the upcoming details on how God continues to direct our steps. We will keep you as informed as humanly possible. Until then, if you have additional questions, please feel free to contact me through my cell, e-mail, or Facebook. (firstname.lastname@example.org 731-504-1330)
Thank you in advance for your understanding and your continued financial and prayer support. We love and appreciate you all so very much.
For an Audience of One,
Justin, Jessica, Savannah, and McCoy Lattus