Apr 5, 2011

Remember those for whom Christ died

Last month the news of natural disaster in Japan captured the world's attention. Of course, we have heard of the events that continue to unfold in Japan, but here in La Caramuca there was tragedy on a more personal level. A 17-year-old boy who lived just down the block from our mission was murdered in the wee hours of a Sunday morning after attending a street party. Sad to say, he was never involved in any of the activities of our mission, but the family was known to all and his death had quite an impact on the community, although I doubt that his death made international headlines. We remembered his family in prayer that same Sunday.

Ruth Rivero de Kempff, 1957-2011
Also this past month, many longtime members of the Lutheran Church of Venezuela remembered in prayer the family of Ruth Kempff, who died March 23, 2011, after a painful struggle with cancer. She was born Ruth Rivero in Venezuela, August 5, 1957. She married Mark Kempff, a former missionary to Venezuela and now a member of the faculty of the Center for Hispanic Studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, on July 30, 1978. Their surviving children include Raquel and Rebeca. There was also a son, Juan Marcos, who died shortly after his birth in 1982. Ruth also is survived by her older sister, Ramona, who is married to Rudy Blank, another former missionary to Venezuela and also a member of the Center for Hispanic Studies faculty.

Whether it is death and destruction on a grand scale, or the death of a friend or relative, we may take consolation in the fact that God cares for all of us and no life is insignificant to Him. "God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). In the person of Jesus Christ, God Himself entered a world full of suffering and death, and suffered all, even death, that no matter how brief our time here might be, or how much we might be afflicted, in baptismal grace there is always the promise of eternal joy with Him. We recall this especially during this season of Lent and also that since no one is guaranteed a certain number of years on earth, we should live in anticipation of being called home to the Lord at any time. If we seek first the kingdom of God, than we may look back without regrets and forward with joy.

Cholera and swine flu, too

We would ask you to pray for the health of everyone in Venezuela.

In February I became ill and was confined to bed for a couple of days after receiving an antibiotic from our doctor. I could tell from the questions that he asked that the doctor was trying to find out whether he had a case of cholera on his hands. Fortunately, it probably was just food poisoning.

Topography map of Hispaniola.
Image via Wikipedia
In fact, there was a brief outbreak of cholera in February. Venezuelan Minister of Health Eugenia Sader said that around 300 cases were treated before the disease was declared under control. The cholera apparently was brought to Venezuela by Venezuelans who attended a wedding in the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic has recorded 238 cases of cholera since November. The disease came from neighbouring Haiti, where an epidemic has killed almost 4,000 people. Almost 200,000 Haitians have been infected since the epidemic broke out in October, but aid agencies say the rate of infection has slowed. For Haiti and the Dominican Republic, which share the island of Hispaniola, it is the first cholera outbreak in more than a century.

But no sooner had the cholera crisis passed than swine flu took center stage. Venezuelan health officials on March 28 said that 415 people have been diagnosed with "swine flu" (H1N1 influenza) in 19 of the country's 24 states. Two people have died from swine flu since an initial spate of cases were confirmed on March 17. George Jenkins of the World Health Organization attributed the sudden rise in flu cases to an unusually cold and rainy summer.
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