Well here you have it, folks. My March blog comin’ in HOT, full of all that is happening in our world right now. Which feels quite exhausting because I feel like it truly is all we hear and see on any digital platform anymore. So feel free to move along if you’re not at a point where you can handle reading anything more about COVID-19 right now. I know that it can be overwhelming for people, but I wanted to get something out there to document my experience and hopefully bring some encouragement to others.
I am on the Board of Directors for a nonprofit called 127 Worldwide, where we work with local leaders around the globe who are caring for orphans, widows and vulnerable communities by teaching self sufficiency and the Gospel. I’ve been involved with 127 since 2012 after Matt and I met the founder and one of their local leaders while in Uganda on trip with a different nonprofit. We fell in love with the vision of 127 Worldwide and couldn’t imagine not supporting them in their work.
Over the years, we have been able to have our local leader from Uganda visit us (twice!) while we lived in Kansas. Each time he visited, we put together an event for him to share his story and heart behind what he does for his people (cares for orphans, built a school, provides food for the community, etc). Our Ugandan friend, Geoffrey, is an amazing man, with an amazing heart and incredible story. For many years we’ve been trying to work out a time to visit him at his home in Uganda, and to also visit two other 127 local leaders that are in Kenya.
And finally it was *about* to happen! We were going to be heading to Qatar to meet up with some good friends where we’d spend an evening exploring this tiny country, then the next morning we’d fly to Entebbe, Uganda where we’d meet up with nine other people on our team. After multiple days in northwest Uganda visiting Geoffrey, we’d then head to Nairobi, Kenya to visit two more partners, and finally end with a couple of days staying in a fancy tent on a safari. We were stoked! …
… and then COVID-19 happened… and it began to spread… and people began to die… and a pandemic was born…
Sadly, this forced us to cancel our trip to Qatar, Uganda and Kenya (for now). We are working to hopefully reschedule it for the fall, but nothing is set just yet. It was an incredibly hard decision that we made, but through prayer, research and discussion amongst our team, we knew (at the time) that not going right now was the wisest and best choice we could make. We reached this conclusion through two major factors:
First, we recognized that we could be a carrier. Overall, Matt and I are not afraid of getting the virus. But we recognize that we could be a carrier of it. So the last thing we want to do was spread it to someone who is more at risk or to another carrier. I’d rather not be responsible for carrying COVID-19 into a third world country, and then be another person who carries it home to their own country, state, city and neighborhood. The Lord calls us to love our neighbors, and we believe that part of that for us is being aware and responsible in helping to keep others healthy. We could not with good conscience go. Going felt selfish, irresponsible and just downright ignorant.
Secondly, we were not okay with getting stuck. With things (at the time) getting a little crazy, we still had eight days before our flight. “How are things going to shift before March 18th? And how will things be when we’re scheduled to come home on April 1st?” We began to see travel restrictions growing and countries requiring self quarantine upon arrival (or just go home), so it made us begin to seriously consider if getting into Qatar, Uganda or Kenya was even possible. Rumors that the US would be the next tier 1 country, had us concerned. We understand being quarantined to protect others, which we agree with, but we also were not willing to be away from our kids for an unknown amount of time. Nor did we want to put the burden on Matt’s parents or my mom of watching our boys until we could get back home.
Not even 12 hours after making our decision to stay home, the Ugandan government announced that anyone entering the country would automatically go into a 14-day quarantine.
…Now, here I sit in my home, 17 days after making the decision to cancel our trip. I never would have imagined our world would be in the state that we’re in. This is day 12 for me of not going into a store, into someone else’s home, or physically hanging out with anyone besides my family. We withdrew my oldest from school (he attends a 4K program at a daycare so they are still technically open right now). I’ve had two weddings postponed until fall and another changed to an under 10 person ceremony. I’ve seen my mom once, when we dropped off groceries in her garage and then hung out in her yard, at least six feet apart. And as of a March 24th, our state put into place a 30 day Safer at Home Order: stay at home unless you are getting food, need medical care or work for an essential business.
I wish I knew the future for the couples getting married mid-May and into the summer. I wish I knew when this would all be over and things could get back to normal. I wish I could take my kids to the zoo and let them play at the park on the playground equipment. I wish people I know weren’t losing their jobs or being furloughed. I wish I didn’t have to cancel all of my spring trips. And mostly, I wish people would stop getting sick and dying.
But I have to remember. God is bigger than all of this. HE IS GREATER. Nothing in this world is stable, except for Him. He is the only One who remains the same. We must cling to His promises and His Word. So the only thing I know for certain? The One who stands upon the throne.
Every new year since 2007 I have been asking the Lord for a word or phrase to cling to throughout the coming year. I keep them in my phone and look back from time to time as I remember how each word/phrase was significant during that specific year. I didn’t know what my word/phrase was for 2020 until about January 9th. I was at the gym working out and praying as I often do, when I felt Him whisper to me, “I will make a way.” It hit me like a ton of bricks (in the best way possible). But even when I am confident of what my word for the year is, I never fully understand it. So as the year goes on and I reflect and pray, it’s amazing how I see the Lord’s kindness in sharing with me the word. This word allows me to focus more clearly, fix my eyes upon His will, comforts me if/when trials come and to think more about others. There has never been a year where I looked back and said, “Okay… that word was NOT significant this year.” Each year, I am humbled by His goodness in sharing Truth with me.
So for the past 87ish days or so, I’ve been holding on tight to this promise: I will make a way.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19