Thursday, April 30, 2020

How are we doing?

I am not sure how to begin this blog, but I have been asked if we are ok seeing I haven't written in a while.  I have been writing a blog in my head for the last few weeks.  I want to start by saying I am not trying to complain but need to be real and I desire to share.  And over all things, I do trust God and put my faith in Him.  He is in control. He is trustworthy and true. I desire His will above all for His glory.  I know this, I just have feelings to navigate too.  This is when faith needs to be an action. 

With that said, the last six weeks have been really hard.  We came to Michigan the end of January to get help and healing for our family.  Just over a month later the corona virus took away all the help we needed.  The loss we are experiencing is on top of months of hardship.  We are sad - grieving.  I want to scream, "It's not fair!"  We need school, family, friends, church, activities...for our healing.  Seems the enemy's arrows keep coming our way.  So thankful we are victorious children of God!  I feel the heaviness of months of hardship and it leaves me quite empty.

Being missionaries adds another level of loss.  Living in a village, we are used to being alone and having a quiet life, but we look forward to a change and special things when we are in Michigan.  It was all taken away.  There is no next year for our kids for school, Gems/Cadets, sports, friends, family, Spring Break and Easter here.  We are thankful to be in a very nice house for lockdown, but it is not our home, our things.  For some people this lockdown has slowed down their lives, I feel like ours got busier with homeschooling four children and taking care of a newborn.  I don't really do anything or go anywhere but school, baby, games, a walk outdoors IF the weather is nice and meals seem to fill each day.

We are also concerned for our friends, church, ministry partners...our "family" in Uganda.  They have hard lives everyday and now with the lockdown, threats of the virus and locust plague they could seriously suffer.  We miss them and our home.  Just this week my friend and neighbor gave birth to twins - one dead and one alive.  I want to be there for them, with them.  It makes me feel very far away.  We are stuck in Michigan on many levels.  We are still healing, all boarders are closed with the pandemic, and courts are closed so the adoption finalization is on hold.  There are so many unknowns.

I realize that we are safe, healthy and even in a comfortable place and I am thankful for these blessings.  I acknowledge that our trials are not as big as the suffering some people are experiencing with the corona virus.  However, I have learned that though our suffering is smaller it is still real and it still hurts.

As I watch all that is happening with the virus and lockdown, I am hit with different thoughts.  I am thankful people have to slow down, be with their families, and depend on God.  But that is our lives every day on the mission field.  I don't say that in a prideful way.    I guess maybe people here can understand a little bit more how we feel as missionaries through this lockdown.  On the mission field you are isolated, don't have all the conveniences, there isn't really entertainment or extras, no, you can't be with your extended family, you miss out on things, lonely, homeschooling, uncertainties, learn to really depend on God when everything else is taken away, learn to trust God in new ways...  I also see how America sees safety and comfort as a right.  Having lived overseas and having traveled for almost 20 years now, I can tell you a lot of the world is not like that.  Much of the world is more familiar with suffering, hardships and survival.  Here in America we are want safety and to be comfortable at all costs.  Ok, we all do and it is human nature, but so many don't have that privilege.  I know there is wisdom in how our leaders and all of us reacted to the virus, but much was also motivated by fear.  

Let me end by answering some of your questions about Uganda.  There are 53 cases of covid 19 in Uganda (as of mid April).  The number of confirmed cases is so low because there is no way most of the population can be tested.  Most will just be sick, be misdiagnosed, or die from it and other sicknesses without knowing. The government put everyone on lockdown.  All borders are shut down so no one can come or go.  No movement of vehicles private or public.  They have now lifted the lockdown slightly.  A motorcycle can be on the road until 2:00 p.m.  No passengers allowed.  Ministry has also come to a halt for the most part.  Seems to be affecting everyone.  Unfortunately, many people view this as a disease foreigners have brought to Uganda so there has been incidents with mobs forming outside the homes of expats.  Things sound pretty tense there right now.

We are very concerned and praying for everyone we love in Uganda.  The medical care in Uganda is very poor so if this virus spreads, then there is no help or hope, except hope in God.  People there are already vulnerable and malnourished so it could mean death to many.  People live day to day there so if they are not allowed to work and get money they don't eat.  Things could get very serious and very desperate.  Prices have gone up and people aren't allowed to do daily market as usual.  People there live outside and in community everyday so the virus could spread rapidly.  The good thing is it is hot there, the population is mostly under 16, and Covid 19 doesn't seem to be affecting malaria areas as badly as it does other regions.    

It is difficult to understand how hard it would be to be in lockdown in Uganda.  Most of our friends live in a house the size of one of our rooms, made of mud bricks, dirt floors, and thatch or metal roof, and is shared by many people.  There are no extras, pleasures, or entertainment.  There are no refrigerators.  There is no stocking up.  You have to go to the bore hole to get water each day.  In some ways our friends are used to suffering each day, in other ways their suffering has just increased.  We know it is hard here with all that is happening, but life is always hard there and they have very few resources.   

The good news is that the FIC teachers were given permission to get and deliver soap to the prisons where they teach.  The government official in Soroti was so pleased he sent a letter telling the government what a good job FIC is doing.  The FIC radio teachers were also able to change from Saturday evening teaching to Sunday mornings so they can continue to teach.  

Please pray with us for our village, friends who are like family to us, for the church, Freedom in Christ teachers, the students of FIC, prisoners we work with, and missionaries there.  

Thank you for listening, caring and praying for our family at this time.

P.S.  Makai is doing great!  He is 10 weeks old now.  He is a very good baby!  We are sad we can't share him in pictures - because courts are closed and we haven't gotten the termination papers yet - or in person because of covid-19.  We have gotten a lot of wonderful bonding time with him.  He is showered with love daily by our family.  We are so thankful for our sweet baby boy!  More on Makai to come soon Lord willing...