June 4, 2022

One Month

We tend to always say this, but it’s been an interesting season for us. As I’ve updated our blog, it’s been nice to go over all of our old posts, photos, and videos. Looking at the last year in perspective, a lot has changed. The country lost its veneer of peace with countrywide protests, looting, and arson attacks. We’ve struggled with moments of fear of taking the kids to school since many arsonists targeted schools and roads. And in fact, just last week, there was an incident of arson at Zach’s school.

During the fuel shortage, we wondered if we would have enough gas for our family to make it out of the country in an emergency. Or if there was enough fuel for our security guard’s headquarters to respond to an incident here at the farm. Eleven months after the first country wide riots, nothing has been resolved at all- attacks continue around the country but are far less frequent. Thankfully the heaviness of it all has mostly lifted. Either that or we’ve just gone numb to the unrest.

We decided to stay, finish building, and move into our new home. The end of the year was a busy time but we had a really nice Christmas and New Year. Things seemed fresh and exciting, Hom, Melinda’s mother, even helped us with funding for a brand new car! Oh man, the alluring promise of having a solid car that just works. It’s hard to adequately put in words how this felt. Our cars have been warriors but they’re both approaching 20 years in age. So we found an amazing car at a legit dealership. The car seats seven, has great mileage, has high-clearance, and is affordably priced –jackpot. We felt confident and excited since the dealer told us our car, in our preferred color (the color closest to dirt), in our exact specifications, was in stock, in country –SWEET. So we paid cash. All in. We just had to go and sign. We arrive, we sign and settle. The dealer sits us down, “Good news.” Awesome. “I just got off the phone, your car will arrive in 9 weeks.” Hold on. Can we do anything to, you know, get the car you said was “in country”? No? It was reserved for someone else? Ok then.

Around this time Melinda was expecting our third child in just a few weeks. We settled into a new house and had the promise of a new (slightly delayed) family car. Things felt stable, comfortable. Until one night, Melinda swung open the door to my office. “Get your shoes and coat, you’re driving Mom to the hospital.”

"Get your shoes and coat,
you're driving Mom to the hospital."

Hom had a stroke. Thank God she recovered much of her movement within hours. She overnighted, we tested for covid and the next day I drove her to South Africa for three long days of testing, leaving 8-month pregnant Melinda with the kids.

Hom will be ok, but the chance of a repeat occurrence is now there. The reality of this world snapped back into frame. There are no Emergency Rooms in Eswatini. Our time in a decent clinic up the road highlighted how unprepared they were for a serious health event. If this happened again, we’d have to once again get covid tests and wait a day to get proper medical treatment in South Africa. Stroke recovery is most likely when treated with the right medication within 4 hours. The clinic up the road hadn’t even heard of this medication.

Should we take Hom back home? What about the baby due next month, isn’t it too late for Melinda to travel? Should we split up to take Mom back? Who will help with the baby and kids? If Mom moves back, would we just then drop her off, say “good luck,” and fly back to Africa?

If Mom moves back, would we just then drop her off, say "good luck," and fly back to Africa?

What is God up to?
We just used our savings to build a house.
We just bought a car (that we don't even have yet).
We're about to have a baby.
Is this the plan!?

It's become clear.
We can't advocate for strengthening families across the world, then ignore our own family in their need.
It's unreconcilable.
It's not Jesus.

It's time.

On reflection, we think that God has been preparing us to detach from ministry here for quite some time. Not in a negative way, but in a “you’ve equipped people and they need to now bear the burden so they can continue to grow” –kind of way. It actually makes perfect sense; we get stuck negotiating between departments and groups of people. Culturally, respecting leadership here can hinder initiative, and we want our staff to trust their own voices and embrace new responsibilities. Over the last few years, we’ve seen our major areas of vision-change implemented and we are now doing fewer of the things that only we can do. It’s time.

Sweet Levi is now three months old and can safely travel. We’ve really enjoyed the house, but it’s just a house and houses are not as important as family. Just this week we finally got the car, it’s nice, but cars are not as important as family. So we’re letting go of our comfortable life, again. Maybe there’s something in the “letting go” that God will use.

We're moving home in 30 days.
It's time.

We don't have all of the details mapped out and that's ok.
We've spent seven years trusting God here, we're not going to stop now.
He's got us; this IS His plan.