Dear Family and Friends,
We thought it was time.
We were less than a week away from departing for South Africa.
John and I made the decision to stay.
Jake confronted John and me this morning, “Why did you make me pack my bag?”
And then Jake asked a question that is probably stationed strong in our minds. Jake demanded, “What in the world is going on????”
Jake was right to ask. For about a month, John and I have been working with all our might to prepare for the lengthy journey back to South Africa. In fact, by Wednesday, we were completely packed. We do practice packing runs on our luggage to make sure we can get everything in and to make sure our 12 pieces of luggage are underweight.
Yet, on Wednesday morning, as the seriousness of the coronavirus situation grew, John and I began praying to the Lord about what He desired of us. As many of you know, we have four central family values:
The values of Love Others and Be Wise were at the forefront of our thoughts. We would be traveling through two different airports to reach South Africa. Although we can say we do not have the coronavirus, we are coming from an area where there are cases. South Africa could put us in a 21-day quarantine to make sure that we weren’t infected during our travel. For Jake and Caleb, this would be very difficult for them. Or South Africa could let our family through, and if we were unknowingly infected during our journey, then we could be bringing the illness into the country. The fact that both John and I interact with marginalized, vulnerable people could put them at risk. This brought our family values of Love Others and Be Wise into full play. What was the wise thing to do here? What would best demonstrate our love for our children, our team, and for those we serve in southern Africa?
The more John and I prayed about it, the more we believed we needed to delay our trip.
So, we did.
We contacted our travel agent (who is an absolute rock star!) and Wendell changed our tickets.
Then, Micah called.
George Fox University had cancelled all on-campus classes until April 10. Micah would need to leave campus.
Truly, we felt the Lord had guided our family to this point. Had we gone ahead with our travel plan we would have left Micah in the midst of a very uncertain time. Instead, because we delayed our flights, we can have Micah stay with us and provide him with a greater sense of security while George Fox University officials consider the way forward.
So, what happens now for us?
We still have a place to stay for as long as we need.
We still have a vehicle to use as well.
I can continue our Jubilant Academy with Jake and Caleb and keep on pace with their schoolwork. And Micah will be doing on-line studies with George Fox while he is with us as well.
We have food. We have toilet paper. We have anti-bacterial wipes.
But more than anything else, we have each other.
We are rooted and grounded in the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
Like you, we have no idea how this whole coronavirus situation will play out in the long run. What we do know is if we seek our God for his help and his direction, he provides his guidance willingly. In the meantime, we are going to take some time during this season of Lent to draw even closer to our Lord –we have been given the gift of time with Him. We want to take advantage of that.
Henry Blackaby’s quote is a terrific exhortation to us. I believe that as followers of Jesus Christ we have an amazing opportunity to demonstrate his love, his generosity, and his character to a watching world. For it is in times of crisis that our true character is revealed.
What are we showing this fearful world right now?
Are we at peace?
Are we rooted and grounded in the love of Christ?
Are we ready to love and serve our neighbor?
Are we seeking God with our heart, mind, body, and strength?
Are we demonstrating prudence and wisdom at a time when these traits seem lacking in many about us?
Are we willing to take one day at a time – just as Jesus instructed us to do:
Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
New International Version, Matthew 6:34
We serve in an area of the world where Zimbabweans struggle to get water, are food insecure, have little access to electricity, and where each day much of their day is focused on acquiring the very basic of necessities. In recent days, the first world has begun to taste just a bit of this kind of struggle. The Zimbabwean people have been existing like this for far too long – and yet they continue forward with grit, with resolve and with faith. Many choose to look out and care for the needs of others even as they work to survive themselves. John and I desire to live out our lives with similar resolve, faith and peace.
We are here in Oregon for a while longer. We are safe. We are secure. We are at peace.
We pray the same for you all.
Take care of others.
Take care of yourselves.
Seek the Lord. He will help you.
We love you.
With love always,