Let me start by saying that we are safe and healthy. We are living in a furnished house that a friend’s grandmother moved out of a few months ago. Another friend lent us his car since few of us have anywhere to go. We have eaten some of our favorite foods, waved at dear friends from a distance, and overall been incredibly happy to be back in our home state, but what a state our country is in!
I want to share with you a quick recap of our time getting from Congo to Ohio. We spent the second half of February through half of March packing and selling household items that could not make the move to Zambia. When will the movers come get our stuff? When that happened (last minute) we walked with our suitcase to a nearby hotel, stayed one night, and attempted to fly with our missionary friend, Gaston Ntabmbo. What time will Gaston be ready to fly? Great excitement…crushing disappointment. Due to bad weather we ended up at his house for one more night in Lubumbashi. Anticlimactic but still fun because the Ntambo’s are incredible people and serve Jesus with their whole hearts.
Anyway, our second flight attempt was a go and we all loved it. A quick hour and a half later we landed in our new home with 16 bags and suitcases and the excitement of speaking the language of the man checking us through customs. Our first encounter with this COVID-19 monster was when the airport employee took our temperatures and asked us to fill out a form indicating where we were traveling from.
We smushed into a taxi bus (about the size of a minivan) with all the bags and four charming Zambian men. No one smelled badly, which is not always the case, so praise God for that! We arrived at Evelin’s house where we were treated like family. Do we want to stay long-term and rent her house? Evelin is a widow with a beautiful property and is a dear friend of other UMC missionaries. We had the best week at her house playing by the pool and eating from her plethora of fruit trees. Dun dun dunnnnnn, but COVID-19 was not going to allow too much time to settle in.
We visited two wonderful schools, which do we prefer? We were sitting down at a coffee shop to have a family discussion on which was the preference when Porter pointed to the television on the wall. The Zambian Minister of Health had made the decision that starting on Friday, two days from then, schools would be canceled until further notice. We then were notified that the Zambian government would also not be processing any new work visas. We were guests in the country and only allowed to stay for 90 days. YIKES. Would the government start reissuing visas in time for us to be there legally?
We found out that night that the US government was encouraging any Americans who were abroad to come home or prepare to stay where they were for a long time. What is a long time? Global Ministries, our employer, contacted us on Friday night offering to fly us home. Did we want to go? We were not allowed to legally work in Zambia so we would just be “hanging out.” Saturday night, tickets were booked and Sunday at noon we were on a plane. The plane rides were 4.5 hours to Addis Ababa, 16 hours to Chicago (with a brief refueling in Dublin), and then a glorious, life-giving drive to Ohio.
Now that we’re here the questions have come fast and furious. Where should we eat first? Can we see anyone? Where should we live? How can we get around? Are we going back to Africa? When do we decide what we’re going to do? Can we enroll the boys in school? What do we miss about our time in Africa?
The list goes on and on. In unity we wait. All I know for certain in this moment is that we are together, the kids are receiving an education again, family and friends have provided for us in countless ways that we can never repay, and our loving, faithful, never ceasing God will be with us to the end…whenever that is. Hang in there guys!!
3 Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known.
Renee’s advance #3022491
Nick’s advance #3022490