I feel like I’ve aged 10 years this year. 2020 has been a decade. Both boys hit growth spurts, I’m going gray, and Christmas 2019 seems a very distant memory. The changes don’t stop. February of this year, Shep broken his arm and Mar flew with him to Kenya. Roscoe and I arrived in Kenya after not seeing Maridith and Shep for 2 whole weeks! It was a sweet reunion. We did all the things missionaries do in Nairobi: movies, dentist, pizza, restock. All was well. After a series of hospital visits and 2 casts, our oldest was patched up and ready to return to Chad. But there was one hang-up. The dentist noticed that one of Mar’s teeth had recently become a monarch and insisted a crown was needed.
I took the boys back to Chad, Mar would be crowned and on a plane within the week. We heard about a virus somewhere in China but like you, didn’t give it a lot of thought…until, all the world’s airports “temporarily” closed. No problem, right? Well, what they didn’t tell us was what no one knew at the time. This virus was here to stay. Mar was stuck in Kenya, the boys and I were in Chad. The weeks rolled by. We did what we could to keep up the good work and not go bonkers. Finally, after two months we all took evacuation flights: first me and the boys to Tennessee, then Mar to Georgia… we were quarantining. We borrowed cars and houses and found kindness at every corner. Friends delivered sushi and fried chicken. We tried to keep it real. After 9 weeks apart, our family was finally back together in Quito, TN.
Still, we didn’t know what this virus was. We expected to be back in Africa in just a few weeks, not 7 months. Well, it was 7 months. While in the US, we were amazed to see the opportunities we had to reconnect with churches, friends, and family. We went to the grocery store and it looked like a doctors’ convention. We drove empty streets. And ate Mexican food off the highway because downtown might explode in protest at any moment. America had become an odd place to evacuate to. The boys loved America, mostly the woods and the creek. Oh, and Roscoe developed an affection for Happy Meals, but only the toy, while Shep took up the family tradition of busting firewood. It was a blast.
Alas, we all wake up from our dreams and some, like us, find real-life perplexing, abrasive, and a little dreamy too. The time was right to return to Africa. Mar packed our lives into 12 suitcases and Delta packed our family into four seats on three flights. Arriving back in Chad was surreal. We are finally where we belong, where all that God has put in us is put to use for Him. Our city is no tourist destination but we love it because God loves it. Or life is a gift to us—not a gift that we would have picked. If the Christian life was a game of Dirty Santa, I might give mine to you. But we are at peace and pleased to be of use, to be at rest, to be in love. Like Gus of Hippo put it:
In your gift, we rest; there we delight in you. Our rest is our place. Love lifts us up there, and your good Spirit raises on high our lowliness from the gates of death. In a good will is our peace. A material object works its way toward its own place by means of its own weight. A weight doesn’t simply direct its course to the lowest level, but to its own proper place. Fire moves up, stone down. These things are in motion through their own weights, and they seek their own places. Oil poured underneath water rises to the top, and water poured on top of oil sinks underneath. They are set in motion by their own various weights, to seek their own places. Things that are not set in the order they should be are restless; once set there, they rest. My love is my weight. I’m carried by it wherever I’m carried. –Confessions, Book 13