The past four months have seemed to simply fly by. Here are some events from that time.
At the end of July our teammates David and Rashel Robbins (and crew) left on furlough. They had been scheduled to leave in mid-May but ended up postponing their departure due to COVID-19. They are presently in the States enjoying family and visiting churches. As a result of their absence, Christopher and I have both taken on additional employee management responsibilities for workers on our compound, including maintenance workers and cooks who prepare meals for workers. It has been a mixed blessing of spending more time with long-term friends, making new ones and the constant needs of employees.
We left Nakaale! We are home bodies by nature and don’t mind the long stay in Karamoja. In normal times we would travel about every two months to get groceries or clinic supplies, deal with work permits, banks, attend mission meetings or whatever other miscellaneous needs arise. Due to COVID, we hadn’t left for over six months!
First, we went as a family to a safari park in northern Karamoja along the border with South Sudan: Kidepo. It is a lesser known, lesser frequented park and provided the perfect social distancing as we were the only tourists in the park for two whole days. At that time the international borders were still closed and we got an amazing discount – increased even further by the park gate attendant who was so thrilled to hear that we spoke Karamojong. The kids got to see elephants, giraffes, eland, water buck, hartebeest, warthogs, lions, ground hornbills, a secretary bird and even a serval in the wild. Despite one morning memorable for its misery with tsetse flies, I believe the kids will remember the trip fondly.
We also attended a retreat with our team in Jinja. It had been a very long time since we had all been together, and even longer since we were together for something other than work! It was a delight to fellowship, relax and worship together. We even got to witness the baptism of Sachairi Knox who was born prematurely in Kampala to our dear friends late last year. Such a reminder of God’s loving faithfulness!
The international borders opened on October 1, which allowed for Tina DeJong to join our team! She had planned to arrive in mid-August, but the Lord gave her some extra time with her family while we all waited for the borders to open. She will be helping the Van Essendelfts and Folkerts families with homeschooling and the farm project. She has already endeared herself to our kids by showing that she can be as silly as they can! I’ve already been blessed by her positive attitude, willingness to serve and flexibility.
Uganda is beginning to open up and is even sending certain grade levels back to school. In President Museveni’s last speech he said that he was opening up the country because everyone was begging him to, and that everyone knew what they needed to do to prevent the spread of COVID. If they didn’t do those things, cases would rise. They have risen and we expect that to continue. Multiple members of the COVID-19 taskforce in our district were tested positive. Testing is still hard to get, as yet we’ve been unable to get our patients tested. Thankfully our clinic hasn’t yet been faced with a severe case, confirmed or suspected. We hear of friends in Mbale who suspect they may have COVID but are afraid to go to the hospital because they don’t want to be quarantined. Many are flouting regulations and health advice, for various reasons. I think people mostly just want to go on with their lives, and many don’t have a choice not to.
During that time, we also marked eight years of living alongside our brothers and sisters in Uganda!
Please pray that the clinic staff would be encouraged in their work and witness, that Christopher and I would have grace and discernment in employee management, for our team as we navigate re-opening church services under COVID restrictions (this Sunday will be the first!) and living in community. We pray that we would walk patiently in the Lord surrendering all our efforts to Him.