Monday, September 1, 2014

Return to Kenya

On Tuesday, September 2, I return to Kenya for four months (except for a ten day visit back for the Partners Worldwide International Conference, accompanied by two Kenyan church leaders, at the end of October).  It is, of course, a bittersweet time.  Leaving my new husband for that long of a period will be difficult.  Leaving my children is always tough.  But I do love my work and I do love Africa.

These days, talk of Africa brings immediate questions about the Ebola virus. As I write this, Ebola has not yet been discovered in Kenya, although the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that
Fruit bats are considered to be the major carrier of Ebola.
Kenya is at high risk because it is such a hub for Africa.  But the landscape does keep changing.  I check BBC now every couple of hours to keep track of what is happening with this virus.  I just now went to check and see that the first case was discovered in Senegal.  Yesterday, the WHO reported that the number of cases may get as high as 20,000, may take six months to eradicate, and may cost as much as $489,000,000 dollars.  The day before, Nigeria decided to close all of the schools in order to try to prevent the spread.  And so it goes.  It is heartbreaking to hear the fear and the alarm from brothers and sisters in Christ that you care about and love.  It is painful to know of the food shortages, the businesses closed, the looting that happens as people panic.  It is difficult to hear the doubt from nationals who believe that the government is lying about this virus in order to profit in some way - it speaks to a deep rooted mistrust.  I continue to pray fervently every day for God's intervention and for the brave people who are risking their lives to combat this disease.

As for my travel to Kenya, Michael and I have decided that my decision to go or stay needs to be made as objectively as possible, so we are relying on the US Embassy and Department of State for how they advise US citizens in Kenya.  Thus far, the only advice from the US Embassy in Kenya is to not travel to the east side of Kenya due to Al-Shabab terrorist activity.  Thankfully, I work on the west side, so that is not a problem.

All of this reminds us that our lives are not our own but we are called for a purpose.  We don't make decisions out of fear or out of a desire to stay safe.  We make the best decisions we can make to do what we have been made to do and then trust God's will to be done.  And I have learned that God's will is not always to keep us safe or alive, but never-the-less, we still trust.
Hannah working at Qdobe on 28th St.

Please continue to pray for the Ebola crisis, for the challenges of Al-Shabab in Kenya, for the work of the ICM Church-based Business as Mission, and for my travel throughout this time.

A quick update on Hannah, Noah and Michael:

Hannah is entering her senior year of Calvin after having a very busy summer of working three jobs.  She is working on a triple major of psychology, social work, and French.  She is a very hard worker and high achiever!  She continues to struggle with the fatigue that has plagued her for a number of years now, which makes her feat even more impressive.  Thankfully she is only working two jobs this fall, and I'm hoping that will become only one!

Noah (far left) and the RA Team for Schultze Eldersveld.
Noah is a Resident Assistant (RA) this year at Calvin.  Last year he was a Barnabas (floor chaplain) and he enjoyed being in a leadership position. It seems to be a role that he rather easily slips into.  I hung out with him for a bit on his floor and it was very cool to see how many young men were seeking him out.  I am reminding him, though, that he is a student first and an RA second.  He continues to want to work in the Foreign Service field and was able to get some advice this summer from a member of one of our partner churches, specifically for the path to take toward working in US Embassies in the Consular section.

As for my dear husband, Michael, parting for four months just shy of our three month wedding anniversary is a challenge, but we will fall back to old routines that did work well for us - Skype and Facebook.  The fall is a busy time for Michael with lots of work travel as well, so that will also help to make the time go quicker as well.  We had a very busy summer with lots of travel for both of our work and for the most part we were able to accompany the other, learning more about each others work and meeting colleagues. I will miss him!

Our wedding cake