rotating header

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Rookies of the Year, COVID-19 edition (Uganda day 132)

When COVID exploded last Spring, our Area of Africa was not immune to the impact of altered plans, closing borders, mounting worry. Quite a high percentage of our workers had structured Home Assignments (the 1 in 5 plan for furlough from the field to report to supporters and reconnect with family, pursue professional development, take Sabbath rest) around the rhythm of our quadrennial all-Serge conference. When that gathering was wisely canceled, it was understandable that many would still opt to return to North America to wait out the wave of uncertainty.  These decisions are complex and varied, with no two stories the same, vulnerable people, needy relatives, medical high-risk conditions, burning-out souls, longed-for plans, and on and on. Everyone did the best they could to walk by faith and act responsibly.

But today I want to thank and honour the three 20-something single women in our Area who decided to stay.
Why Jesus Chose Mary Magdalene to Proclaim His Resurrection |
The history of spreading the word that Jesus conquered death begins with a single woman, Mary Magdalene in the garden around the empty tomb, taking the risk of soldiers and controversy to perform the hands-on inglorious task of embalming. And throughout the story of the reversal of evil in our world, we see the marginalised and vulnerable moving into places of risk and need, usually without much fanfare or stories. From Clara Barton to Helen Roseveare the good news has traveled on the feet of women who chose paths that put them at odds with their peers and the expectations of their culture.

That history continues today, and though the word "missionary" may conjure up for you a middle aged man with a seminary degree, in reality the demographic includes a disproportionate number of spunky young women.

Back to our three rookies-of-the-COVID-year.  

Lindsey in Uganda has spent the COVID season so far finishing out a school year teaching kids, including accelerating the program when one family decided to depart early because of the pandemic. While "summer" is supposed to be a restful break for teachers, she spent June and July supervising a total overhaul of the 25-year-old school building, flushing out rats and snakes, repainting walls and shutters, having cabinets built, sorting through accumulated mouldy supplies, commissioning curtains and rugs, landscaping and rearranging. Her most proud accomplishment of COVID though is creating a pathway for about 70 pounds of curriculum (books, paper, supplies) to be shipped to a country with closed borders. We aren't quite sure how she did it. But this week she drove the 8 hours to the chaos of the capital and claimed the haul.
Lindsey with the curriculum in her back seat. NO SMALL JOY.

Emilie in Kenya is the ONLY member of her team left, besides the leaders.  She has joined them in discipling coaches through their Ambassadors Football program, pouring multiplicatively into Kenyan coaches who can then become positive role models and Gospel influences for youth in the city's informal settlements. Because of the economic impacts of the drastic shutdowns in our region, she and her team also raised funds for food packages to help their coaches survive. Her room-mate had to leave the country unexpectedly too, so she is now facing her summer's most challenging task alone: preparing to be the main support for her leaders' family as they prepare to deliver their third baby in Kenya instead of back in America with their own family's support.  Third baby means there are two other toddlers in the mix.
This is Emilie (far right) last year; she's said goodbye-for-now to everyone else in the photo

Maike in Congo is literally the ONLY member of our Serge team left, though she's on a hospital compound with a few other missionaries. She has continued to provide nursing care in maternity and the intensive care area, mentor youth in Bible study, and raised funds like Emilie to support the stranded families of Bible School students. When a local militia attacked the military nearby, there were some tense hours. Many of her neighbours fled into the "bush" then slowly returned in fear. Maike and her colleagues perceived the need for trauma healing, as this community has faced so much insecurity and disease over the decades. So she facilitated a workshop to begin that healing and reconciliation process.

This is Maike's photo from the reconciliation exercise last week, giving grievances to Jesus to be buried at the foot of the cross.

At Serge these are just three of the MANY women of faith. Would you pray for them in a special way? The rest of us have some automatic proximal family with whom we live even when we miss our families of origin. We have some ability to process, or just other humans with whom to share car maintenance and cooking and make weekend plans. The loneliness of lockdown intensified the sacrifice; yet we need their invaluable contributions. And if you'd like to be in the running for next year's rookies-of-the-year (we have several on the way . . ) send us a message.  

PS read this fast, because I did not ask any of their permission to use their names and photos, so I may be in trouble soon and have to take this down.

No comments: