Wow, it’s been a long time since we’ve last updated you all. In between blog posts, the world changed around all of us.
Please forgive us for not updating each of you more frequently, but the pace here has been unrelenting.
Trying to wrap our heads around the global impact of this pandemic is an impossible task, so I’ll share with you what our family has been doing over these past few weeks and months.
COVID-19 has impacted our lives and work in substantial ways. Since March 20th, before its first positive case was ever identified, Uganda went into lockdown, and since that time, restrictions have continued to pile up. Today Uganda is currently under one of the most extreme and debilitating lockdown orders, not only on this continent, but on the world stage as well.
In a country where the vast majority of its ~40,000,000 people live on daily wages, any economic slowdown is devastating. Life has been a cruel experience, particularly for women and low-income households. Gender-based violence has increased by orders of magnitude, while government-promised food distributions never came. There have been dramatic increases in crime, and particular risk for ourselves — which has prevented us from moving out on foot in any capacity.
There is a massive part of me that is so grateful for the opportunity we have to serve with LifeNet — working to strengthen health systems is critical work in a normal world – in a pandemic, it grows to be even more essential. That work has kept me busy, primarily working from home, but managing a team who remains ever-dedicated to supporting our health facility partners all across Uganda.
That work was legitimized when LifeNet was recognized by the Ministry of Health as part of the official emergency response team. This designation meant that our training vehicles could resume movement around the country. We prioritized getting much-needed protective equipment out to as many of our partners as we could. As it was purchased, it was loaded into a truck and delivered. In the meantime, we also began piloting out exciting distance learning programs, which will only serve to enhance our in-person training in the future. Now, our trainers are back out in the field, moving safely, to ensure that our partners have the support they need to continue to provide desperately needed medical care to their communities. Now, more than ever, they need our support.
We had a massive reminder of the importance of good health systems, including vaccinations, when Finn contracted Rubella (German Measles) last week. Having been raised in an orphanage for the first two years of their lives, both Finn and Oliver have always been behind on their vaccinations, with appointments also being cancelled due to lockdown. Finn’s exposure was unavoidable, with the contact happening just within the gates of our community with another child we could not control. Finn got sick rapidly, and then fell victim to another infection, which required IV therapy and multiple hospital visits.
Another part of my soul is so deeply tired and burdened. Finn’s recent medical challenges have simply been an exclamation mark on the anxiety, isolation, and fatigue that we are experiencing through this time.
But I would say the most significant personal development over the past few months, came on March 19th – when it was announced that the entire court system in Uganda would be shutting down, indefinitely. Just one week before what should have been our final court appearance, the door to finally adopting Oliver and Finn was slammed in our face.
With no way to finalize our adoptions, there is no way to secure passports, no way to apply for visas, no way to visit home. No way for so many of you, who have fallen in love with our children, to meet them for the first time. No way for grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, to spend time with our boys.
And no rest, to be honest. In the 7 1/2 years of living in East Africa, Nadine and I have spent precious little of that time finding rest. In what was to be the first time ever, we had been granted home leave this summer: An extended opportunity to be surrounded by our families and support systems, and take a breath. Now, we seriously wonder if we will be able to make it home before Christmas comes.
In the meantime, we must endure military checkpoints, routine power outages, and quietly bear the burden of being unrecognized as a true family. Our coping mechanisms and stress-relievers have all been stripped away. We are as vulnerable as we have ever been, and there is no escape route. We are so tired, and it feels like we’ve found a new rock-bottom.
AND YET… we meditate on God’s goodness and unyielding grace and blessing in our lives. Oliver and Finn brighten up our days in countless ways. They were knitted together in our souls as parents, and in each other’s hearts as brothers, we know that for certain. The fact that we are together is the only thing we need.
We also know that we will conquer any obstacle set before us, no matter the size. Not for any strength inherit within ourselves, mind you. Any strength I had was expended long ago. Rather, I would like to share something that I was reminded of twice over the past two days: First, in a conversation with a dear friend who wrote an entire book on this subject, and this morning as another shared a devotion with me.
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness, or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake, we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all of these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:35-39
Extraordinary things happen to those who are able to hold onto the love of God in the midst of such difficulties. Sometimes, just managing to get by can feel extraordinary. So we’ll stick with that for now.
We are only able to persevere because of the love, kindness, prayer and support that each of you show us, day by day. Every message, email, like, share, comment, all of it adds up. We do not deserve any of it, but are grateful for each expression of support.
Please pray for our family, for health and wellness, for energy, and for peace of mind. We will pray the same for you!
I promise to write again soon.