Less than two weeks ago we were safely “home” in Ethiopia. Reports of the growth of Covid-19 were flowing in and we started to seriously weigh the impact of our presence in Ethiopia. The safety and well-being of our family, as well as the impact of our presence there (i.e. potentially using limited resources in our host country), presented an urgent question: do we stay or go back to the US? For days we wavered back and forth between the two options.
As a family living and working overseas, things aren’t black and white. What’s right for one family is not the right choice for another family. And the decision to come back to the U.S. was not an easy one.
Thankfully we had the support of wise advisors from our mission agency and supporters to help us navigate and weigh out the options which ultimately led to us returning (for a time) to the U.S.
Because it all happened quickly (the travel window was rapidly closing as borders closed and airlines shut down certain routes) we did little to prepare, aside from packing a few necessities, giving away perishable food items and doing what we could to provide a little extra to some friends who we knew would need it.
We weren’t prepared to return (even for a visit) so soon into our new life in Ethiopia. Didn’t we just spend months and months preparing to go?! We weren’t prepared for the grief and guilt of leaving, though inklings of these surfaced as we weighed the options and in the final hours before our departure. The anxiety that comes with the unknown. Feelings of displacement. And perhaps weighing us down most of all is how quickly the world around us is changing and knowing that we will return to a different Ethiopia than we left – the place we were just starting to really know and love.
We are eager for our return – though at this point timing isn’t even something we can fully think through yet. There’s too much changing each day to even begin to speculate. Until then, we pray, we keep up with friends and colleagues in Ethiopia (as much as we are able) and continue to contribute as we can (from a distance) to our shared ministry at the Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology and among our neighbors.