“Have you ever felt so dizzy that you can’t remember which way is up?” George, Nkhoma’s newly-certified clinical officer, stared at me quizzically and looked back down at his Coke. Because everyone in Malawi knows that the proper response to “how are you?” is “I’m fine, thanks, how are you?” and not whatever it was I just said. I smiled mischievously and got up from my chair. “Here, let’s spin around right now and you will see what I mean. After a few turns, the whole room will look like it’s moving even when we are sitting still” George, the doting father of a 3-year old, knew what I meant then. Eighteen months ago, when I arrived at Nkhoma Mission Hospital, it felt like I was hitting the ground running – and I ended up with ulcers and burnout within the first month as evidence of my enthusiasm. This time couldn’t be more different; we’ve been back 17 days, and I feel like I’m just staring up at a ceiling as everything spins around me. First, we adjusted our troublesome sleep-wake cycles, then I met with key leaders at Nkhoma about what work I could do, looking into opportunities for short and medium-term projects as we prepared to do more work outside the hospital long-term.
That’s when everything started moving at a dizzying pace. Opportunities at Nkhoma seemed scant for me, while Nazarene pastors in the community were desperate for trainings in the next few weeks before harvest and a hospital in Lilongwe was operating as best it could with 4 specialists gone and looking for assistance. One week we looked casually at a few rental houses in Lilongwe, and the next we were preparing to move. This will be the ninth move for us in our nine years of marriage. One might think that it would be easier after all this time, but I think it’s actually harder. Uprooting is excruciating – from the tearful goodbyes not quite alleviated by intangible plans to continue friendships at new distances, to the very tangible pulling up our dog’s chain link fence and our tea garden pavilion. We’re not sure how we or our items will plant down in a new location. Will there be opportunities for deep roots and ministry fruit in this new space created?
Promising porch at our intended future house in Lilongwe We don’t know when exactly we can start trainings, and I don’t even know what hospital I will start working at, or what group will sponsor our transferred Employment Permits. It’s painful and uncertain to step out in faith without knowing where or when the next foot will land. But we trust our pastor friends, that aligning our ministry in supporting them will make the biggest long-term impact we could hope for. We are excited for the chance to see them every week instead of a few times a year, and Greg is definitely eager to exchange his 90-minute commute to the Nazarene College for a 15-minute drive. As for me, having patience and not going to work in a hospital every day has left me unsettled. My final resident teaching session yesterday was so refreshing it was hard to admit it would be my last. But God has provided me with some part-time work I can do from home, flexible work in curriculum development back in America that promises to be uplifting, impactful, and able to supplement our upcoming expenses of renting a home in Lilongwe.
Much remains uncertain, but we trust that these steps will lead to divine appointments and lasting fruitfulness. Please reach out to us if you would like more details on our transitions, and join us in prayer:
- For wisdom as we end old ministries and begin new projects, with safe and healthy transitions
- For coordination of next steps for community trainings in the villages and clinical work in Lilongwe
- For Nkhoma hospital and its staff as it continues to move toward its mission and vision
Thank you for your continued encouragement and support,
- Greg and Christina