Evacuation… I’ve always known that it could be a possibility. Like I read in a news article this morning: “In truth, there hardly is a country in Africa where the army represents such a great danger for peace and stability as in Guinea Bissau. For the third time in two years the country will now have to embark on another post-coup transition.”
While I’ve always know that we could have to pack our lives, hop in the car, and head for the Senegalese border, the reality of doing it is hard to get used to. Now that we’re starting our fourth day in Senegal, I’ve been able to switch out of survival mode and the processing part of my brain is finally starting to catch up with me :-)
Jason, ever the optimist, is calling our unplanned escape “Evacu-cation 2012”. I understand why – we found a great deal and we’re splitting a beautiful bungalow by the beach with another missionary family; we have hot water, there are flowers everywhere, and even a pool! On the outside this deserves every bit of the “vacation” side of Jason’s hyphenated name. In our hearts though, the concept of being on vacation is a hard one to get used to.
There are things about evacuation that I always thought would be hard. Even though we have a tiny apartment, you can’t pack three people’s whole lives into one suitcase. There are lots of things you have to leave behind and I am a bit sad that I didn’t grab my recipe box and my Creole notebook. On the other hand, God has given us so much grace for the tough decisions we’ve had to make, and even while we were packing it seemed easy to take the most important stuff and let everything else go.
Leaving our friends wasn’t so easy. As we said goodbye to the National Director of YFC Guinea-Bissau, who is a very close friend of ours, tears spilled down my cheeks as I told him how heartbroken I was to leave. He said that when a family has problems there comes a time when the problems get so serious that everyone else has to leave and the family has to sit down and deal with them. He went on to say that the problems in Guinea-Bissau are of their own creation and now is the time for Guineans to deal with them. He also said that it was a load off of his mind to have us go because if something big did happen he wouldn't have to worry about us since foreigners are always targets in times of uncertainty.
While we’re fully expecting that this conflict will be resolved in a matter of days or weeks and we’ll be able to go back to our normal lives in the country we love, we also have to deal with the possibility that it could be months, or even years before we’ll be able to head back to Guinea-Bissau. When we arrived in Africa nearly six years ago everything felt so foreign and I cried out to God to give my heart a home in this strange land. He answered that prayer in so many ways, and while I’m so grateful, it also makes this process that much harder.
Our hearts and our prayers are with the people of Guinea-Bissau. The country needs change. The people are tired of war. They are tired of poverty and suffering and fear. We know that God often does His greatest work in times of great uncertainty and we’re trusting God for miracles in our little corner of West Africa!
I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.