For a few weeks, we watched as borders closed one by one. The U.S. embassy sent out notices asking its citizens to return. We watched the news as the virus started in the capital and spread to the other parts of the country first slowly, but then more quickly.
Our supervisors wanted us to consider evacuating; there were signs that there could be unrest as a result of many losing their ability to work. With borders closing, the window to leave was getting smaller. We wrestled and prayed, sought counsel from expats, neighbors, and supervisors, and we decided we would stay. But a few days later, Mennonite Central Committee workers who lived in our country counseled us to leave while it was still peaceful, especially considering our four young children. They said that they had already evacuated everyone who could leave.
We were still torn between wanting to stay to be a light and blessing to our community in their time of need but also thinking about the safety of our family. We finally came to an agreement that we would go to another area in the country where it is less crowded, there’s less racial tension, and where the U.S. consulate is staying open. We started packing to leave the next week, but we received news that regional borders might be closing as well. Our supervisors said, “Leave tomorrow!” We moved quickly and we’ve now been here for a little over a week. We chose to stay here so we would be able to return quickly to our home when it is clear how the situation will play out. We felt heavy leaving our neighbors but our village friends are still helping us prepare care packages and distribute them to those in our village who have need. We continue to stay in touch over the phone and let them know that we are praying for their health and safety often. There are still moments during the day when we second guess our decision to leave but we rest in God’s plan and try to be obedient in the next step. mm
*Names changed due to sensitivity concerns.