Harding at a distance: Upside down

March 5 

I landed in Dallas to work some labor and delivery shifts to aid in our ability to get a home loan. This was a step in the preparation process as we transition back to America in June 2020. I was supposed to be here for two weeks.

Then the coronavirus exponentially wreaked havoc across the world.

March 20

We learned that my flight back to Rwanda was cancelled. Rwanda closed its borders and suspended air travel, leaving me trapped here and my family across the world.

When U.S. embassy staff and Peace Corp volunteers were recalled from Rwanda and evacuated to the U.S., the urgency began to rear its head.

Then the word “indefinite” began circulating from our U.S. Embassy referencing Rwanda’s closure. This terminology meant our family could potentially be separated for many months.

March 21

The most logical yet gut-wrenching decision was to have Eric and the kids depart Rwanda immediately.

Within 24 hours Eric packed up our entire home and life in six boxes to depart on one of the (if not THE) last flights departing the country. My enneagram type one and perfectionism took a big hit here not to be personally present to urgently pack our entire home and life. Far from ideal. Eric walked around the house videoing while asking what I wanted to keep … uh all of it. But not possible.

Meaningful goodbyes, visiting places one last time, hugging friends and so much more were not an option.

The last 24 hours have been unexpected, emotional and trying. This abrupt departure has been brutal; we never imagined eight years of mission work overseas ending like this. We’ve read the books, listened to seminars, and learned from others all about “leaving well.” Apparently we failed to factor in a world pandemic to our carefully planned exit.

Oddly enough, back in 2012, when we first stepped foot off the plane as long-term missionaries on foreign soil, we were in Wuhan. We were later led to Rwanda after being in China for several years. What a treasured journey this has been.

The guys are currently flying in the air. I told the kids that it’s not a matter of IF they’ll come in direct contact with corona but how many times as they travel internationally.

Upon landing, they will quarantine for two weeks at a dear friend’s lake house in Texas. Would you believe our friends hurriedly prepared the place and stocked it with some groceries in advance of them arriving?

Next they’ll visit family and we’re not sure what things look like beyond that.

I am in NYC working a crisis response assignment and begin tomorrow. It’s a ghost town here as I’m sure most places are at this point. A local guy here told me, “Nurses are the firefighters of 9/11,” which was like a punch to the gut.

FEMA has brought in hundreds of nurses. We’ve been told we’ll be in a hospital setting or drive-thru testing site. I have no idea what I’m walking into. OK, I have some idea based on the media.

I walked to get groceries from my hotel and Times Square is empty. It’s surreal. Oh, how I ache for the homeless, addicted and those with mental health issues living on the streets. I walked past several with a strong cough and also know that living in community is so dangerous for them. Yesterday the news reported one New Yorker dying per hour here.

I have a small arsenal of essential oils that I’ve been practically bathing in and dousing the inside of my face mask with. Ginger shots, eating gluten free/sugar free, probiotics, vitamins, apple cider vinegar, etc. — all the feels. And the incredible power of prayer covers. I’m gonna ward off corona with all I got. I won’t get sick without a strong fight first.

We couldn’t secure the paperwork in time to bring our dog and best friend, Sarge, with us. That’s also a huge blow as we call him our “working dog.” His gentle and tolerant nature would have brought such calm and peace to our kids if he were journeying with us. And who am I kidding, he’s my therapy dog, too. He’s in excellent hands with dear friends, and we hope to figure out a way to get him back as soon as possible.

In short, this has turned things upside down for us as it has for everyone. We’re tremendously grateful to all the folks who’ve helped our family along the way. It takes a village for sure. We’re so deeply sorry for the missed goodbyes. We painfully grieve this sudden loss;
it feels surreal.

Wendy Green Davenport (’00)
March 23 Facebook post

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