Actually that’s where our hearts are tonight, at the Entebbe Internatinal Airport. Our bodies will be there tomorrow.

The strange situation the world is in at this time with the Corona Virus brings many unusual emotions and perceptions to each of us that we have not experienced before. Gail and I have been in Uganda about four weeks, and because we still had so much work to do, we did not feel even the lightest twinge of homesickness. Homesickness usually hits about the second to last week when we know the end of the trip is approaching.

We did not feel any shift when the President here announced his immediate measures to protect the population, even though those measures shut down our program. We again did not feel any shift in our peace when we called each pastor and cancelled the meetings, telling them we would be back when all this is over. We didn’t feel the shift of emotion when we met the children at the deaf school in Mbale and spent some precious time with them, all too short (now James wants a hoodie – where did he even see a hoodie?). We still didn’t feel our hearts turning toward home when we headed for Jinja, knowing that we would most probably be coming home.

However, the very second the State Department announced that all Americans needed to return home now or potentially risk being stranded as the US border closed even against them in the very near future, everything for both of us shifted about 7 points on the Richter scale. Suddenly, when we couldn’t have it, we needed it! Now it was possible that we would be truly cut off from home. The phrase “You don’t truly appreciate something until you lose it” was playing loudly in the background. Suddenly, with a few words, we felt cut off from home in a way we haven’t ever felt cut off before.

We drove into Jinja late last night and after eating and settling into the guesthouse, we spent some considerable time searching for KLM flights to take us home (our tickets are with KLM and they are promising refunds, but, actually, we wanted seats.) The more we searched, the worse it became. In fact, they had a website that was supposed to help people find flights in this current crisis, and it projected 13 days into the future…not a single flight out of Uganda had any seats.

Our hearts sank. We weren’t talking much, each in their own heartsick bubble, missing our family and feeling heavy with the possibility that we couldn’t go home now when we really wanted to. I knew Gail was close to tears, and I was trying to be gentle and walking on eggs as the hours approached midnight.

So what had really changed. I remember thinking in the car as we drove those many miles that if we had to stay for the duration and weather the storm here, we would find a way, and that God must have something for us that we can’t see. There’s much joy in the center of His will, and we often experience it here. The emotional shift came when we heard the news on the internet that perhaps we won’t be able to come home at all any time soon. Emotions are funny things. When you can’t have something, that’s when suddenly it feels like death not to have it, when just before we were feeling fine, just waiting to see what God was going to do.

I confess, this is a new lesson for me personally. I stand pretty fixed on the work and focused on the future when I’m here in the midst of the ministry. I tend to get through the homesickness that might be in the back of my mind by exercising my faith and pushing forward to what He has set before us each day. Jude 20 says, “Build yourselves up on your most holy faith…,” and we try to practice that.

Somehow, though, the thought of being cut off undermined our daily dose of faith in a different way. Homesickness poured over us with a deep yearning to be close to the family during this emergency.

Fortunately, it didn’t last long. Our travel agent (and God) was working in the background and emailed us quite late that there were seats available on Emirates Airline. So we prayed and considered, and went ahead and booked them before they could slip away to some other person trying to get home.

The problem for us was that the tickets were for Sunday, tomorrow, and we are a good 4-5 hours from the airport.

After watching everything on the internet for the last couple of weeks, we realize there’s only one proper way to show our solidarity with our fellow citizens as we pack up to come home…

Needless to say, we have had a very hectic day getting everything reorganized, cleaned, sorted, repacked and delivered to storage and sorted and repacked for travel. We are here tonight now after supper, only regretting the brevity of the trip and the way it got cut off, but turning our hearts toward home. We will be home, all things going well along the journey, on Monday night.

Thanks for your prayers. He has moved on our behalf. We are now even more aware of other missionaries around the world facing this difficult situation who are sacrificing so much more than we are, and who must stay on the field away from their families and watch it all continue to unfold from afar.