Oh, my friends. It has been a rough couple of weeks.
Right around the time that my last blog was posting, our sweet Adelina came down with a fever. After six days of spiking temperatures, she was diagnosed with Typhoid Fever. We spent Mother’s Day traveling 7 hours roundtrip to a hospital in La Ceiba, where Adelina received IV antibiotics and was discharged to the care of our wonderful Finca nurses.
When Addy’s fever didn’t subside as expected, she received further testing… and was diagnosed with acute Dengue Fever, in addition to the Typhoid. The two diseases are completely unrelated (Typhoid is food/water-borne, Dengue is mosquito-borne). It was just plain rotten luck that Adelina got them both at the same time. Thanks be to God, she has now been fever-free for three days, and she is returning to her spunky, sassy self.
But we are coming home.
Kiara or Adelina contracting Dengue has always been a “line in the sand,” health-wise, for our family’s mission. Before leaving the U.S., I had read enough articles about the risks of a secondary Dengue infection (like this one and this one and this one) that I knew a primary Dengue infection would send us packing.
Honestly, though, I am reeling. While life in Honduras does involve a greater level of general risk than life in the U.S., up until this recent outbreak, Dengue was not a major one. There are literally no missionaries in recent history who have gotten Dengue; it simply hasn’t been an issue at the Finca. And contracting both Typhoid and Dengue at the same time… well, that’s just unprecedented.
Eric and I have always said that the health and wellbeing of our kids had to be our number one priority throughout this mission. As the Finca’s founder, Zulena Pescatore, put it during our retreat, “Family is our ‘first church.’” Eric and I thoroughly discussed the need to prioritize Kiara’s and Adelina’s wellbeing over our call to mission (should it come to that), and –as I said—we had even talked about this specific contingency before departing the U.S. So, in one sense, the decision to end our mission early and come home is an easy one. But, in every other sense, it is incredibly difficult.
Friends, I am so very heartbroken.
At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it feels like someone has died. Our mission at the Finca, which we had dreamed of and discerned long before it began, and which has brought us such deep joy and so many incredible memories, is like a beloved friend… And I am not ready to say goodbye. Every time I remember another event that I will be missing (the arrival of summer missionaries, Honduran Independence Day, one of my favorite Finca kids’ graduation), I experience another wave of grief. I’m pretty sure I have cried more in the last two days than in all of my previous time at the Finca.
Pero, ánimo. (But, take heart.) Even in these moments of sadness, anxiety, and uncertainty, we have experienced moments of profound peace. Last night, as we said our evening prayers together, Adelina (seemingly out of nowhere) piped up, “Guys, I think God is just calling us to come back home.”
And this morning’s Gospel reading begins, “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.’”
That is, of course, what being a missionary is all about: believing in The One who called us to the Finca in the first place… and recognizing that He is also The One who, ultimately, calls the shots.
At the moment, I don’t like the shots that have been called. But I do believe in The One who calls them. And so I am typing this blog post in a fancy, air-conditioned hotel room down the street from the best hospital in La Ceiba. Adelina (who, just for fun, has also developed bronchitis, almost certainly due to her weakened immune system) is cuddling with her sister in the bed next to me. Earlier today, one of the best pediatricians in the city cleared her for travel back to the States, pending the results of a parasite-screening. Our suitcases, hurriedly packed amid tearful goodbyes yesterday, are stacked in the corner.
We are hoping to travel to my mom’s house in the next few days. Our primary concern is getting Adelina back to full health. (A couple of hours ago, I had to plead with her to stop jumping on the bed naked, so I think we’re well on our way.) After that…. well, this is an excellent opportunity for us to take Jesus at His word and not let our hearts be troubled.
Today’s Gospel continues:
“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”
Amen, we do believe.