Something About Africa · Tanzania


Monday is right around the corner.  If you would have asked me three months ago why I was already dreading June 5th, I would have said I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye to my dad.  Today, however, my angst is for a very different parting that awaits us.

We are headed back to Texas.  We explored several options in an attempt to do ministry and stay here in Tanzania, but ultimately the timing was off and it didn’t feel right.  For now, the plan is to go back to Texas and try to restart our lives in Austin.  Although, with the number of curve balls God has allowed to come my way, I’m trying to bite my tongue a little harder when people ask me what our plans are.  I don’t know what life looks like from here.  I thought I’d be in Tanzania for the next ten+ years.  We said goodbye to so so much and here we are, headed back.

Honestly, it feels like a walk of shame.  I think to myself, how did this even happen?  What could we have done differently to prevent this?

Last Sunday we saw our boys at church.  There was a big group of volunteers and they decided to bring all of the big kids to the church we usually meet with on Sunday mornings.  As I looked at all of those kids, every emotion came flooding back into my heart.  Their big eyes full of happiness, hope, confusion.  Angelous kept asking me, “You are coming back to Ucare house?!”  Oh–my heart!  Franki came to dance with Tylee and Ember as we sang.  Julius kept winking at Jonathan.  Tumaini wouldn’t let go of us and wanted to know, “What about America?”

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We loved those boys as long as we could.  There is nothing that we could have done differently in good conscious to have prevented this.  No preparation on our side could have changed the outcome.  We had no way of knowing how any of this would unfold.  Our hearts are so sad to leave this place we’ve started to call home and these people who have stepped in as family and loved us and our children so well.  We will miss this lovely place and these beautiful people.

When we saw those precious familiar faces at church last week, it was the best and worst thing that could have happened.  Worst because we had to say goodbye again, but best because we never thought we would get another chance to hug their necks.  In a similar way, I am so excited to go back to America and love on some friends and family–some of whom I thought I may never see again.  Even where it hurts, there is beauty in this serendipity.  And thank God that He makes beauty out of ashes.


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5 thoughts on “Serendipity

  1. My heart is happy to have youback close. I’m glad you all made the very best of your time in Africa. May life continue to hold you and your family safe and may good health & joyful adventures await you all.

  2. Jonathan and Whitney,
    Your coming back is not a walk of shame at all. How could it be? You have done nothing wrong. This outcome was beyond your control and you have shown strength of character in how you have chosen to respond. I am so sorry and disappointed that this has happened to all of you. You sold everything and took up your cross to follow Jesus. What amazing faith you have shown. God is in control; never will he leave or forsake you. I pray for peace and a smooth transition as you come back to the US. You may not know what your plans are yet, but He does! We will miss your precious family in Temple! Blessings to you all and safe travels! – April Weems

  3. Whitney and Jonathan, thanks for writing. I always love to read your stories. This one brought many tears to my eyes. Please do not feel shamed. You did nothing wrong . You followed where God lead you. And you continue to follow. He knows you’re willing to go anywhere, to sell everything, to leave so much behind. You did what He asked. And we know you are willing and ready to go anywhere for the Lord at the drop of a hat. Keep listening and He will lead you.

    You and your dad are in our prayers as you travel. Praying for a safe and enjoyable trip. You all look so good in your pictures. And your dad is a great photographer. You have a special gift for writing, just like your dad. God bless you guys. We hope to see you soon. Though Texas is a good ways from South Carolina. Ha!

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