“Do not be anxious in anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” Phillipians 4: 6-7
When I was offered the position at CCIS in March, there was still hope that COVID-19 would be “over” by summer and things would go back to “normal”. Now that we are in October, we know that things like this aren’t quite that simple, and that “normal” is constantly being edited. As the months progressed and my departure date came closer and closer, in addition to an ever growing to-do list, there were a lot of questions, and anxieties that were presenting themselves every day. Not only was I moving across the globe, but I was also the last to move out of my family home in Fort Collins and was tasked with getting it ready for selling.
After a little over a decade of Meltons and their roommates living in this house, we collected a fair amount of other people’s random junk that needed to be dealt with, along with my own personal junk, before I moved out. The process of moving was consuming enough that it kept me so preoccupied that I was able to avoid the anxieties of actually moving. Once I was out of Fort Collins, and spending my last remaining weeks in the country at my parents’ house, my to-do list was now exclusively centered on leaving, and anxieties began to live in my head rent-free.
One thing that was providing me with a great deal of stress was the current mandate that anyone entering the country of Tanzania, would need a negative COVID-19 test from within three days of leaving their country. If you know anything about how long it takes to get a COVID-19 test result, and how long it takes to travel to an African country then you can see why that would be stressful. If you don’t, let me do some math with you : the average test takes up to 10 days to get back, and it takes 2-3 days to reach Africa depending on layovers and final destinations. For me to take a test three days before leaving would mean that I would likely be in the air or already landed before receiving my results. The prospect of having to come back because of a positive test result, and not knowing if I was endangering others until I had already done it was terrifying to me.
A week before I was set to leave I discovered that the mandate had been lifted and a negative result was no longer required to enter the country. It felt like a little love note sent straight from God saying “I got you. Stop worrying.”
As if that wasn’t enough, he still had a few more love notes for me.
I had been postponing buying my plane ticket until I had logistics figured out about what day I needed to arrive, and was confident that nothing was going to prevent me from going. I had also postponed filing my taxes, since I could. I decided to end my procrastination for both in one night, which revealed that my tax return was almost the exact same amount as my plane tickets ended up being.
I chose my flight path pretty randomly based on the best price and what seemed to be the best route. The first leg of my trip took me to Virginia where I would have a 12 hour layover. I didn’t realize at the time that the airport I was flying into was only a 20 minute drive from the home of my Aunt and Uncle who I hadn’t seen in multiple years. My flight landed close to midnight, but my Uncle is a night owl and was able to not only pick me up, but provide me a perfect arrangement of snacks, wine, conversation, a few hours of rest in an actual bed, followed by a breakfast of french toast and mimosas. It was such a precious gift to be able to spend those few hours with my family members. I was mentally prepared to spend my last night in America on an airport floor, eating airport food, but God had other plans in mind.
The next love letters came to me in the form of human bodies.
Before leaving the states, I found myself in a conflict that resulted in the severing of a close friendship. This loss left me raw, reeling, and feeling very alone. I prayed for friendships that were genuine with women of God who would help and encourage my growth instead of hurting and hindering me. I also was hopeful for a female mentor to, among more profound things, teach me the basics of being a functioning human being like cooking, cleaning, taking care of myself, etc.
When I arrived in Arusha, I spent the first week alone under quarantine. The second week we began training for the beginning of school, and I discovered that I would be working with an almost entirely female staff coming from various countries. Despite having access to strong, beautiful women of God, I was still struggling with moving our relationships into the outside-the-workplace phase. There was one day I was journaling about feeling like I didn’t have a personal life outside of school and wrestling with how to reconcile those feelings. Not even 4 hours later, one of the other new teachers from Spain, who is the closest coworker to my age, began to confide that she was experiencing the same feelings. I hadn’t even revealed having those feelings myself yet, and it was like she was reading the words I had written just a few hours before to me. We have entered into a sweet friendship and actually spent time together outside of the walls of the school compound! She has been living here for about three years now with her husband who is a native, so her Swahili is much better than mine which allows her to serve as my safety blanket as I explore life in this new place.
Just a few days before school started, the principal let me know that they had hired a woman from Kenya to come and teach the Year 1/2 class, and that she would be living with me. The house we now share has homed many families that worked for the school, including the founder, and was much too big for just me – it is honestly still too big for the two of us – so having a roommate was a welcome addition to the space. She is a vibrant, confident, wise, and powerful woman of God, who happens to have a son who is also 22, so she is very literally old enough to be my mother. I had made many jokes before I left the states about finding a Mama in my area to teach me to cook, and when she moved in I could feel God saying “Here you go!”
These are just a few examples of the endless stream of love notes God sends my way on a daily basis. It is so sweet to be loved by the designer of the universe who knows exactly what we need and how to give it to us.