• Emily Darling

Coming Back to America

It is with a very heavy heart that I am announcing my return to the US at least for now. As I compose this post, I am sitting in my Dodoma hotel room at the beginning of my three-day travel journey. The good news is that I will be traveling with another missionary that is coming back, his name is Peter Bak. He was serving at St. Phillip’s Theological College.

There are many factors that lead to this decision. While it is the best decision for my circumstances, it was incredibly hard. The decision was made Wednesday, the same day that I had to say goodbye to the students at St. John’s because the Tanzanian government has closed schools and houses of worship here for the next 30 days. This is a precaution as COVID-19 has entered the country and the cases are increasing. I have shed many tears over this decision. However, I have come to a peace that it is the right decision to make. The good news is that there is a possibility for my return to Tanzania and St. John’s Place. It will depend on how long the pandemic lasts in the US and how Tanzania is impacted as well. The decision will be made in God’s timing and I am on this path with Him. I trust Him to lead the way.

I had 36 hours to pack up my life and begin the travel journey. To some extent it felt like I was being evacuated, in a sense I guess I am. I had wet laundry on the clothesline from doing laundry that morning since I was dismissed from school once the students went home. I was looking for things to do since I suddenly didn’t have to teach for the next 6 hours. In my emotional state and after crying, my mind began to churn on what this meant for my time in Tanzania. I had previously scheduled a catch-up call with Elizabeth Boe in the Global Partnerships Office of the Episcopal Church. With the rapidly developing information that was coming from the Tanzanian government, the US government and the evaporation of flights as well as places to fly the decision was made. I tried to keep my cool when I informed Bishop Lupaa and Canon Lucas Ngassa, the St. John’s Place School Manager. It was hard because I could feel my heart breaking in my chest for the second time in less than 12 hours. The hardest part of leaving was that I didn’t have the opportunity for many proper goodbyes.

I want to give all the staff in the Global Partnerships office a major shout out! They are all working from home, some for the first time and because of COVID-19 they are swamped with work. They are amazing and they are working around the clock to get missionaries home and make sure that we are taken care of, which is standard operating procedure regardless of a world pandemic. Thank you (in no particular order) Elizabeth Boe, David Copley, Yanick Fourcand and Lisa Denaro! You are my superheroes! The care you show for us missionaries is clear all the time but especially in this time of uncertainty. You are truly amazing! Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

There are so many emotions that I am feeling. I am in deep conversation with God about so many different things. Right now, I am focused on the physical act of leaving and travelling. I know that there will be lots of emotional and spiritual processing to come. I am grateful for the community I am leaving, their understanding in this situation as well as the time that I was able to have with them. I am also grateful for the community that I will return to in Colorado Springs.

I ask for your prayers in this time of sudden transition and processing. I want you to know that I love and care about each one of you. If I do not respond to your care for me, please know that it is because I am taking time and space to process what has happened in the last 72 hours and what will come upon my return to the US.

Thank you so much for your support as I walk this journey.

I look forward to sharing more about my time and experiences during my time in Tanzania as I have so much more to share.

In Peace from Tanzania,

Emily Darling

Last sunset at the St. John’s Volunteer House

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