And Just Like That It’s Time to Leave


It is Friday night, as I write these words, just after 8:00 pm here in Chiredzi. I just left a youth gathering at our church. I was the speaker which seems a bit odd for a youth gathering, but it is the second time in a row I have had the honor. I talked about Ecclesiastes and why life isn’t happy and joyous, fulfilling and exciting all the time. I suppose I did OK. Sherry isn’t here to tell me. I left early, not because there is anything wrong with Youth Ablaze. It is just me, well my heart.

Seven hours ago I learned that my visa will not be extended. A visa is good for thirty days and can be renewed up to five times. This was to be my fourth renewal. I cannot say with any certainty why that was the case. When I get home I might speculate, and with my friends here tomorrow and Sunday, I will talk about it. The bottom line, however, is that my current visa expires next Thursday and I have to go home.

The plan was for a friend and me to go to Harare on Tuesday to meet Sherry and return to Chiredzi on Wednesday. In a moment, the plan changed. Sherry is not getting on that plane on Sunday night/Monday morning at 01:01 in Portland. Now, I am going to Harare to leave Zimbabwe. I have not worked out the tickets yet, as we have no WIFI today. I don’t mean at my house. There isn’t any at my house, nor next door, nor across town at the office. I was talking to one of the girls at the youth gathering and she didn’t have any either. It seems our town is without it. But hopefully, Wednesday or Thursday I will leaving on a jet plane (sorry song reference). {Added note: It is Thursday with arrival in Portland on Friday. Further planning pending.}

I have been pretty emotional all afternoon and into the evening. I have been frustrated, with the immigration office, the internet, not being able to talk to Sherry (it was night where she is) and the situation. I have been sad and grieving ahead of my departure. People that I love and have plans with, people I work with, and worship with. I will miss them. I’m not ready to leave. And yet, there is one little corner of my heart that is looking forward to being at my other home, my US home. Monday I was missing Shelton, and Sherry, thinking it was time. But now that it is time that reality is only confusing. Then there is the uncertainty of plane ticket changes and cancellations. Just yesterday I worked out a plan with Philip Hawley, nephew, who lives in DC area. We had a ten hour layover and airport change. He was going to come get us, show us around and/or let us shower. Now, I’m not even going into Dulles and out of Reagan. It is Chicago instead.

In a moment. With one simple word, “no,” it all changes. Things are not in my control. I am not sure how to process this yet. I am very careful to say it was or is God’s plan. I believe he still has/had things for us to do here. Those things will have to wait. Last time I left Zimbabwe I said, “If God brings us back . . .” I depart next week in the full assurance that he will. Maybe sooner than we imagined. Maybe with help. In the mean time, “Hello, Washington. I’m back.”


The sun has just set this Sunday night. I must say it was a very good day. I am not talking about weather, though that was good too. My morning began early. Because I was supposed to be in Harare today so I didn’t have any responsibilities preaching wise this morning. Since I got to Zimbabwe with two exceptions, I have preached somewhere. Mostly, at Chiredzi Christian Church. And that is where I went today. Saturday evening I texted Excellent, one of our preaching team, who was scheduled to do the sermon this week. The way we do it here is you preach the sermon, and then blend into a communion meditation. I asked if I could do that meditation. I used it to share that I was leaving Zimbabwe a month early and that Sherry was not coming back. The first Sunday I did the meditation, I introduced the video, “Come to the Table” by the Side Walk Prophets. We have done it several times in Shelton. It is a great communion message. Many people in church already knew about our unexpected departure, but not all. It was a pretty emotional moment.

Following the service, my good friend, Pastor Simon, announced we needed to have a gift for Sherry and I and wanted everyone go out front for a church picture. A few escaped, but the majority came out. Following the group pictures there were dozens of family, individual, and team picture. So many people talked about how sad they were that we were leaving. It was quite an affirming day. I love this English speaking church. I will miss it so very much.

As I was leaving, I took Simon and Excellent home. Excellent lives not far from the Village (orphanage) and church there was still going on, so I stopped and took in the end of a Shona sermon. I was scheduled to preach there next Sunday, but alas, it is not to be. I said goodbye to those that I know there, especially my orphans I have been doing math and reading with.

Then it was home. In the afternoon I decided to climb Baobab Hill one more time. I took a selfie or two while on top. On the way down I met a gentleman I see most times. He works on the top, manning the generators which power the towers. I mentioned it was my last time for a while and he wanted me to take him to America. Everyone want to come to America.

I’m home now. Mostly packed for my departure on Tuesday from Chiredzi. Tomorrow is full of my preaching coming to talk preaching and church. At that point my gaze will turn more to Washington and Sherry, and what comes next for this retired bike riding preacher.


This is already too long, but I thought one final entry from Africa would be appropriate. I catch my plane tomorrow at 3:30 here in Harare and get to Portland on Friday. At this point, my mood and attitude is fine. I am disappointed that I couldn’t stay and finish the work we started. We are already starting planning for a future trip. For the first night since Friday, I got a decent night’s sleep. Trying to figure out whys and what does God have planned just are not productive. I am just relishing in the work we did here, the friendships that were deepen and new friends we have made. This trip was different that others we have taken here. More time in one place. More time to visit and understand culture and history. I have grown as a person and learning a bit about what it means to be retired. May God guide our next steps. Goodbye Zimbabwe. We will see you again soon.

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