When we came to Malawi, we brought a lawn sign proclaiming in bold letters, “THE PARTY’S HERE.” The sign originated at a going away shindig in British Columbia, and we took it with us across Canada from BC to Ontario and then to Amsterdam before landing in Africa. All along the way we brought it with us and took pictures.
Today we made the hard decision to end the party. Or at least, that’s how it feels. Maybe when we look back, we’ll be able to say that we moved the Bertrand party yet again.
We are booked to fly back to Canada on April 6th, 2020. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began we have been in close contact with the Presbyterian Church in Canada staff. They have been encouraging and respectful, practical and pastoral. Together we developed some criteria we could use to measure our safety, our quality of life, and our risk. This past week we tipped into the “go home” territory on all three categories.
We have a swirl of feelings about this. First and foremost, we are concerned for our Malawian friends and colleagues. Malawi neither seems to have the desire nor capacity to respond as Western experts are telling them they must. We fear for the safety of those we know and love. We also grieve our inability to protect them. While we are leaving the country, the warm heart of Africa will continue to beat in us.
Any leave taking is hard but to do it so rushed makes it especially so. We hope to say good bye to everyone here but the state of disaster and the timing make it difficult. If we do not see you, know that it isn’t because of a lack of desire on our part.
There is much more that we could say but we will try to do that when the time is right. Thanks for your prayers as we make this transition. We feel surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses and rely on that strength these days.
This moves fast so don’t you think you should leave earlier?
Yes, it does move fast but expert opinion puts Malawi 3-4 weeks behind other countries. Remember, we do not have a single confirmed case. Yes, yes, there are likely cases but this is still very early. If it begins to move faster, we will shift our date.
They are cancelling planes so don’t you think you should leave earlier?
We are working with people whose job is to monitor flights. If our particular flight is threatened, we will change our date.
Did you know about …. ?
Likely. Vivian has been tracking this closely since it started in China. Bird Boy stays on top of the stats (almost hourly). We have been in contact with medical experts in Africa and Canada. The number of factors we have considered are bewildering at times. It is likely that we have considered some dimension of whatever it is.
Where will you go?
We will serve our 14-day quarantine at a Presbyterian Church in Canada property. The church has graciously offered a place to land. From there we will likely visit with family but, truth be told, we don’t know for sure.
Do you have jobs to return to?
Yes. Although we are not in Malawi we are still employed as missionaries by the Presbyterian Church in Canada. We will be doing a lot of work remotely. As well, when feasible, Blair will return to Malawi and finish all that we can’t get done in the next 9 days.
11 thoughts on “The Party is Over”
Hi Blair and family:
Don and I are praying for your safe return and future endeavours.
Cheers, Jo Blaak
On Thu, Mar 26, 2020 at 10:19 AM Missional-aries wrote:
> Blair D. Bertrand posted: ” When we came to Malawi, we brought a lawn sign > proclaiming in bold letters, “THE PARTY’S HERE.” The sign originated at a > going away shindig in British Columbia, and we took it with us across > Canada from BC to Ontario and then to Amsterdam before landing ” >
There are many disruptions now and at every level in these strange days. I’m sorry for the way this has changed your timeline and hopes.
Prayers for you all as you navigate many things in the day ahead. I’ll be praying for you and giving thanks for the days shared in Malawi.
We’ll always have Blantyre…
More seriously, we should connect in the coming days. Maybe when we are “home”
Welcome back Blair.
We have been following your Missional-aries blog and have enjoyed your perspectives and experiences on life in Malawi.
Your family will be happy to see you again as well.
Mike & Joyce Montaigne
I’ve been following your journeys since we first met at our GLAUCE educator conference at Techny Towers, Chicago, several years ago. I have enjoyed your Malawi stories. I can only imagine how difficult it is to say goodbye. Be safe. Stay well. Traveling mercies.
Marilyn, so good to hear from you. Funny enough I was talking about that conference just last week. Hope you are staying well and safe. Blessings.
Praying you home….
Tough decision. Such upheaval. Prayers…
Hey Blair, I can understand how this one tears at the soul. You have an escape hatch…and those you love do not. There’s a whole unspoken dissertation in there about guilt and resentment and relief, all the complex things that make us human and messy and redeemable. Leaving is a tough decision and the words ‘we will be back’ can feel very hollow in the present, save the Truth that God never leaves anyone. When you do go back you can bring hope with you, and join in whatever God has planned. He will take any opportunity and use it. I wish you a safe journey and hope to see you in the future (just in time for Spring, a renewal of all.)
Dear Blair and Vivian et al:
Thank you for sharing this update on your ministry and plans to return to Canada. We pray for your safe return, 14-day isolation, and re-settlement in Canada. We also pray for the church in Malawi, that it’s leaders and elders will carefully guide the flock and be a practical and faithful witness to the Lord, who IS our strength and redeemer. As a former MKid I a ofter a special prayer for Bird Boy, Wild Child, and C-C. Yours, in Christ. Maynard & Susan
Thanks Maynard. With confirmed cases now in Malawi your prayers are needed.