Here at Kibuye, most of our team sits about 8,000 miles from our families in North America. Often this distance feels like eight million miles, especially when we are missing major events, such as weddings, funerals, holidays, and family reunions. BUT this year, due to the Covid pandemic, many more events have been livestreamed on the Internet this year, which allows us to tune in from across the ocean. Thus the world feels a little bit smaller.Last weekend, Kibuye's beloved Aunt Kayla tied the knot. None of the team could be there in person, but we stayed up late here to celebrate the moment. Someone remarked that watching weddings online is even better than attending in person, because we don’t have to be quiet and because we can eat cake during the ceremony.
Another newlywed KHA teacher has been dear to Kibuye hearts since 2014. Some of her former students here even participated in her wedding by prerecording a video of the scripture reading, and then they watched themselves on the big screen during the wedding several weeks ago. In the picture below, ten of the bride's former students stood in her old house in Kibuye and watched while she walked down the aisle in Canada.
Due to Covid-related restrictions on gatherings, some funerals in North America have been livestreamed this year as well, which has been a great blessing to us here, allowing us to "be there" through the Internet in real time. It was a real gift to my heart to be able to grieve with our loved ones during two funerals this past year, one for a long-time friend from our Michigan small group who passed away much too young, and another funeral for a Grandpa figure whom I have loved for as long as I can remember.
Family gatherings over Zoom seem to be more common across the globe this year, and for those of us who usually miss the in-person gatherings as well, Zoom family gatherings are uniquely inclusive. Our family caught up with cousins from California to Canada to Chiang Mai via Zoom this year. Loved it.
Our increased online connections have not been limited to events. Daily life and routine meetings have been more accessible for us, too. Our church in Michigan has been streaming Sunday services due to the pandemic, so many Sundays at 3:30pm, we eagerly show up at the computer for another round of church. In February an annual meeting was held via Zoom, so I attended for the first time in about 12 years. Well, ok, it started at 11pm in this time zone, so I attended until my eyes couldn't stay open.
Our same church in Michigan runs a women’s Bible study that I (Heather) have been missing for 12 years. So this year when they opened a Zoom participation format, I signed right up. Every Monday this year, I loved that study with sweet old friends and new friends several thousand miles away.
Thanks to Covid travel restrictions, some of us participated in international meetings from home, wearing scrubs, rather than having to fly to another country. Jason even conveniently gave oral boards exams to South African surgery residents from the comfort of his office chair.
So while we all hope that the global pandemic ends soon and that all the in-person gatherings will safely resume, we are grateful for the ways that we have been able to participate in so many events from afar. And maybe livestreamed events, classes, conferences, and celebrations will be here to stay?