Brady Family Update - August 2020
Hey everybody - I hope this email is a special treat for you. Most of the time, you get to see and hear things from my perspective, but as you'll see, the vast majority of the update below is from Carly's perspective. We have some really exciting news (no we're not pregnant) and it just seemed like it would be better if you heard it straight from her. Much love fam - enjoy :-)
The other day we were at dinner and Ellie said, “Mom, I’m just not the girl I used to be.” Laughing a little to myself I asked, “What do you mean Elle Belle?” “Mom, when you get older things just change.” “Ellie… you are four.”
As is often the case, I first thought the whole thing was just humorous. Then I stopped to consider it more. If there has ever been a season in this little girl’s life that has changed her, it has been this past year.
One year ago she was an only child living in Malawi with her parents. Since then, we travelled to South Africa, delivered her baby sister, got stuck in passport no-man’s land, came back to Malawi, worked for two months in Malawi, went back to the US, travelled through the US for a month visiting any number of states, friends, and new beds, travelled back to Malawi through Germany, lived in Malawi for another two months, found out about a global pandemic, packed up our family in 24 hours, flew back to the US, lived for a month not letting her hug Grandparents or cousins, and have now been on standby here in West Virginia for four months waiting to see what the next big change will be.
Every day she asks when we will go back to Malawi, and every day we tell her the honest answer, "We don’t know." We pray for it to be soon; we prepare for it to be quite a while. We are stuck in such limbo.
I should clarify, our time here has been lovely. We are staying on a one-hundred-acre farm in the heart of the Greenbrier Valley. We have dogs, cats, cows and rabbits to feed every day. There is a pool out back and a creek just down the hill. Each evening we go pick gallons of blackberries and stay out to catch fireflies. This place really is just about everything you could ask for. But the reality is that we didn’t ask for it. We thought we would be in Malawi right now… and the uncertainty has been a challenge. Life is good, but it is very different than the life we were expecting.
Since moving here, Ellie has learned to give air hugs instead of arm hugs. We call our close Malawian friends on WhatsApp when it doesn’t make her too sad. She could barely swim in March and now can swim all the way across the pool and back. She has started to learn to read and has developed a passion for Calvin and Hobbes. She has discovered sleepovers and enjoys inviting herself over to loved one’s houses any chance she gets. We have planned a ‘coming home’ party for when we finally get back to Malawi. She talks about it every single day.
Miriam couldn’t roll over when we came to the US. Now she is walking all over the place. She has learned about five words which she uses only when she feels like it. She was just starting solids in March, and now her favorite food in the world is spaghetti. Betsy the cat is her second-best friend (after Ellie of course.) Probably the most amazing unexpected gift is that Miriam knows and loves all four of her grandparents.
Zack still wakes up at 4am to spend the first half of his day virtually living in Malawi. Sometime around noon he switches modes and comes back to the United States. In Malawi he is a Young Life Staff member, church volunteer, member of the teaching team, renter, ultimate frisbee aficionado, vehicle owner, and general breadwinner and financial manager of our house. In the United States he is a farm hand, lawncare specialist, handyman for the farmhouse, and the only employee of the “Brady Ladies Daddy Daycare.” He has been a trooper spending his time living between the two worlds, but he definitely has his tired days so sometimes he and Miriam both need an afternoon nap.
I came back prepared for permanent disaster mode. It turns out there has been a lot more waiting and girls time than I expected in this season. I missed a lot of Ellie’s first year because of residency, and now I spend almost every moment of every day with Miriam. I love spending time with our families. I miss my life and friends in Malawi terribly. Any work that I get done usually happens after ten o’clock when everyone else is in bed. If Zack is the early riser, then I’m the night owl. Somehow, I managed to complete my exams for my master’s classes in June. I have about one year of classes left before getting the Global Health Policy master’s degree.
I went from working 24 hour shifts in Malawi to 24 hour shifts just across the state line in Bath County, Virginia. If you’ve never heard of Bath County, don’t worry - no one else has either. Opportunities to get shifts slowed down at Bath County. So, I just transitioned to the local Emergency Department here in Greenbrier County and my first shift here is this coming Sunday (16 Aug). I basically work as an Emergency Physician in the US as a “side job” while trying to plan and prepare for my “real job” back in Malawi. I went through an entire application and interview process with the Medical College of Malawi while living half a world away. I’m incredibly excited to finally start my position with the Emergency Medicine Residency at the College of Medicine, but I have absolutely no idea when that will actually happen. I spend my time trying to carefully balance the schedules so I still have work while here without making commitments I can’t keep.
We are incredibly grateful for everything this season has given us but Ellie is right. It’s been a long year.
She isn’t the girl she used to be, and neither am I. ~ Carly
This is what Zack's work looks like. Most of the time they go well....some of the time, not so much 🤷♂️. Zoom and WhatsApp have been great gifts, but technology always comes with it's own challenges. Keep praying for the students at Saints Andrews and Hillview International Schools!
What does the job with the College of Medicine mean?
It means God answers prayers, but not always in the timeframe or the way we expect.
As many of you know, I started my Global Health Career focused on working clinically, but my fellowship opportunities in Uganda and my year and a half in Malawi have reaffirmed the value of investing in the future medical providers. Since my fellowship officially finished in August of 2019 the last year has been a year of volunteering and asking God, “What’s next?” Throughout this process there were many times I thought I knew where God was leading - sometimes towards one organization or another, only to have the door close in my face. But in March, right as things began to get really crazy all over the world, the College of Medicine opened the application for a full time lecturer position in the Emergency Medicine Department. I completed the application and interview process from a distance and as of July 21 officially accepted the position of lecturer!
So what will you be doing?
The main reason for the full time position is the simultaneous creation of an Emergency Medicine (EM) residency at the Medical College of Malawi. This is the first EM residency in the country and as of today we have signed our first two residents (called registrars.) However, my job will not be limited to teaching the registrars. The EM department within the College of Medicine already provides rotations for fourth and fifth year medical students, clinical officer students, interns who have just completed medical school, and registrars from other specialties. Much of our teaching occurs at the bedside, so I will be included in the consultant roster to cover the average amount of on call shifts. The remainder of my time will be spent on the administrative aspects of training. The official estimation is 60% clinical with 40% administrative.
How can we be praying for you?
The process of taking a plan from paper and turning it into real life is challenging. This will be a lot of work for all of the consultants. It will take time from each of our families and it will require teamwork. In the beginning, I imagine the work will be two full time jobs, 100% clinical and 100% administrative as we try to turn this dream into a reality. Pray that we would work through this process graciously as I am sure there are many unexpected challenges and roadblocks ahead.
A brief and sharable update video (2:49) we put together for some of our supporting churches.
One of the joys of our Malawian life is being a part of Flood Church in Blantyre. I've become a part of the leadership team and one of the ways I get to serve the church is preaching periodically. I thought I'd share this sermon with you that I preached back on August 2nd. (And it's only 25 minutes!) You can also find it on Flood-Blantyre's Facebook page by CLICKING HERE
As always, we want you to know how very very much we appreciate all of your love, prayers, and support. It has been especially helpful in this season. The random texts, emails, and phone calls have given us a much needed boost from time to time during this time here in WV.
We can't wait to get back to Malawi, but we are taking one step at a time and trusting the Lord more and more each day. We would love to see you if you're around the Lewisburg, WV area any time soon. We've got plenty of space to spread out and plenty of black berries to share!
Also, we thought we should throw some more pictures in to show you how big Ellie is, how adventurous the Brady Ladies are, and the face Miriam makes when she bites her own finger too hard. That's pretty much how this season is going: learning new things, going on adventures, but not without some hard days sprinkled in.
Love you guys,
Zack, Carly, Ellie Jo, and Miriam Rose (plus the two dogs, one cat, two rabbits, and five cows)