Updated: Apr 21, 2020
Yesterday Honduras reported it's first death related to COVID-19. According to officials, there are about 56 cases in the country at the moment. I suspect there are quite a few more, but testing is extremely limited.
We are currently in a lockdown for 24-hours a day until Sunday, but we expect that to be extended (possibly significantly). We are not allowed to leave the house except to acquire food or medical attention. Only one person is allowed in a car at a time and you must go to the nearest possible grocery store or pulpería (convenience store). Some grocery stores are delivering and we tried it for the first time yesterday with some success. Our Spanish is starting to suffer with so many days of English-only communication, so I found it a little difficult to communicate our list to the grocery store employee.
We've heard some concern that the restrictions are only going to get tighter in the coming weeks, so Steve went out this morning to get more cash from the ATM and get more supplies. So far we haven't seen much food shortage, but it is our biggest fear. As it is, we are fully stocked for the next few weeks. We are praying for those that don't have the financial resources to stock up like we do. We are beginning discussions with other missionaries and community leaders in the area about how we might start to think about serving the impoverished through this crisis, even if its just from our homes.
I was able to contact the principal of the school in the community where we work. He's also had no communication with our students or any of the people in the village. He told me that the road is completely blocked and that there is a suspected case of the virus near the area. I'm fairly certain that's a rumor and not first-hand knowledge though. It's difficult to separate the wild speculation from truth these days.
We have been in regular contact with pastors in our region through a group chat. I'm trying to check in three to four times a week and ask how we can be praying for them, their churches and their families. So far, the main prayer concern has been for adult or college-age children who have been separated from their families by the travel ban. There are also several family members who work in the medical field and we are all praying for their safety as they continue to serve.
The last U.S. embassy flights are leaving Honduras in the coming few days. Of course, we have no idea when we'll get another opportunity to leave. I confess we are a little anxious, but remain firm in our decision to stay. We feel secure and have plenty of supplies for now. And we're making contingency plans for future scenarios such as widespread power outages or a drop in food supply.
We are trying to stay positive and find moments of joy in our circumstances. Our neighborhood pulpería has shelves that are almost completely empty right now. But they have a little freezer full of ice cream bars and popsicles. We've gotten into the habit of walking there every afternoon (keeping a very safe distance from any neighbors we might pass along the way) for a little treat. It's become the highlight of our day.
On Sunday we "went" to church with Nick online. It was strangely comforting to be hearing the same message at the same moment. It was almost like worshiping together—something we haven't been able to do in a long time. And even though I know I'm always welcome, I was thrilled that Nick actually called me and "invited" me to church with him. We are so proud of him!
We've also arranged several online gaming sessions with Nick and even our co-workers stuck at El Sembrador. We have a weekly Bible Study with another missionary couple in La Esperanza via Facebook chat. And we continue to "meet" with the WGM missionary family online. Currently, we're doing a book study together. These interactions have become precious to us. We don't feel alone and we know we are loved.
We have no idea what our ministry will look like when this is all over. Like you, were uncertain about what the future holds. It's easy to be fearful of the unknown. But, with the right mindset, we can look at this as a time for new opportunities—a reset button for our lives and our ministries. And that's something we can be excited about!