As of last night there are around 450 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Honduras and about 40 deaths. Our region is one of the few in which no cases have been reported yet. We expect the numbers to continue to rise as testing becomes more available. We are still on "lockdown" for the next week at least.
We just got back from our weekly shopping trip. We're only allowed out on the day corresponding to our ID number. Now that they've spread out the ID numbers allowed to shop on any given day, we actually have two days to shop as Steve and I have different numbers—Thursday and Friday. It's the highlight of the week! Today, the shelves are looking a little emptier, but mostly on luxury items. There's still plenty of eggs, meat, beans and rice. But milk, cheese, pasta, soft drinks and snacks are getting harder to find. Nevertheless, we feel well-stocked and prepared for whatever next week will bring.
There have been terrible wildfires throughout the country, including one near La Esperanza. The air has been smokey, but is a bit better today. The U.S. embassy has been advertising new evacuation flights that are now commercially available (meaning they are provided by commercial airlines). They still warn that flights could stop at any time, but the urgency in the evacuation messages seems to have dissipated somewhat.
We've still had no contact with our students and club members who live in a small village outside of town. There is no phone service in their remote area. We are grateful that their seclusion will provide greater protection against the virus. And we're praying that God will provide for their needs during this crisis. We are anxious to be with them again.
Shopping and packing bags for the La Esperanza relief efforts were postponed on Monday because the mayor held a meeting with all the staff. But we were able to continue our efforts again on Tuesday. Together, our missionary group provided food for 50 families. We combined these supplies with the government's provisions to deliver to 160 families this week. The delivery was in a small rundown neighborhood on the outskirts of town. We're told many of the families here have been out of work because the usually sell in the outdoor markets that have been closed for the last month. We were blessed to have a donation of diapers for the many babies in this neighborhood that seemed to have a large number of teenage mothers.
The food delivery was more orderly this week, but we were told military escorts would be on-hand. We never saw them. This is a huge security risk and we'll have to speak to the relief coordinators about providing better security for our deliveries in the coming weeks.
But the big news of this week's lockdown is that hardware stores are now open. As you can imagine, Steve was giddy with excitement. And at least now I'll get a new spice rack out of this ordeal!
If you were to visit one of the hardware stores downtown as we did this morning, you would hardly know that there is a strict quarantine in place. The city was almost bustling. People were out walking and restaurant signs advertised delivery specials. Even some market stalls selling fresh vegetables and fruits were open. The face masks were the only lingering reminder of the fear that continues to grip the world. We are grateful for these few hours of "normalcy" and look forward to many more signs for brighter days to come.
There are still many families suffering with no access to food and supplies in our community. If you would like to be a part of our relief ministry, please click here. A donation of just $22 can feed a family of 5 for up to a week.