It's been a week of growing frustration as the lockdown in our area ratchets up a notch.
We started out the week with a new roadblock at the entrance to our neighborhood. Our neighbors have taken it upon themselves to protect us all from this dangerous virus by checking IDs and not allowing anyone to enter unless they reside in the neighborhood. They also "decontaminate" all entering vehicles by spraying them down with appears to be glass cleaner. Everyone was also required to exit the vehicles to have their clothes and shoes sprayed with another mysterious cleaning agent. Ironically, this long protocol necessitates to team of volunteers and backs up traffic, leading to congregation of about 20 people at the gate at any given moment. To us it seems silly, but I do understand the need to "do" something. It's hard to blame anyone for trying to gain some piece of control amidst the chaos of our circumstances. So despite our doubts about its effectiveness, we've decided to comply with our neighbors' efforts to stop the virus from passing through the gate. And I guess I hope that maybe they're right and spraying our tires really will keep us all healthy.
Many neighborhoods are enacting similar measures, so we weren't too surprised when we were turned away from the entrance of the neighborhood where we host one of our youth clubs. They did allow us to call the property caretaker to meet us at the roadblock. His family was running low on food and supplies. We were grateful that they allowed us to pass some cash over the fence to him.
Of course, we were allowed out to do our shopping according to the last digit of our ID numbers. That meant, we were able to do our errands on Thursday (Steve) and Friday (Kelly). We went to the grocery and hardware stores. We were even able to drive through a coffee shop to pick up a frappecino. It's a treat I totally earned after enduring the whole roadblock hullabaloo earlier in the day!
And just as we started to think that maybe we could make peace with the added inconvenience of the neighborhood entrance routine, we've been hit with additional restrictions for the coming week. First it was announced this afternoon that fewer people would be allowed to circulate for the next two weeks. Instead of two numbers being allowed out of the house per day, they restricted it to just one. For us, it meant that we'd have to wait a full two weeks before being allowed to buy groceries again! Thankfully, we both feel like we have enough to last. But with no advance notice of the changing regulations, it will come as a real hardship for so many people in our community.
Just as the realization of the coming weeks secluded in our house was beginning to sink in, we received another announcement. The previous restrictions are part of a national policy, but our city has decided to enact additional measures. As of tomorrow morning, all grocery stores, gas stations, banks, hardware stores and, yes, even coffee shops will be closed. No one will be allowed to circulate at all for the next seven days at least, probably to be extended. Only the little neighborhood convenient stores that sell non-perishable food items and pharmacies are allowed to operate and then, only selling to those with the corresponding ID numbers. Anyone caught outside without proper authority will be detained. Essentially, we're under an ever-increasingly strict house arrest with no end in sight.
Tomorrow, we've been asked to come to the mayor's office again to prepare supply rations for the needy (who now comprise the entirety of our community). The office can give us no assurances that we'll be able to pass through all the neighborhood security measures, but they've promised to try to help if we are stopped along the way. Please pray for safe passage and that God would multiply the food in a miraculous way.
In all honesty, we're discouraged and anxious. Still, we trust that God is in control. So there's nothing more we can do except continue to search for moments of joy, even when they get harder to find. We carry on here in Honduras.
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