words by jenny
Hello there friends.
We, like everyone else the world over, are hunkering down and adjusting to a new normal in light of the global pandemic we are facing. Life here in Ecuador has screeched to a halt, and in some respects is eerily similar to life we experienced last fall when we had nation-wide protests here in our country. Some folks have checked in and asked to see how we are doing and what life looks like right now for us, so just thought I would give a little update.
Last Thursday it was announced that schools would be closed for the entire nation starting on Friday. Although there were less than 30 cases confirmed of COVID-19 at the time, it seemed that the country was ramping up for big preventative measures to try and stay ahead of the worst of the global outbreak. Very quickly, stores were flooded with folks trying to stock up on essentials and over the weekend more and more measures were implemented by the government to encourage social distancing and avoid mass spread of the virus.
Currently, everyone is to stay in their homes unless going out to buy food, water or medicines, take care of the elderly or disabled or seek medical attention. We can’t even walk the dog. Buses are no longer running. People with cars can only drive three days a week – dependent on what number your license plate ends in. Restaurants and shopping malls are closed. The only people reporting to work are those who work in grocery stores, pharmacies, medical staff, police, sanitation workers, etc. No one else is working. The country has closed its borders and we just learned that there are no longer any commercial flights leaving the country. The last article I read reported that we now have 199 confirmed cases in Ecuador, most of which are in the coastal province of Guayas.
It’s hard to believe that just 2 weeks ago we were traveling around the country with my sister and her family, showing off this beautiful place we live. And that just last week we hosted a small contingent of a North Park Theological Seminary class (although no one from NPTS actually ended up being able to come) and that now our normal has changed so drastically.
Our kids’ school has gone fully online – which I honestly have mixed feelings about (and would take another long blog post to unpack). School still starts at 8 am every day, it is just looking very different than normal. No longer are our kids putting on their uniforms every morning, but instead getting a taste for what it may be like for them in the US to pick out what they wear every day. And instead of driving them the 5 minutes down the road, they are pulling out their books and pulling up to our dining room table.
We are now less than 3 months away from our move back to the US and COVID-19 has certainly added a layer to our transition that we never expected. The church’s national annual meeting that was supposed to take place next weekend has been cancelled – an event in which we would have been able to see friends from all over the country and begin to say many goodbyes. We had a trip planned next month to the southern city of Cuenca, which everyone loves but we have never been to, which will now not happen. We started a bucket list of all of our favorite things that we wanted to do again before we left and we now know that we won’t be able to do many of those things. Teams that were going to help us physically move some of our belongings back to the US are no longer coming and we may only be able to pack 8 suitcases to bring back. Days that we thought would be filled with squeezing in as much time with our dear friends here are now being spent just the 4 of us. As we watch the news change rapidly we are wondering what the situation will be like the world over as we come closer to our move date. Will we be able to move when we were expecting to? Do we need to think about moving our move date? Will we spend weeks in quarantine once we arrive on US soil? Will traveling through international ports put the people we love (and complete strangers) waiting for us at risk? Will we be able to be greeted by hugs from grandparents when we land? Or will we face more weeks of isolation, just us four, in the midst of huge transition and stress?
And ours is just one story. Just one reality. Everyone is facing the unknown, unmet expectations, broken dreams, fear, questions, doubt, changed plans and uncertainty.
Chris and I were invited to speak at a staff retreat for another mission organization back in January and their theme for the weekend was transition. In preparing, I was really drawn to Genesis 1, where we find the Spirit hovering over the waters. In many versions in the Spanish translations it speaks of the earth as “un caos total”– total chaos. But there is the Spirit, over it all, preparing to do a new thing. She is preparing to create beauty and order. She is preparing to work in the midst of change that the world has never seen. She is preparing to enter the total chaos. And now She goes before us and with us and over us and behind us as we stare down the unknown. And in these days I am trying to remember to wait on the Lord in anxious anticipation of where and how the Spirit will continue to create beauty and order once again.
And we continue to practice gratitude. Because even in the midst of the chaos, there is still so much to be grateful for.
We are praying for you. Please continue to pray for us.
And! We have some SUPER exciting news to share with you all! In the midst of the craziness of the past few weeks we have had some great news. And since we all need a little something to look forward to in these days…you are just going to have to wait a few days and then we will let you know! Stay tuned!