words by jenny
I just got done reading through our kids’ school’s weekly newsletter and it mentioned that we are now in our 9th week of online-at home learning. 9 weeks! I kind of can’t believe it.
If only we had known when we picked up our kids on the afternoon of March 12th that it would be the last time we would be on the campus of their school. If only we had known that that Thursday would be the last time our kids would see their classmates – friends that they have shared far more hours with than anyone else during our chapter in Ecuador. If only we had known that this would be the last time we would see so many of our friends face-to-face and the last day that we would enjoy parking lot banter in Spanish with our community here. If only we had known.
COVID-19 has affected every single life the whole world over and Ecuador has been no exception. Our coastal city of Guayaquil has been considered the epicenter of the virus in South America, leaving hospitals and city morgues unable to keep pace with the amount of people becoming sick and dying from Covid. (Read more : https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-52324218)
The large majority of the country has been under strict lockdown orders for nearly 2 months, leaving a huge percentage of the population without work and few resources to provide for their daily needs. Curfew is in place weekdays from 2pm until 5am with 24 hours of curfew on the weekends. Who can enter markets is regulated by the last number of your government ID and cars are only allowed to be driven one day a week, dependent on what number your license plate ends in. Public transportation has completely shut down. Masks are mandatory in public. Children and adults over the age of 60 are not allowed out at all. Exercising, biking or taking the dog for a walk are not allowed either. Our kids have not left our house since mid-March. The borders have been closed and every few days we receive an email from the Embassy alerting us of the next humanitarian flight to the US. The government is struggling with the competing challenges of trying to keep the virus under control and an already fragile economy collapsing.
Our partner church, IPEE, is in crisis as well. Many pastors are going on their second month without pay since church services have been suspended and those who are bi-vocational can’t count on their second source of income during this time. The national church leadership is doing all they can to support pastors and their families during this difficult time, providing canastas, baskets with basic essential food items and working to try to secure small ofrendas, monetary gifts, to help see these families through. Many of these pastors just turn around and give these gifts to the communities that they serve.
We have been so grateful that Covenant World Relief has responded quickly and sent relief grants to partners all over the world, including to people and communities that we work with and care so deeply for here in Ecuador. If you are able, please consider giving to Covenant World Relief as they continue to respond to the deep needs of communities that we partner with all over the world. Every little bit helps! (Click here to give through Covenant World Relief Grants)
Coronavirus is taking a different toll within the four walls of our house, but a great toll none the less. For weeks we were in this pattern of “let’s just wait and see”, watching to see if the situation would change and hoping that we would be reunited with friends again, that we would sing together in worship with our church family again, that we could go to the artisan market again, that we would be able eat some of our favorite Ecuadorian foods and go on our favorite hikes again. Current lockdown orders are in place in Quito until at least the end of May and it has become very clear that all of what we had been hoping for will not come to pass. And the grief is hard and heavy.
This week we moved up our return flights to the US, after hours on the phone with the airline, in anticipation of a few weeks of quarantine in the US and knowing very well that our flights may be cancelled or delayed. We are in the midst of the headache that is an international move, all while only being able to use our car 9 hours a week, trying to support our kids in their continued schooling and grief and wading through logistics in the face of so many unknowns. We just keep looking at each other and saying how we can’t believe that our chapter in Ecuador is ending in this way.
And the hard and the heavy, the grief and the loss, the anger and the tears have been co-habitating right along with our gratitude and thanks. The complexities of each day and each moment woven together to make up these days that we are living. Gratitude for health and each other. Thankful for a beautiful backyard and books to read (or re-read since we have read through most of the books we have). Gratitude for technology and for provision in the details and for the faithfulness of our community and our God.
With the rest of the world we wait and weep, shift between gratitude and grief. May God’s mercy, justice, and peace be known through it all.