“I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
This verse is displayed on our kitchen counter, so I glance at it a few times every day. These days, though, I have been meditating over these words more than ever before. In this passage, Israel is remembering the words once spoken to them by the Lord. In this time of trial, they were reminded of His promises of endless love and a kindness unlike any other. While we all face this unprecedented set of circumstances being thrust upon us, I pray that we may all find peace in how He loves us through it all.
Thank you to all of you that have reached out to Chepe or me, wondering how we are doing and if we are safe and healthy. Praise Jesus-we are!
Mission Teams 2020
Much like the rest of the world, March for us has been a month full of activity, uncertainty and now, forced quiet and rest. We kicked off the month by hosting two back-to-back mission teams. Both teams worked really hard and served with such heart to help reach those that needed it and show the families we serve that God cares for them.
While hosting the second team, from Rock City Church, actions were being taken both here and back in the States due to the increasing threat of COVID-19 that turned plans for the week upside-down. We never could have guessed what God had planned for that week, but nevertheless, we are in awe of all that He accomplished through both of these teams while they were here!
In El Salvador, we are on day five of a 30-day mandatory “shelter in place” order. As you can imagine, we’ve all had to adapt in how we are conducting ministry during this time. Thankfully, Chepe and I are both finding ways to support the church and the families we serve remotely, planning and praying for God’s guidance and wisdom.
Here’s a breakdown of El Salvador’s COVID-19 response so far:
Wednesday, March 11th: A 21-day quarantine announced which cancelled all in-person educational activities (including our CDCs), temporarily blocked all foreigners from entering the country and all citizens and residents that entered would be held in a 30 day quarantine. Also, all meetings of more than 500 people were no longer allowed.
Thursday, March 12th: We took advantage of the help from the Rock City team, preparing care packages of food to send with CDC families to help offset the meals they wouldn’t be able to have at the CDC during quarantine. Also, all the kiddos got a new pair of shoes, socks and dental hygiene items!
Friday, March 13th: Due to cancelled flights, increasing restrictions, etc. the decision was made for the Rock City team to leave early to avoid being stuck in El Salvador for the remainder of the quarantine. It was sad for us to not have a proper “goodbye” with them, but God was good and gave us some time in the morning to deliver some new beds to kids that need them! I’ve been comforted knowing how much of a difference those beds must be making for these families during quarantine. Chepe and I began self-quarantining in the evening, Chepe only going out to the grocery store, pharmacy and a couple other necessary errands to keep us going.
Saturday, March 14th: Restaurants only allowed to serve delivery or to-go orders, and groups larger than 50 people are no longer allowed. Due to this, Sunday service at church was moved to an all online live experience for the foreseeable future.
Monday, March 16th: The president closed the only international airport to all flights except cargo for at least 14 days. From what I’ve seen, the only passenger flights that have left since then are those arranged by various embassies for their citizens to be able to return home.
Wednesday, March 18th: The first confirmed case of COVID-19 in El Salvador is reported.
Saturday, March 21st: The president announced a mandatory “shelter in place” quarantine for 30 days, currently set to expire on April 21st. In general, the government has been strict about enforcing the quarantine, arresting those that are out in pairs (only one person allowed to leave per household) or not going on a necessary errand. Those considered essential workers are allowed to continue working, although they need to carry proper documentation and be following strict health practices to be able to do so.
As of today, Chepe and I have been self-quarantining for 14 days. We are so thankful for God’s provision of our home, a grocery store very close by and technology that has helped to keep us in good spirits so far! We are also grateful to be residing in a country that has been one of the most proactive in keeping everyone safe facing the threat of the virus.
What weighs on us more than anything is how those in need will be able to confront the side effects of quarantine, as many of the families we serve survive off of informal, day labor that has almost come to a halt since the quarantine was enacted. Thankfully, Silvia (CDC Director) received special permission from the mayor’s office to deliver much needed provisions to CDC families on the Volcano and we are hopeful that she will be able to do so as needed throughout the quarantine.
Also, God knew what He was doing when he provided us a home in the same neighborhood as Silvia and Pastor Victor, which has enabled Chepe to put on Sunday service with a live stream from Victor’s home the last two weekends. Since we live in the same neighborhood, Chepe is not violating quarantine by doing so because he doesn’t have to exit the perimeter that surrounds where we live. We’re also planning to continue our small group meetings through group video chat starting tomorrow!
We are praying for all of you as we know everyone is having to make major adjustments, cancel dearly thought out and paid-for plans, and face real attacks by the enemy as fear creeps in from time to time. Our hope is that God will guide each of you in His divine wisdom and protect all of you and yours as many are risking their lives trying to keep this precious world together. May we take this opportunity to lean more into Him than ever before.