It’s just been over two months since we last added a post to this blog. The last post was titled “A Beehive of Activity.” Well, that was true until things started slowing down mid-March with the virus and the Ecuadorian gov’t starting a shutdown. March 17th was the first official “quedate en casa/stay at home” for all Ecuadorians. Seven weeks of strict “stay at home” so far and the gov’t has extended it until the end of May. People are quarantine weary in Ecuador, but there have also been a lot of infections and deaths. In the first month, things were a LOT worse in the coastal city of Guayaquil, but in the last week or so, there have been more infections reported in some areas of Quito. We stayed up with the daily reports and numbers in the first weeks, but soon grew weary so won’t quote any exact numbers in this post.
So, before we get into what “stay at home” means in Ecuador, we will go back in time to several days before restrictions were put into place.
First, on Friday, March 13th, was our last Homeschool Teen Fellowship meeting. We decided to go ahead with it, even with the warning rumbles in the news. It was Purim and many of our kids had worked hard on their costumes and were really looking forward to getting together. One of the traditions of Purim, is to read or act out the story of Esther from the Bible. We usually break up our group into three or four teams and they are given a portion of the story to reenact using the characters of their costumes. It’s fun how that adds a whole new element to the story telling each year!
We had some friends down visiting us at this time as well. Esther and Rachel Leslie and two friends who wanted to revisit some of Ecuador. during the week of Purim, they were down at the beach, enjoying the warm water and sunshine of Same, in the Esmeraldas province of Ecuador. Ron was also able to take them up Ruco Pichincha on Saturday March 14th and then take them on a drive down to Coca Falls on Monday the 15th. They were planning to spend time in Sinangue and Limoncocha the 15th – 17th, but everything started shutting down, including all the parks, recreation and tourist areas. Our friends had tickets to return to the States on March 19th, but suddenly all the borders closed and all flights were canceled! Needless to say, they were with us several extra days until they were able to get a flight out the next week on March 24. God provided the perfect flight for them and they were all able to get safely home and kept well during the whole time and their 14 day quarantine.
Meanwhile, things in Ecuador continue to get tighter. Streets are empty and only grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are open. We had to keep up with the news every day as each day brought some change in who could go out and how often and where one could shop. For example, our car’s licence plate ends in a “7” and that means we can only drive our car on a Thursday. We are blessed to be within walking distance of a bread store and other little shops if we should run out of the basics. There has been plenty of food on the shelves and no shortage of toilet paper like other places we could mention! But most difficult was that most all business has been shut down and people have no income – hardest for the day-to-day subsistence workers. The gov’t and other organizations are working hard each week to get food packets to those in need.
Several weeks into the shutdown, Esther realized that the anticipated travel to the States to help Julia and Paul with the birth of a baby might not happen! We talked to family and our daughter voiced a strong desire to have her mom nearby. Then we had word that Esther’s mom was having some more health problems and being in closer proximity to her became important. God worked out a flight out of Ecuador about two weeks before the due date – so Esther could be careful about exposure to the family after travel with a quarantine and still be able to help with the birth. Some extended family of Paul and Julia’s have a travel trailer that was available to use. So, on April 17th, one month from the beginning of the Ecuador shut down, Esther was able to fly to Miami and take connecting flights to Spokane, WA. It was a stressful trip and rather surreal with very few passengers on the flights, everyone in masks and everyone rather subdued and being careful. Esther finished her 14 day quarantine and is able to fully help with everything necessary during this time. Julia’s due date was yesterday and her pregnancy is advancing normally that we expect to welcome our first grandchild any day now!
Meanwhile, in the days up to now, we have been keeping connected with all of our groups and Bible studies. Using an internet tool like Zoom, has kept us up with Ron’s Tuesday church elder’s meeting, Thursday’s morning Bible study and Sunday’s youth class. Our church in Ecuador went to online on Sunday mornings with two discussion groups later in the day, one that Ron leads. Daily prayer groups became important for many at the church to check in, receiving comfort in sharing and then praying together. Esther continues her Tuesday afternoon Bible study with her ladies even after going to the States. For our jungle ministry, Ron checks in with the church leaders every week to see how the physical and spiritual health is coming along and praying with the guys. The people in the villages are very open to the gospel and hearing God’s Word right now and Wilson in Dureno reports that there are close to 40 people requesting baptism right now! Leoncio just made a trip to Zabalo to follow up on more baptism requests from close to 20 more people! Ramon and Fabian report that things are going well in Sinangue. So far none of the villages have reported sickness resembling the virus.
Sarah is still in Ecuador with Ron and has been keeping social media active with our youth class on Sunday and our Homeschool Teen Fellowship group. One of our biggest disappointments this year was having to cancel our annual retreat for the homeschoolers. Instead, Sarah has been posting during the week and giving different activities for the youth and their families to do together during the lockdown. The biggest event was our Homeschool Olympics we held April 13 – 17. Ron and Sarah worked hard to come up with physical activities that the whole family could do indoors to compete with others their age group. We had kids from 4 years old to a grandma competing! Everyone picked a country to represent, so we even got some geography in for everyone. Sarah has also posted some fun craft ideas. Ron and Sarah worked together to put a children’s lesson on for our church’s online Sunday gathering this past Sunday. Our church started doing this using all the children’s teachers in turns, giving the kid’s lesson right before the adult teaching time to help draw the kids into the theme of the sermon. So far there has been very good feedback for this!
This coming Friday, May 8th, Ron was hoping to attend our son Isaac’s graduation from Pensacola Christian College in Florida. He is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministries with a minor in Biblical Languages. He has been able to finish up the semester online – has his finals this week! – plans to work this summer and then will return to Pensacola for their graduate program in August. We are proud of all the hard work this guy has put in and look forward to seeing what God has for him in his future!
Our daughter Lydia in Mexico is finishing up classes with her students next week. Then she plans to come up to the States for over the summer. She and her sister Sarah were really hoping things would open up for the Ark Encounter this summer in Kentucky, but so far tourists attractions remain closed. She will be coming up to Washington to spend some time with family and perhaps taking a harvest job in July and August if God provides.
- For Ron and Sarah as they keep ministry going in Ecuador; for health and safety of all of our friends
- For Esther in Washington state helping out family
- For the Cofan churches and those they serve
- For Gladus in Dovuno who is fighting breast cancer and not able to receive treatment at this time
- For Esther’s mom in Oregon struggling with her health
- For Lydia and Isaac who will be traveling in the coming weeks
- For Isaac’s girlfriend Yvonne and her mother Nora who has fought the virus and now is recovering from lung damage from the ventilator
- For the safe delivery of our grandbaby any day now!