Tossed in the Waves
It certainly feels like the world is facing a very big storm. Some may say "we are all in the same boat," but it's clear that we are in different boats of varying shapes, sizes, and durability. All concerns are unique to your circumstances. Some people are enjoying relative freedom, while other areas are facing heavily imposed lockdowns. Depending on location, there are varying degrees of hospital capacity or availability of resources such as food, protective equipment, toilet paper, coronavirus testing etc. Concerns look different. For the employed, the major stressors may be keeping their business going, balancing childcare, adapting to the new working conditions, or preventing the virus from spreading to themselves or family if they are an essential worker. For the unemployed or recently unemployed, the major concerns may be paying rent, putting food on the table and job hunting. Many are battling the illness itself, preexisting conditions, or mental illness. On top of that, many are missing family members, mourning cancelled plans, or feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of news. We all have different circumstances and loss, but no doubt, all of us are facing some level of overwhelming uncertainty and anxiety. We're all facing the same storm but in a wide variety of vessels.
Here in Guatemala we are at our 5th week of heavily enforced lockdown. Like many places, we're not sure when it will end. No one is allowed out of their house from 4PM - 4 AM and no one can travel beyond their department (state) with some exceptions. The airport and borders are still closed. Additionally, as of yesterday, they have disallowed the following groups from leaving their homes for any reason: people over the age of 60, pregnant women, and children, and all religious gatherings, schools and most workplaces are closed. Many are being arrested and fined for breaking these restrictions.
As a result, we've been on lockdown at our ministry center with our staff. Since our church and AMI International school are closed, it has meant a slower pace for us. We spend more time in prayer, teacher training, curriculum planning, organizing, and managing construction projects. Our boys have been enjoying the extra time with mommy and daddy. We have been making weekly house visits to our church family members who live in the surrounding area and delivering food to those in need and praying together (with appropriate social distance). We are thankful that for the first few weeks most of our families were doing OK.
However, now that it has been some time now that many are without work, we have been getting requests for support or work nearly every day. Thankfully we have ordered food in bulk and have corn, beans, dried pasta, and dried soup to hand out. It was heartbreaking to hear of a family whose 11 and 12-year-old boys were knocking on doors looking for work. We were able to bless their family with a week worth of groceries for the family of 8. During our house visits, even though most families may just be eating small meals of mushed corn, tortillas or rice, out of their generous hearts, they still offer us what they have. Many have expressed gratefulness for the visits and socialization, since most of our kids live in small one-room homes with limited playthings. Sadly, we can't continue the house visits because there have been more restrictions and enforcement, but we plan this week to call up all our church families individually and make sure they are okay.
Many of you have asked how you can pray for us! Here are our prayer requests:
1. Please pray for the country of Guatemala as many are hurting economically here. There is very limited remote work and public transport is shut down. Those that may still have their jobs may not be able to get to those jobs. Most families do not have savings (not even a bank account), so you can imagine that no paycheck equals no food.
2. Please pray for wisdom and discernment for us on how to grow our food and support ministry sustainably and within the rules of the law.
3. Please pray for government leadership across Central America. Governments must balance a tricky scale, weighing public health and the economic welfare of their citizens. It seems to be a zero-sum game.
4. Please pray that there will not be civil unrest.
In this time of crisis, many of us are coping in different ways. For us, we are putting our trust in God throughout this time as we know that He is sovereign and has a plan to get us through this. For me, it is times like these that strengthen my view of God. In a God-less world these kinds of events should be the norm, useful. Natural selection depends on death, destruction and violence of the strong against the weak. In a God-less world absent of a moral compass, why would we wish for a world without disease, hunger, inequality? What would be the point of helping or loving others? Yet, nearly all of us are outraged and angered by these events and we have an innate desire to help those around us. Through this, some people ask, "Why does God allow suffering?" But really the question should be, "Why do you believe that there should be a world without suffering?" I believe that we all have an imprint of heaven in our hearts and we deeply yearn to end suffering, disease, hardship and inequality. I also have found that the bible and Christian truths provides deep resources for facing suffering and developing an everlasting hope that overcomes despair.
Personally, we are spending more time in prayer than ever and He has provided an abundance of peace. An old seaman once said, "In fierce storms there is only one way to survive, we must put our ship in a certain position and keep her there." In good times and bad, we will continue to anchor our trust in the Lord, help our community, keep our ministry going and above all, love others just as we always have done. While things are certainly different, uncertain, and unpredictable, I am thankful that the Bible points us to many wonderful stories of people in times of worldwide crisis that are carried through by their hope in the Lord. When we take the 100-year view,1000-year view or even the eternal view, these worldwide crisis' open our eyes to what limited control we have in this world and it becomes an opportunity to strengthen our faith. We hope and pray that you are anchoring your hope in an everlasting well of peace! If not, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to chat!
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling."
The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the affliction of My people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their oppressors, and I am aware of their sufferings. have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
Steph and Jon Moon