It’s day 7 of the 15 day mandatory quarantine here in Peru.
Timeline of events:
March 4: Will’s first day of preschool
March 11: President Martin Vizcarra cancels public and private elementary and high schools through the end of the month.
March 12: Universities and other higher education programs are also cancelled. Events/meetings with 250+ people are cancelled.
March 13: All flights to & from Europe and Asia are cancelled
March 15: Nationwide mandatory quarantine for 15 days announced to begin at 12:01am the following day.
March 16: Lima airport closes at 11:59pm for all flights (domestic and international).
March 18: President announces mandatory nightly curfew from 8pm until 5am and prohibits the use of personal cars.
Starting at 12:01am on Monday, March 16th we were all ordered to stay at home, and martial law has been enacted. Peru has mobilized the military and its police force to enforce these extreme measures. The first violation results in a verbal warning, and the second violation or any type of resistance results in immediate detention. Only people who work in healthcare, essential infrastructure, food production/sales, and a very limited number of public transit workers are allowed to continue working. All other businesses have been closed.
We are only allowed to leave our house one person at a time to buy food or seek medical attention. But, we have to stay within walking distance of our home to buy food – no private cars are allowed on the streets. The measures are even more restricted in the evening. There is a strict curfew in place from 8pm – 5am each night. We are not allowed to set foot in the street – not even to take out the trash. If caught out after curfew, people are immediately detained.
Needless to say, this is drastically affecting our rhythm of life! There is a little bit of anxiety – perhaps even more cabin fever – having to stay confined to a relatively small apartment, especially with a very active 3-year-old boy!
All in all, though, we are doing pretty well and in good spirits. We are thankful for technology that allows us to stay in touch with friends and family – both locally and internationally. We are thankful for time to spend together with family, and we are thankful that Will has had a great temperament for these first 7 days in lockdown. Each morning he comes into our room and asks if we can go to the park today, which is sad. We remind him that the parks are closed and that we are going to stay in the house for quite a few days, but reassure him that we will find lots of ways to have fun as a family! He accepts our answer and really doesn’t ask much more about not being able to leave the house. Kate and Will have been baking different treats every couple days and every other evening we’re watching a Disney classic from our childhood.
Going a little crazy on a video call with family
Spent a little time outside in our building’s entryway with Will
Even the Fisher-Price Little People are participating in the quarantine.
Will watching online church this morning
Billy ventured out a couple days ago for the first time to head to the grocery store. It was odd to walk around the neighborhood. Lima is a city of more than 10 million people, usually full of busy noise, traffic, and horns honking 24/7. As he walked to the supermarket, all he could hear was the wind in the trees, and even some roosters crowing – a sound we almost never hear in this city!
Crossing the Pan-american Highway which normally would be full of cars, buses and trucks.
An eerily quiet, normally busy intersection near the grocery store
We were a little bit worried about how well stocked the supermarket would be, but we are thankful to say that there was no noticeable shortage of anything, not even toilet paper! As Billy walked into the store, they had personnel spraying alcohol into everyone’s hands, continuously cleaning the hand rails for the escalators, and wiping down the handles of the shopping carts before handing them over to new customers. The mood was calm, but sober.
(As things started to get restricted here and not knowing what was next or when, we started to gather essentials and stock up our pantry with non-perishables. Thankfully we have a full freezer of meals and ingredients to last us a bit. The Peruvian president, Martin Vizcarra has continually promised to ensure that there will be no food shortages across the nation, and we are comforted and impressed that they have been able to fulfill their word thus far.)
This situation has obviously altered our plans for ministry in the short-term, and though this slows down a number of projects, we do not need to grind to a halt. We continue to work from home, specifically devoting time to compile and develop materials for training volunteers, staff at children’s homes, and working to build a life skills curriculum for youth who are getting ready to graduate from children’s homes. Some of our upcoming meetings were able to be switched to virtual meetings, though many of them had to be cancelled or postponed. We are also using this time to work with our board of directors in the States to further develop our medium-term and long-term strategic plan as an organization moving forward.
Peru has taken fairly drastic measures in terms of trying to contain the virus – especially considering the relatively small number of cases present in the country. When the quarantine went into effect, there were 87 cases. This afternoon during his daily press conference the president shared that we now have 363 cases and 5 deaths here in Peru. Our prayer is that we would begin to see the fruits of these measures and that the outbreak would be controlled. When all is said and done, we appreciate that the Peruvian government has chosen to err on the side of caution as opposed to being overly lax.
We very much appreciate your prayers for us and for our country here in Peru.
— Pray for us, personally, that the Lord would use this time to bring us closer as a family. Overall, our levels of anxiety are fairly low, though it is a little bit disconcerting to know that we will probably not have an option to return to the States or to receive international visitors for an indefinite period. We had no immediate plans to return to the States, but something about knowing that we couldn’t if we wanted or needed to brings a sense of unease.
— Pray for our ministry as we continue to work toward developing multiple different projects here in Peru, that the Lord would continue to open doors and show us the path forward in the midst of these circumstances.
— We appreciate your prayers that the Lord would continue to provide for our financial needs as the global economy takes a downturn.
— Pray for this country. The percentage of people who live off of their day to day income is far higher here than in the States, so this mandatory quarantine is really stressing some of the most vulnerable among us.
— Pray for our friends, the staff and children in various homes across the country, that the Lord would continue to provide for their needs and that the staff would have the words and temperament needed to ease the children’s anxiety.
— Pray for opportunities for us to be able to share the hope that we, ourselves, continue to cling to that we find in the Gospel.
Thank you so much to those that have reached out to us and for your continued prayers. We are encouraged by you and the rest of our two church families at Ward and First Presbyterian. We are very aware that this virus is also drastically affecting life in Michigan and our friends and family across the United States. We are praying for health as you social distance and quarantine yourselves.
Stay safe and stay at home.
– Billy, Kate & Will