Day 69 of 107

It’s day 69 of our mandatory quarantine here in Peru.

The big news everyone has been waiting for came yesterday when President Martin Vizcarra announced that the current State of Emergency will be extended through June 30th, which will mean a total of 107 days of mandatory quarantine.

So far, many of the quarantine rules have stayed the same; 1 person allowed to go to the grocery store/bank/pharmacy at a time, no driving personal cars, and masks are required outside of the home. But, a few things have been relaxed. We have a nightly curfew that was initially from 6pm to 6am, but now over the past four weeks it has gradually been relaxed to 9pm to 4am. Over the last couple weeks, restaurants have been able to re-open for delivery and carry-out which has been a welcome change. For restaurants to be able to open again they need to re-apply for a new operating license that includes extra sanitary protocols. Slowly, the Ministry of Health has been approving these licenses and restaurants are able to bring employees back to work and start serving the public. After 62 days of preparing all our meals at home we were able to order pizza delivery!

Restaurant delivery has started again with some new social distancing protocols

Long line of people waiting to get into the grocery store around the corner, about 600 yards from the entrance

Temperature check as customers walk into the grocery store

The other big change in regulations affects children. Since May 18th, children 14 and under are allowed to go for a walk around the block and get some fresh air. One parent is allowed to leave with up to two children at a time, and they are only allowed within 500 meters (about 4.5 football fields) from home. They are not allowed to go to businesses that are open, like grocery stores, neighborhood bodegas and bakeries, nor can they use playground equipment. To discourage their use, some local city governments have wrapped snow fencing around the structures. One district even removed the equipment from their parks completely until further notice. Thankfully, we live quite close to a wide open park, and right now in quarantine, our neighborhood is quite quiet with very few pedestrians walking around. We have ventured out of the house for our 30 minute walks with Will three times this week and the joy that exudes from him to be able to be outside is contagious. The moment we leave the front door of our building Will takes off running while pointing out different things he sees (like butterflies, birds, dogs, etc.) as he races by.

Will about to leave the building for the first time in 65 days

Running through the empty park

Since our last update, Will has started daily Zoom calls and videos with his preschool teacher and classmates. While it is not as ideal as in-person classes at this age, we can already see Will learning new Spanish vocabulary and songs through his classes. Will has turned into our little sous chef and has been helping in the kitchen and enjoying “helping” wash dishes. Thanks to technology, we’re still spending lots of time keeping in touch with family and friends.

Will’s 3 year old preschool class on Zoom

Lining up black beans on a worksheet during class

Being creative with paint

Blowing kisses to Uncle Matt

Wishing a happy birthday to our friend, Jimmy, during his quarantine birthday

While thankfully we are doing okay, the quarantine has been devastating for many Peruvians. The percentage of people who live off of their day-to-day income is far higher here than in the States. The majority of Peruvians use the money they earn today to feed themselves tomorrow. Having an emergency fund is non-existent and this mandatory quarantine has really stressed some of the most vulnerable among us. Despite interprovincial roads being closed to bus and car traffic, thousands of Lima residents have attempted to migrate out of the city and back to their family land in the countryside. Most of them can no longer afford to continue living in Lima without work and the thought is that they can return to the family home and at least farm their land for food. These articles from Foreign Policy and The Nation paint a bleak picture of what many are facing. This video from Uncovered is heartbreaking and tells the story of just one of the thousands of families who are trying to get home.

Amidst all of this, we continue meeting with our Paths of Hope partners over Zoom. Unfortunately, our projects that work with schools will need to be postponed until a later date since it looks like schools will not resume in-person classes until the 2021 school year. And, Billy has had to pause his meetings with therapy clients since many do not have access to the internet at home for virtual counseling. For the time being, our focus has shifted more towards direct mentoring where Billy regularly “meets” with a few of the young men we have been walking alongside over the past months/years. This means a lot of phone calls, WhatsApp messages and Zoom calls to see how they are doing.

Billy learning about Huberth’s recent architecture projects for his university classes.

Billy has been conversing daily with the young man who was recently released from prison (you can read about his story here). Since being released on April 28th, he has been self-quarantining at a hotel because people aren’t renting rooms or apartments right now. And, it’s even harder to find basic essentials like a bed or rice cooker even if he was able to rent a room. We’re working in coordination with Paths of Hope and Health Bridges International to connect him to opportunities as he thinks about long-term plans. We were able to connect him with a small group at church who is wanting to walk alongside him during this transition. About a week ago, Billy was able to get a special work pass as a therapist to take supplies and visit with him at the hotel – all from an appropriate distance. It was the first time they have seen each other outside of the prison walls in years.

Billy meeting in the hotel lobby

We very much appreciate your prayers for us, our ministry and for Peru.

— Pray for us, personally, that the Lord would use this time to bring us closer as a family.

— 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. Pray specifically for those that are struggling to survive due to the restrictions imposed by the quarantine and those that have become seriously ill or have lose a loved one to COVID-19.

— 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 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. 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.

– Kate, Billy and Will

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