COVID-19 impact in mission countries
As you might expect, many of the planned preaching activities in Latin America and the Caribbean have been modified significantly during the pandemic. Here’s a brief report on continuing activities to preach the Gospel and how ecclesias are continuing to fellowship.
Link Brothers, David Jennings and David Lloyd
We’ve been keeping in close touch with Mexico. There are no known infections for the brothers and sisters and their families yet, for which we are very grateful. The brothers and sisters in Guadalajara continue to meet in the hall for Memorial Service. The brothers and sisters in Santa Cruz el Grande have been meeting online for Memorial Service and classes. Additionally, there is a rapidly growing number of Bible classes being given online from Santa Cruz el Grande for the public. These new students are being generated from Google advertising across Mexico.
Link Brother, Mike LeDuke
St. Lucia implemented very strict controls, very early on, for the pandemic. Consequently, the disease acquired only a minimal foothold on the island. All of the brothers and sisters are doing well, but they are still not able to meet together. I try to speak to as many as possible via phone, WhatsApp and Skype to maintain contact. I am looking forward to returning to St. Lucia, probably towards the end of the year… sooner, if possible!
Link Couple, Mark and Liz Carr
Generally, there has been some amount of contraction in the economy, but essential businesses are still in operation: shops, groceries, markets, most factories, and government services. All are subject to social distancing and other protective measures. Curfew spans last from 9:00pm to 5:00am (honored mostly in the breach!). Barbershops, drinking bars, and other entertainment venues, including parks, have been shut down altogether, under severe penalty for breaches.
The ecclesias use web conferencing and the support from the brotherhood on the communication and speaking front has been exceptional. This has been a real blessing in helping them not feel cut off from us all.
Link Brother, Dan Robinson
The brothers and sisters in Guatemala are holding up well under the circumstances. As of the middle of August, there remained many restrictions in the country. There is a curfew in place each day, from 9:00pm until 4:00am. During that time, all non-essential personnel are to remain in their place of residence. Public transportation is back running but only at 50% capacity. Individuals are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing in all public areas. As a result, the brethren continue to meet online on Sunday mornings through web conferencing, hosted by the LA Hispanic Ecclesia. They also are taking advantage of a Sunday morning connection with the brothers and sisters in Costa Rica, as well as midweek classes with the ecclesias in El Salvador. They hope to return to meeting in person, at their rented hall, in the near the future.
Link Couple, Nate and Antonia Giordano
The members in Jamaica greatly appreciate the CBMC response to the hardship brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funds were well received. There is still no report of any of our members contracting the disease; however, the island is currently experiencing a surge in new infections. Despite this, masks and social distancing are decreasing, which exposes our members to increased risks. We pray the good Lord will continue to bless us with his protection.
Trinidad and Tobago
Link Brother, Brad Butts
T & T has done well in combating the COVID-19 outbreak, with restrictions being put in place early on. To my knowledge, no brothers or sisters have been affected directly by the illness. Until recently, virtual meetings were taking place on both islands. The Mt. Grace (Tobago) and Marabella Ecclesias are now meeting in their halls, with Erin and Arima still meeting virtually. Recently, there has been some uptick in COVID-19 cases, so as a result, primary schools have been closed since reopening last month. Virtual Bible classes on Tuesday nights are joined by the Erin, Arima, and Tobago Ecclesias.
El Salvador, Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Honduras, southeast Mexico and Peru
Link Couple, Jim and Jean Hunter
When the COVID-19 virus hit last March, I was in Carmen, Campeche, Mexico, where I had the privilege of baptizing Silvia Hernández into Jesus and the hope of our faith. I felt blessed in being able to get back into the US before travel restrictions began. By the next Sunday, the brethren and sisters had organized Memorial Service via web conferencing. It seemed to be a marvel. Many members and friends tuned in from all over Latin America, so that, in the beginning, we had up to 80 attendees.
The web conferencing phenomenon has so prospered that the international Hispanic Christadelphian community now has a choice of many different types of weekly Bible classes, hosted by several different ecclesias. Members and friends in remote areas are now able to develop friendships and share fellowship. Even when ecclesias are able once again to meet in person, many international activities will undoubtedly continue by popular demand.
In-Country Missionaries, Isaiah and Rosie Tunnell
Here in La Paz, Bolivia we are just now beginning to return to a form of normality. Since mid-March, there have been strict quarantines. Before now, people would only be able to leave the house once a week, on a specific day corresponding to their national identification. The elections have greatly augmented the issues here as there is some political unrest! This led at one point to all the roads in La Paz being blockaded by protesters, which did not allow food into the city for two weeks. Thanks to God that issue has been resolved for now. Smaller organized crowds are being allowed to meet now.
Thankfully, no one in the ecclesia has been physically affected by the virus. Currently, we are only able to hold the meeting online, as weekends are a complete quarantine. We do the same for the midweek class, which is a great blessing. God willing, we will be able to meet again soon.
A blessing that was perhaps unseen beforehand is that the members here can visit with other brothers and sisters throughout Central and South America. This is a huge encouragement for all involved, as travel, the ability to visit our wider family in Christ, is much more difficult here. In La Paz, we have been able to have a brother from Argentina who lives in isolation join and help by participating in our ecclesial functions regularly.
Link Brother, Don Luff
Both the Colon and Panama City Ecclesias have been unable to meet in person, but are thankfully able to meet online. Most brethren have been able to participate, though some have not. Thankfully, none of the members have been afflicted with the virus.
The area is still under a mandatory quarantine on weekends, with no one being allowed to leave home. The government has provided subsidies for the unemployed, and there are currently no concerns about the food supply in the country.
While in-person fellowship has been limited, members have been able to attend Memorial Services remotely, reminding us of the blessings our world-wide fellowship provides.
Submitted by Sis. Jan Berneau