As of today, May 21, we have had 2354 cases of the virus in Guatemala. Out of that number we have had 45 deaths and 159 that have recuperated. This puts us at only 2% of people with the virus that died in comparison to the US’s 6% of infected cases that did not recuperate. But we are still in an earlier stage of the whole cycle than the US. The president from Guatemala held to some very rigid restrictions from the onset. Anyone with the virus was placed in quarantine AND anyone that had been knowingly exposed to someone with the virus (family, people that were visited by the infected person) were also placed in quarantine as well. Our “lockdowns” began March 12; similar to the restrictions in the US…only going out for essentials and most businesses and all public transportation shut down. This affected a much higher percentage of people, for example, in the capital city who depend on public transportation to get to work. In April we were given a curfew to only travel within our departments (basically counties) and for everyone to be inside their homes from 5pm-5am. In May we have had total shutdowns for the weekends, where no one is allowed to leave their homes (from 5pm Friday until 5am Monday), even as pedestrians. Children are not allowed to ever leave their houses. No one leaves their house without a mask and the number of people that can enter a bank, grocery store etc. is controlled. Hand sanitizer is used every where and social distancing observed.
Whether all of these restrictions have been effective, I guess time will tell. For the ministry, most of my workers’ daily work schedule has not been interrupted thankfully. It has not been easy but we have managed to give the Embrace families their monthly benefits; even while not holding formal meetings. We put weekly announcements on two radio stations to inform the families of the current restrictions and how to come to the ministry center to receive their benefits.
Many people are out of work due to their places of employment not being opened. People from the mountain villages cannot leave to work, as many are accustomed to doing. Our churches are closed as no public meetings are allowed. We are not set up to do on-line services as many churches in the US are doing. It has affected our pastors’ economical support greatly and we are trying to supplement them with food for their families. Our pastors are doing visitation to their congregational families and trying to encourage them individually. Some of our mountain churches are starting to have small house meetings in areas that will not draw attention.
I had to cancel my southern fundraising trip that had been first scheduled for the end of March and then again for the end of April. This has affected the ministry’s income and our ability to reach out to those that are suffering here due to the current circumstances. But the Lord has been touching hearts of people to send in extra offerings and we will continue to do what we can to alleviate the difficult situation here.
Thankfully, there have been NO cases of the virus to date in our region of the country….the closest being at least an hour away in Guatemala and a little less for cases in Honduras.
It has been a new experience for all of us around the world; I don’t think that any country has been untouched by it. My prayer from the beginning has been that the Lord would bring “good out of a bad situation” and I continue to believe for that. We are learning in a deeper way just how fragile this life really is and how you cannot put your trust in your money, health, personal strength etc…..because all of that can change in a moment’s time. There is only one place of true security and stability and that is in knowing that you have a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and to place your life in His hands and trust Him for your needs. I pray that MANY people globally are recognizing their need for Him and taking that step to surrender their lives to the Lord. I pray that there is an end to this soon and that the Lord will help us all, in the midst of it. I just wanted to try to explain the situation as we have it here in Guatemala and say that I do appreciate your prayers for the country of Guatemala, for Servant Ministries and for the many outreaches that we have to reach out to the people in this region of Guatemala. May God, who is able to do exceeding and abundantly more than we can ask or think (Ephesians 3:20); minister to you, protect you and your loved ones and keep you safe….in Jesus’ name! You can communicate with me at email@example.com.