On March 19th the president of Haiti announced there were two confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Haiti and proceeded to close down the country. This included schools, factories, churches, and a curfew. All gatherings of 10 or more people were now prohibited. We spent the day preparing for the worst case scenario. We bought four months worth of food, bleach, face masks, and chloroquine. Everywhere I went it seemed like everyone was talking about the virus. Each person I talked to was so fearful as they discussed the many scenarios that were possible. “What if Haiti can no longer import food or goods?” “What if we American citizens can never return to the US because the Haitian government closed down the airport?” Each possible outcome seemed worse than the last.
I never considered leaving. How could I leave the family and community that God hand picked for me? What made my life so much more valuable than theirs that I deserve to escape the potential danger and leave them to navigate through the wreckage? God gave me His supernatural peace about remaining where He planted me no matter the impending storm. I know God has us in the palm of His hand, and I trust Him. The hardest part was figuring out how to continue to do ministry while safely quarantining. It was important to prioritize safety, but not leave my community feeling abandoned by sealing them out. Gabriel has been on antivirals to combat HIV so his immune system is less than ideal. My goal was to practice a healthy balance between wisdom and not being controlled by fear.
The Sunday previous to the lockdown I had held a mandatory educational class about Covid-19 for all of my Kingdom kids. The children were required to come and some of their parents even came. It is comforting to know that my kids and their families are aware of concrete facts about viruses, prevention, and transmissions. We talked about the symptoms of Carona and the suggested safety measures they could take to protect themselves and the people they love. However, let's be honest- quarantining is a privilege. Most Haitians live on daily wages; meaning they have to make money daily in order to feed their family that day. There are no emergency savings or unemployment to fall back on. None of the families that are a part of my ministry would be able to “stock up” or even stay at home. There is no pausing life here; everyday the fathers must still go out and drive those taxis or sell goods in the market. Mothers still have to keep selling mangoes or clothes on the side of the street. Before closing my gate and sealing my household off (no one in and no one out) I felt the need to help prepare each family as much as possible. I delivered a sack of rice, oil, beans, Clorox, and face masks to each family in my ministry. I also set up buckets to serve as hand washing stations in our area with a student assigned to be responsible for upkeep. Friendly reminder: in Haiti most houses barely have access to a very limited water resource. So simply washing hands thoroughly and often is much easier said than done. Fast forward there are now 958 confirmed cases with only under 3,000 tests done, 27 deaths. Although we know this number is only a fraction of the truth because there is only 2 places in the country equipped to administer Covid-19 tests. There are an estimated 20 working ventilators Country-Wide and a huge shortage of PPE. The Haitian public’s fear of the virus goes far beyond the symptoms and death tolls after seeing a patient that tested positive for Covid-19 being chased down in an ambulance by machetes. To make matters worse, the prime Minister claimed “victory over Corona”. The majority of Haitian people are continuing life as normal due to a lack of options. Our extremely overcrowded public transportation is still running as normal. Highly populated markets are still open.
I am choosing to make the best out of this situation. After all, this is not our first rodeo with what most would consider disastrous. We just got out of a 4 month countrywide political lockdown in January. What a blessing to be getting to do all the things I don't normally have time to do. We have been doing countless crafts, playing games, working out, starting a garden, and trying new recipes. I have even been able to participate in weekly video calls family and friends in the states. I have finally been writing this newsletter, teaching homeschool, reading to Gabriel every night. I am making priceless memories and building closer bonds with my kids that live here with me. I am also taking advantage of this time to refill myself- almost like a sabbatical. I have dedicated time to developing my effectiveness in ministry. I have signed up to do the "velvet ashes retreat" along with my other American missionary friends here in Haiti. My family and I are getting healthier physically, emotionally, and spiritually. What a blessing for God to give me time to realign my priorities and get my house in order to better serve Him!
We are prepared for the worst, but still believing God’s plan is the best. I am praying for a miracle, and taking it one day at a time. Thank you all for your prayers and know that MY family and I are also praying for you too!
Home made mask out of a bottle - many are being creative in creating their masks!
Disclaimer: I did not get on tap tap to take these pictures. I want you to see the impossibility of social distancing by allowing you to see the market.
More pictures of the market in Haiti. As you can tell you are not able to social distance.
Arts and Crafts!
Having some fun!
Working on the garden!