For more RI updates surrounding COVID-19 go here: Update One | Update Two
At the supermarket some of the shelves are bare and the announcement plays every so often to remind customers not to hoard items, because the supermarkets will remain open. Schools, restaurants, bars, sports complexes, shopping centers and parks are closed, reminders that we are at war, although against an invisible enemy. For a people that, to me, are some of the most sociable in the world and who regularly hang out for hours over coffee or tapas (there are more bars in Spain than in the rest of Europe combined), this is certainly a serious challenge to their way of life here.
Sunday, March 22, we completed our first week in quarantine, or “state of alarm” that was issued by the government last Saturday evening. We just found out that the two-week quarantine will be extended for another two weeks. This “confinement” to our houses only permits people to leave their living quarters to go straight to work and back, to the ATM, to buy food or medicine, or to walk their dogs close to home.
This virus is causing lots of hospitalizations here in Spain and the health system is straining with the sheer numbers of patients in the ICU. They’re now calling back retired medical personnel to come help with the crisis. Thus, there’s an obvious need for everyone to obey governmental orders to remain at home for three more weeks, with the hopes that the diffusion of the virus will be slowed enough so that the people who really need access to respiratory equipment can have it available to them. We pray daily for those affected, the medical workers and the loved ones of those who have passed away.
In the midst of the COVID-19 chaos and restrictive measures to limit the virus’s impact I still have to keep plugging away at my projects and final thesis for the Master’s Program that I’m enrolled in. It has been the foundation of our student visa that gives us permission to stay here and be witnesses for Jesus in this challenging, post-modern culture that is becoming progressively more atheistic.
I frequently go out on our sixth-floor balcony to pray and get some fresh air; it’s really eerie to see the almost-empty buses drive by (they’re only for use for those who need transportation to work), hardly anyone out on the streets (and those who are usually have masks and gloves on), the customers waiting patiently for their turn at the little shops (6 feet away from each other at all times), and the security guard monitoring our social distance as we go in and out of the supermarket. We’ve heard that domestic violence has quadrupled over the past week, but I imagine it’s also due to the fact that so many people are out of work and don’t know if they will get paid for their forced time off. Some probably know that they won’t have jobs to return to.
“We praise God for the technology to still stay connected and worship together as we lift up not just Spain, but the whole world, in prayer to the One who engineered the universe and has us in the palm of His hands.”
Rolando has been spending a lot of time playing guitar, reading books on reaching out to Muslims (that’s one of the groups he evangelizes here), engaging in online meetings and trainings, enjoying intercession times in the car (he can be alone there!) and maintaining contact with others through phone calls and texts. Additionally, our church activities here have gone online, where we hold prayer meetings and Sunday services through Zoom. We praise God for the technology to still stay connected and worship together as we lift up not just Spain, but the whole world, in prayer to the One who engineered the universe and has us in the palm of His hands.
We appreciate your prayers for us as we creatively discern how to be faithful witnesses for Jesus in this kind of context. On a positive note, a daily encouraging activity is that we join others at 8 p.m. every evening on the balcony as we applaud the medical workers for a few minutes. Someone in our building plays the national anthem and we clap until it’s over. We pray that God will stir up the Spanish people to seek Him as COVID-19 continues to affect everyone. Blessings and greetings from our family to yours!