Hello all! What a world we are living in right now? Am I right? We live in some strange times. Being in the mission field during a pandemic is interesting (or not very interesting at all, depending on how you want to look at it) to say the least. We have officially been living in Colombia for 3 years, as of July 12th. We have agreed to another 3 year contract. We love Colombia, and we are so excited to be able to continue to serve!
We have been in some form of quarantine since March 13th. That means, we have been in our house for 5 months. This current decree has been extended until at least August 30th. The most difficult part is the restriction of not being able to leave your house or be around others. At least, that has been difficult for us. It surprised me how what is “normal” can change in such a short amount of time. We have all adjusted fairly well. International travel is speculated to open back up in September, but this is just speculation so far. The US has been providing humanitarian flights for foreigners stuck in Colombia, but we are not “stuck.” We definitely choose and are blessed to be here.
Patrick and my work have dramatically changed during this time. Patrick and the church leaders continue to provide church on Zoom. Also, our church in Rionegro has continued to give offerings, which have been used for financial assistance for members out of work and for food packets for the community. We want to say a special thanks to those of you that have donated money for food for our community! It has been a huge blessing!
Each week we have multiple families that come to our door to receive assistance. Most of these families are displaced Venezuelans that were struggling to feed their family before the virus. We have also been able to provide hygiene items, baby items, and clothing to various families. There will be a lot of people walking around Colombia in CPC event shirts thanks to the youth mission team from Winchester CPC! 🙂
Patrick has organized a weekly English bible study that has been open to anyone that would like to attend in the world. In fact each week there seem to be about half from the USA and the other half from Colombia. This has been a pretty cool thing to experience. Even my parents have even started to join in on these meetings! My father, however, still has not quite figured out how to mute and unmute the microphone!
Patrick continues his work with the Emaús Presbytery via Zoom. I am very proud of him! It is difficult to speak a foreign language in person, add technology, and a daily disconnect (due to quarantine) from practicing, and you have a whole new level of trying to communicate! He has adapted and has been effective, despite these weird conditions.
I have continued to teach English online in the early morning hours with VIPKID. This has been a blessing to be able to do abroad and in quarantine. I have really enjoyed doing it. I have also recently bought a birthday present for myself that should help pass the quarantine time more productively! I got a basic model sewing machine to learn how to sew and complete projects. This is a personal goal of mine, but also it will couple nicely with the No Estás Sola Project.
As some of you know, No Estás Sola (You are not alone) is a program targeted to assist women with becoming more independent financially and to support them spiritually by forming groups and learning how to start small businesses. The goal is to help women provide for their families while growing in their faith.
This project was really starting to take off right before the quarantine, but then was halted due to the virus. I am currently working on ways to continue the program despite not being able to meet in person, and the fact that I am restricted to travel outside of my city. A lot of our women do not have access to internet but have limited cell phone data, so it is a challenge to find the best way to continue this work. We are trying to offer opportunities to apply for our small business loan for the women that have previously attended meetings before the shut down. I am also praying about ways to start the program in Rionegro. Currently, we are serving all of the churches with a meeting in Medellín but it is difficult for the women from Rionegro to travel and attend the meetings. So, I would really appreciate prayers for guidance on the best way to continue!
Our daughters, Bella Grace and Jacqueline, have really shined during this time, despite being limited on going outside to play, leaving the house in general, and having classes online. They are resilient and have adjusted surprisingly easily to this new normal.
Bella does not like online class, but she is doing them and doing them well. I am charged with the task of helping Bella, and teaching her how to read is interesting and challenging. Especially teaching her how to read in Spanish! I have learned that during reading time I can only speak in Spanish with her to cut down the confusion of the vowel sounds. It’s weird to know she will be able to read in Spanish before English.
Jackie was very sad to learn that her preschool is not opening back up after the quarantine. The economic hit for places like that is just too difficult. She just recently celebrated her fourth birthday here in Colombia. She has celebrated all four of her birthdays here in Colombia!
We still are unsure if school will resume in person this year. Most schools here go from January-November, with a large break in December and January. Public schools in our state have already announced they will be continuing online only for the remainder of the year, but the private school sector is still having meetings regarding this issue and the possibilities in the future. During this time at home, Bella and Jackie have really perfected their in-line skating skills in the road in front of our house. Bella is also working on riding her bike without training wheels! She can basically do it, but she still gets scared. We live at the end of a dead-end street, so it is a perfect practice area!
We have scheduled our furlough for early October through early January this year. We are still unsure of the travel restrictions for international travel for Colombia or how things will be in the US in October. We are going to re-evaluate sometime in September to make more concrete plans regarding this trip. We hope to see all of you, as they say in Spanish, “si Dios quiere” (if God wants). It is definitely a situation out of all of our hands. But we remain steadfast. We know God is in control of all things. I have to constantly remind myself to slow down, take a deep breathe, and remember what it says in Matthew 6:34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Thank you for all of your continued support of us personally, prayerfully, and financially through the Stott-Wallace Missionary Fund. We could not do this or be here without God or the support of the church. May God bless and keep you all!