Quarantine? What a different world and time we live in!
May 1, 2020
Sunday evening March 15, one week after arriving back in Peru, we were told that the next day the entire country of Peru would be in a mandatory quarantine for 15 days. The quarantine has now been in effect for 6 weeks and will continue at least until May 10. No one is allowed to leave their home except for essentials between daylight to 6pm each day and nothing on Sunday. Sparse public transportation is provided which seems counterproductive to us since that puts several people together in a small space at one time. Non-essential businesses have been shut down. The streets are like a ghost town. People cannot work. I found out that as missionaries we could be approved for a special permit that allows us to move about in our own vehicle to help others. Since many if not most Peruvians live from week to week, when they can’t work it puts them at risk of not being able to provide food for their families or pay bills. We praise the Lord that we are able to help several families in our church and neighborhood as they need it. We are hoping to expand this needed ministry. If the Lord puts it on your heart to help us get food and essentials to hard hit families, please send your help to our support agency at CMC and let us know so we can plan accordingly.
Just before the quarantine started in Peru in March, Victory Baptist Press shipped us 7546 Bibles and 478,800 Romans booklets for evangelization. The booklets were supplied by Beacon of Truth Baptist Ministries in S. Carolina. The shipment made it fine to and through customs. It was then shipped by truck to Cajamarca, but they can’t be delivered to us because of the quarantine. We are looking forward to receiving them as soon as the lock-down is over.
Since we are in the Andes Mountains, far from the capital of Lima (14 hrs by car), the quarantine for the most part has isolated us away from the spread of the virus. Although it has arrived in our area, it has been very limited so far. Most of the cases here have been brought from smaller villages to our local hospitals for treatment.
As many of you are doing in the US, our national pastors have been presenting church services online. Our intern Darren, Carla, and I have also done live services from our home for the church and special services for the youth.
While homebound, I have taken the time to use the material from the book that I wrote in English (announced in our last prayer letter) and made it available in a Spanish version. This will allow any Spanish-speaking pastor, missionary, or layman to have the same information available to study. It has been emailed to many pastors and is available to download in pdf format on our website also. Sadly, because of the quarantine we had to cancel the Bible conference that we had scheduled in May so we hope this will be a blessing instead.
With the borders shut down, the Peruvian and American governments began to set up emergency repatriation flights to get Americans back to the US. These flights were only approved through Apr. 21 with no promise that there would be any other opportunities. Years ago, I had been asked to be an area Warden for the embassy, which means that in case of emergency I would be a contact point and liaison between the embassy and Americans in our area. When it looked like the Peruvian borders were going to be closed possibly until as late as 2021, we contacted the US Embassy and started looking for ways to get Darren back to the US. We found out that there were at least two other Americans in Cajamarca who wanted to get back. We were finally able to get the three from our area to an airport five hours from here where they flew to Lima, then on to Miami. From there each had to find a flight to their homes.
We understand that this pandemic is a burden on everyone, including our supporting churches and the families in each one. We have already received notice of support being dropped by at least one of our supporting churches due to the effects of this crisis. We know God is in control and are praying for all of you during this time. Our daily prayer is for God to show us what our ministry should look like as we move forward. We don’t want to miss any opportunities to minister in a time like this.
As many continue to suffer for lack of jobs, causing lack of money for food and essentials, the possibilities for robbery and kidnapping become greater and missionaries (gringos) can be high targets. We remain cautious daily, trust God for protection, and appreciate your prayers during these trying times.
Thank you all for your continued faithful prayers for us and our ministry,
Don & Carla Rich
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