Monday, March 16, 2020. On this day, the cacophony of COVID-19 rattled Iquique. What appeared far off began knocking over the weekend at Chile's front door and today spilled over into a Stage 4 national response (when yesterday's 75 cases of coronavirus multiplied into 156.) Our bohemian burg of Iquique was startled into supermarket lines and stores cleared out of hand sanitizer, alcohol and face masks. Grocery clerks peered over the lining of the latter and accepted payment with gloved hands. An air of solemnity and uncertainty could be sensed over the city as schools sat silently and evening fell much more quietly than usual.
In our home, a bored four-year old unable to attend preschool was constantly underfoot. He accompanied Mom and Dad in the morning to the grocery store, where an encounter with "Aunt Noni" led to his receiving a small painting project which joyfully filled a full fifteen minutes of his afternoon. ;) I dropped off multiple bags of school supplies to his preschool while receiving a handful of assignments for him to complete at home in the coming days.
Our fourteen-year old was hit hard with the news of basketball practice cancellations and the almost-certain likelihood of a long-awaited family vacation being suspended. Some fresh air and a evening climb up Cerro Dragon (the world's largest sand dune within city limits which is located in Iquique) helped to dispel some of the sorrow for him, but meanwhile I shed a few tears over the same disappointments and under the weight of anxiety's cloud. I video chatted with my sister Jenn in southern Chile, and with my parents in PA.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020. From 156 to 201 cases reported in Chile on Tuesday morning. On a more positive note, free online resources multiplied into dozens of open tabs on my phone and laptop to pursue opportunities for our children who will likely soon be stuck at home. One of these proved to be a wonderful way to start our day, as a pastor in Michigan launched a daily Bible study for children (AM) and teens (PM) which we watched for family devotions. Also, Owen made his sister Eva's day by surprising her with homemade no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies he had concocted the night before!
Pedro and I joined our colleague Jenn Taylor at her apartment for a planning meeting focused on FLORECE and the IBGV downtown church plant. Ironically, just over the past weekend our team gathered for two days of longterm planning which all seemingly went out the window with the arrival of COVID-19. Jenn's beautiful new five-year planner begged for a coat of whiteout for the month of March! After the meeting, Jenn and I drove downtown to gather items from FLORECE; return an order mix up to an office goods store; and visit an accountant with a few questions. The day ended with a long wait in a nearly empty doctor's office for a daughter's bloodwork results, and a quick stop outside a friend's apartment to deliver another daughter's homemade essential oils cream.