Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Counting the Memories of Quarantine

4 months, 11 days. Nineteen weeks. 133 days. This is how long we have been under a state of emergency in Chile. 

2 months, 15 days. Eleven weeks. 76 days. This is how long we have been under quarantine/lockdown in Iquique.

Is it strange that it all feels almost normal now? Still our kids will often ask, "What's going on tomorrow?" and I will look at them cross-eyed as I reply, "The same as yesterday, today, and every day!" We are creatures of habit and truthfully, we are blessed to have already been in the routine of homeschool schedules that keep us moving forward daily. Admittedly, our days start about an hour later than before. School begins at 10 rather than 9 and family devotions at 9:30 rather than 8:30. Getting everyone out of bed is harder when it feels like there is nothing exciting to look forward to!

But I do look forward to each day with our family. Especially now with Eva's departure drawing so near, gathering the eight of us together for devotions, for mealtimes, for sweet Sundays in quarantine is precious to my heart. Lockdown has finally resulted in more faithfulness to certain routines that sometimes got lost in the rapid shuffle of schedules in and out of our home in the faraway time before pandemic.

I'd like to remember the many mornings our boys made themselves "breakfasts of champions" frying up frozen hamburger patties and eggs. The kids spread around the couches eager for another episode of Pastor Dave's teen Bible study on YouTube. Working through our prayer list of supporting individuals and churches, missionary colleagues and family members, unsaved friends and acquaintances, church plant families and urgent needs (often COVID-related.) Our disappointment when those studies ended and turning to a study on Heaven for family "Sunday School" which led to lovely conversations and expectations of what is to come! Eventually beginning The Insanity of God which has been so eye opening and hard to read without crying some mornings. Catching glimpses of growing compassion as our children discover that life outside the comfort of our quarantine is so much harder for so many people.

The scale will not soon let me forget the food of quarantine: Eva's iced cookies, zucchini cake, banana muffins, crazy cake, peanut butter cookies, and apple pie (surely I'm forgetting other delights!) Pedro's mixed grills and homemade coleslaw and our family's "discovery" of baked potatoes for seemingly the first time. Aunt Terri's multiple version of banana cake to spoil Silas, and her delicious keto broccoli soup. Owen's efforts to perfect his no-bake oatmeal chocolate cookies, and his pleas for Domino's pizza when restaurants reopened for delivery only. The joy of our favorite Chinese restaurant reappearing for Sunday afternoon lunches at home. The discovery of fideos salteados con pollo from La Cucarda Morrina and the comfort of fresh fruit juices and sandwiches from La Ecuatoriana.

Though we tightened and loosened and tightened again the allowable schedules for gaming and electronics, I recognize that quarantine connected us to our gadgets more than ever. In some ways for the worse and others for the better, but the latter was certainly true with our weekly family devotions by WhatsApp and then Zoom with the Garcia and Christian aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents. Seeing each other's faces, hearing updates from young adult children, being encouraged from God's Word by Pop-Pop and Grandpa and uncles. In addition to gathering us for team meetings, Sunday nights with IBGV and Friday nights with IBF women, Zoom eventually became a tool for MK games like "Pharisees" and the grandly named NCBTMKFFH ("Northern Chile Branch MK Family Fun Hour!")

Bedtime in quarantine took on the routine of Silas going down around 8 PM with Mommy and Daddy taking turns so one parent and the older siblings could enjoy some television time. Apparently we are drawn to sitcoms about geniuses and underdogs, with a healthy dose of humor and some mystery and adventure for good measure. After the state of emergency was declared but before lockdown ensued, Eva and Isabel and Aunt Terri held "Hearties" parties sometimes until after curfew with a quick run between houses under cover of darkness. When that was no longer an option, we did a superheroes movie marathon week before settling into a new series that everyone could enjoy. Laughter releases tension, and even these memories of winding down together at day's end are tender.

I had high hopes of weekly family game nights which didn't exactly materialize, but there was that one endless Monopoly game and a few rousing Apples to Apples contests. Qwirkle was a favorite for a time, especially with Pedro's addition of a made-up jingle which Silas of course latched onto (much to his siblings' chagrin!) I think we managed to gather kids for one Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride: Europe game each. And recently, there was a very rowdy Dutch Blitz extravaganza that was a whole lot of fun! Of course, I should not forget the countless rounds of Memorice with Silas - the quarantine purchase that took on a life of its own early in our stay-at-home days, with Daddy naming each person whose face stared up from the circular cards. One of Silas' favorites was "Noni" (named for missionary Aunt Jenn because of the shape of her glasses) and "Greenie" (his preferred color.) There was pink-haired "Eva" (a reminder of when his sister colored her hair with best friend Meme.) And with great flair he would announce in a faux accent, "Italiano!" whenever the dark-haired man with his fancy mustache appeared.

But my very favorite day of quarantine very quickly became clear: Sundays were sweetest. They deserve a post all of their own, which hopefully will come soon. 

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