Greetings to all of you! We want to thank you so much for faithfully supporting us even through this difficult time of pandemic. Due to the closure of Peru’s borders, we will not be able to take our scheduled furlough. At this point in time, the borders are projected to reopen in October, but I would not be surprised if they remain closed until the end of the year.
We have now been in mandatory quarantine for over 60 days, and it has been extended for at least another 30 days. There have been a few good changes, such as a later curfew time of 9 p.m. instead of 6 p.m. All food stores, pharmacies, and banks are still open. Some restaurants are being allowed to open for delivery services only if they follow strict rules to prevent the further spreading of the virus. Some other essential businesses are being allowed to reopen, such as optometrists, dentists, and computer-repair shops. All other commerce and businesses are still closed.
The city of Lima has suffered tremendously! Approximately 70% of Peruvians survive day to day by working informal jobs (only those with formal jobs are being assisted by the government financial assistance). Thousands of immigrants from Venezuela have found themselves with no work and no means to make a few soles (Peruvian currency). Many Peruvians have also gone back to their hometowns in the mountains or the jungle. Since there is no transportation available, caravans of people have left the city on foot, and many of them are women with small children. At first, the police stopped them because no inter-region travel is permitted, but many are starving and have no way to get food or pay for housing here. They have family farms and relatives that they are trying to reach, and the government finally decided to help some of them get to where they were going. Others are still stuck here with nothing. Indeed, this is an exceedingly difficult time for the people. We know God is in control.
Like many other churches, we are now having our services online. Our institute started this semester using an online format. May was the month for our annual Ladies’ Conference; and, since we couldn’t get together in person, we had it virtually as well. It was especially sweet hearing the testimonies of ladies who have won people to the Lord in different parts of the country. Because we are not allowed to travel out of our area, we take the opportunity to give tracts and try to witness when we go shopping. Most people accept the tracts and listen, but a few are still afraid to take them.
We are not only missing our church family but also the seniors from the nursing homes that we get to minister to every week. Several of them are 100 years old and are rather frail. The nursing homes are still completely closed to visitors; but, praise the Lord, we have not lost any seniors to the virus.
Unfortunately, we have lost two acquaintances and five national pastors to the virus. Several other pastors are currently battling the virus, along with their entire families. They need your prayers as they fight. Most of them live in outlying areas without much in the way of medical support. The Iquitos region ran out of medicine and is just now getting some delivered by the government. We have no way of knowing how far the virus spread out into the jungles yet, but we do know that many are getting sick. Specifically, please pray for Pastor Josúe Canaquiri and his family, Pastor Silva Peñaherrera, and Pastor Eladio Bardales. These are pastors (and families) we have been privileged to become acquainted with through our regional conferences and our Pastors’ School.
Just before the quarantine started, I was in the process of renewing my passport here, but the process did not finish before the quarantine and embassy closure. As of right now, my passport has expired, but my Peruvian papers are in order. I have been assured by the State Department that I will not be in any trouble since it was caused by the quarantine. I would appreciate prayer that this process goes smoothly after the quarantine is lifted.
We are confident that God will get us through this pandemic trial as He has done through other trials in the past. May you continue to trust in Him to get you through your trials as well. We pray for you often! Thank you again for your faithfulness.
In His service,
Chris and Irene Williams