Guatemala was put on complete lockdown starting last night.
A week ago the president announced Guatemala would begin phase 1 of reopening the country. I actually went to Dollar City and bought some things to make gifts for the Seniors who will not be able to walk to graduate in two weeks. Jerry and I went out and delivered lunch to each of them. I waved from the car. It was wonderful to see them even from a "social distance". I even walked around the condominium several days to exercise outside.
As we took a tiny breath of fresh air, through a mandatory face mask, we began seeing some very disturbing news on social media. Day after day there were reports of the local markets full of people like it was a normal day. Police were having to close markets by force at the dictated hour because tienda owners refused to close and shoppers continued showing up after hours. People are hungry and they are doing whatever it takes to sell and buy. More and more white flags were appearing up and down the street with families who have no more food. Families are being evicted from their homes for not being able to pay rent or for having a family member be suspected of being contagious with the virus.
The number of positive Covid-19 cases were tripling by the day. A 200% increase. Two of the Covid specific hospitals "collapsed". This means that there was not enough medical personnel or equipment to serve the patients currently in those hospitals. Another major hospital in Guatemala City was placed on complete quarantine due to several Covid positive cases among staff. Guatemala is not equipped to handle this crisis and many of the people still do not understand or do not want to understand the importance of good hygiene and social distancing. Much less staying home and not hanging out in public places.
Last night the President addressed the country and stated that beginning immediately the country is on lockdown. No vehicles are allowed on the roads. Small community tiendas (like small convenient stores) are allowed open from 8-11am (Friday - Monday) and food delivery is available as well as pharmacy delivery. Beginning Monday grocery stores and local markets can be open for a few hours on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. Curfew is in effect from 5pm - 5 am each day. Still no travel between departments(states) and masks are required. Beginning Thursday at 5pm the country will be shut down completely. Zero traffic (vehicle or foot) will be allowed and nothing will be open except for medical emergencies. The president said these next few days are for people to prepare for the complete lockdown.
Today people took to the streets on foot to buy food at small local tiendas. There was even a protest across the Pan American Highway of people who are unhappy with the president’s declarations. We have seen a couple reports that complete lockdown may begin as early as tomorrow due to the people not obeying the law.
We had a few grocery items delivered today and have our main shopping scheduled to be delivered tomorrow. We are unaware if it will be able to be delivered. We are also unable to pick up and deliver the bread donation to the shelter this week as the bread shop is closed to comply with regulations. We are hoping to be able to take them bread and some groceries next Thursday depending on Presidential decisions.
Please pray for Guatemala and those who are sick and those who are starving.
Pray for the President of Guatemala and the decisions me makes for the health and safety of all everyone in Guatemala.
Pray for us as we watch this from our living room and are in a little bit of shock and try to make wise choices about purchases and about how to help those in need.
We are also still continuing with a regular school schedule in the midst of all this craziness.
Pray for Maddy and Coleman to finish their final tests, projects and papers well.
Pray for Jerry to finish his year teaching well as well as encourage and help guide the Seniors as the end their year in lockdown.
And pray for me as I send my last chapels and Chaplain Chat next week to encourage everyone as we end the school year and begin summer completely isolated.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
With much love,
Gerald and Sarah Lastrapes
Along with their two children are missionaries in Guatemala. They will be sharing stories of discipleship through prison and shelter ministries.