Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are heading for the beginning of the second half of 2020. During these days the world seems to be frozen in time, but the actual calendar tells us that July is almost over. So, how are you doing, brethren? How are you coping with COVID-19? Do you always feel God’s presence in spite of the drastically changing world and life?
In the past, Guatemala has had more than 1,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases per day. Yesterday, it peaked reaching more than 10,000! The number of confirmed patients also reached about 44,000. Just a few month ago, that was an unimaginable number. It has been a long time since the various curfews for vehicles and time to be off the streets was executed. Today, from 6 pm to 4 am the streets are silent. The sound of a delivery motorcycle breaks the stillness from time to time. The absence of daily duties that are familiar in life, have been replaced with anxiety without knowing – and it stays for a while! So then, let’s pray with all our heart to trust the Lord and not to rely on our thoughts or feelings. Let’s feel our Lord’s presence in every moment, and praise the One who brings peace to our hearts.
Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
Zion Middle School
It has been over four months since the entire school system in Guatemala was closed down because of COVID-19. The Ministry of Education ordered online classes and assignments, but in reality there were numerous difficulties. The teachers and students faced realistic problems such as purchasing computers and paying internet fees for internet classes. The teachers worked for a while using the free Wi-Fi and computers provided by the school, but as the school itself closed, they could only provide classes through their mobile phones. Here, among 130 students, only five had computers at home and 30 had cell phones. Class participation became too low due to obvious reasons. Some students used an internet café to take classes. But before long many students had to give up taking these online classes. Providing online classes is a reality available only in larger cities like Guatemala City, and not in small villages like Patzicia.
Currently, the teachers are using WhatsApp to give some lessons and assignments. This also is not productive because many students do not even have cell phones, although some use their parent’s phones. The teachers have a difficult time communicating with all their students, so now they visit their students going house-to-house to give assignments and check on their work.
Since June, many students could not afford tuition due to family financial hardships. There were also many thoughts about taking a leave of absence and starting again next year. In Guatemala, the compulsory education is only up to elementary school, so many are considering leaving school for good. Caleb has been sharing with the teachers some thoughts and ideas on how to encourage the parents and students. Please pray that everyone can stand strong during this difficult time.
Debra has been doing voluntary work as the Coordinator of the Korean Language at the Language Institute of San Carlos University. Although classes and some event are held online, it is still not easy to have an opportunity to share the Word of God. Pray for God’s protection, student perseverance, and for the opportunity to share the Word of God online.
Joshua started summer vacation in July. Belgium seems to be returning to normal day-to-day life despite the high number of COVID-19 cases. The restaurants are slowly opening and Joshua is working part-time at one of these restaurants. Please pray for God’s protection for him, and that he will be safe and sound in situations where it is inevitable to be in contact with many people. Joshua will take his final exam of two subjects in August. Please pray for him to give a good accounting in these exams.
Dear brethren, we as Christians do live in a time when we can have a deeper feeling of unity when connecting together in prayer. We need to embrace one another with a greater love in Jesus, even though we feel weak. Thank you once again for standing alongside us in the work.
“I will love thee, O Lord, my strength” (Psalm 18:1)
Caleb and Debra Kang