March 2020

Hola! Life in Chile, like in the rest of the world, is being affected by the coronavirus. Only eight days after the children started school, they stopped again, as it is suspended for at least the next 15 days. 

Chile’s approach is that people try to self-isolate to prevent an uncontrolled spread of the virus that may overwhelm the healthcare system. Please pray for wisdom about what this looks like for us. There are nearly 450 cases now but mercifully no deaths yet. The panic buying here has begun in earnest. We have enough to get us through the next couple of weeks. Church is set up for live-streaming, although we attended this week in person, along with a handful of others. The normal very physical greeting was replaced by a more British approach of nods and smiles. Please pray for a couple of very vulnerable families in the church with sick/disabled members, for whom corona would be very dangerous.

The strange side effect of this virus is that it has the potential to reduce the protests that were planned this month and that were starting to gather speed – with associated injuries and damage to the city. One protest before the outbreaks in Chile saw two million people gather and ended in multiple arrests. There are a few significant dates coming up in the next week that protests were planned around and could easily spin out of control. It may be that people feel the social pressure not to gather. In fact, meetings of more than 50 people are now banned. Please pray that the government doesn’t use this as a helpful excuse to divert from the problems they need to face up to and resolve and that their approach to prevention of the spread of the illness is both helpful in itself and wise enough to not provoke further anger.

Thank God with us for an end to the epic bureaucracy preventing us getting driving licences. We found a loop hole and both passed our tests despite one of us going the wrong way up a one way street and hitting a curb! It may prove very useful now public transport may not be an option.

Also praise God for a really encouraging couple of months getting to know and meeting up with pastors in Santiago. I was due to speak at a gospel patrons’ event this week with lots of pastors from around Chile but sadly is was cancelled due to corona.

Before school was cut short, we were delighted that both Eva and Judah were able to find a welcoming friend on the very first day. Language has not been too much of a barrier, which is a miracle as they arrived in the country with only a few words of Spanish. It will certainly be wearing though as school is a full eight-hour day with only 90 minutes of breaks/lunch. Plus around a 45-minute commute each way. Eva’s very good friend speaks English. We would love them both to be fully integrated into the other friendship groups in the year and for Eva to make a friend who she has to speak Spanish to, so as to build her slightly low confidence in speaking.

Please pray for us as life carries-on-ish…

Matt still has his daily Spanish lessons online, celebrating birthdays (with an Oxford theme) and trying to continue to help church pastors and people at church.

One specific prayer is for Matt’s mum who is here with us and may be stuck for obvious reasons!

We love you! As always, please stay in touch (WhatsApp +56 9 4751 8887) and let us know what we can be praying for you.

Matt, Helen, Eva and Judah

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