The threat of COVID is still here. Lockdown is in full swing. And masks are the new fashion statement.
Some form of lockdown has been in place for the last eight weeks in Uganda. Church services have been cancelled including all gatherings with more than five people. The general admonition from the government was to stay home except in the case of an emergency. The number of cases remained small after the airport was closed and we held our breath. However, with cases increasing in the countries around us and Uganda still allowing cargo into the country, it is hard to imagine that the country can completely escape the pandemic. Tanzania has refused to do any kind of restrictions in movement and has even ceased testing so no one really knows how bad it is there – except from the number of truck drivers getting tested as they come into Uganda! Kenya has put restrictions in place, but numbers are still climbing. Really the only avenue to protect people here is to prevent infection, since there is a total of only 55 ICU beds in the entire country. Restrictions are beginning to loosen gradually, but it is unclear exactly what this will mean.
We’re doing our best at the clinic to continue to give top-notch care to our patients while protecting our staff. The first few weeks of lockdown saw a reduced number of patients. This is disconcerting in that the lockdown measures will not reduce the number of malaria, pneumonia or gastrointestinal cases that we frequently see. People had trouble getting to our clinic, with public and private transport shut down. They were also furiously clearing and planting their fields. We’ve seen the numbers begin to climb again, but nothing like they were previously. We pray that patients are finding other ways to get treatment. Our community health team is regularly going out to keep the villagers informed on the ways they can prevent the spread of coronavirus. We pray that they truly hear and will implement the advice.
In lieu of corporate worship services, the pastors have been recording translated sermons and sending them out with radios into the community with young men the Robbins have been discipling for years. We’re excited that the word is being carried by young Karimojong men and the unique opportunities this time has brought. We continue to pray for local believers that they will take this time to seek God’s word themselves and mature in ways they would not have otherwise.
We’re thankful for the time that the Lord has given us now, whether or not COVID reaches here. I’m thankful for more time with my kids. I’m thankful for how well Carmel and Zion have transitioned into this craziness! We’ve been isolating from other missionary families as well, due to Christopher working at the clinic and the invisible nature of COVID. I’m thankful for a solar fridge and freezer we bought from the Okkens. I’m thankful for how adept Ugandans are at adjusting to whatever life throws at them. I’m thankful for the entrepreneurial spirit that has sprouted in deliveries all of kinds of things in all kinds of ways. I’m thankful for phones and that calls are appropriate social distancing – learning Karamojong etiquette on the phone too! I’m thankful that the world is experiencing this together – which means I get to access resources that the US is generating for all those kids abruptly stuck at home! I’m thankful for recorded sermons, emailed devotionals, and intentional connections. I’m thankful that the Spirit doesn’t need us to act in order to move. I’m thankful for a husband who can actually grow things (I can’t!), and a daughter who is now eagerly weeding her garden. I’m thankful for giggles, bubble fights, and snuggles. Blessed be the name of the Lord.