We’ve all been robbed. In broad daylight, eyes locked shamelessly with our own, Ms. Rona has picked us up, flipped us over and shaken our britches until every gum wrapper, nickel, and bobby pin has tinkled down to the sidewalk.
Despite her flagrant disregard for any of our personal opinions on the matter and audacious habit of stripping our lives of some of their most basically assumed essentials, she has not been completely cruel. (Unless of course you have lost a friend or loved one for which I am terribly sorry….these words are not meant to make light of your grief).
I call her the Gifting Thief because although she has taken much, some unexpected valuables have been left in their place.
Perhaps the most obvious item to mention is social gathering. From basically one day to the next, government officials the world over demanded we hide ourselves away, preferably wearing hazmat suits at all times, and shouting “Unclean!!” to anyone approaching within 3 meters. We stopped seeing neighbors, friends and extended family, limited to the lovely folks within our particular fortress. But it’s been a gift really, a gift that keeps giving. Time to focus on each other. To love and learn together. To deeply enjoy the company of our very own. It has been wonderful. I have loved getting to just be at home with few commitments to strain a schedule. We’ve played more games together in the last six months than we have for the last six years. We cook together, work together, play and read together. See all those togethers? That’s what it’s been. On top of each other at times, but we’re finding out just how special it is to be our family.
But stay at home orders meant another thing. Church meetings and gospel work as we have always known it came to a screeching, sad halt. It has been incredibly frustrating to be at the start of a promising work only for a pandemic and zealous police to shut your doors. They actually thought that since we are foreigners, we must have brought the virus to the area. For awhile, we even wondered if we’d be kicked out of town. But we weren’t and no physical meetings gave rise instead to a ministry we had never had much opportunity to develop before. Website, youtube, podcast, articles, zoom all became catchphrases of our workday. We met believers over zoom we would have likely never known. We brainstormed and worked together through the unfamiliar bog of technology to keep getting God’s word into people’s lives. It has truly been a gift to have this year to broaden our work online. It would have been a lot easier to jet off somewhere north and tuck it in for an indefinite furlough. Easier but less fulfilling. It has kept our spirits up to be able to keep working.
Since meetings have restarted, it’s clear the button pressed back in March wasn’t just pause. So many have become cold, happily readjusted to a life without the obligation of external service and worship. Perhaps a post for another day, exploring the ways in which Satan has used all this to his advantage. Is there some gift here? Maybe it’s simply the warning cry that we are all only a few months away from careless disregard for the things that bring God pleasure. May God help me, and may He help you, to cling tightly to Him, his word and his people, no matter what happens.
For those of us entire countries apart from our loved ones, the inability to travel has been difficult. For those used to going out, to finding pleasure in adventure, in downtowns, in museums, parks and malls, staying home has felt like an endless sentence. I think the gift here is appreciation. We’ve all learned we have enough to live happily. We’ve plumbed deeper depths of love for missing faces, just glad that they are still healthy. We’ve all looked around and said thank-you a little more often.
Ms Rona has taken something else from us though. It’s called Spanish. Honestly, my Spanish is so bad right now it’s not even funny. And the kids too. They’ve totally lost practice over so many months of being in an 100% English environment. The gift? My four year old can finally say “R”.