Rejecting Our Friends

I can’t remember what my latest report on the quarantine situation is here, but it’s still ongoing. A few days before the end of August, the President extended the quarantine–again–to the end of September. The state of emergency was extended to the end of November.

The quarantine was also made stricter. Curfew was tightened, children are forbidden from leaving the house for any reason, all visits or meetings of any kind are prohibited, and no traffic is allowed on Sunday. Those things on top of what we were already doing.

One adult per family per day is allowed to do essential shopping. I am still allowed to sell stuff because it is food sales, which is part of the essential market.

But with the other restrictions, we can have no company, nor can we go visiting. And of course, we cannot have church services in our home.

So, how do you suppose the people are responding? I was in town on Friday to buy supplies for fixing the broken pipe. Town was chock full of people of all ages. There were vendors selling hot meals; people crowded around makeshift tables without even elbow room, the open markets were crowded with people bumping into each other. There were a lot of masks, but not nearly everyone wore them.

The streets are lined with police and soldiers, ostensibly to enforce the quarantine. They spend most of their time on their smartphones, oblivious and uncaring of the situation.

Incidently, several people per day are dying in the valley here. Both Izcuchaca and Compone have been hit hard. Some store owners we knew will never return.

What should our response be? Rafael and Elisabet asked if they could come Friday evening for pizza supper. I reminded them of the law. In fact, I sent them a copy of it. They said no one is doing that, and we’re good friends. (Apparently, viruses will not spread among friends.)

I explained carefully that we must obey God, even if the whole rest of the county doesn’t. And God says we must obey the President and his laws. They were pretty saddened by that, but they said they understood. But if I change my mind, they want me to tell them.

Then last week was Alicia’s birthday. I dropped off a cake for her and apologized that we couldn’t come. Yet, that evening Walter contacted me and asked if we could come for supper. Though I’d talked to him about it that morning, I again explained what the law was, and why we couldn’t come; though, we’d have loved to.

But probably the more difficult case was Fernando and Esmeralda. I let them know we couldn’t have church services here. Then Friday evening, Fernando called me and asked if I could have a service at their house on Saturday.

Fernando doesn’t go to church. But here he was offering his home! Was this an open door? Yet, I felt strongly that I had to maintain my integrity. I explained to him the situation. We discussed point by point the law.

“But this is Peru, David! No one obeys the laws here. You don’t have to either.”

I told him what Jesus commanded us. I told Him I’d love to come, but that we’d have to wait until October. I told him we miss them, but we can’t be together just yet.

“You’re just afraid. You think you’ll get the virus.”

“No, amigo. I have no fear. Not of this virus or of other things,” I told him. “I trust God. But I must be obedient. Even if everyone else disobeys, even if the other churches disobey, I must be obedient.”

He was quiet a moment, then he said, “I knew you wouldn’t disobey. Todo estΓ‘ bien. Everything is okay. We will need to be a little patient, then we can be together again. Un abrazo, Hermano David. A hug for you, Brother.

Was it all just a test? I don’t know. But I think putting God ahead of my friends, though it pains us all for the moment, may be the best thing for them.

Thank you for your continued prayers. We need wisdom in these situations.