Life in San Pedro through Covid-19

As I walk to the store to buy a few things my mind remembers the usual Sunday sounds that impregnate the environment here – church worship leaders tuning their instruments, the roar of tuc tuc engines as they drive around town, voices in the jam-packed market, street vendor voices offering their products, the laughter of kids running around, the whistle of the police officers re-directing traffic as well as the sounds of different languages and accents from all the tourists; the hustle and bustle of a busy little town!  But today is Sunday and its quiet!  The unusual sounds have become usual! 

Conforming to or accepting the restrictions imposed several weeks ago because of Covid-19 was harder at the beginning, after all, no one in San Pedro was infected and there were only a few cases in Guatemala! People could not or would not grasp the need for prevention forcing the town government to rule with a heavy hand; fines for disobedience to curfews, keeping businesses open longer than the allotted schedules allowed as well as for travel outside department limits.  As the number of cases started to rise and began to move in the direction of San Pedro, people started to realize the virus is real and it is serious. We were given two days before wearing a mask outside our house was mandatory; overnight, you could find masks in practically all stores in town and you could even choose the design you liked. Creativity at its best.  For those who sew it was a way to get food on the table, for most, it was a wake-up call, especially hearing your town Mayor plead with the town’s people to conform to the rules; “if the virus gets into San Pedro…well…God have mercy on us“  

Guatemala is now living under tightened restrictions and has reached the point of complete, 24 hours a day, shutdown over the weekends, and weekday curfews from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. Though it is difficult, it is necessary. In the areas around the lake, Santiago has several cases confirmed, as well as San Marcos La Laguna.  Both towns are closed to outsiders in hopes to contain the virus. We don’t have 100% compliance but the majority are trying their best. As I write this, there are no cases in San Pedro, and we pray that everyone understands the severity of the situation to continue to be virus-free.

Since the spread of disease is very prevalent in areas where large conglomerations of people gather, the mayor has closed the central, open-air market for most days of the week.  Instead, he has authorized people to sell their products in front of their houses, now most of San Pedro is like one big market.  People set tables outside their homes, sometimes on the street, and sell their products; bread, vegetables, fruit, and even poultry can be found spread around town.  A good solution for keeping people spread apart, enforcing social distancing, and lowering the spread of disease.

Kids are still not attending school. However, by order of the Ministry of Education, the schools must provide study guides for the students and every school handles the situation differently.  Despite the obstacles, both homes and schools are trying to do their best to continue providing an education to the children.  To all our sponsors, we hope you understand the difficulty this creates for us to reach your sponsor child in a timely manner.  We are working on ways to physically get your letters into their hands!

One thing is certain, this pandemic has greatly affected the economy; here in San Pedro as well as all around the world. Entire families have been affected and it will take a while for San Pedro to recover, as it will in the rest of the world. We are living history. The first world pandemic and although we may not seem prepared in what to do, we are seeing the prophecies in the Bible coming to pass before our eyes.

As I walk around San Pedro my heart prays. I pray that this will bring revival, that hearts may be softened, and that we all may turn to the Lord. Guatemala is a country with a high percentage of born-again believers, yet corruption is eating away our economy and identity. The incongruity of it is appalling.

As I walk around town, I pray that we may become like the men of Issachar in 1Chronicles 12:32 “All these men understood the signs of the times and knew the best course for Israel to take”.

May the spirit of wisdom fall upon us to understand the times and make the right decisions. May San Pedro rise above the circumstances and may the entire town see the power of the Lord, not only because we may remain virus-free, but because this will make us mature in faith, grow and fulfill God’s will. May this be true for every believer worldwide.

God bless you.  

Carla Montenegro

May 19, 2020