Today was Day 49 of self-quarantine for our family. Truth – it may be a little more or a little less as we didn’t put a star next to the day we all started “staying in”, but you get the picture. I haven’t posted in quite a bit, mostly because our days feel super full with balancing school for the kids, ministry and caring for our team and students, caring for and leading our church small group, and helping out in our community. Then, when breaks are had or when night comes, I find myself wanting nothing to do with technology or Zoom and for my sanity, needing to pull away from social media and news updates.
For the most part, our kids have settled well into schooling at home. We have had more days lately where they actually like their new “teacher” and the tears have become few and far between. While their teachers aren’t doing any online instruction, per say, other than a few Google Meets to gather the class, they are doing a phenomenal job dealing with the hand they have been dealt. Blake’s teacher posts daily small videos singing a song or reading a story or playing her ukulele. Kinsley’s teacher has gone above and beyond to help them understand, be challenged, and offers to do private sessions if they are struggling with something. NYC just officially canceled school for the rest of the year yesterday, and while there were some tears from Emerson of not being able to see her friends, they were okay with this expected blow. It has been fun to learn along with them – from writing about the American Revolution to vanishing points in art to coding in media arts to the history of NYC in Social studies to comparing decimals in math to erosion in science – our material has been vast 🙂
We keep being asked – do you get to leave the house? Ed and I have continued running during this, though we go early in the morning when people aren’t out and we stick to less populated neighborhoods so we don’t have to wear a mask. One of us will go about once a week to the grocery store to pick up supplies. We try to get the kids outside once a day to play, whether it is in our small backyard or going on a short walk around the neighborhood with masks on. We have started doing things we have never done before like “taking drives” and running cards and homemade bracelets to friends to leave at their door, anything to give us a reason to get out safely. Yes, there has been a ton of bracelet making.
Ed is still helping with the skeleton crew at our church doing audio for the online services. They wear masks, stay six feet apart, and try to use the same people each week so there is limited exposure.
Last week, on a pretty sunny and warm day (which haven’t been common lately), we told the kids “screw it” and let them take off their masks and ride their bikes in our street. There wasn’t much traffic and there weren’t many people so we felt they would be safe to be six feet away from people without masks and to be out of danger riding in the street. And honestly, we just wanted them to do something different and fun. This little man surprised us by learning to ride his bike without training wheels, which provided some fun excitement in our family. While I know there was lots of judgement from our neighbors about us letting them do it, sometimes you just have to say (safely) screw it.
Here is an update I posted on our prayer letter we just sent to ministry partners:
When we moved to Queens NYC, we could never have foreseen all that would unfold over the last few months. Covid has hit our diverse borough like a wrecking ball. 48,382 confirmed cases, 3,581 deaths, 16 suicides since March. So many unemployed that NY State is running out of money. Front line workers running out of PPE they so desperately need to help crowded ERs/ICUs. Everyone knows someone who has been affected.
Our students are no exception. One student nursed her parents as they battled Covid, got it herself, and lost her uncle to Covid. Another student has lost multiple people in her church, including her brother’s best friend’s parents, who died within a week of each other. Another student is an international student from Belarus who lives with a family and because the family is so fearful of getting Covid, she is only allowed to get food once a month early in the morning and was desperately running out of food because the store was out of stock.
While our team has added in things like extra Bible studies and short devotions to help our students spiritually, we feel very convinced that God has allowed us to be here to also help “love our neighbor” by providing for practical needs as well.
In partnership with other local groups and partnering friends, we have been able to provide care baskets for our students who have been affected. We have been able to provide masks and groceries for students who needed them. We have been able to provide gift cards for groceries for people in our small group who are unemployed. We have been able to make 3 trips to Elmhurst Hospital to deliver much needed supplies.
Ed and I have been spending a lot of time in Psalms, both in our personal devotion times and with our students and staff team. It has been life-giving to watch David lament but also to have hope in who the Lord is and His character. God is sustaining us and when we start to feel overwhelmed, fearful, in despair, sad, or any of the other emotions we have felt, we keep reminding ourselves that his mercies are new every morning and he will give us THIS DAY what we need.
We are hopeful that we have turned a corner and that things are getting better as the number of cases, hospitalizations, deaths, etc. is decreasing and things begin opening up (our favorite bagel and pizza joint just reopened so THAT gives us a feeling of light at the end of the tunnel).
Thank you so much to so many of you who have texted us, encouraged us, prayed for us, provided things for our students like care baskets, masks, hand sanitizer, food, gift cards for food, etc. You have been a visible reminder to us of the Lord’s care for us and our students and our borough. You are showing us (and even our kids!) what it means to carry one another’s burdens and to love our neighbor well.