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Police Officers don masks for protection.

Police Officers don masks for protection.

The early afternoon is usually a usually a time of hustle and bustle here in Mérida. Students are heading home for “comida” the normal big meal of the day. Families are planning for the rest of the day–sports activities, a trip to the mall, an evening downtown, or school meetings to attend. But everything is strangely quiet. There is noticeably less traffic on the avenue near our home. There is no sound from the loudspeaker that normally broadcasts the names of the students whose parents have arrived to drive them home. That’s because there hasn’t been school since Monday. All public events have been canceled and activities that would gather people together, from churches to team practices have been prohibited, all to prevent the spread of what is now the scourge of Mexico, the Swine Flu.

Our understanding that something was awry began when our friends, Josh and April Amiot notified us that they were returning to Mexico City to attend the funeral of one of their good friends and ministry co-workers. An otherwise healthy mother of three, Nelly didn’t fit the profile of those who die of the flu. Normally the very old or the very young, under six, are those who succumb. Of course, this was just the trickle before the flood. By last Friday the 24th, we had heard of hundreds sick and dozens dead as the Swine Flu spread rapidly across central Mexico. At the end of the weekend, there were reports of sicknesses in 19 of the 32 Mexican States and drastic measures taken to stem the spread of this highly contagious, and surprisingly deadly, conglomeration of three different flu viruses.

Here in Mérida, and across Mexico, all schools have been closed until the 6th of May and all public gatherings have been prohibited until further notice. Labor Day, May 1st here in Mexico, will be observed without the customary parades. Sporting events have been held without fans, and our district convention, set to have begun yesterday has been suspended until a later date. Even church services are against the law. Those that need to work in the public sector have taken to donning masks to protect them against the airborne virus.

But we are not writing to scare you. Our family is well, and to date, no officially recognized case of Swine Flu has been recorded here in Mérida. Still, there is a definite tension in the air as anxiety and fear have taken hold. There is a sense of helplessness apparent as society waits for word of progress against this disease.

But we are not helpless, we can cry out to God and know that He will hear and respond to our requests. So we ask you to join with us as we intercede for this nation. Ilona Hadinger, a fellow Mexico Missionary and the coordinator of our prayer devotions on MexicoAG.org offers these points to guide us in our intercession:

  • Pray for the sick; for an end to the suffering.
  • Pray for families who have lost a loved one to the virus.
  • Intercede for believers as they boldly pray for the sick and proclaim the Good News of eternal life.
  • Ask for the peace of God to be felt across the land, and for many to commit their lives to the Prince of Peace.
  • Pray for pastors, Christian leaders, and missionaries to remain healthy with a steadfast trust in the Lord
  • .

Please join with us during this crucial time.

Photo provided by sarihuella on flickr.com

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The 10th Annual Festival of the Lights was held in downtown San Jose this past Saturday. Knowing that this was an event that families travel from miles around in order to see, we felt it worth 15 minute trip to experience, and wow, what an experience!

By the time that we made it to our spot, about 15 minutes before the 6:00 start time, both sides of the street were packed. We had to pick our way through the crowd in order to find a spot to stand. Few were available but we were able to fall into line with some very gracious families. In, fact. One group gave Rebekah a front row seat while others helped us by giving us water and catching candy for Jonathan and Joseph. We had planned to sit with another missionary family, but we were unable to find them. The funny thing is that we found out later that we were probably only a matter of yards from them, but unable to reach them through the sea of people

The parade started promptly on time, around 6:45, and after one group filed by, it ground to a halt. It stayed that way for another half hour as a generator had to be replaced in one of the floats. After the repairs, the parade started rolling, and it was a sight to behold. I’ve added some pictures in order to convey the idea. Unfortunately, our camera doesn’t do the best in the dark. Still, click here or on the picture in this post to view the shots we were able to capture.

We made it back to our apartment around 9:30 exhausted, sore, and ready for bed, but certainly enriched by the experience that we had standing shoulder to shoulder sharing a moment with the culture to which God has called us!

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