Sunday, April 5, 2020

Quarantining in Ukraine

Like the rest of the world, COVID-19 is impacting all spheres of our lives and we are experiencing unusual days here in Ukraine. We live under ever-increasing government-issued restrictions as the number of people infected by the virus increases. At the time of this writing, Ukraine has 1251 confirmed cases and 32 deaths with the peak currently predicted to occur on April 14-15.

So what does quarantine look like in Ukraine?

Like most of you, we have been instructed to stay home, practice social distancing, limit trips to the grocery store, pharmacy and bank (nothing else is open besides gas stations and post offices) and not gather in groups of more than 10. All educational establishments are closed, but not all have implemented a form of online learning. Many grocery stores require people to line up outside, allowing one person in only when one person comes out. All forms of public transportation have ceased. In a country in which so many people rely on public transportation, both within the city and between cities/villages, this had an immediate positive impact on social distancing.

Those were our restrictions for the past few weeks, but additional restrictions will soon go into effect. Starting tomorrow, we can be in public only alone or in pairs, must be wearing masks and carrying identification and are forbidden to visit parks, recreational areas, playgrounds, and squares. People over the age of 60 are strongly encouraged not to leave their homes or have any visitors. There are also checkpoints set up at the entrance/exit roads to Lutsk and our broader region of Ukraine. We must pass through one when we go to/from Lutsk from our village of Boratyn. At our checkpoint, they have rarely stopped anyone, mostly just watching as the cars drive by slowly. But we did go through another checkpoint this week that stopped every car. The officer asked if we had any health complaints and when we did not he sent us on our way! 

Our checkpoint
So what do our lives look like with the restrictions in place? 

No work at Agape: The Agape Rehabilitation Complex closed 2 weeks ago and will remain so until at least April 24 (the current end-date for the government-issued quarantine). If the government extends the quarantine, we also will extend our period of closure. We are saddened by the impact this has on the patients who are not receiving rehabilitation, as well as on Agape and the employees who will be financially impacted the longer this continues. It is also sad to look out our window and see a lifeless Agape during the day and a dark Agape at night. Praying that Agape will be full again and we return to serving people with disabilities soon.
No gathering for church-related activities: Fimiam Church has moved completely to an online format using live-streaming and Zoom. God is giving our pastors much wisdom to lead the church in this unusual time. One of our church members tested positive for the virus yesterday and is in the hospital. Some of her family members also have symptoms and are self-isolating at home for now. The church territory is completely locked down for the next 4 days as her son works as a church security guard and was in the building this week after having contact with his parents.

Spending our days at home: We spend our time on individual projects (I am trying to study Ukrainian and complete as many CEU hours as I can), work around the house (we have completed several deep cleaning tasks and a vegetable garden is in the works), projects for Agape (translating a book and scanning documentation) and other activities. Runs/walks take place regularly. Oh, that is a big piece of news for me! I started running at the beginning of March for the first time since before the spinal leak last summer and I feel great! Well, the first few runs were definitely difficult and short, but now I am increasing my distances and feeling good. I am extremely grateful to be running again! 

So what other plans do we have? 

Our rehab team is planning to implement a version of telehealth this week for patients on the waiting list for rehab. If their injury or diagnosis occurred in the last 3 months, we will offer them the opportunity to have a video consultation with a therapist and receive recommendations/education. It will be interesting to see how it goes, but we believe it can be beneficial. 

Before the quarantine, we were scheduled to hold the first 2-week session for the fourth class of students at our PT Training Center beginning on April 21. Unfortunately, this can no longer take place at Agape, but we now plan to conduct one-week of online teaching using a format such as Zoom. Although it is not ideal and we will surely encounter difficulties, we think we can cover enough material in this format so that we will only need to complete the second week at a later time when we are allowed to be together at Agape. The online portion will most likely take place the week of April 20. 

As all of you, we continue to pray for God's mercy, protection, and wisdom as we navigate these days. 

Please join us in prayer for these specific requests:

- Financial provision for Agape and the employees during this period of closure.

- The implementation of video consultations with patients by our therapists. That we can truly provide beneficial consultations using this method and that there would be opportunities to speak to patients and their family members about God and the hope they can find in Him, especially during these tense days.

- The plans for a week of online teaching for our PT Training Center. That we can utilize the technology well so that our students will truly be able to learn the material presented.

- For God to heal Lyudmila - the Fimiam church member with coronavirus - and to protect her family and others who had contact with her.

-  For God to give us wisdom in how to use this time at home for His glory!

We are praying for you and covet your prayers for us!