by Tim Dyck
Blumenort, Man. We took affordable air travel for granted. Each year for decades, the number of passengers traveling by air has increased significantly. Many of us in Canada have benefited from this affordable and available travel for work or vacation. But the applecart has been upset by the arrival of the coronavirus.
Our EMC missionaries depend on air travel, as their work generally requires them to travel globally. Many have been adversely affected by this sudden downturn. Some plans have been upset because air travel is no longer advisable or because borders have been closed to non-citizens. One couple remain in Edmonton until they can get the green light to travel to Southeast Asia. Another couple have had to cancel travel plans to visit Afghan refugees. Katrina, an intern planning to go to Paraguay this fall, has had to cancel these plans entirely. Even within our office, Ken is eagerly awaiting the time when he can safely travel to visit missionaries and ministries in other countries.
Yet some have been able to travel despite these restrictions. Heidi managed to find a flight to Chad so she can continue to serve as a teacher in that country. Amber has had to reschedule her flights, but is hoping to be able to return to Southeast Asia in September. Sandra and Isra were able to return to Canada from Mexico for a home assignment. Mary Beth and Allen were able to find an emergency flight from Peru to Arizona, so that she could receive much needed medical treatment. They are hoping to travel to Manitoba in September.
Yet for many, the only option remains to ‘shelter in place’ – to remain rooted where they were when the pandemic began, and to wait until a new normal begins to emerge. For some, this means enduring the hardships of isolation and sickness (including COVID) away from family and friends.
During this time of waiting, EMC Missions decided to host a barbeque event for all those who were currently in Manitoba. On a beautiful Thursday evening in August, we gathered at Blumenort’s community park for a time of fellowship and prayer. Two of our board members brought their barbeques and the sausages and burgers were prepared. Kids found an abundance of activities available to them in the park. Old acquaintances were renewed and new friendships were established. The highlight of the evening was when groups gathered together to pray for each other.
Despite restrictions for gathering and travel, we were still able to encourage one another at this event.