Family Update

Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” – James ‭4:13-15‬

Lately it seems like as soon as we make plans, something changes and our plans are flipped upside down. I’m sure many of you know the feeling lately.

Before I begin, let me explain our situation. We are a family of five and a half: Rachel, Justin, Aly, Jeremiah, Hannah, and a baby due in September! Justin, Hannah and Rachel are U.S. citizens. Rachel has permanent residency in El Salvador. Justin and Hannah have temporary residency in El Salvador. Jeremiah and Aly are citizens of El Salvador, and travel with U.S. tourist visas. Our situation is complicated to say the least!

Before the pandemic, our plan was to head back to Ohio in July and wait for the baby to arrive. As we did when Hannah was born, we’d spend a few months at home and then return to El Salvador. However, due to the coronavirus, we’ve had to change our plans.

The U.S. Embassy in El Salvador has advised U.S. citizens to either return home now, or be prepared to “shelter in place” indefinitely. And although ideally we would stay here for a few more months before heading home to give birth, there is no guarantee the option to do so will be available in the future. After much prayer and seeking counsel, we have decided to head back to Ohio on April 15th. The airport in El Salvador is currently closed to all commercial traffic, but limited repatriation flights are being arranged through various embassies.

Leaving is never easy, but this time feels especially hard. This is the first time we’ve left without knowing when we’ll be able to return. We don’t know when flights to El Salvador will open up again. We don’t know when this pandemic will be “over.” We have to say goodbye without giving hugs and without knowing how long it will be before we again see the faces of all the kids we leave behind.

There are many unknowns, but this is what we feel led to do right now and we are trusting that this is God’s prompting. We have asked him again and again to show us his will and to shut any doors we are not suppose to walk through. We hold fast to Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

Please pray for our family over the next couple of days as we prepare to leave and make the journey home. Pray for wisdom, safety and peace. Even getting to the airport will be a challenge as they do not allow more than one passenger per row in a vehicle and there are 5 of us!

As for Love and Hope, the kids are doing well. Because the school year here runs from January through November, they’re nowhere near done with their school year! The president announced a fifteen day extension to the very strict quarantine and rumors are it might be extended again.

El Salvador has responded to the pandemic with strict measures and is reaping the benefits. At this point there are only 137 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the whole country! Of course these measures come with significant sacrifices. Many people are facing each day without sufficient food. Love and Hope continues to support the biological families of each of our kids through food baskets, and we have doubled what they receive since the quarantine began.

We know that many of our donors have lost their jobs and are not able to give right now. We sincerely wish that we could be there to help you during this difficult time to give back to you for all you have done for us. Thank you so much for your faithful support over the years. You are in our prayers.

If have not been financially affected by COVID-19 and have the means to send in an extra gift this month, we would be so grateful. We appreciate each one of you so much! Now, more than ever, Love and Hope is serving a country in need.

With love and hope,

Rachel and Justin