Lockdown Life

“Surely not; but I only saw him this morning!”

It wouldn’t be the first misunderstanding related to Covid. We could barely keep up with with which households were infected and which were just isolating. It was hard to get accurate news. But this was the first death of somebody we knew and we were devastated when the rumour was confirmed.

He was a guy our age with severe disabilities. Basically housebound since a road accident, his mother worked nights as a street sweeper to be able to nurse him during the day. A friendly and positive pair, you wouldn’t imagine how hard their life was, but we’ve gained a limited understanding over the years. Her greatest fear was who would look after him when she was gone. Now he is gone… and so suddenly.

Breathless in the night, he went to the hospital in the morning. Our friend saw him walk out to the taxi looking normal, hence her incredulous reaction to the news that he died that same day. Testing confirmed it was Covid.

We went looking for his mother, our favourite of many local Aunties. She would be in shock, needing the support of her community. But of course she had tested positive too and had already been taken to a field hospital. The sight of her bright orange scooter locked up behind the metal grate was heartbreaking. We pray for her daily but have no way to contact or even know how she is doing.

It is one tragedy in a worldwide tragedy. In Thailand this latest wave of infections began with the super-rich defying the rules and gathering to party in exclusive nightclubs. Now the numbers are rising mainly in prisons, slum communities, construction camps and wet markets where limiting the spread feels like an impossible task.

Many households here have become dependent on charity. As the name ‘Khlong Toey’ has become synonymous with virus risk, jobs have been lost or made conditional on proof of vaccination. There has been some attempt to prioritise vaccinating Khlong Toey residents but the numbers are still relatively small. There is also suspicion about the Sinovac vaccine being offered, mostly because of lack of information and perceived lack of choice.

As always, it is good to see the community pulling together and sharing resources under difficult circumstances. One of the highlights of the last few weeks was looking out the window to see our landlady visiting some of the neighbours who don’t really mix and insisting they go and receive the handouts of rice and other essentials. The virus will pass but the expressions of love and care will last

Family

Thankyou so much to everybody who has prayed, emailed and shown us incredible support as we’ve adjusted to the news of my Mum’s cancer diagnosis. She has begun chemo and is being very brave. Assuming she is well enough, she begins her second round on the 1st of June.

Plans have come together to allow us to travel to the UK today! The kids have not been out of the house for a month (help!!!!) and thankfully our covid tests have come back negative! We will do our 10 days quarantine with Jon’s family in Shrewsbury.

We have been overwhelmed at the number of financial gifts we’ve received to cover our trip. It is super humbling to know that we are loved and trusted in this way. We hope to see lots of you and thank you personally for your generosity during our visit.

Since this trip is very last minute and for the purpose of seeing family, we have continued with our original plan of preparing a Virtual Supporters Trip this summer. We have recorded an update video, 20 minute talk titled ‘Poverty and the Messiah’ and a reflection activity all ready for use in churches and small groups from the start of June! Our talk is actually one of a series of four that UNOH Bangkok have recorded as a team… you are welcome to use them all as a series but they can also stand alone. Please let us know if you would like the links.

With Mum’s immunity low, we don’t plan to attend any large group gatherings. It is hard to plan without knowing exactly what the next few months holds but our intention is to be available for catchups and cups of tea and country walks!

Elliot, Sam and Bow are besides themselves with excitement for a range of different reasons that basically boil down to not being stuck in the house! Quarantine in the UK will include the possibility of letting off steam in a garden so we are all happy about that!

Pray with us

  • The kids will be waking early in the UK to catch the last two zoom lessons of the school day! Aside from that, the teachers will set them tasks to complete. Please pray for them doing schooling in a different time zone and that they can focus well in order to keep the afternoons free, especially Elliot whose workload seems heavy. It is disappointing for Sam that he didn’t get to return to year 6 after Easter. The end of primary school is a significant step that he won’t get to mark. Having said that, he wouldn’t miss the chance to visit family for the world!
  • Bow’s health has been really great this year with very few wobbles. Along with her ongoing growth spurt and new front teeth it is definitely something to celebrate! We still get the occasional week where she struggles to swallow and eating is a battle for no obvious reason, but she is getting so much better at regulating her own symptoms. Change in temperature can cause metabolic stress for Bow and you may remember that our last trip to England included a hospital stay. Please pray that Bow’s body will adjust to the different climate and she will be secure enough to cope with the changes in routine. Please pray that she can take in enough calories and that she stays well from other illness. Pray that it will be a time of rest and of growing connection with wider family for Bow.
  • Please pray for the neighbour we wrote about at the start. Please pray that she will receive good care and recover from covid despite several underlying conditions. Pray that God will meet her and be her comforter as she mourns the loss of her son. For the wider covid pray situation in Thailand please pray that those most vulnerable won’t bear the cost alone.
  • While we are in the UK, the planned UNOH Bangkok apprenticeship programme will begin with just one participant to fit within covid regulations. Please pray for the staff here coping with changes of plan day to day. Pray that the apprentice is made to feel welcome and that she catches the vision for what we do in our projects and in the community. Please pray that Royrak production can continue despite sales being low and that all these precious people stay well and supported.
  • Please pray for my Mum, Anne, as she learns to live with cancer treatment. Please pray specifically that the chemo will reduce the disease enough to make surgery a possibility this year. Pray that symptoms can be managed and she’ll be protected in times of low immunity. Pray that she will have times where she is well enough to enjoy having family around but won’t feel it as a pressure. Pray for healing.

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