Hey everyone, it’s been three months since our last update and things have been a little crazy/ different down here.
We have continued to be in the legal lockdown which has been prescribed by the President of Colombia and also by our local government in Leticia. At this time, we are continuing with most of the biosecurity protocols that have been put in place since March. Masks are required at all times outside of your home. To enter most establishments, you are required to wash your hands, apply hand sanitizer and the bottom your shoes must be dipped in hand sanitizer or some type of sanitizing solution. In some locations there is a tunnel like thing that you need to walk through that sprays sanitizing solution all over your entire body. We’ve also had locations where your backpack or purse needs to be wiped down and cleaned. Other locations require face shields and eye goggles to be worn as well. For the most part, people in the Leticia don’t have problems with adhering to these guidelines. We still have a daily curfew in place and most locations of 2:00pm and most businesses are also closed by early afternoon. Some restaurants are now allowed to remain open for delivery later into the evening. That’s a “small” representation of our requirements.
If you’ve followed any posts on social media from people here in Leticia then you’ll know that we had a kind of a scare with our healthcare system back in April and May when the majority of our doctors had either quit or had to actually contracted Coronavirus. Our clinics were understaffed and in need of a lot of supplies and the city felt that national government wasn’t providing the necessary help needed for this region. Praise the Lord that a lot of that has change; doctors and healthcare workers have been sent from the larger cities to come here and staff the clinics. Large amounts of testing are being done and many medical supplies have been provided. A lot of churches and ministries have started food programs and health stations to help monitor not only the people in the city but some of the indigenous groups that live further out in the jungle.
Quarantine was recently extended to August 1. Extending quarantine keeps all the current restrictions in place along with the continued restriction of one person per family being allowed out of the house one day a week for four hours. Other than those four hours you are not allowed out and children and elderly are by no means allowed out. These restrictions make it difficult to accomplish much especially when a visit to the bank can take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours.
In our last update we shared about how we had to quickly move all the children out of La Aljaba and we had to close down most of our day-to-day operations. Since then, La Aljaba has been unable to continue with the normal program so the decision was made to use some of our monthly support for a food distribution program. Each and every month La Aljaba families have been receiving groceries, cleaning products and personal hygiene supplies. This has been a big blessing for the families and has been a blessing for our staff to be able to continue to work together and help others. The food program allows us to interact with the families in a more personal way. We can find out how they are doing and what other ways we may be able to help.
Our tutors have also continued helping our students with their “distance-learning”. This has been quite an adventure because the internet is hardly reliable and sometimes non-existent. Trying to communicate schoolwork from teachers to students can be very difficult. Teachers typically are communicating through WhatsApp(a messaging app that most people in Colombia use). They send study guides based on a particular subject with somewhat detailed information that students need to read. This becomes very difficult because a lot of students don’t have the necessary textbooks because their books are either still at school or they never had them in the first place. So many of the children are only learning by Googling answers. This is why it’s been very important for our tutors to continue communicating and helping our children even through this lockdown. We are so thankful for their dedication to our children and also so grateful we have permission to invite a few children to La Aljaba each day to do this.
The original plan was that school was supposed to reopen in August but we believe that this will not be the case. Especially since the quarantine was extended for the 5th time. There is a strong possibility school will not restart until February (the beginning of a new school year for them).
We are continuing to rely on the Lord for all upcoming decisions. We are definitely living in chaotic times but we take refuge in the fact that the Lord is sovereign and that He has authority over all!! We are so grateful for your continued prayers and support. We have not lost one single donor during this pandemic and we rejoice that the Lord continues to provide through each of you.
We look forward to the day when our classrooms are full of children again but until then we will continue to ensure they are fed, tutored through WhatsApp or in person and most importantly that they are prayed for.
Michael and Julie Hogue
The last month has quickly passed and we’d been quite busy. In the past month we started school, enrolled over 100 children, celebrated birthdays and women’s day. We’ve encountered multiple snakes invading our land, dealt with a popped tire on one of our vehicles, battled multiple illnesses running it’s course through all the children and staff, preformed yearly check ups. We’ve fundraised for our monthly donations and then went into countrywide lockdown because of Coronavirus.
The beginning of the school year is always more difficult than other times because we enroll many new children who are not accustomed to our routine, rules or structure; it takes a bit for everyone to settle in. This means a lot more work for our staff. Our tutors are not only caring and teaching our kids at La Aljaba but they also run to and from multiple different schools, all the time. They meet with the children’s teachers, ensuring that they are excelling, attending class, behaving, making friends, that they are healthy and much more. They’ve been seen cleaning wounds, tying shoes, teaching, spoon feeding kids, breaking up fights, running errands, decorating for birthday parties, playing games, and so much more. Their jobs are not done lightly and we are so blessed to have them!
While children have been adjusting to the routine and rules of La Aljaba we were able to celebrate all of the birthday kids from the months of January and February. All of the children came together for a time of games, music, prayer and of course gifts and cake. It’s so fun to see many of the kids experience cake for the first time! We are so grateful for all of our children and so excited we get to celebrate a year of their lives with them. I hope you enjoy the birthday video below.
We hosted our first parent meeting on the evening of our first birthday party of the year. We invited all of the parents of our children to La Aljaba and the tutors shared with them about helping their children through school. We taught about the responsibilities of the La Aljaba staff compared to the responsibilities of the parents. We also gave advice in helping their children excel. Really you could compare this meeting to new student/teacher orientation or an open house. We will have many more workshops for the parents throughout the year in hopes of being a good support system for them in raising their children.
We also completed our first of two health check-ups for the children for 2020. It is a great way to track our kids growth, monitor their health and it’s a way to administer parasite meds that everyone in Leticia needs to take every 6 months. We also take this time to teach our kids about hygiene and taking care of lice. Many people in our community are plagued with lice and with the humidity and lack of hot or clean water the lice seem to flourish. We work hard at teaching our kids how to shampoo them away, continuing the process of removing eggs and preventing them from returning. This is a very common hygiene practice in the jungle that we want to ensure all of our kids understand.
Two weeks ago we were able to celebrate International Women’s Day. The male staff at La Aljaba planned a whole ceremony for all of the women/girls. They showered them with encouraging words, gave them all their very own flower and Brazilian chocolate and prayed for them. We used it as an opportunity to show them the love of Jesus.
Lastly, what everyone is waiting to hear about, Coronavirus. Unfortunately, due to coronavirus all of our missions teams for the next few months needed to reschedule. We are all very sad they won’t be arriving but we knew that it is for the best. The week one of our teams was to arrive, Colombia closed its borders which would have trapped the team from the states here until May. Colombia has not only closed its borders but we are on complete lockdown for the next 20 days. Not only is it devastating that all the businesses and schools had to close but we even had to close La Aljaba. We are praying for the protection of all our children and the people of this city. We hope these strict precautions will prevent the spreading of the virus and allow life to go somewhat back to normal in a few weeks. We are praying for all of those impacted by the coronavirus and know how hard it must be to buckle down and wait it out. It is a strange time in our world right now but we are reminded of Psalm 23 and that God is our Shepherd and He will continue to watch over us.
All in all we’ve had a very good month, until Coronavirus that is;). Our children are learning and growing and most importantly they are hearing Gods Word! Thank you for your love for La Aljaba! Hopefully when you hear from us next month La Aljaba will be back in full working order. Below you will see our specific prayer needs and praises!
Michael and Julie
-Two snakes have been captured on the property before any children came across them.
-Our last pig was so large it filled our entire deep freezer full of meat which is a huge savings in our food expense.
-We’ve had several issues with our vehicles this last month and all have been repaired!
-Our sports court that was completed last year has been the biggest entertainment for our children. We even find our ‘cool’ teenagers out there playing games;).
-We were able to get almost all of our children into homes for this legal quarantine. We had less than 24 hours to get all the kids out of La Aljaba and everything closed down. Praise God for His help and for the amazing staff that worked together in a quick and crazy amount of time.
-Pray for the healing and stoping of the Coronavirus.
-Pray for the protection of our La aljaba children. We are unsure of their living conditions as they wait out this 20 day lock down.
-Pray for Leticia as they will greatly suffer financially without work for 20 days. We don’t know how they will provide food for themselves and their families. This can lead to a lot of thieving as a result. Pray for provisions for the people and for safety.
-Pray for our monthly support for La Aljaba, we are in GREAT need of 19 more monthly sponsors at $100 a month.
This blog is written to share the love of Jesus and how He uses us to care for the needs of the children of La Aljaba.