Mennonite Mission Network partners in Ecuador and Peru are transforming financial aid into the “loaves and fishes” of groceries and rent assistance for people suffering from the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact.
A total of $4,000 is empowering Mennonite churches in Iquitos, Peru, and Quito Mennonite Church in Ecuador to care for some of the people who earn a living day-to-day and now must stay home.
MMN’s Executive Cabinet earmarked $20,000 on March 24 in emergency aid to help global partners.
The first requests came from Latin America, and as needs are identified, aid will be sent to other regions as well.
Mennonite churches in Iquitos received $1,900, said Latin America director Linda Shelly. The other $2,100 was sent to Quito Mennonite Church in Ecuador.
“We send our deep gratitude for this permanent solidarity with our church and for having your ears and hearts open before the [voices] of so many people who are suffering most from this humanitarian crisis,” wrote Quito church leaders Patricia Miranda and Alexandra Meneses.
MMN Ecuador partnership coordinators Peter Wigginton and his wife, Delicia Bravo, reported relief aid was needed for refugees and Ecuadorian families who attend Quito Mennonite Church.
“There are many people in the Quito church that live day-to-day or work on the streets, and now they can’t,” Wigginton wrote. “So we are trying to think of creative ways to help them, especially families with kids who need food.”
Jane and Jerrell Ross Richer, who serve in Ecuador, reported: “We made our first delivery of relief food to Jaimi and Maria’s family. This is [a] large, extended family. . . . We simply unloaded the food, waved goodbye and drove away. We left a note on one of the boxes explaining that the food was a gift from Mennonite Mission Network to help them get through the crisis.”
Pastor David Moreno manages the aid effort in Iquitos, where many people are without food in their churches and ministries in the quarantined city. He asked for about $29 per family for 65 families. More widespread shortages are expected in the city, which is only accessible by plane or boat. A group from the church purchased food in bulk and delivered it to about 60 families.
Workers return home
MMN international partners and long-term workers continue to minister in Latin America, while workers in Colombia and Guatemala with terms ending this summer returned home early on March 23 when options became available.
Mark and DeeDee Landes, who served in La Mesa, Colombia, returned home to Hesston, Kan. Sophie Miller, who served in the CASAS program of SEMILLA, the Latin American Anabaptist Seminary in Guatemala City, returned home to Goshen, Ind. Loren and Rachel Johns, who served as host/hostess and professor at SEMILLA, returned home to Stuart, Fla.
The Landeses and their three children came home two months ahead of their planned return.
“In our heads, this was the right decision for our family, and we don’t regret that,” wrote Mark Landes. “Our hearts, however, are still very much in La Mesa, Colombia. We had one full day to pack and arrange for our abrupt departure, so our goodbyes were limited. We didn’t get to do any of our ‘lasts’ before leaving.
“It’s clear we are hurting. Hurting because we were not ready to leave Colombia and hurting for the people, places and vulnerable situations we left behind as we returned.”
Miller was away from her placement when movement was suddenly curtailed in Guatemala.
“I left without my luggage, without saying goodbye to my host family and within 48 hours of the decision being made,” she wrote. “ ‘Hectic’ and ‘chaos’ are two words that describe what I felt in those hours. But going forward to the next 48 hours, peace is abundant.”