The year at our Boa Vista base in northern Brazil started out with big plans. There would be flights for mission partners who live in isolated communities, for translation projects, for indigenous leadership training courses, and for mission conferences. Some of our partners had flights on the calendar through December. They all got frozen the week of March 17th, when the local government locked down almost the entire city due to Covid 19. As providence would have it, almost all were in town that week, for the annual conference. To avoid any possibility of spreading the virus, they stayed in town, and flights almost stopped. The pilots soon spent a good part of three weeks in proficiency review that would normally have been considerably more spread out, but the aircraft were grounded initially, to ensure that the virus would be also.
We were able, however, to offer our aircraft for community service crisis relief flights, as requested by the government, and a number were flown after careful evaluation – for the Secretary of Education. Classes in the jungle were suspended, but the school lunch food still needed to be distributed. After all the appropriate sanitizing, we also flew in lots of soap, batteries, and generator fuel – to bring light to those dark nights. The indigenous people were clear with the pilots, they miss the missionaries who have lived with them for so many years.
At one village three kinds of malaria had broken out. Since the types and timing of medicine can vary wildly among them, and since you can be infected by more than one kind simultaneously, one of the resident mission workers was asked by the government to return and stay as a translator. Few of the local people know Portuguese, and almost none of the government health workers have time to learn the local indigenous language.
Another village sent happier news. Though the isolated young church was on its own for the first time, 20 people had professed their faith in Jesus and were baptized.