Dear Friends in Christ and Faithful Prayer Partners,
Marie and I pray you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy in this pandemic. We pray that God may grant healing to those who are sick, strength to those who care for them, and faith, comfort, and peace to those who are called to their eternal rest.
We thought we should update you on our situation and the situation in Papua New Guinea so that you can include the people there in your prayers. After the Coronavirus was declared a pandemic, the PNG missionaries met. Due to the aggressive nature of the virus and the limited care that could be provided by the health care system in PNG, it was highly recommended that those at higher risk (the elderly and those with preexisting conditions) temporarily relocate until the crisis has passed. At that point there was no evidence that the virus had entered PNG, but there was concern that if and when it did, it could be catastrophic. So last week we along with Rev. Ron and Mary Anne Rall evacuated to the US. Taiwan was an option for us, but Marie is scheduled for required medical tests since her thyroid was removed in 2014 and those needed to be performed in the US. Julie Lutz was considering relocating to Taiwan, but her passport was still with PNG Immigration as her visa was up for renewal so she remained in PNG with her son Anton. Roy and Judy Schache, who work with the Ralls, were trapped in Port Moresby for a while when Australia shut down their borders, but were able to get assistance from the US Embassy to pass through Australia.
In the meantime, PNG declared a state of emergency when a case was discovered in the coastal town of Lae. Schools have been closed and both air (both international and domestic) and public transportation have been shut down. Grocery stores in Mt. Hagen are completely empty and it is not clear when they will be restocked. Please keep Anton and Julie in your prayers since at this point they are not able to relocate. We are not sure when we will be able to return, but in the meantime I have some music and worship projects that I will be working on. We are also maintaining contact with people in PNG remotely as best we can. Upon the recommendation of the CDC we are self-quarantined. Thankfully so far we have no symptoms.
May God keep all of you safe and in His hands and use this crisis for His purposes.
Martin and Marie Dicke