“Lord, when will I see my market friends again? When will it be safe to shop for veggies again?” The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted me to stay home after several cases reached our province in Mozambique. In rapid succession, the national borders closed, halting all the trucks bringing produce from South Africa. Mozambique depends on imported food.
Just two weeks ago, life was normal. I was going three times per week to the open market to buy fresh papayas, bananas, avocados, coconuts, beans, peanuts, tomatoes, carrots, onions, potatoes, egg plants, yuccas, peppers and leafy greens. Out of dozens of women shouting, “Amiga! Amiga! Amiga!” I had begun to form close relationships with three. Ana, a very talkative woman, knows I am a missionary. She has accepted Christian tracts and prayers from me. Palmira and Constancia, my other two friends, sell their produce next to each other. I have also given them Christian tracts, and they smile when I talk of Jesus. I am concerned about my friends because they depend on their daily sales to provide for their families. With no way to get more fruits and vegetables, will their businesses survive? Will our budding friendships survive weeks of separation?
What if the Coronavirus enters our market? Culturally there is no social distancing here. Everyone is pressed together and touching. Another troubling reality for many of the rural families is their lack of water. Many households survive with only one five-gallon bucket of water a day for drinking, cooking and hygiene, which the woman often has to carry a long distance on her head.
My daily prayer is, “Lord, please keep the market ladies safe until we meet again!”