Capital Quarantine

Covid here is continuing to grow and spread. Each week the government has tried to combat its spread by issuing further sanctions. On Wednesday of this past week, the Prime Minister declared that the City of Phnom Penh would be shut down with no exceptions other than authorized workers, food deliveries and food stores. One can only leave to get groceries in not more than groups of 2. One can only go to get groceries up to 3 times per week. To enforce the directive, the military and police are on nearly every corner with a blockade. They only let pass those with proper credentials and purposes.

A quick trip Wednesday evening to gather a few vegetables as the city braced for the lockdown. The store was full of anxious shoppers. Lines were hours long, extending from the registers to the back of the store. Reports from others were the same. A normally 10 minute shopping trip took up to two hours. Folks initially didn’t know if they would be able to shop for the two week shutdown. The shutdown will likely extend past two weeks. We are concerned for the many shop owners and folks who will be unemployed during this event. Most folks shop every day. Many only make enough to buy food for the following day. This will hurt thousands of people immediately.

This morning, the local paper noted that a high ranking official in the government was arrested with 2 companions for violating the lockdown. He has been expelled from his job in the government, with the possibility of jail time and fines. The streets are eerily quiet. It is clear that the government wants to try to control the spread of the virus.

Covid protection supplies being donated from Dr Warner, a missionary here to the director of Ksach Hospital in Kandal province. This photo is just outside our office at the Service Center. The Service Center houses translators who are constantly translating materials from SLC into Khmer. It also is where one can buy Temple Garments. Printed materials arrive here from Salt Lake and are distributed. Accounting, Purchasing, and MLS for the wards and stakes is done here. There are generally no finance clerks or membership clerks in the units. The Service Center fills those gaps until the units become stronger.

We have tried to stay busy this week by uploading documentation of our projects. We have been doing work online to complete two more contracts for schools in Kampong Cham. If we can catch a break we hope to start these two projects in the coming weeks. Unfortunately our current projects are coming to a stall. Suppliers are closed, the contractors are limited in the work they can do. Several projects are very near completion. Our concern is that the delays may continue if the virus doesn’t slow down significantly.

Khmer New Year Celebration occurred Thursday, Friday and Saturday. It is more important here to Cambodians than the Western new year or the Chinese New Year. Nearly all Khmer households put a display of food similar to this in front of their homes during the new year. At night the candles are lit. It is an offering to the ancestors. The trimmed coconuts are found on everyone’s table. This display is just outside of the elevator at our building.
Intersections are now blocked. Police review ones papers to insure they are authorized to be out on the streets. This picture is taken from our 7th floor window. This is normally a very busy intersection. Days after this photo, it is even more quiet. The audio noise is construction going on next door. They are pumping concrete to a new building. Construction is permitted in this lockdown.

Our efforts now will focus on the missionaries and the members. We spend time working with them and encouraging them. We have a team of 8 that arrived last week. They are delightful. On Saturday, Sister Stone led a Zoom meeting with them as we played a match game using a variety of pictures from the Liahona. She ran the match board, and I ran the camera for the zoom picture. A fun time…! We met with them today as they conducted a wonderful Sacrament meeting for us on Zoom.

Just outside our door, we get these fun little visitors. These little guys were very cautious to receive our gift of food. After several days they have become more confident and even stand on the rail trying to get our attention if the food runs out. It is customary for people to catch them by the dozens and sell them. If you buy a few and release them, you will have good things happen to you…Occasionally we will also get a pair of pigeons. The pigeons were obrought here years ago by a queen. She loved it the sound of them where she had visited. Now the populate the country.

We love our time here. We think of the many ways the Spirit is touching lives here. We know that God is near. Always near. He knows our thoughts. He loves us all…every one. We know it.

We love you all. We love you!

More to come…

Elder and Sister Stone

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