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Message to Leena’s Friends – Covid-19 in India

Dear Friends,

On Tuesday morning, Mar 24, I talked to Leena to continue to assess how she is coping during the Covid-19 health crisis. Let me say upfront that Leena and her family are doing well. She did say that Aashika is experiencing small symptoms of her asthma.

Up until now, Leena and ServeTrust have experienced minimal impacts from Covid-19. In the US we were not hearing much news out of India and last week, ministry was business as usual for Leena. On March 8th, there were just 34 cases reported in the entire country of India.

However, the number of cases in the India has risen to 415 as of March 23, still a small number compared to India’s huge population. However, the national government is taking big steps to minimize the spread that they know is coming. On Sunday, Mar 22, a nationwide people curfew (Janta Curfew) was issued for the day to see if longer restrictions could successfully be put into place. Many states have continued the restrictions through the end of March, including Andhra Pradesh where Leena lives and ServeTrust operates. According to Leena, the curfew runs from 7:00 am until 9:00 p.m. and people can come out at 9:00 to shop for necessities.

Leena is complying with the restrictions, but only after two eventful days of not doing so. On Sunday she ventured out wearing a mask, and carried with her 100 masks to three villages to distribute them (she only had enough for one village), teach them about care during the health crisis and to preach focusing on Psalm 91. She spent Sunday evening with the people living at the ServeTrust Center. On Monday she tried to visit a new village, but she and her pastors were surrounded by the angry villagers who shouted at them, threatened to call police and chased them out of the village. So now, Leena is spending her days at home being in phone communication with the villages and the ministries, praying, and listening for God’s answer to her question, “How can I help?”

The biggest need as Leena sees it is increased availability of more protective products for the people – masks and hand sanitizer. She says the government is informing how people can take care of themselves, but they are not distributing materials. And stores are running out of supplies. This is especially risky in India which is so densely populated and poorly housed, often with many family members living in one room. Leena has a wholesale license to stock the grocery store, so she spent Tuesday on the phone with wholesalers trying to purchase masks. She has discovered that the costs of these materials are rising with demand. Earlier Leena could buy a mask for 3 rupees. She says they now cost 50 rupees.

One idea that God has placed on her heart is the idea to make hand sanitizer and washable masks to provide to the people in the villages, students and families, those living in the ServeTrust Center, etc. She is going to be talking with the doctor on Wednesday about this idea and praying about how to make it happen.

We asked Leena how you could be specifically praying for her and the people. This is what she said:

1). Pray for all countries in the world as we all face this crisis. She asked me what we and you are experiencing here in the US. She is praying for us.

2). Pray for a way for Leena to get protective gear to her people who cannot get it.

3). Pray for the government and NGOs to provide help to the people.

4). Especially pray for protection for the children.

Thank you for your care for Leena and for your continued prayers and financial support in these unsettling and uncertain times. We join you in praying for our world, for India, for the US, for our states, for our cities and the leaders of all as we navigate this new normal.

Peace,

Susan LeGrand for The Serve Trust Team

Rachael Cruickshank, Tony Cupit, Byron Freemyer, Lea Freemyer, Joanne Hendricks, Chris LeGrand, Susan LeGrand, Fred Nobles, David Rochester,, Mary Margaret Wallace, and Robert Whitten