Even after nearly two full years, covid continues to pepper and sometimes dominate headlines. It has come to our household this fall, too, along with several other cold variations. In fact, our children (and their caregiver parents) have been out of school more than they’ve been in school this year.

On September 22nd our family became, as far as we know, both the first deployed ELCA missionaries and the first teachers at our bilingual high school this academic year to have a confirmed covid case. Unlike so many people, we were very fortunate. Both the children had mild cases, and Nick’s was a mild breakthrough case (thank you, vaccine!). Naomi had no symptoms at all, and even tested negative (again, thank you, vaccine!).

Because rules and regulations are constantly changing, and there were no set procedures for how and when to conduct hybrid teaching, everyone was a bit unsure about how to approach our isolation period, but we spoke with and emailed many helpful people, who aided us in navigating the procedures and paperwork.

Our family was in isolation 10 days. By the grace of God we had just stocked up on several necessities and our memories of the time are full of the kindness of our students, colleagues, neighbors, and friends, including several who left fresh produce, bread, and a well-timed bag of activities for the children; potty training success for our new three-year-old; making fresh butter (Naomi has been reading Little House in the Big Woods with our six-year-old) and granola; and gratefulness for a large apartment that allowed the children to run around while outside was off-limits.

Our encounters with illness have not stopped there this school year. We feel both its positive and negative effects. Grateful our children have been only mildly sick, frustrated they have been coughing and snotty so consistently it’s kept them home yet another week. Appreciating the peals of laughter ringing through the house, angry we’re not fulfilling the purpose we’re here for, teaching English.

Although really, our mission, God’s mission, is greater. We may not be teaching language as much as we wish, but we are showing our students that it is important to shield the health of others and stay home while sick, that family is more valuable than work, that homework deadlines can and should be flexible in times of crisis.

So many things are out of our control right now. There is still a lot of uncertainty about how the pandemic will progress in Slovakia. As of October 20, only 45% of the population is fully vaccinated and just under 40% of the available hospital beds for covid patients are occupied, with the latter number rising steadily.

We pray now for health. Health for our family, health for you, health for Slovakia, health for the US, health for the world. Physical health, mental health, emotional health, spiritual health. In Jesus’ name we pray for health. Please join us.

Nick and Naomi are teaching in Slovakia with their children as representatives of ELCA’s Global Mission program. They’ve asked the people of PoP to contribute towards their mission; prayers and messages are always welcome, though if you’d like to contribute financially, just mark SVEHOLM on the memo line of your check to PoP.