Hello Hazelwood Friends!

I know we are all a little discouraged the coronavirus pandemic is lingering so long and safety precautions are still necessary to love one another. Please say extra prayers for our preschool and early learning center staff, especially our director, Angie Lopez. Angie is navigating a very difficult situation. The Delta variant is attacking children much more than did the earlier variants, and of course, the children are not eligible to be vaccinated yet.

We have had two more cases of COVID in the preschool recently, a student and a teacher. The teacher was vaccinated and always masked around the unmasked students, yet she still contracted it after the student had gotten infected from an outside source. This has resulted in several rooms being shut down for 10 days, at a loss of income for us and a loss of childcare for the families affected. (We have, however, continued to pay the affected staff.) Please pray also for the sick student and teacher, that they will recover with no lingering side effects as has happened to so many.

I also want you all to know I feel strongly that I should personally err on the side of caution when it comes to masks, distancing, and limiting the amount of time I am in an inside space with unmasked people. Even if we are distancing, we are breathing the same air, which the HVAC system is circulating to all parts of the room. (This is one reason why many, many congregations have returned to not meeting for worship together inside again.)

In February of 2020, I was very sick with another respiratory virus, RSV, which is very common among children. It is a rite of childhood that nearly 100% of us catch this virus before we are two years old. It is very contagious, and when adults get it, the symptoms are usually so mild that one does not even realize it is not just a common cold. However, for those who are elderly or whose resistance is down, it can be much more serious, even deadly. My experience was bad enough that my doctor felt an expensive test was worth it for a definitive diagnosis, and that’s how we found out it was RSV.

It really “took the wind out of my sails” and exhausted me both physically and mentally, so that my ability to work was greatly compromised, and I was out of commission for several weeks. I am not really worried about dying from COVID-19, although I realize it is always a possibility. I am, however, somewhat concerned about catching the virus, despite being vaccinated, and being incapacitated to some degree for months as a result, leaving me unable to serve you in the way God has called me to do.

Because my resistance to RSV was so low, I think it is only logical to assume my resistance to COVID-19 could also be low. I really do not want to take unnecessary chances – not just for myself, but also for all of you and for our shared ministry together. I have a strong call to be a good steward of my resources, and that includes my health and well-being.

This pandemic has forced me to adjust my “norms,” as it has for so many of you as well, and it is hard! It is hard to limit my activity in the larger community and to not eat at restaurants. It was hard to cancel our vacation plans that included flying and being around unvaccinated extended family members. It is hard to not see your full faces and smiles, and for you not to see mine, when we are masked on Sundays. There are a lot of hard things to deal with, but I am grateful God is with me in the struggles! I can pray continually, and I can strive to love like Jesus.

The Spirit of God empowers me to think and to act in ways that are for the good of all, including myself, despite it being hard. Please bear with me as I may not always feel that it is everyone’s best interest to enact for myself your personal preferences during the worship service. I remain hopeful that this time of hardship, too, shall pass – sooner rather than later! And I will remind you as I often remind myself, the hardships most of us are experiencing pale in comparison to those of our healthcare workers; please continue to hold them in prayer as well!

Shalom, Rev. Pamela

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