Sixty-nine days ago I didn’t know the meaning of PPE.
That was the day before Peru’s Covid-19 quarantine began, and information about PPE was just beginning to blast into the news. Suddenly everyone was talking about PPE, wondering if there would be enough to get people through the coming crisis. I wondered if I should worry, too, especially since I didn’t know what a PPE was. So I looked it up, and discovered that the letters stand for Personal Protective Equipment. Since the picture above is what came to mind once I knew the definition, I figured I didn’t need to worry… at least not yet.
Before long, the Peruvian government began mandating the use of masks for anyone who left the confines of their homes. Of course, we were only allowed to go out to buy food or medicine, but after a week or so I needed to stock up, so I stepped out in my new look. It was kind of an adventure at first, and I was happy to have a good use for that leftover fall leaf fabric that made up my kitchen curtains!
One morning, when the curtain mask was in the laundry, I tried out a different look. Halfway down to the market I discovered that this face covering, while quite pretty, really isn’t convenient. I had to pull it up over my ears in order to keep it from falling below my nose, and that, coupled with the hot Andean sun and the fact that it also covers my neck, really made it too miserable to wear a second time! (I’ll just save this one for cold nights of camping when we’re finally able to go out trekking again.)
Others in the family haven’t been quite as upbeat about the need to use PPE, but since the government has made this mandatory, we’re obeying the orders.
A few weeks into the quarantine, using PPEs, pretty or not, no longer felt like an adventure. After all, it’s really hard to breathe while walking uphill and lugging 20 pounds of groceries at an altitude of 10,000 ft.above sea level! We also started seeing more ominous uses of PPEs by government officials in the streets of Huaraz.
By the time Peru’s original 2 week lockdown had been extended twice, we were tired of PPEs …
and staying at home
and missing our friends
and watching terrible things on the news.
…on day #45 the boys and I began our homeschool classes by reading this Bible passage:
Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord!
It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again,
and it is a safeguard for you.
Philippians is a book that focuses on JOY, but it was that last phrase in the verse that jumped out at me on day #45.
…it is a safeguard for you.
Although I don’t really like it, I know the Peruvian government’s mandate that we use face masks is an effort to safeguard us from the Coronavirus. But in this verse Paul offers us a much more remarkable (and enjoyable!) piece of PPE …
This “mask” will look amazing with every outfit that I wear, and not just the clothes that match my kitchen curtains. It won’t slip down below my nose and make my neck sweat, or suffocate me as I trudge up the hill with 20 pounds of groceries. This mask won’t hide a smile or muffle a voice or squelch a prayer. It won’t mute a kind word, but I’m pretty sure that it will go a long way towards keeping the unkind, complaining words from escaping my lips.
And on day #68 of this lockdown, I need that kind of a safeguard. It’s the mask that will help me get through the rest of this uncertain time.
I’m grateful for Paul’s reminder of this most remarkable PPE.
And guess what?
It will look just as nice on you as it does on me!