When COVID-19 caused Albania to lock down, OCMC Missionaries Nathan and Gabriela Hoppe had to get creative to continue their work. Though their ministries suddenly became much more difficult, they were also more necessary than ever.
The use of public and private transportation was banned in major cities, curfews were implemented, and the Church suspended public services. Fortunately, the Hoppes assisted people in getting organized to participate in Holy Week and Pascha from home via online services and created packages of activities for children.
Subsequently, the Hoppes creatively devised ways to help people continue participating in the Church as the lockdowns continued. They held weekly Bible studies and kids’ catechism online, Gabriela posted weekly Sunday school lesson videos on Facebook, and they even created a Facebook group where families could share pictures and updates and feel a sense of community.
Although the government has since begun to relax their restrictions, and some of these activities are being done in person again with proper safety measures, people still face many challenges. Parents are struggling to guide their children's lessons at home, and in some households, the children all share a single smartphone with a limited data connection to do all their lessons and schoolwork. Nathan shared that, in some ways, it’s more difficult now – as they navigate the transitions back to in-person meetings – than it was when they first locked down and people were not yet tired of online classes.
Gabriela continues to offer online lessons and provide supplemental crafts and activities through the Church magazine for children, so families can continue to participate in the Church. Nathan had been preparing to resume teaching in person at the Holy Resurrection Seminary in Durres, but recently COVID-19 cases started to rise again, and consequently classes will continue online. In addition to the rest of his work, Nathan recently completed his doctoral thesis and obtained his PhD!
Please keep Nathan and Gabriela in your prayers, along with their family and all their ministries, and click below to learn more or to support them: