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Montana man reflects on living in Spain during coronavirus outbreak

Posted at 3:27 PM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-03 17:27:24-04

Matt Nelsen and his family have lived in Spain for nearly 7 years. Matt is a missionary with International Media Ministries. He’s still adjusting to how much things have changed in such a short time due to coronavirus.

“Spain is a very loud place normally,” said Matt. “And people are very physically close, when you greet someone you give them two kisses, obviously all of that’s gone right now and everyone’s basically confined to their homes for the last 46 days or so.”

Last week, the country began lifting restrictions. starting with letting kids spend an hour outdoors each day.

“We really like being outside,” said Matt. “Before this we spent a lot of time outside, riding our bikes, hiking around the trails that are around our town, so this has been a difficult adjustment to be inside all the time.”

The country has had more than 200,000 confirmed cases resulting in almost 25,000 deaths, one of the highest mortality rates per capita in the world.

“Most people are taking it very seriously and staying home,” said Matt.

Matt’s wife Rachel, who celebrated her 40th birthday in quarantine, is a registered nurse. Ironically her VISA won’t allow her to work in that field in Spain.

The Nelsen’s have been adjusting to living with the virus. Matt says one family member is allowed to get groceries and prescriptions and go to the bank. Like many overseas, they’ve been keeping tabs on what’s happening back in the U.S.

“Spaniards really do pay attention to American politics and they all seem to have an opinion,” said Matt. “Those are times I find it really handy to pretend I don’t speak Spanish.”

Through technology, they’ve been able to keep in touch with family members in Great Falls, Choteau and Cascade.

“When we see how serious this virus has been and how hit here before it really got serious in the states, I maybe surprised my family a little bit, freaked them out a little bit to say ‘Keep the grandkids away from the grandparents that kind of thing,’” said Matt.

Matt says having a healthy routine has helped through the pandemic and the stay at home orders have had some benefits.

“I’ve probably gotten more work, work done from here than when I’m at work being distracted by everybody,” said Matt.