A Survival Kit for Life

While suffering with Covid-19, people around Columban lay missionary, Mereani Nailevu, helped him move from fear to seeing the culture of care surrounding him.

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10)

During this global pandemic crisis, getting used to a new way of living comes with its challenges. Confronting this new reality has caused a lot of difficulties for everyone as it  affects our lifestyle, work, mission, schools and the fear of spreading the virus to others.

As this ‘new normal’ continues to threaten millions of people around the world we are all facing exactly the same health worries and confronting fear, anxiety, worry, anger, sadness and in some cases grief.

I faced that feeling when I woke up on a Saturday morning in September, in a state of shock as I realised that my body did not feel normal. I was sneezing, coughing, had an elevated  temperature and I started to lose my sense of taste and smell. I isolated myself and did not go out into the community and got a Covid test. The morning after the test, I received an email with my result from the Red Cross laboratory and the first thing that I saw was that my result was printed in red.

I was so scared and a lot of questions ran through my mind as I asked myself “what if….” which drained me emotionally. After a while I received a call from the laboratory asking me if I was alright. Although I was worried and fearful, I pretended that everything was alright and I tried to deny the fact that I was sick which was not a good response for my situation and for the people I live with. I think I was afraid that I would be brought to the local isolation unit which is known to be uncomfortable.

My twenty-one days of isolation at home, looking at the four corners of my room, brought further stress, sadness, worries and other mixed feelings deep within me. I was disconnected from my activities in the ministry, attendance in church and there was nothing I could do except to pray within the four corners of my room.

I found a passage in Scriptures – Isaiah 41:10: “Do not fear, for I am with you, do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Difficulties do come in life, but to overcome it, I need to be strong and gain strength which only comes through trust in the word of God.

In times of great stress, anxiety, fear and worry, the best thing I did was to keep myself busy by ploughing my energy into something positive. I needed huge positive energy to fight against the negative forces. With prayers, I was able to deepen my self-knowledge and reach into the centre of myself and regenerate that positive energy for survival.

Although I was far away from home, I was so thankful that I was surrounded with people who had skills, ability and a measured approach to getting things done. Their guidance was very helpful to me during this time of uncertainty which helped me to tackle the sickness.

During my time of fear, I realised that people around me helped me move from the culture of fear to a culture of care. Their hospitality made me realise that when ‘I’ is replaced with ‘We’, even ‘Illness’ becomes ‘Wellness’. Indeed, prayers, faith, trust and support have been my kit for survival.

Columban lay missionary, Mereani Nailevu, is from Fiji. He is on mission in the Philippines.

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