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A Survival Kit for Life

Man kneeling in prayer in the early dawn.
A Culture of Care

By Mereani Nailevu

During my time of fear, I realized that people around me helped me from the culture of fear to the culture of care…

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

Columban Lay Missionary Mereani Nailevu
Mereani Nailevu

During this global pandemic crisis, getting used to a new way of living does come with its challenges. Being confronted with this new reality has caused a lot of difficulties for everyone whereby it is affecting our lifestyle, work, mission, schools and the fear of getting in contact with others. So, the new normal is a crashing wavelike sensation as it comes over a lot of people on hearing the sudden news of their beloved ones departing to a distant sea where there will be on return. As this “new normal” continues its threat millions of people around the globe are facing exactly the same health worries whereby they are being confronted with fear, anxiety, worry, anger and sadness.

I faced this feeling when I woke up on a Saturday morning in a state of shock realizing that my body did not feel normal. I woke up sneezing, coughing, with an elevated body temperature, and I started to lose my sense of taste and smell. l started isolating myself from going out into the community and went for a test. The morning after my saliva test, I received an email with my result from the Red Cross laboratory and the first thing that I saw was my result was printed in red. I was so scared and a lot of unanswered 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 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 from the scriptures in 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 my great stress, anxiety, fear and worry, the best thing I did was to keep myself busy all the time by plowing 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 center of my tuner and regenerated 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 in 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 realized that people around me helped me move from the culture of fear to the culture of care. Their hospitality made me realized when “I” is replaced by ”We,” even ”illness” becomes “wellness.” Indeed, prayers, faith, trust and support have been my kit for survival.

Columban lay missionary Mereani Nailevu lives and works in the Philippines.