Growing up in the Kingdom of Tonga, I was that one child in the family who would get sick first whenever a disease outbreak in the village. My mother even had me take a daily dosage of herbal preventative medicines. However, when they did not work, the only over-the-counter medication available to take was Aspirin, as they helped control my fevers.
One can imagine an outbreak of measles, mumps, chickenpox, pink eye, and the flu. I was among the children in our village who first got sick. I was seventeen years old when Dengue Fever broke out on the island, and I was the only one in my family who had it. Dengue fever is a devastating illness with fever and body ache, and it took a long time to heal with no medicine available for it.
My mother had shared what she did to keep me alive to adulthood. I was sick too often that she had nothing that helped except a cold bath to keep my fever down. She believes that I was healed because of the prayers of her faithful Class Circle in the church.
When I arrived in Oregon, the first thing my brother did was take me to Rite Aid Pharmacy. He wanted to buy some Tylenol for me just in case I might get sick. I was surprised to see so many over-the-counter drugs that would help me with many ailments. The Tylenol and flu shots had kept me healthy through the years. But when the pandemic hit America, I was aware of my fated prone to diseases. I followed the health guidelines of masks and sanitizing, but I still got sick.
Although I got sick with Covid-19, as you know, no medicine can cure it. I thought about my late mother and her reaction if she were still here and what herbal medicine she would brew for me to get better. However, because I am in the United States, I found I had many options to do that would help my body fight the disease. Though I had no appetite to eat, I drank nutritious soup, beverages, and vitamins to keep my body strong to fight the virus. Also, I still have a church family around me, with prayers of healing.
Because I come from a small country with minimal resources, The United States is a country of plenty. In less than a year from the pandemic outbreak in the US, we found vaccines that work. Aside from health works and researchers, I was most intrigued by the internet and its improved communication capabilities. During the country’s lockdown time to control the spread of the covid-19, we provided and conducted online virtual Sunday worship for the church’s people and the public at large. We conducted church meetings, Sunday school classes, Christian Education, coffee hours, and weekly support groups on zoom to offer people opportunities to connect. We moved towards Virtual Ministry with Sunday worship and conducted committee meetings and Christian Education classes on Zoom. Physically we were distanced. Socially we were more connected than ever. Thanks to Zoom, Youtube, Smart Phones, computers, and tablets.
While we advance in faith with our stage two worship plan, the Re-Entry Team made weekly updates and adjustments to our health guidelines to safely conduct in-person Sunday worship. Worship gathering on Sunday is central and the heart of the ministry of the church. I learned in this pandemic time the importance of making personal contact with one another to extend support and prayer for one another. This week a most caring friend texted me with this Quaker phrase “I’m holding you in the light” “I am holding you and your husband in Divine light and love.”
When I read Ephesians 5:13-14 this morning, it says this “…but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
In this passage, Paul informs that the light of Christ reveals all so that we can find our way to Christ. We live in a world that is not free of all kinds of evil, natural or Human-caused disasters, dangers, disease, scammers, cheaters, loneliness, bullies, injustices, homelessness, hunger, and many more you can add to this list. But in this past year, we lived in uncertainty that violates our usual ways of doing things. Many of us were in a state of pause, waiting for the pandemic to disappear, but it comes back with a more potent variant. In faith, we have continued stage two in-person worship. We continue to wear our masks to ensure protection for one another. We have active prayer groups and zoom weekly support groups available for the church’s people to connect from the comfort of their own homes to visit and share stories.
The Open Door Churches have active prayer groups to support one another in prayers and also phone visits. We live this faith norm of sharing the Light and Love of Christ virtually. Like I said prior, although we are physically distanced, socially, we are together and feel more vital than ever.
I want to offer this reading from Ephesians 5: 15-21. Paul has a message of hope, joy, and thanksgiving where we sing songs of praises and shouts of thanksgiving with and from our hearts and not with our voices.
Be careful then how to live, not as unwise people but as wise, making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. v.15-20