One of my favorite Mandarin phrases is 加油 (jiā yóu). The first character ‘加’ (jiā) means "add" and the second character ‘油’ (yóu) means "oil”. 加油 means "to add oil" or “refuel”. In Taiwan, you will see the sign, ‘加油’ in gasoline stations but 加油 is also an expression of encouragement and support such as "Go!"; "Come on!" and “Keep it up!".
When the coronavirus began to spread in Taiwan, the first thing I witnessed was the panic buying of face masks, alcohol sanitizers, and toilet paper that caused shortages in many stores. Shortly after, other activities including masses were postponed or canceled, particularly in Hsinchu City where I live. I felt sad and worried. I felt that the coronavirus was a serious public health concern. I asked God in prayer how the faith of Catholic migrants and immigrants would be nourished without the sacraments, particularly the Sacrament of the Eucharist and Confession. At the same time, we won’t be able to receive the Body of Christ. Most of the time, I stayed in my apartment due to the restrictions. Every time I ventured outside the apartment, I became more aware of the things I touch, the places I go and the people I encounter. I’m always wearing a face mask and carrying hand sanitizer with me for protection. I feel uncomfortable doing these things as I'm not used to it but, I have to in order to protect myself and others from the virus.
|Masses in Taiwan resumed on May 24, 2020|
I watched a documentary about the frontline workers in Wuhan, China during the lockdown. Most of the doctors and nurses couldn't go home because they needed to work overtime to save the lives of those infected by the virus. Some ended up contracting the virus themselves, especially the doctors. This scenario was not only happening in Wuhan, but also in other parts the world particularly in the US, Spain, Russia, UK and Italy. I read in the news that some doc-tors have died in the Philippines. I salute all the frontline workers who are doing their best to serve the people.
I am worried about the elderly like my parents as they are most vulnerable to the virus. I'm afraid of what's happening in the world now. Many people have no income. Many people are hungry and afraid. I'm always praying to God to stop this pandemic. I prayed not only for myself and for my loved ones but also to all the people who are suffering. I don't know how to help my loved ones and other people. All I can do is pray. I wish I could do something to lighten up the mood.
One day, I passed a gasoline station and saw the word 加油. I smiled. I realized that if the drivers go to the gasoline stations (加油站) to refuel their vehicles, then the people who are experiencing down moments in their lives also need to refuel their strength to keep going. This is a new realization for me. I decided to shift my perspective of letting go of my worries and frustrations to accepting the new reality.
|Marea (lower left corner) during an online reunion with friends from MOL|
I am still blessed because I am staying in Taiwan where the government is doing their best to prevent the spread of the virus. They put in place strict regulations for buying face masks and alcohol sanitizers which I find very effective. We do not have lockdown and I can go out and do my errands cautiously. I appreciate the presence of my fellow lay missionaries in the apartment. We regularly share our feelings and thoughts about what's happening in our home countries and our families. Also, I appreciate the value of prayer time. This is a time where I connect to God most and find peace. These are what matters to me now. I am thankful to God for giving me this beautiful insight to lighten my mood despite the problems and difficulties. I am always telling myself, "加油! 加油!"加油!" (Go! Go! Go!) to remind me that life is still good and God is still in control.
There are a lot of things to be worried about but there are also a lot of things to be grateful for. I chose to be grateful and it helps me keep going. I surrender to God all my worries and frustrations and this helps me trust Him more. He will make a way. Just believe and keep going.