I was up at 7 a.m. last Sunday morning. Usually, I’m tucked away in bed, in my PJs, since my hometown church went to virtual worship services. My mom and I can easily sip coffee on the bed while watching Pastor Bob and our organist, plus special music volunteers, carry us into our spiritual moment for the Sabbath.
But last Sunday had me giving the message, with Pastor Bob taking a Sunday off, so I had awakened early enough to have some meditative time before getting dressed for church. It was also time for me to check my WeChat messages from China, this included notes from a former Peace Corp volunteer, Lindsey, whose messages are almost always uplifting.
But not that morning:
“Please pray for my family. My meme (grandmother), poppa (grandfather) and uncle have Covid. The hospitals are so full that she called an ambulance and they wouldn’t take her. The told her not to move except to go to the bathroom because her oxygen level is 80%, 90% if she is totally still. She’s very scared. There’s not much anyone can do. Our hospitals are overwhelmed and have a diversion order. They aren’t taking anyone and it’s a 12-hour wait in the ER.”
Lindsey’s family lives in South Carolina but Lindsey herself is in Korea, teaching English at a private pre-school in a city 3 hours from Seoul. She left for Korea in August after her Peace Corps volunteer position ended while she was in China, teaching English at my college. Due to Covid, in January, all Peace Corps volunteers were called back to the States.
Lindsey was able to spend time with her family before being accepted to a job in Korea, a country which had continued to accept applications for teaching positions in the country.
While America’s virus situation has escalated, in other countries (especially those in Asia), the governments’ pandemic plans went into effect quickly and swiftly. These helped to contain the virus and keep it under control. While Korea isn’t doing as well as China, it still hasn’t stopped a beat in hiring overseas’ teachers.
Lindsey is like Family
I consider Lindsey close to family. Our very short, 5 months together at my college had us sharing teaching ideas, enjoying campus walks, coordinating special English events (Halloween Activity Night was a huge hit!), and co-hosting English Center evenings. Lindsey was also extremely generous in helping me with my Open House Christmas parties and joining in to greet students, colleagues and friends for my special holiday gatherings.
Hearing about her family, with all their quirks and unusual personalities, made me feel like they were my own. We even had hoped I could have a meet-up with them when I visited Clemson, SC, which was very near where her family lived. I had hoped for a visit to that area in the summer but due to Covid, and concern of spreading the virus or getting the virus, I canceled that trip.
After Lindsey left for Korea, we stayed in touch via WeChat (China’s equivalent of Facebook). Her job was a challenging one but she soldiered onward and finally settled into a routine with her pre-school children, teaching full days from 8 to 5 p.m.
Hearing that the Covid situation with her family members was so dire really hit hard. Even though this same story had been told on the news throughout the country, especially in California where my niece lives, having first-hand desperation coming from my friend, Lindsey, brought the danger of this virus even more into reality.
How strange that my hometown remains somewhat untouched by virus fear, with school in session, restaurants still open for in-dining, our 2 local hospitals managing very well and some places not even requiring masks. My hometown public library, for example, has patrons able to freely wander about without any face coverings, used computers, and easily handle book. This is a complete mystery to me.
Lindsey’s message reminded me that other areas are suffering unimaginable heartbreak and we must keep those people in our thoughts. We might seem indestructible at the moment, but I see my small-town community can very easily go the way of Lindsey’s small town in South Carolina. We are not immune and need to be vigilant.
Giving words of support
After shooting off a text message of prayers and concern, it was time for me to get ready for church.
I was so very thankful she had sent her message when she did. I was able to personally share her prayer requests during the worship service that morning. Being able to vocally ask for prayers, rather than through the usual emails and newsletter announcements, made my Sunday morning sanctuary presence all the more meaningful. How grateful I am for technology, which allows us to still connect through livestreaming, Skype and Zoom.
Since that morning, I’ve waited anxiously for each day’s update.
On January 4, I texted, “How is your Meme doing?”
Lindsey: “Not well. They have been waiting at the hospital for 12 hours. Have not been seen by a doctor, a nurse or anyone. Just sitting in the waiting room. It’s terrible.”
From her Meme: “Have a COVID type of pneumonia. Was given a Covid test finally, Covid positive. Oxygen level only 93%. Poppa may be going home. His vitals are better than mine.”
Then January 5, Tuesday news from Lindsey:
“Meme got a bed and said the nurses are really doing their best and working hard”
Today is January 7, my Thursday evening. Lindsey is just getting up in Korea to begin her day and I am waiting to hear from her. After yesterday’s events in DC, I am in need of some encouraging news. I await her email and will share with you when I hear more.
Until the next entry, here’s wishing you a calm spirit, a quiet moment of reflection, and a feeling of peace (Ping An) for your weekend.