Sister Ruthina Francis, a Daughter of Jesus in Africa, tells us about her experience of the virus without borders.
What a joy after a provincial assembly, rich in sharing, reflection, and celebrations, to leave Cameroon for the Ivory Coast, in order to meet up again with my new mission.
Before traveling, we were obliged to do a PCR test one day before our departure. It was on January 7, 2021, at 5 :45 p.m. precisely, at the community of Mvolyé, in the capital Yaoundé, surrounded by some Sisters, that all my plans were upset. The results of the test had turned out to be “positive”. I was stunned, while the Sisters looked at me with sadness and fear. For a few seconds, we were all silent. My first reaction was, “They made a mistake at the laboratory.” I doubted the reliability of their analysis. I was anxious and could no longer think. This allowed me to understand the fragility of mankind in the face of this virus.
The poverty of our humanity unveiled
Completely destabilized by fear, I thought of the thousands of people dying from this disease around the world, AND ME? I felt emptied of myself, I was full of anxiety because my regular cycle was broken. A certain guilt towards my Sisters dominated me, plus the anxiety of passing the virus on to them. I also thought about the person who had passed the virus on to me and who could still pass it on to others. However, I was anxious but not broken, I had to let myself be transformed.
A time of modification and transformation
In all this confusion, the most crucial thing was my physical recovery. It was urgent to prevent the situation from becoming worse. I confidently healed myself using the natural herbal medicines of Monsignor Samuel Kleda the Archbishop and herbalist in Douala, Cameroon. At the same time, I had to live in isolation, practice barrier measures, take the medicines, cut off physical contact from external relations, let myself be served by the Sisters while being afraid of worrying the others.
At the same time, I made an effort to seek and find the peace of God, “which surpasses all intelligence”. In this period, prayer had an important place because the whole planet is affected. It was a time of prayer for :
- the people who carry the virus but who cannot treat themselves because of lack of means.
- the thousands of victims who die every day, sometimes alone.
- the families confined to their homes.
- the elderly people isolated in the care homes.
- the people who have lost their jobs.
Without forgetting prayers for the nursing staff who, day and night, take care of the people sick with COVID 19 in order to relieve their pain and suffering, and to help them regain good health. They are like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry his cross. I also prayed for the researchers who are working towards an effective vaccine.
A moment of purification
This moment has allowed me to live day after day with confidence and humility, letting the Lord do His work because I am not in control of my life. All of this while trying not to let anxiety undermine my well-being. The words written by Mother Marie de St. Charles in 1877 inhabited me: “Let the good Lord strip you of yourself according to his good pleasure and purify you according to his designs“. They were a good lesson for me during this period, but one that required patience and help to endure difficult moments and to properly evaluate moments of doubt. It was also a call for me to react well when an unexpected event occurred.
The COVID 19 crisis is full of anguish and stress but one thing is certain, even in “the valley of death“, the Good Shepherd is with us. I can say with “St. Paul who writes in his letter to the Philippians 1:21 “Christ is my life, and death is my gain“.
The Sisters of the community of Mvolyé surrounded me well
despite the barrier gestures.
Bravo to all of you who helped me to live this moment of isolation
as best I could!!
Sr Ruthina Francis dj