Should I take the trip?
With any given opportunity, whether for ministry training or business trips, my husband Dudley and I always pray about it. We would always pray for God’s will and not ours. In 2020, I was given the opportunity to be part of an EQ (emotional quotient or intelligence) Summit in Weimar, California. When I left my home on Chuuk in the FSM (Federated States of Micronesia) on February 17th, I did not realize how long it would be before I returned.
On March 10th, I was on the way back from my U.S. trip and had a stopover on Guam for Women’s Ministries meetings that were scheduled through March 25th. Suddenly all meetings were cancelled due to the growing spread of COVID-19, although it had not yet reached Guam.
Do I lie?
I wanted to get back to Chuuk if possible. However, I had to complete the 14-day quarantine before I could fly. I was tempted to lie about my trip – at that time, if one was not in a COVID-affected area, like Guam, he or she could enter Chuuk. But I had been in California where there were already cases of the virus. I prayed and felt that God didn’t want me to hide my trip but instead complete the quarantine. Just a couple of days before my scheduled flight to Chuuk, the very first case of COVID-19 was detected on Guam. They immediately locked down, closing all borders to the FSM islands!
Where to go?
Cases of the virus shot up. The first COVID death was announced. More positive cases. My supposed two-week stay on Guam turned into three, then became measured in months, with no end in sight.
I never stop talking to God about the situation I was in. My husband was worried but remained strong. I would cry myself to sleep, thinking back to the moments when we made our decisions. Was it God’s will that I took this trip? Should I have said I wasn’t in a COVID area just to get into Chuuk? Satan likes to confuse me by second-guessing myself. God was my only hope and He was the strength that kept me going.
By June, some of the Guam government restrictions had eased, but Chuuk’s border stayed closed. Flights to the Philippines, where my sons were attending school, had resumed. I asked my husband if the Philippines was an option, but he said to wait for a while as Chuuk could open soon. I was stranded on Guam for nine months.
What could I do?
While waiting for a flight to Chuuk, I was given the opportunity to translate health lectures and Sabbath School lessons into my island’s local language of Chuukese. It kept me busy and I actually enjoyed the work.
In mid-July, an Adventist evangelistic series was planned, complete with COVID rules for gatherings. I knew of a couple on Guam, Mark and Ciolyn, who had also been heading to Chuuk and become stuck like me. I invited them to the meetings. Every night, they came. When the pastor made an appeal for baptism on the last night, I was hoping Mark and Ciolyn would stand. They didn’t. They wanted to study more about God’s truths, so I was even happier for them.
Brighten your corner
Just after the evangelistic meetings, COVID cases mounted, closing social gatherings and churches again. I didn’t want to read the news anymore because it only kept telling me I wasn’t getting back to Chuuk!
Instead, God led me to focus on other things. Carmen – my friend and GMM WM Director – and I decided to do Bible studies with Mark and Ciolyn. Every day for three months, we would study together over Zoom.
I also assisted with Women’s Ministries projects. Working with the WM leaders on other islands, we held our first-ever virtual WM conference trainings in Fall of 2020. Covering topics of violence, abuse, and pornography, the speakers included Amanda Anguish (a licensed Family Marriage therapist), Erica Jones (NAD WM Assistant Director), and Mithra Williams (WM Director Southeastern Conference of SDA). We also sorted 250 sets of toiletries, newborn pampers and wipes before shipping them to the different islands in the FSM, the CNMI, the Marshall Islands, and Palau.
God kept me busy while away from family. It’s just amazing how Jesus can be in everyone whom I was surrounded and loved by – I never felt alone.
Decisions to move
In November 2020, a situation changed with my accommodations, and I needed to find another place to stay. Again, I prayed for God’s leading. That same month, my husband said it was time for me to go “home”. I knew he meant the Philippines to be with our sons, MJ and Kyle, because Chuuk was not open yet. It was also the month when Mark and Ciolyn decided to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. All in God’s perfect time. Just two days before my scheduled departure, we witnessed Mark and Ciolyn (and three others) choose Jesus through the waters of baptism.
A time for everything
I left Guam, but not for Chuuk. I flew to the Philippines and was home with my sons, who were both attending the Adventist University of the Philippines Academy.
Being with them was just a blessing. But it was not all joy while I was there. My brother-in-law succumbed to the COVID-19 virus. It happened so fast.We were all heartbroken. Several months later, my dearest auntie and uncle, whom I called “mama” and “papa”, didn’t survive the virus either. With their deaths, I had to ask God why? I learned the importance of building genuine relationships with family and friends, especially during these times. It’s not about what you have, but who you have in life that matters! Death happens, but eternal life is promised! I look forward to that blessed hope that we can see our love ones soon!
I stayed with my family in the Philippines for a year and nine months. While waiting for a flight back to Chuuk, I made sure every moment counted. I joined the GMM Health Ministries F5 Fitness Challenge online – a month of group devotion and group exercise. Since then, I’ve become so motivated to be health wise – I started working out and learning more about good nutrition. I had quality time with my sons and my in-laws. I was able to attend my son Kyle’s high school graduation in-person, the school’s first in two years due to the pandemic. I spent quality time with my parents back in the province. Through all of it, I never stopped believing in His perfect timing to bring me back to my husband and daughter in Chuuk again. Indeed, it was God’s timing when my husband happily called in 2022 to say I could prepare for an upcoming repatriation flight to Chuuk in July.
I returned to Guam in order to catch the flight to Chuuk. My heart was filled with eager anticipation to see Dudley and my daughter Lana when I was confronted with another challenge. Although I was asymptomatic, my pre-boarding test was positive for the virus, preventing me from taking the repatriation flight.
Then I remembered my nine-month stay on Guam in 2020. I prayed, “Lord, I am exactly in the same situation as two years ago. All I know is that You love me. I have great faith that You allow certain things to happen in my life. You didn’t just bring me back here this far for nothing. I’m taking a chance on another repatriation flight in three weeks. So, while I’m here on Guam again, lead my way. In Jesus’ name, Amen!”
I was isolated for five days at the hotel and praise God, I left in good health. It was a blessing to be with loved ones again on Guam. They shared my excitement at a soon reunion with my other half and child.
When I found out that my dear friend Evangeline was working at Joy FM, I went to pay a visit. I was surprised to see Maverick there too. We three knew each other back in Chuuk. They asked if I could do some recordings in Chuukese for Pwipwi Solang radio station. I agreed. That night I prayed and asked, “Lord, is this why you allowed a little bump on my trip back?” For those three weeks on Guam, I was at Joy FM almost every day recording in Chuukese. They were very grateful that I could be of help to the radio ministry. I wanted to do more but had to say goodbye.
In His time, I got my negative swab test and was able to board the flight to Chuuk on Aug 1, 2022. Praise God!
I am with Dudley and Lana now, catching up on what I missed and making new memories. I wasn’t with them for more than two years, but I had golden time with our sons. It was all God’s will.
He allowed certain things to happen that I didn’t understand but caused me to just trust Him, no matter what the circumstances were. He molded me to be a stronger person of faith. God never fails to fulfill His promise, His faithfulness and goodness in His time! God is able to work out His wonderful will as you continue to love and trust Him, and seek His purpose rather than your own.
I believe God set His own clock specifically for me. God put me exactly where He needed me to be. All in all, in a pandemic or any crisis, God worked everything out in His perfect time.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)