We’re not alone
How can we be light and salt in this pandemic?
As the plane landed at Haneda Airport, the voice of the flight attendant repeated this message several times apologetically: “Because of the COVID-19 situation, please stay at your seats patiently until the disembarkation arrangement is announced.” The plane was only one-third full of passengers, and everyone waited quietly. Because I had been wearing my mask for over 20 hours, my rhinitis was acting up and causing great discomfort to my eyes and nose. To offset the agony at that moment, I envisioned the comfort of my bed at my dormitory.
After getting off the plane, we underwent COVID testing and waited for the results before we were allowed through customs and immigration. It took quite a long time before the officers checked all the application documents and completed the process. By the time my documents were ready, all of the other passengers had already left. Two flight attendants had loaded my luggage on a cart to put it away since no one had claimed it. They were happy to see me. Just when I was ready to go, an airport staff member came over and asked, “Did you bring any food items?”
I thought about it and answered, “Just chocolate and chips.”
“Well, we need to examine them over there.”
My heart sank. What? I was already exhausted. . . and I still needed to have my luggage checked?
Noticing my expression, she comforted me, saying, “You have food in the luggage, and we need to check it. I will help you carry the luggage.”
Although we both had masks on, I could sense her warm smile, which put me at ease. When we got to the luggage inspection station, the lady was very careful not to mess up my stuff and was embarrassed to ask me to open my tightly tied bag, apologizing the whole time. When it was all done, she even helped me to zip up the bag. The staff who brought me there also came over to help me carry my luggage.
Their smiles lifted my heart out of depression. Then I found a handwritten note tucked in my suitcase. It said, “This may be the darkest times for all of us, but we shall get through this together! Please take extra care of yourself during the meantime. We are hoping to be serving you again in the future.” It was from the airline! It was truly heartwarming to receive a message like this to remind me that we are not alone in this difficult time. Japan is a country that, after all the suffering they have experienced, has learned the importance of being united to encourage each other.
At such a time when the whole earth is facing this pandemic, how should a missionary respond to God’s will? How should we care for the needs of this world? God gave me the answer through this experience.
The Bible says we should hold fast to the Lord’s command to spread the love of God in dark places and to walk with those in need. That’s how we can be the light and salt of the world. Even when you are wearing a mask, remember to smile with confidence. Even though social distancing is necessary, don’t stop greeting others warmly. The virus can’t block out love from God or his relationship with people. Just walk a few extra steps alongside others. Continue to care about people’s feelings, and help others when possible. His love is the best weapon to fight the pandemic. Nobody knows how things will progress or what will become of the world. But most important is not to lose the love of Jesus and his commands. As a song from Hong Kong says, “Let’s march over life, let’s sing when we’re tired.”1
I am grateful to be back in Japan. Now is the time to lean on our Lord to forge ahead.
1. From a translation of the school anthem of New Asia College of The Chinese University in Hong Kong. Lyrics of whole song here: http://www.kwuntung.net/tthp/friend/article.php?friend_ID=81