Myrtle Alegado: When the world first heard about COVID-19 and countries started enforcing lockdowns, I don’t think anyone foresaw that we would still be in the same situation in 2021.
Back in March of 2020, personally, I was one of the individuals who kept asking, “How bad could this be? It’s only like the flu, right?” How wrong I was! It was only after hearing of people that I personally knew becoming ill and even passing away, that I was jolted to awareness. Now, imagine being a newlywed, already just trying to get used to married life, but now you’re doing that in the middle of a global pandemic. We’ll talk about that today.
Welcome to Happy Life, a podcast brought to you by INC Media that aims to help newlyweds navigate through the first years of marriage. I’m Myrtle Alegado, and I’ve been married to my husband, Paul, since 1999.
Inspiration to make your marriage thrive, you’re listening to Happy Life.
Myrtle: In January of 2020, the World Health Organization or WHO began looking into a cluster of reported pneumonia cases in Wuhan, China. On January 31st, 2020, the Emergency Committee or EC advised the WHO Director-General that “the outbreak constituted a Public Health Emergency of international concern.” And on February 11th, this new coronavirus was given a name: COVID-19. One month later, on March 11th, the outbreak was declared a pandemic. Life, as we knew it, changed drastically.
Today, let’s welcome Sean and Vanessa from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. They’ve been married since September of 2020. Hey there, Vanessa and Sean! We’re so glad you’re here with us today. How are you and things on the island?
Sean Condie: Hi, Myrtle. Things are good here, [I] can’t complain too much. But you know, it’s been the same for the past year.
Myrtle: True! At least we kind of had nice weather today, at least we did here. Was it nice there today?
Sean: It was, yeah. I would say it’s been pretty nice.
Vanessa Condie: I think we got a couple of weeks where we had, like, really hot weather in April, which was surprising. So that was good, we had like summer weather.
Myrtle: I agree! It was like, “summer is here, yes!” and then it started to rain again.
Vanessa: Yes. [laughs] Exactly, like the time the weather changed so much, drastically.
Myrtle: Well, for our listeners out there, Victoria is an hour and a half ferry ride away from mainland British Columbia. And honestly, it’s one of the most quaint and picturesque cities in Canada, in my humble opinion.
Sean and Vanessa, I mentioned how I was completely unprepared for what we faced last year, when we first heard about the worldwide pandemic. Can you share what your initial reactions and thoughts were?
Sean: I’m going to be honest, I was kind of in the same boat as you.
Sean: I didn’t actually take it as seriously as I thought it should have been taken seriously. But I guess here we are now, so it goes to show what I know.
Vanessa: Yeah, that’s exactly like me. In the beginning, it didn’t hit me as much. I was still going to work. And then when things started to shut down, and we started to get, like, know people that have had it, we were like, “Oh, this is really serious.”
Myrtle: And a year later, and to be honest, it’s almost like it hasn’t sunk in that this is our reality, you know? So here in British Columbia, let me just read what the current restrictions are at the time of this recording.
According to www2.gov.bc.ca, as of April 2021 the update is “The PHO (provincial health officer) has amended the gathering and events order. And now up to 10 people can gather outdoors. For example, in a park or a beach, or in a backyard residence. But for now, we’re not allowed to have indoor gatherings of any kind.
So, it looks like you can gather with a small group of up to 10 people but, like I said, only outdoors for now. And we are advised to stick to the same group of people, and to continue to be cautious, and wear our masks, and keep a safe distance.
So, Sean and Vanessa, how has the pandemic affected your day-to-day lives as newlyweds?
Vanessa: So me and Sean love traveling. We actually can’t, I guess, do a big honeymoon that we planned to. And so we haven’t had any holidays, so that’s affected us.
Myrtle: Aww, not even a honeymoon. Yeah, I didn’t even realize.
Sean: I mean, because we got married in September, the restrictions weren’t as strict as they are now. So we were able to go to Whistler, but our plan was the Maldives.
Myrtle: That’s a little bit of a difference, yeah. Whistler versus Maldives.
Sean: Slightly, yeah.
Vanessa: And we love to eat. So, like, eating out at restaurants is different. Well, we take takeaway now. I mean, obviously [we] stay home a lot more, a lot less step count now.
Vanessa: So, hitting that 10,000 steps is a big win if we actually do that once a week.
Sean: We also both work from home so that doesn’t help the step count at all.
Myrtle: I guess walking around your living room is not going to cut it either, huh.
Sean: No, definitely not, but we’re making do. You know, getting a little rounder and you know, healthier, let’s say.
Myrtle: More to love as I say.
Myrtle: What else do you do at home for leisure time? You know, you said that you both work from home, so do you also get to speak with family and friends via video conferencing or anything like that?
Vanessa: Yes, we definitely use Zoom and WebEx more, oh and Facebook Messenger. I contact my parents with that and our friends via all these social media platforms. And definitely, we’ve increased our usage on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus. It’s been like our best friends at the moment.
Myrtle: I completely agree with you. I don’t think any of us realize how much just, you know, eating out at restaurants or going for a stroll with friends outside, that we took for granted. So, you know, what have you found most challenging with the lockdowns and quarantines when it comes to your marriage?
Vanessa: I think, well for me, I’m more of, like, a social person. So it was harder for me, because I don’t get to speak to people and, like, meet up with people. But I think it hasn’t been as hard for Sean, because he’s more of a homebody. So, he likes being at home and playing his games.
Myrtle: Let me read something interesting we found on healthlinkbc.ca.
“Being ‘stuck at home,’ cabin fever can set in. You may feel trapped, bored, and irritable, and cabin fever is no joke. It can lead to depression or self-harm. If you live with others, it may cause you to lash out at them.”
Vanessa and Sean, can you maybe rate on a scale of 1 to 10 how cabin fever has affected both of you?
Sean: I think for myself, for cabin fever, I’d probably rate myself a 5 out of 10. I generally always liked being at home. I’ve always been kind of a homebody, but in general I do miss going to an office and like interacting with people at work and even at church. But we kind of mitigate that by going for walks on like a daily basis, or a drive just to, you know, ease the restlessness.
And we’ve also kind of broken up our week. So, during the week we’d go for a walk or a drive, we’d go to the grocery store on a certain day, we’d have online worship services on Wednesday evenings, and then like, let’s say, on Friday we’d go to the beach, you get some takeout and go for a walk.
Vanessa: I’m more so, like, it has hit me more. So, I would say like around a 7 out of 10. Especially when I have deadlines at work and it becomes really busy, I’m basically at my desk, or at one point at home, like constantly just the same place, the same spot. So it has made me a bit more, like, irritable, a bit more stressed, because I can’t have that home life and work life separation.
Vanessa: And I guess the more stressed I get, the more anxious I get. And then I don’t get to go outdoors, so it gets me less motivated, and the lack of interaction with people also gets me a bit more stressed. But, what actually has helped is definitely like the worship services. It gives me peace when I attend, so I love that. Even if I’m busy at work, I will set time to attend worship service, and that definitely has given me more peace.
Myrtle: Do you think being in lockdown together has affected how you communicate, and did that maybe result in more arguments?
Sean: In all honesty, I don’t believe it actually resulted in any more arguments. We’re with each other literally 24/7. We work in the house, but she has her own office space. I just use the living room. And even then, you know, we’ll be talking to each other throughout the day. So, we kind of got to know each other’s quirks, especially as newlyweds.
Vanessa: I think it has given us more time to communicate with each other. Whereas, because we spend this much time together, we get to talk to each other a lot more than we would usually. And I don’t think we’ve had any more arguments than like any newlyweds. We’re still getting used to living with each other. If we do have arguments, we normally say what bothers us.
Sean: It’s resolved right away.
Myrtle: For those of you who may be listening to this podcast for the first time, and if you’re presently experiencing some sort of cabin fever with your spouse, please give our previous episodes a listen. In episodes 1 through 5, we discuss topics like making adjustments, expectations, making decisions, and even disagreements.
So now, back to Sean and Vanessa. Has there been anything else that has significantly stressed you out in your first months of marriage, you know, especially as we deal with this pandemic?
Sean: I think for the both of us, the biggest, I guess, stress factor, well right before the pandemic, was the both of us moved to Canada from the UK. So, at least for Vanessa, it was a new country. And then we were basically at the process of looking for new jobs and basically planning for our wedding. So it was, you know, very stressful, but at the same time, we were able to find something rather quickly. So, I would say we were really blessed with that as well.
Myrtle: Oh, that’s awesome. And I was going to say, yeah, I think Vanessa’s accent gave her away a little bit, not being Canadian? [laughs]
Sean and Vanessa: [laughs]
Vanessa: Yeah, so definitely it was like the moving and the wedding planning last year, there was so many different changes in the government restrictions that we had to deal with. So, we didn’t know if our wedding could actually go through. So we did a devotional prayer every night to pray that we could still get married, and we were blessed that we were able to get married. And we had like the first live WebEx wedding in Victoria.
Myrtle: Oh, wow!
Vanessa: That was very blessed, and we had a nice reception [in] downtown Victoria, (and) had a COVID discount for it. [laughs]
Myrtle: [laughs] Well, that was a bonus!
Sean: It was.
Vanessa: Yeah, and my parents got to watch it virtually, so that was great.
Myrtle: So I mean, Vanessa, you moved from the UK, you know, during a global pandemic, you’re getting married, you’re planning all these things. What do you think got you through all of those challenges?
Vanessa: Definitely the faith that we have. We prayed nightly prayers. And especially the worship services, that were like timely worship services, that gave us that strong faith and courage that we needed. Especially with both of us, we’re married but we’re like very different personalities. But what we have in common is our faith, and I think that’s really important, and especially our love for our duties and our love for the Church.
Sean: It was our faith. We just trusted in God that He would, you know, provide us everything that we needed, and it would always be in His perfect timing.
Myrtle: Now, what exactly is this faith that Vanessa and Sean are speaking of? Here with us again is a minister of the gospel in the Church Of Christ, Brother Felmar Serreno. Welcome back, Brother Felmar!
Brother Felmar Serreno: Hello Myrtle, and hello to the Happy Life team.
Brother Felmar: Hello to our guests, Vanessa and Sean, and greetings to everybody who’s tuning in today.
Myrtle: So, Vanessa and Sean mentioned that they held onto their faith, you know, in the times when they had to go through the stress of wedding planning, and Vanessa had to move from another continent. So, what exactly is faith, Brother Felmar, and how is it helpful especially in these times of uncertainty?
Brother Felmar: You know, that’s a very great question, Myrtle. And first of all, we want to congratulate Vanessa and Sean for getting married in spite of the pandemic. You know, looking at it one way, that’s a big challenge, right? You know, getting married is a big challenge in itself, you know, planning the wedding, right, logistics and all of that, but doing so in the midst of the pandemic is a whole new ball game, as others say.
Myrtle: Yes, you deserve a slow clap. [laughs]
Brother Felmar: Yes! [laughs] So we congratulate you both, and we’re very happy for you both, and most of all, we praise God. And in addition to sharing your story, you shared with us something very important, that what got you through your experiences has been your faith. So in response to your question, Myrtle, I think it’s important that we address that—what is this faith that Sean and Vanessa speak of, which has enabled them to get married, to get through the challenges of the pandemic and they are able to enjoy their marriage or being married under the blessing of God? So, let’s get right to it now. What is faith—what is faith according to the Bible? We’ll read what’s written in Hebrews, chapter 11, verse 1, in this translation, the Phillips New Testament in Modern English:
Now faith means putting our full confidence in the things we hope for, it means being certain of things we cannot see.
[Hebrews 11:1 Phillips New Testament in Modern English]
Brother Felmar: So, faith means being certain of things we cannot see. For example, we cannot see the Almighty God. Because according to John chapter 4, verse 24 in the New King James Version, “God is Spirit…” In Luke [chapter] 24, [verse] 39, we can read that “… a spirit does not have flesh and bones…” So the Lord God, who is a spirit, who has no material form, is invisible to us—we cannot see the Lord God in the literal sense. Nevertheless, we have faith in the Almighty God; we have faith in His power; and we have faith in His promises.
Like, if I can ask Sean and Vanessa very quickly, in the moment when you were moving from the UK to get here to the west coast of Canada, and you were very aware of all of the concerns you had on your table [that] you needed to address—you know, the problems you were facing at the moment—could you foresee what the solutions would be, you know, when you were in the moment?
Sean: No, we definitely couldn’t foresee what our solutions would be at that time, but like we mentioned earlier with our faith, we knew that just trusting in Him would, you know, guide us to what we needed to do and where we needed to be.
Vanessa: Yeah, I agree. We couldn’t see the solutions when we were having the problems, but with our faith we know to trust in God.
Brother Felmar: You know, to all of our listeners out there, to all of the newlyweds who might be going through something like what was experienced by Sean and Vanessa, maybe you’re going through something right now where you can’t see what the solution will be. Well, hopefully we can take the message that we are learning about today and apply it. And what is the focal point of our biblical advice today? Having faith. So, when we are confronted with a problem, no matter how severe or pressing, and although at the time we cannot see what the exact solution will be, nevertheless we have faith in God that He can provide the solution.
Who is one of God’s early servants that we ought to imitate, because he had faith in God? Let’s read from 2 Kings, chapter 20, verses 1 to 6 in The Message:
Some time later Hezekiah became deathly sick. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz paid him a visit and said, “Put your affairs in order; you’re about to die—you haven’t long to live.” Hezekiah turned from Isaiah and faced GOD, praying: Remember, O GOD, who I am, what I’ve done! I’ve lived an honest life before you, My heart’s been true and steady, I’ve lived to please you; lived for your approval. And then the tears flowed. Hezekiah wept. Isaiah, leaving, was not halfway across the courtyard when the word of GOD stopped him: “Go back and tell Hezekiah, prince of my people, ‘GOD’s word, Hezekiah! From the God of your ancestor David: I’ve listened to your prayer and I’ve observed your tears. I’m going to heal you. In three days you will walk on your own legs into The Temple of GOD. I’ve just added fifteen years to your life…”
[2 Kings 20:1-6 The Message]
Brother Felmar: Hezekiah had faith that God could heal him of a life-threatening illness, even when it seemed like there was no more hope that he would live. And because Hezekiah had lived his life to please God, his prayer was answered. God even extended his life for another fifteen years.
But how exactly does a person come to possess faith, like in the case of Sean and Vanessa? We praise God that they got through their troubles, the challenges, by means of their faith. But maybe that’s the question our listeners are asking themselves right now. Where did their faith come from? How did they come to possess this faith? When does a person begin to possess true faith? Let’s go to the Bible. Let’s turn to the Book of Ephesians, chapter 1, verse 13 in the New King James Version:
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,
[Ephesians 1:13 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar: According to the apostles, it is after hearing the word of truth, or the pristine gospel, that can people come to believe or have true faith. Well, how can people in our time, the Christian era, hear about the word of truth or the pristine gospel? Still in Ephesians, this time in chapter 3, verse 10 in the New King James Version:
“to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places,”
[Ephesians 3:10 New King James Version]
Brother Felmar: So the wisdom of God, according to the Bible, will be made known by the Church. Well, which is this Church that’s being referred to which has the truth? This Church that will make known the manifold wisdom of God, which is what people need to listen to in order to have true faith? Still in Ephesians, we go now to chapter 4, verse 12 in the Norlie’s Simplified New Testament:
The common object of their labor was to bring the Christians maturity, to prepare them for Christian service and the building up of the Church of Christ.
[Ephesians 4:12 Norlie’s Simplified New Testament]
Brother Felmar: So going back to your original question, Myrtle, what is this faith that Sean and Vanessa have spoken of, which has enabled them to overcome the challenges that they have faced, this faith that has enabled them to get married even in this time of pandemic? According to the Bible, true faith is based on hearing and obeying the true gospel being taught in the Church Of Christ. And how helpful is faith in times of uncertainty? How helpful is faith to newlyweds in this time of pandemic?
Like what we learned from the example set by King Hezekiah, when a servant of God is confronted with a problem, even if it is drastic or urgent—faith will enable us to not give up. Instead, we will be able to use our faith to turn to the Almighty God; to ask Him to provide for us the answers to our problems, and blessings upon our home and our marriage.
Myrtle: It was wonderful, Brother Felmar, to have you here on Happy Life with us again, and truly the words you share with us about faith were enlightening.
Brother Felmar: Thank you again for having me here on Happy Life. And yes, we do hope and pray that the words of God that we have learned will enable all newlyweds to have true faith, and to have strong faith, especially during these difficult times. Thank you also to Vanessa and Sean for being wonderful guests on our episode today.
Myrtle: So, going back to you, Sean and Vanessa, how thankful are you that as members of the Church Of Christ, we’re still able to conduct worship services?
Vanessa: We’re really thankful to conduct worship services and hear the words of God. When we first had our online choir practices, it was strange at first having it virtually, because you usually have a lot of choir members around you to bounce off, like the voices.
Vanessa: So it feels good to perform again in worship services and always to fulfill our duties and to feel the Holy Spirit in worship services and choir practices. Even though we sing in our homes, we can feel the presence of our Almighty God and the Holy Spirit.
Sean: Being able to worship in our homes, it definitely helps relieve the stress of this life, of what’s going on around us. Like we mentioned earlier, we just completely relied on our faith to kind of get us through, just day by day, because that’s all we can really do. But we know that in our worship services, we can have our prayers answered, and it’s even more of a blessing to hear our Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo during our video streaming worship services. You can definitely feel that he always has love and care for each and every one of us.
Myrtle: What are the things that you pray about now?
Sean: So every night, we have our evening devotional prayers, and what we are asking for is to continue to bless our marriage, to continue to help us in our careers, and to help us in all our future plans and aspirations, including eventually, having a family.
Vanessa: Especially to give us the strong faith that we need to carry on in life and no matter what happens, for us to stay strong in our faith and in our duties.
Myrtle: And for somebody who doesn’t, you know, necessarily understand what having that faith means, can you try to express what it means to you to have that faith?
Sean: What it means to have that faith is just knowing that, if you’re asking for something that, you know, that God is going to be listening to your prayers. That no matter what, you always have Him by your side.
Vanessa: Yeah. I want to reiterate, we don’t know what’s going to happen to us in the future, we don’t know what will happen. But having that faith is to have that peace of mind, because God will always be with you and God will always bless you and guide you to whatever is His plan—and His plan is always the best plan. It’s something to give you peace of mind and to give you hope in this world and this life.
Myrtle: You know, Sean and Vanessa, we thank you so much for sharing all of your experiences and for being so open to discussing, you know, what your faith means to you. So, it was absolutely wonderful to have you both here on Happy Life.
Sean: Yeah, thank you very much for having us. It’s been a pleasure.
Vanessa: Yeah. It was really great talking to you today, Myrtle. Thank you!
Myrtle: As we heard in our episode today, having faith, holding onto God’s words, and knowing that God will answer your prayers definitely gives you peace of mind. I mean, in this chaotic world, isn’t that something we all want?
That’s all we have for today! To learn more about Christian relationships please visit incmedia.org. And if you’d like to say hi or send us a question, you can find us on Instagram: @happylife.podcast. Please also remember to share our podcast with your family and friends and all the newlyweds that you know!
Thank you from all of us here on the Happy Life team. We’re so glad you joined us today and hope we’ve all been reminded about the blessing of marriage.
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