News World Special: Accepting the New Normal
In part two of the INC News World Special, families share the losses they experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the devastation of seeing loved ones succumb to the illness. And as coronavirus cases rise again in different parts of the world, INC members learn to adapt and accept the ‘new normal.’ See how they’re putting their faith and trust in God, no matter what.
Visit the INC News World page to watch the full stories featured in this episode.
News World Special: Accepting the New Normal
RICHIE FERRERA: Welcome back to INC News World. I’m Richie Ferrera, coming to you still from the Los Angeles area as we continue this special episode marking the 106th Anniversary of the Church Of Christ.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: Yes, and I’m Naomi De La Cruz, also sending our anniversary greetings from Anaheim, California. We’re taking a look at the seminal event of the last year that has united all of us around the world: the coronavirus pandemic.
RICHIE FERRERA: We’ve all had to say goodbye to our old sense of normalcy, some parts of our lives will simply never be the same. And for some families, that fact weighs heavy.[VIDEO START]
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: We all heard the statistics in the news about the eldery being most affected at first, and about the pre-existing conditions contributing to deaths.
EVSON REY CAPUNO (NURSE – LOMBARDY, ITALY): Patients who aren’t able to survive are usually old patients. There are times when they will never see their loved ones again once they enter the hospital.
JENNIFER POLINTAN (ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): We had made the decision then to call 911. You know, just seeing him wheeled away in the ambulance by himself, and not knowing what would happen after that. Not being able to hold his hand or go with him was just, you know, terrifying. He might not make it to the next day, he might not even make it twenty minutes. So you have to make the decision if you want to put him on a ventilator or not. The chances though of him surviving on a ventilator are very low.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: But entire families, not just the elderly, fell victim to the disease, and threw families into whirlwinds of fear.
JENNIFER POLINTAN (ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): My mother showed symptoms first. My husband and my daughter had no sense of smell, no taste.
KAREN MANGUBAT (HUSBAND SENT TO ER DUE TO COVID-19 – QUEENS, NEW YORK): It was the perfect time, it was the window for us to actually save him.
So I asked her if I could go into his room and actually be the one to explain to him what was going to happen. So very simply, I told him, “They’re going to put a tube inside your throat, but you won’t feel [anything] because you’ll be sedated.”
REY MANGUBAT (SENT TO ER DUE TO COVID-19 – QUEENS, NEW YORK): I actually remember her telling me that. That, you know, I’m going to get intubated.
BROTHER BERNARD DAOS (MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL – SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA): My mom’s birthday, I couldn’t reach anyone, couldn’t reach anyone in the house. I called my father, called my mom, I called my brother, called my sisters. Until I finally got a call Wednesday morning. And the call was because my dad was being rushed to the hospital.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: Some didn’t come home. And it could not prepare us for the grief and the loss in our communities.
ALBERT GUERZON (FATHER DIED FROM COVID-19 – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): Yeah, he was… forgive me for not being the most articulate at the moment. But, um… he was a good man. And sadly, this past Wednesday, he passed due to COVID complications.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And it wasn’t abnormal to see a single family quickly lose multiple family members to the disease.
BROTHER BERNARD DAOS (MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL – SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA): Looking back now, I really wish we kept talking about it more, because that Sunday was the last conversation that I had with my dad. On the day that we would bury my dad, my brother-in-law, my sister’s husband, Danny, passed away also from COVID-19.
GRACIELLE DANE LUNA (DAUGHTER OF LATE FRONTLINER – NEW JERSEY): My dad fought a very long and hard eleven days to try and come home back to us. He would tell us the same thing every time we had the chance to talk to him. “I want to go home” or “When can I go home?”
GABRIELLE DAWN LUNA (DAUGHTER OF LATE FRONTLINER – NEW JERSEY): My dad was able to finish his race, and that’s what we’re happy about. That’s what we’re proud of, that he was an active member, an active officer inside the Church Of Christ.
TOM LUNA: Hello! I promise He will give us hope and strength. And all the more, I will serve Him until the end.[VIDEO END]
RICHIE FERRERA: For some families, the scars of COVID-19 will remain with them the rest of their lives: mothers, fathers, brothers, daughters, so many laid to rest.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And others, although they have escaped the pandemic with their health intact, this virus has still left a path of destruction of other sorts.[VIDEO START]
ANDREA ORTEGA (SMALL BUSINESS OWNER – NEW JERSEY): March 23, that’s when it really, it went down, downhill. Some people let me go in and clean, so I would go and clean one house, one day. And then not work for a couple of days.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: The world economies plummeted as joblessness increased; steady income was one of the first things many people have had to say goodbye to during the pandemic.
VLAD ORTEGA (LAID OFF DURING PANDEMIC – NEW JERSEY): Yes, it’s, you know, when it’s the beginning of the month comes up, and you see the bills that you’re normally taking care of first thing in the month, and you know, you’re looking at what you have versus what you need to pay for, it’s tough and it’s very unnerving to see, ok, we’re not receiving anything in, how are we going to be able to take care of this?
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: International travel bans meant some family members having to fend for themselves while split up, something that could never feel normal.
VANESSA ERPELO (STOCK MARKET EMPLOYEE – TORONTO, CANADA): My dad actually was laid off from work around the same time that I was told that I’d be working from home. And also, my mom, she’s actually not here with us right now she’s in the Philippines. She’s been stuck there since, I would want to say March 2. Her flight got canceled, the first time and ever since then it’s been canceled, I guess, numerous times after so it’s been really hard to try and get her back.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: But families buckled down out of necessity and found a new normal in every aspect of their life.
JEWELL BUENAVISTA (MOTHER OF THREE – CHULA VISTA, CALIFORNIA): Jasmine just graduated sixth grade and I’m like, “Oh, how are we gonna do this celebration?” And so, I mean it was supposed to be a drive-thru car parade thing which I’ve never experienced before.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And through the chaos, we found ways to say thank you to those who deserved it.
ANNABELLE YALONG (NURSE – NEW JERSEY): I was really surprised. It was so nice. During those times, I’m sorry…
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: It’s okay. It’s okay. They give you a salute because it’s deserved.
Industry after industry has to pivot to a new normal in order to survive.
JEWELL BUENAVISTA (REAL ESTATE AGENT – CHULA VISTA, CALIFORNIA): So in real estate I actually specialize in seniors. And because seniors were considered a vulnerable population we have challenges of our own. We definitely as an industry have implemented safety protocols, I mean, there are, you have to have signs saying you have to hand wash your hands, you have to sanitize, you have to wear a mask, you have to sanitize when you leave. There’s all these safety precautions to make sure that everybody is safe when we do showings.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: For some, the most important days of their lives looked, well, a little different than how they had planned.
ANDREA ALICDAN (ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA): We were planning to have at least 127 people.
JEREMY ALICDAN (GOT MARRIED DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC – ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA): We had to limit the guests, that’s the biggest change and we had to cancel the reception.
ANDREA ALICDAN (GOT MARRIED DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC – ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA): There’s no choir, but it did have the recordings. The ceremony was very private. There’s only 10 people in the chapel at that moment, so it was very solemn.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And just as everyone was beginning to accept the new normal, whatever that might be for them:
CNA: South Korea has seen a surge in new COVID-19 infections.
BBC: It’s reported cases of coronavirus are growing sharply despite the recent falls in the UK and other European countries.
NTD: The Chinese capital city is under wartime emergency mode, after a new cluster of cases emerged in the cities…
FRANCE 24: In South Africa, it’s another record breaking day in the COVID-19 catastrophe with over 200 fatalities on Thursday.
DEON VAN STADEN (BUSINESS OWNER/CONTRACTOR – JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA): The quarantine is very difficult, and the economical part of it is breaking us. Our businesses are really suffering. I mean it hurts a lot of people, a lot of people are getting angry.
MARGARET IP (INTERNATIONAL TRADE OFFICER – HONG KONG): We definitely are looking at more people losing their job, especially for the food and beverage sector, for the restaurant sector. Actually encountering problems with that import and export the food sector.
AILA TRIA (PHARMACY ASSISTANT – EDMONTON, CANADA): So it’s constantly busy. There’s always a lot of patients at the pharmacy now. I don’t think we really have gotten past the worst in the pharmacy yet.
KARA CABUSAO (NURSE – SAINT JOHN, OTTAWA): For the residents in the nursing home, they don’t have someone but us. So we have to be strong for them. They’re alone. They don’t have anyone but us to take care for them.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: We are now on the heels of a dreaded second surge. Or for some countries, a surge that simply never ended.
RICHIE FERRERA: For some, after the devastation already seen, today’s situation might seem hopeless. But that’s not something I’ve heard in any of these voices.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: Sadness, fear, yes, of course. But there is something more powerful that has bound these lives and their stories together.
RICHIE FERRERA: And that is their membership in the Church Of Christ. And it is their faith, their faith in a living God that has been with them each step of the way.
ANDREA ORTEGA (INC MEMBER – NEW JERSEY): You know we kept on praying. And I think throughout this whole thing we are taught to have faith, and to put our trust unto God. I really learned that right now. I really did. I don’t know, I tell everybody, you know, if it wasn’t for my membership inside the Church I don’t know how I would handle this situation. But its, God is just so good.
JENNIFER POLINTAN (INC MEMBER – ROCKLAND, NEW YORK): So, all we could do was pray. I mean, that’s all we had was just faith and prayer. When he was first taken into the hospital it was, you know, “God, please, help me. Give him strength. Give him your mercy, and help him restore his health, and just be with him, be with the doctors.” And then there’s almost a feeling of, I don’t want to say being resigned, but then, it becomes, “Whatever You will. It’s beyond our control”.
FAMILY: He’s trying to open his eyes! We love you! Be strong, ok? Be strong!
DOCTOR: He’s crying!
FAMILY: Oh, don’t cry! Don’t cry! We are praying for you! We love you, Dad! We love you, Papa!
[Clapping and cheering]
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: And we, in turn, won’t stop thanking Him.
AINELOU DAVID (INC MEMBER – QUEENS, NEW YORK): She takes my oxygenation with a pulse oximeter. It’s 96, 97 percent, which is normal, and I remember shouting in the middle of the ER, “PRAISE GOD!” because I know my lungs are working. My lungs came back.
CHARLOTTE NIRONA (INC MEMBER – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): You just come home and thank God that it’s another day. You’ve lived through another day, you’ve lived through another shift, and hopefully tomorrow will be the same. That you’re safe.
DICELYN GANTE (INC MEMBER – BIRMINGHAM, UNITED KINGDOM): I know that life is very uncertain at the moment, but there is only one thing that I am certain of, that God is always by our side. And I trust that He is always there to protect us.
AINELOU DAVID (INC MEMBER – QUEENS, NEW YORK): God is the author of all. So, if He was going to take me, He was going to take me.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: It’s a faith that has been shepperded, guided, and relentlessly prepared.
WILL NIRONA (INC MEMBER – FREMONT, CALIFORNIA): God saw these things, right? And so, He saw this coming, and still allows the Church to grow and mature, and prepare. And we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow or next year, but I’m sure the [Church] Administration will be led by God, and allow the members of the Church Of Christ all over the world to continue. The Administration is doing their job as hard as they can, as best as they can in the conditions that’s presented.
BROTHER BERNARD DAOS (MINISTER OF THE GOSPEL – SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA): You see, we might be sad because the people we love so much are not here anymore, but remember this, God gave a promise that when we finish our race, we’re going to be together again. We’re going to a place that only God can give us. But what we have to do is do our part. We have to hold on to our faith. We have to keep going. That’s where the Church Administration is always bringing us to. Unite with that aim, with that purpose of the Church Administration, so that this life will make us worthy to receive eternal life.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: When the Church Administration introduced live-streaming worship services to connect with brethren around the world, it was preparing us for an unknown inevitable. When the Church Administration encouraged subsistence farming to benefit our households, it was preparing us for an unknown inevitable. When the Church Administration read to us “do not fear”, it was preparing us for the well-known conclusion: this world, in all its chaos, is not our true home.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: When INC News World returns.
CONSTANCE JOI CALONGE: That’s all I pray about, that’s all I really want during this time, is for all of us to be safe. And I feel that way when we are worshipping in our household worship service.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: We gathered in our homes, but we didn’t know it would be the first of many times. Though not gathering, for now in houses of worship, the true faithful continue worshiping.
BROTHER JOEL SAN PEDRO: The purpose of the Church Administration in implementing both the household worship services and the video-conferencing worship services is to continue to lead Church Of Christ members all over the world in fulfilling what the Bible teaches: one of our fundamental duties to the Lord God, our Creator, which is to worship Him.
NAOMI DE LA CRUZ: More on INC News World when we come back.