How did we live in Vietnam this time of Corona-Virus ?
Since the end of ‘La Fete du Tet’ holidays – around the end of January 2020 – the rhythm of life in our community has been changing a lot because of Covid-19. Each week we were waiting for the authorization from the national Education department to be allowed to open the school. It is one of our main missions in Vietnam, and the source of funding for our three communities. Unfortunately, on the 28th March, we had to stop all gatherings. There was no more school or Mass. And since the 1st of April, we all had to stay at home.
This time of lockdown does not keep us in our “cells”. Life goes on, but differently. Each day we participate in the Eucharist on the Internet at 6.00 p.m., in French. Before the Covid-19 epidemic, we used to have breakfast together, but now it is a free time so that each one may take care of her own health – for instance to do sport, to water the vegetables, etc. Of course we remain faithful to the Lauds (7.30 a.m.) and to Vespers (6.45 p.m.).
It is true that this Coronavirus pandemic reveals the weakness and the frailty of humankind.
How many people have been contaminated and how many died because of a tiny virus that our eyes cannot see. Even the development of technology is helpless. Anguish and fear have seized us in the face of this epidemic. Including in our community. We are scared to catch this virus and fall sick, scared to die, scared to infect the other sisters in the community, since some still have to go to work in the pharmacy. One sister working there said: “When I am working at the pharmacy, I fear for my sisters. I am afraid to come close to you and I don’t feel comfortable. This fear requires that I should be careful too.”
Moreover, we have lived a meaningful moment when we expressed how scared we were when we took the decision to welcome two French young girls who were stuck in Vietnam and could not go back home because of the pandemic. At that time, we needed some volunteers who could help the postulants with French classes. It was a very difficult reflection for the community: shall we welcome them or not? Eventually, we received them at home. In order to go through this time of anxiety, we said a particular prayer to ask for surrender (to God). We have given over our fears to the Lord, also through the intercession of the Virgin Mary. We have placed into Her hands what may happen because He is the One who takes care of us. This community prayer and the blessing by Pope Francis in his Urbi et Orbi address on 28th March 2020 who invites us: “do not be afraid and confide to the Lord your fears so that He may overcome them.” have helped us go through this fear and comfort our fragile faith.
In fact, this time of trial calls us not only to live for oneselfs but also for the others. We have decided to reduce one dish per meal in communion with all the poor and all the unemployed. We have also given part of the salaries to the teachers in the school and we have fully paid their insurance so that they may live in this unprecedented period. Those of us who work at the pharmacy said we would not use this opportunity to raise the price of the medicines, as the other pharmacies do, but to keep the normal price, just like before.
We have lived together a real and special Lent. This is a time that makes us live in solidarity, in total trust towards God and in Hope. We believe that He is the One who destroys death and He will save us on Easter morning.
Community of Little Sisters of the Assumption in Dong Hoa, Vietnam