"If you’re feeling alone and isolated from family and friends, even God, see this as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with Him," says Jonathan Woolford-Hunt | Photo by Jean-Ires Michel
I can remember when I first heard about the deadly coronavirus. It was a few months into my Adventist Colleges Abroad (ACA) program at Villa Aurora University in Florence, Italy, where I was having the best freshman experience — enjoying the spiritual development, food, culture and tours.
The virus had moved from China to Italy in late January, but we continued to live life normally. After all, we were 200 miles away from the outbreaks in Milan and Rome. We even ventured out to the world-famous Venice Carnival in February and mingled amongst the thousands of visitors from around the world. But a day after we returned to campus, the City of Venice closed the Carnival because the coronavirus had spread to that region. Still, we felt pretty safe as the school and the City of Florence had no reported cases.
Then a series of unbelievable events happened rapidly, which I can only describe as March Madness: The Italian Government ordered all schools shuttered; the Prime Minister put the entire country on lockdown, which meant the borders would soon close. That mid-March evening, we were told that the ACA program in Italy was closing and we had eight hours to pack our things. By 4 a.m., we were on our way to the airport for the very last flight out of Italy.
We flew to Rome before landing in New York — two gigantic hotspots for the virus — fully expecting to have our temperature scanned and placed in quarantine immediately. However, to my surprise, all of us, including the students who travelled from Rome, weren’t asked any questions or scanned.
When I arrived back in Michigan, Andrews University required that all returning students put themselves in a 14-day quarantine. My mother would tell me this was one of the hardest times, to see me and not be able to give me a big welcome home hug.
During the first few days of my quarantine, life was a mess. I stayed up late and woke up late. I ate all the junk food I missed during my six months away. I binge-watched TV series and eventually felt unwell!
So, I purposed to have a healthy balance and get back on a schedule: Sleep by 10 p.m. Morning devotion. Exercise. Speak to family and friends. Engage in a daily creative activity. Make recordings for my audio journal. Psalms 100, one of my favorite texts, became my lifeline. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord . . . This is directly related to my love for music. I spent my days writing and recording music and uploading it to my YouTube channel. I was in my happy zone.
So, if you’re feeling alone and isolated from family and friends, even God, see this as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with Him. Reorganize your life and priorities. Engage in creative activities that you may have always wanted to do but never had enough time. Use this time to reconnect with loved ones and reset your life to live for His purpose. God has a plan for us, even under quarantine.
Jonathan Woolford-Hunt graduated from Andrews Academy last year and is attending Andrews University. He enjoys writing and performing music. You can listen to songs that were born out of his quarantine experience.