The novel coronavirus (COVID19) has provided troublesome times throughout the world, damaging economies, impacting populations, and causing mass concern. Unfortunately, Eastern Christian (EC), a small Christian school located in North Haledon, NJ, encountered its first case with staff member Jesse Wright diagnosed with the virus. His case was not severe and his condition had already improved by the time his test came back positive. EC’s newspaper press, the EC Times, interviewed him regarding his current and past condition and asked him more about what he went through emotionally, mentally and spiritually, as well as if there were words of encouragement he could give to the surrounding community.
What was your initial reaction to your diagnosis?
[I was] more than a bit surprised. I had already been symptom-free for a couple of days! Even the doctors were convinced that I just had “a bug.” On my second visit, they gave me two tests: One for flu and one for COVID-19. When I got the call, for barely a split second, I thought, “Hang on, people die from this.” But again, I felt fine, so I thought, “This is not my time."
How has the recovery process been?
First and foremost, I have to give thanks to God and not take the gift I’ve been given for granted and work on staying healthy. It’s also HUMBLING! I feel like a teenager. My wife and Mr. Intlekofer grounded me! They sent me to my room, haha. But it was for my best. Honestly, the doctors did it first. I’ve been symptom-free for a while and if I stay that way for a few more days I can enjoy many of the freedoms you all do. Like seeing family. Like feeling the sun on my face. Preferably, this face 😀 instead of this face 😷. But I'll do my part.
How have you seen the virus affect your daily routine and the routine of others around you?
It's been a drastic change. Even though I’ve got a limited view of it being on isolated quarantine, it’s obvious that things are very different. The remote learning change is huge, but I’m encouraged to see how quickly we all adapted. EC STRONG! There is strength to be found in knowing that we’re in this together.
Also, I want to communicate that there has been a beautiful addition to the daily routine in that the community has reached out and provided so many meals for us. You’ve had my wife in tears of gratitude. Toilet paper will not be our concern, tissues will be! For me, having to rest was huge. I won’t lie, I was beginning to let sorrow creep in and then while getting lifted by a ton of praise music (which I highly recommend), I came across one of those collaborative “Playing For Change” videos. It was for the song, “The Weight.” About a minute in, this gentleman named Mermans Mosengo starts singing his heart out to an audience of ants in tall grass like he was performing at Madison Square Garden and I said to myself, "C'MON! WE CAN DO THIS!!!” We can still do amazing things if we find opportunities in the unexpected. If we connect with one another even over a distance. I hope sharing the good news of God has been added to everyone’s routine.
We can still do amazing things if we find opportunities in the unexpected.
What is your biggest takeaway from this experience?
As usual, like a fool, I was ready to take on the world as soon as I felt good and I was made to step back and rest. Once again I made myself into an idol of provision and I am being made to trust in the truth that God will provide. And also that God knows the nature of how provision is defined at any given time. Yes, we all have to do our parts. Absolutely! But we can often lose sight of how provision is defined. What is really needed in any given moment? As PROVERBS 3:5-6 declares we are to trust in God’s understanding and be led by him. Apparently, at the moment, my work is to rest, pray, LISTEN and share hope wherever opportunity arises. Perhaps provision for my family right now is to look at them, albeit from over 6’ away, with the eyes of utter gratitude and love knowing that God blessed me with them.
Are there things you look at differently now?
Right now I’d love to look at anything different! I’m quarantined in one room, haha! In all seriousness, I’d hope we all have a renewed appreciation of the ability to gather in community. The opportunity to be face to face. To hear laughter from a person. I was allowed a very brief moment in my backyard alone. I heard about 5 varieties of birds. I felt grass under my feet. My eyes saw an actual object at a distance greater than 12 feet away for the first time in what feels like weeks. It was breathtaking. If you are able to sit next to someone on a couch consider yourself MASSIVELY blessed. If you are alive and in relatively good health consider yourself MASSIVELY blessed.
I’d hope we all have a renewed appreciation of the ability to gather in community. The opportunity to be face to face. To hear laughter from a person.
What is your advice for those who still don't believe that the virus is not as big as it seems?
Stop playing. I am very fortunate and I definitely want others to be encouraged by the hope in my story but not as an excuse to be reckless. I’ve heard firsthand of the unfortunate stories. Consider for a moment, regardless of how some may feel about it, despite the potential precarious outcomes, nation after nation has prioritized lives over finances. Perhaps only momentarily, but we have just seen it happen! Romans 8:28 declares “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” So seeing this staggering shift of priorities can possibly be a good that God has brought forth but it also acknowledged how very serious the situation is. If we can help each other out with a bit of social distancing, let’s do it. So many on the frontlines need our prayers.
What a word of encouragement do you have for the people who are trying to combat the negativity around the virus?
Put on some praise music and move. I don’t care if you’re on a couch sipping soda or in space working on your armor with Baby Yoda. Put on some praise music and move. Honestly, in Romans 12:2 the Bible encourages us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. Renew your mind with hopeful thoughts. If possible, engage in activities that inspire you. Here’s how Paul puts it in PHILIPPIANS 4:7,8. "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Surely, there is something you can be thankful for. And stop texting and actually call someone. Hearing a voice does wonder. Love and Blessings.
I don’t care if you’re on a couch sipping soda or in space working on your armor with Baby Yoda. Put on some praise music and move.
Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
It looks like those of us who have had and recovered from COVID-19 are being asked to donate our plasma in the hopes that our antibodies can help those who currently are having a very rough experience with COVID-19.
Just maybe the steps were ordered in such a way that we'll go from being those for whom so many had to quarantine for weeks, to those who can help others get FREE.
If you had COVID-19 and healed up, let's do this! Mt. Sinai is asking for those who can help to email COVIDSerumTesting@mountsinai.org
Check out some more articles from our journalism students!:
Quarantine Comfort Contest Winner by Chas Philips https://www.ectimes.org/post/quarintine-comfort-concert-winner
A Passion Turned Into Reality by Hope Urdang
ECHS Faculty Under Quarantine by Hope Urdang
How To Stay In Shape During This Quarantine Break by Sydney Bolt
Learn the Guitar by Nicola Venturini
The Little Boy Behind the Fun Run by Rachel Post