We have 10 people in our house and COVID-19 outside

Since 2015, there have been 10 people living in my house. The situation came about after my grandmother’s death. The need for family was so prominent and in the forefront of our hearts that my mother and her two sisters decided we should all move in together.

Our faith in God has always directed our reactions and thoughts to situations. A strong phrase we always uses is “God has a plan.” Although death in a family is often hard, we were consoled knowing that it was what God had intended for us as a family.

At times, anxiety takes over the house, especially as we have two members who are extremely vulnerable to the virus.

A 10-person household is exactly what you would expect it to be: loud and often overwhelming. However, there are moments of peace and serenity. Also, often we are not in the same place at the same time. Everyone can be in their own worlds, as we constantly leave and return from work, school or university.

The current pandemic that has swept the planet has largely removed any peace or serenity that our 10-person household used to enjoy. The close and constant proximity among us has made it extremely difficult to find the silver linings, especially now that work, school and university studies are all being done at home.

At times, anxiety takes over the house, especially as we have two members who are extremely vulnerable to the virus. We have to adjust how we interact with 76-year-old grandad, Jimmy, and wheelchair-bound aunty, Edith. Physical contact, such as hugging them or kissing hello, has had to stop. We have all switched to interacting through meaningful and intentional conversation, limited by language barriers as most of the kids in the house are unable to understand Spanish. But this situation has given some the push needed to learn the language so that we can all communicate well with our grandad.

As everyone is coming to terms with, COVID-19 has completely altered the way we live day-to-day life – from the way we study and work to the way we eat and go to church.

Six online classes run, at similar times, between Monday and Friday. This has led to some of us seeking out new places to study and work, such as in our backyard. On top of this, it has become crucial for the three school students in our house to be on top of their own work, especially as one is completing her HSC.

Out of all six kids in the family, five of us volunteer as martial arts instructors – which we used to see as our escape from work, university, school and, sometimes, even from home. Every afternoon is now filled with five online classes running around our house. It can get a bit much at times, but we enjoy being in a position to keep other kids active by doing martial arts together online.

As a family, we have taken to big breakfasts together every morning.

Eldest of six children Ezii has had to reorganise her plans more than anyone else. Currently sent home from the police academy in Goulburn, she has had to work through the many challenges confronting her and think about why God has put her on this path.

Ezii has also moved to online studying and must keep up her health and fitness without the assistance of personal trainers and gym equipment. Although this is not ideal, she loves training with all the other kids in the house.

Of course, our dogs have been walked and played with now more than ever.

As a family, we have taken having to big breakfasts together every morning. That is something we were never able to do due to constantly being in and out of the house at various times. Such daily routines keep us in good faith, which has allowed us to persevere in this trying time.

My family is comforted by the knowledge that what is happening right now across the planet is all part of God’s plan. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” This idea is a topic of conversation that is sparked regularly at dinner times. In times like these, it is so important that we ask why God has given us this obstacle to overcome. Our family believes we must be grateful for the opportunities gifted to us, instead of seeking the negatives, as Psalm 34:10 says, “But those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”

Christians are encouraged to trust in God and his plans for us. As a family, we have viewed this issue as a call for us to be more present with each other and more present with the Lord. In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we tend to lose sight of what is most important and ultimately lose ourselves completely in the secular world.

The COVID-19 pandemic has allowed us to centre ourselves and, in a time of self-isolation, reflect on whether or not we are spending enough time with those most important to us.

Our day-to-day life has totally changed, but in a way where we can discover what is most important to us …

Church has kept us all together in a time where it can be so easy to find so much to complain about. It has been a hard adjustment to move to online services – particularly because we have joined a new church – but the leaders and support system have reached out and comforted us.

Sunday night services are a time where we all gather together to acknowledge our faith. This has given us the opportunity to gather more intentionally as a family and given us hope that although times may be dark now, God’s plan is always greater.

Colossians 3:15 says, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” It is easy to become frustrated when there are 10 people in the same place at the same time, but it is important that we remain peaceful with ourselves and each other. Equally important, we must remember to be thankful, that although we can be easily overwhelmed in this circumstance, we do not have to go through it alone (as some other people have to).

We remember that we must be thankful we have others to lean on for support in times of stress, anxiety and troubles.

Our day-to-day life has totally changed, but in a way where we can discover what is most important to us and what our true purpose really is. This pandemic has had many negative effects but, positively, our household can already see we have been called to unite more as a family – and as people of God.

*Jassamyn Reyes Vega is an intern with Eternity News. She is a first year university student, studying a Bachelor of Speech and Hearing Sciences at Macquarie University, Sydney. She loves spending time with her family and friends – and enjoys reading books and training martial arts.