I can’t believe the year has come to an end. We are waiting for the New Year with a grateful heart, contentment, excitement and optimism. 2020 has certainly been a year like no other.

My family, along with my mother, my sister, my beautiful niece, my brother-in-law, his parents and his sister started this year happy and enjoying time together. We took an unforgettable road trip to Washington DC, we shared days full of excitement while seeing new places. Washington DC was on my bucket list, but I never imagined it would visit it this year. Last year my sister out of the blue asked if we would be willing to make the trip, as we had already planned to visit them. I like spontaneity, but programmed to some extent Emoji but this time I entrusted us to God. I took a look at the savings account, and asked Mark if he was ok with the idea. He was in shock, but said yes so the plan emerged. I tell you the trip was saturated, tiring, completely full of places to see, lot of conversation and tonnes of photos. We loved it! However, I can say that one of my favorite memories was listening to the life stories and testimony of Don Ramon and Doña Estela (my brother-in-law’s parents) and knowing their daughter more, while we shared hours together on the road. The time together made that trip even more special.

It was incredible to see how at the end of the first quarter of the year the whole world stopped. I was heartbroken to see so much suffering, sadness and so many people who lost their lives. For many months my Facebook page was completely filled with people requesting plasma, prayers and comfort. I have cried out to God for people I have never seen and will surely never meet. In this time I have cried with those who cry … either of sadness or joy. At that time my job decided to send all the workers to work from home. Due to my occupation and my daily tasks, working from home is not possible, but thanks to the company I work for and the trust they place in its workers, since before the pandemic they gave me the opportunity to help with some tasks in the accounting area. So I have managed to have some hours each week, for which I am very grateful. During this time I have been able to see the care that the management at work has for us, the diligence and the way in which they have followed the protocols dictated by the government have been admirable. And something for which I will be eternally grateful, since workers are valued and considered a fundamental part of the company. In other words, we are before any business, which I consider cannot be said of all companies.

We entered into a quarantine period in our city and the closing of the schools was considered one of the ways to avoid spread. As we talked with our children about what was happening, they came to the conclusion that one of the most important actions was to abide by the protocols given by the government and maintain them even when they were removed. They as volunteers at Mark’s work had formed friendships with many residents. They have also realized the need for Sherbrooke to stay protected from the virus. So they decided to keep Mark healthy by not interacting with anyone else, physically isolating us was the resolution taken without any doubt and with an immovable decision. We got the first surge of worry when we all had to go to get tested to see if we had contracted COVID. Thank God the result was negative, but Mark stayed home for almost two weeks. And the we realized that a little cold could cause chaos at his work and that gave us more conviction of the decision we had made.

Many years after living in Canada, I heard from University professors that they are given the privilege of having a sabbatical from time to time. From that I have always dreamed of having a sabbatical as well. And I say I dreamed because I knew in advance that our budget would never have allowed us for me to make that a reality. When our country was affected by the pandemic, the government decided to help us economically. Help we definitely needed. Fully aware that the way I could contribute in this situation was to get out of the equation and not become a carrier, I decided to take this time as a spiritual retreat. The children were scared and the fact that I was at home gave them emotional stability. They also followed their classes online and being around for any questions was very important during that period. Regarding the academic situation, I decided to not put any pressure on them, since their mental health took more importance.

One of the activities that I have been developing is that I have been focused on learning to draw faces. I love seeing the human face. Everyone one of them is so different and perfectly created, it is difficult not to see the brush of the creator in each one of them, for a while I was doing it almost daily. I have several art groups that fill my Facebook with creativity. Another group shows windows around the world and provides glimpses of the beauties in other places. I also have many other channels of inspiration. With this I have not distanced myself from reality, rather I have accepted reality in a different way. I have also taken advantage of this season to in still in my children to see life in a positive way in moments of crisis, to see the beauty around us, to see the creation with wonder and curiosity, and to fill their hearts with small details. But above all to be grateful and close to God because at the end of everything the one thing that is certain is that without Him the peace we have had we would not have been able to achieve. A little bird reminded me this summer of how much we are worth and the truth that we have a good Father who watches over us.

Although life often takes us by surprise, things do not always happen as one wants or that sometimes there is no reason to understand why things happen. We can take comfort that God has a plan. I am grateful that the whole family here in the country and the one that I have spread out among various countries are doing well. It has been a reinforcement in my faith to see a series of miracles that have occurred, seeing one after another, knowing that many people run to help others in times of need and the people who we never met come giving support. I am grateful for the family unity, because although many of us have decided to go and made our home in distant lands, they are always close by and when one of us falls, everyone gathers to help to get up.

This year I have seen again that the people who want to be part of my life will be close regardless of the distance, that I am so blessed that many of you have allowed me to enter in your hearts. During the quarantines that seized the month of April, allowed me to be more communicated with my family and friends here through social networks. I´m so thankful to live in these times when the internet has brought us together. Even more now when non physical socialization has been a necessity. Being a social person my life has taken an incredible turn by staying in isolation, but I have not felt it as a burden. I have heard people saying that this pandemic will change us in one way or another. I think this is already true in my case. I have learned to find pleasure in the simplicity of life, to enjoy placid routines, not to run against time, to be more aware of now and I have grown a little in patience which has made me feel more relaxed. Years ago I decided to be alert and discover miracles in the small details, so I will continue to look around me in search of them.

I take a moment to remember our beloved ones that are not longer by our side on this earth, but that will remain forever in our hearts. Let the memories we created together continue to bring us joy, laughter and thankfulness as we remember them. May God keep us and protect us. May His mighty hand be with us and our loved ones. Let us revive our faith and welcome this new year with joy and continue to believe and keep our eyes fixed on the One who called us.

Happy New Year!

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