Well, here we are, in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic.
A lot of people have had the illness, many of whom were never tested and will never know they had it. Some people are sick now. Some have died. A lot of people have lost their jobs, possibly temporarily and possibly permanently.
We can look to the past and wish life was normal like it was then, we can look to the future and imagine scary or hopeful dreams about what might happen next. But I want to talk about right now.
Right now, the earth is resting. There are not many cars on the freeway. I don’t know about you, but my schedule got pretty much cleared out. Have you heard the songbirds in the morning? Have you listened to the raindrops hitting your roof? Have you seen the fresh, tender blooms? Have you smelled the clean air with the scent of the orange blossoms? Right now, the earth is resting.
Right now, people are generous. Chris Shahin and Amy Stafford are helping Healing Grove by making an animated video for us. Jenny Wong is lending her creative genius to our website. Amanda Giles (from Palo Alto Vineyard) is doing amazing interior design work on our building. Maria Marcelo has been working around the clock at our command center (her house), collecting information about what people need and organizing food baskets for them. All of the Madre-A-Madre leaders (local indigenous leaders in the neighborhood) have been organized Nehemiah-and-the-wall-style, so that they are overseeing sectors of the neighborhood. They are calling their neighbors, checking in and reporting back where the needs are, and overseeing food distribution among crowded apartment buildings. Trader Joe’s donated a whole truck-full of food for hungry families. Yousef Shafi and Julie Bonner have driven all over town picking up and delivering food to apartments full of grateful people. Churches have donated thousands of dollars to support the work. Linh Bauer donated 700 masks from her dental office to VMC. Molly Meyer brought over bags of blankets, snacks, and educational materials to help families in need. Then, when she told her neighbors about the need, she began collecting more donations from them!
Images courtesy of Angie Bymaster
Grace Albertson, Hoang Nguyen, and Tori Castro—all people I have gotten to know through Youth Group—have texted to check in on me. Lourdes and Jairo Sarmiento have been a source of wisdom and peace for our neighborhood during a fearful time; we have given out Jairo’s number to probably 1,000 people to call if they are overcome with anxiety or depression. Gary Claassen rented a U-Haul so we could deliver 7,200 pounds of food to hungry families. Kevin and Kuimeuy Wang have been praying for and supporting Healing Grove. Jorg Brown made it possible for us to do a lot of tests for COVID-19 on uninsured people right away. We have been able to stop people who were positive for the Coronavirus from going to work; they were uninsured and not sick enough for the emergency room, so they did not know where to go until they found Healing Grove. People I don’t even know from social media sites have donated children’s Tylenol and children’s books to give away to low-income families.
Right now, people are thoughtful. Isabel and Susan Chang dropped off a box of homemade miniature donuts the other day—which made us all so happy! My 66-year-old mother decided to stay with us for a couple of weeks in San Jose, to help us keep our house together and homeschool Nehemiah, so that Brett and I could carry out the work.
Right now, people are kind. People who I don’t know smile and wave at me when we pass as I jog around the 3-mile loop near my house. Small groups are shopping for food for the ones who need it. Volunteers at Cathedral of Faith are sorting food from Second Harvest Food Bank to give to those in need.
Right now, people are innovative. I love it that Dorothy Chang, Angie Schertle, and Faith Chang (among others) are sewing cloth surgical masks. Every week, Quest Labs makes their assay for COVID-19 a little more efficient and a little faster to run. I hear about vaccines and antivirals and rapid COVID-19 tests in clinical trials. Government officials have been working on ways to make tests free and available.
Right now, so many people are together. Nehemiah and I have started playing chess. Chelsea loves having so many grandmothers around to tickle her and sing silly songs. Martha loves our evening Bible studies. Paul is back from college, and I just discovered that Kenisha likes to play Bananagrams!
I know that I am missing some of the beautiful things people have done lately. I also know that this is a very difficult time for a lot of people. But we can be thankful for the good things—the sabbath for the natural earth, the generosity, thoughtfulness, kindness, innovation, and togetherness—that the Coronavirus and the Shelter-in-Place order have brought.
If you are interested in joining Healing Grove in the Kingdom work God is doing amidst this pandemic, you can email me at or call us at 408-583-6338.
Angela Bymaster is a Family Medicine Physician at Healing Grove Health Center. She went to medical school at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and did her residency at the Stanford/O’Connor Family Medicine Residency Program. She is passionate about upstream primary care, addiction treatment, and the intersections of the body, the soul, and the community. She lives with her husband, kids, and granddaughter in the Washington neighborhood. She also loves playing volleyball, writing and directing plays for church, eating homemade Mexican food from her neighbors, and reading mystery stories.