“I felt God’s affection through the medical staff”

Rhuam Ferreira, an Augustinian Recollect religious, has felt the presence of God in small gestures during his hospitalization by COVID-19 in Brazil. During his eight days in hospital, he experienced difficult situations but felt accompanied at all times.

“Justified, then, by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”. Thus begins the fifth chapter of the letter of St. Paul to the Romans. The words of the apostle in this letter have served as a help and reflection for the Augustinian Recollect Rhuam Ferreira during his days in the hospital. “They helped me to overcome the difficulties”. The young religious has suffered and overcome the COVID-19. The illness affected him especially and forced him to go to the hospital Belém do Pará (Brazil). They were very adverse days which he faced with great faith.

The first days he thought it was a simple cold. “I thought that everything I saw in the media was an exaggeration or that it would never happen to me,” he says. About 15 days before he was confirmed as having a coronavirus, he began to experience symptoms that were initially associated with measles: skin spots, fever, loss of appetite and general malaise. He even took medication for this disease. Although he improved, the symptoms did not go away. Within a week her condition worsened.

Actually, COVID-19 didn’t just affect him. Everyone in his community tested positive for COVID-19. Before him, two brothers were diagnosed with the illness: Luis Carlos Albim was in a serious situation, admitted to the hospital for more than thirty days, and Pedro María Esparza died on April 25. Hours after his death, Rhuam Ferreira was admitted to the Hospital Beneficência Portuguesa. There he spent eight days in intensive care to cure his lungs, which had been especially affected by the coronavirus.

“The strength came from God and from prayers”

“At no time was I afraid of death but I did feel insecurity.” In his days in the hospital he had some very difficult moments. “Like any illness, I felt helpless,” he says.  The most difficult thing in his case “was the isolation”. Rhuam explains that, for religious living in community, being isolated from others is very hard. They also had a very difficult time in the community. First of all, the death of one of his brothers and then the contagion of all its members, as well as the complicated situation experienced by Luis Carlos Albim.

Nevertheless, both he and his brothers noticed the closeness of God. “During the eight days I was in the hospital I felt that the Lord was with me,” he explains. In all the simple details of the treatment, in the care of the medical personnel and in the messages of encouragement was the strength that always encourages and repairs. “I felt God’s affection through the medical team,” she says. In the most complicated moments, “the strength came from God and from prayers, both personal and from my loved ones. At no time did he neglect his prayer life: he prayed the rosary daily and accompanied the brothers in the Eucharist through the social networks.

“Prophet of hope” in disease

In this regard, Rhuam draws an important conclusion: “The fact that we feel loved awakens our hope to fight. This is because, as he points out, “faith feeds hope and vice versa”. In such a delicate situation, where uncertainty reigns, he never felt abandoned. “We cannot walk without faith in God and without hope of better days”. This religious, who works in vocation ministry in Brazil, wanted to be a “prophet of hope” during this time. He also felt the concern of relatives and religious, who were praying for the whole community. “I felt in these details the affection for us,” he says.

That is precisely one of the main lessons he has learned after overcoming his illness. “The coronavirus taught me, in practice, the value of small gestures,” he explains. He has seen that life is made up of details that, when put together, form a huge whole. “I learned the need to share pain with the people we love,” even if it was only in a simple text message.

Only three realities are important to Rhuam Ferreira after this trance: “God, family and life. In the details of daily life is the essence of life. “When we leave, everything will be behind us and we will take only the beautiful experiences we have lived.” He was discharged and has now returned to his usual work.