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Another souvenir picture of the couple as they enjoy the scenery.

Esok and Sally Adraneda were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship which went from having 10 cases of the COVID-19 virus to more than 700 over the course of its two-week quarantine and the testing that followed.

Jeremiah 17:7 “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord.”

Esok – On Feb 4, 2020 in Yokohama, Japan, the captain of Diamond Princess announced through the PA, “Stay in your staterooms and your food will be delivered. The cruise ship is being quarantined.” This was the beginning of an almost three month long ordeal that we had to go through..

I will be turning 70 this month and my wife Sally, who is 67, and I are vulnerable to Covid-19 because of my heart condition and Sally’s allergies. We didn’t have any idea of about things until the events started to unfold.

On the first day of the quarantine, the Captain announced that there were 10 passengers who tested positive for the virus. Every day thereafter, it became very nerve wrecking whenever the captain made his announcements of the increasing number of people being infected by the virus. A total number of 712 passengers and crew of Diamond Princess were infected.

We were feeling fine until the 5th day of quarantine. We started to experience mild sore throat and cough. No matter how good and abundant the food was, we lost our appetite and we could hardly eat anything. We also started to feel body aches. After a few days when we were already experiencing fever, the Japanese health Authorities came to take the Covid19 test.

Sally and Esok Adraneda pose for posterity iwhen the Diamond Princess was docked at Chan May, Vietnam. The couple and more than 600 other passengers caught the COVID-19 virus while on board the cruise ship.

February 16, 12th day of quarantine – At lunch time two Japanese health officials told us to go to the hospital and we were only given five minutes to prepare. Fearful and speechless, we just followed their orders but at the back of our minds, we knew that we tested positive. We quickly picked up just our backpacks with our passports and some valuable items as we were not allowed to bring clothes with us. We and the other US citizens were ready to fly out to the US that night, according to the email from US Embassy.

CT scans and blood tests were done immediately once we arrived at the hospital and we were given oxygen therapy and some IV fluids and medications

Two days later, I complained of chest pain and shortness of breath and so the doctor quickly attended to me. Sally suggested that I be brought to the ICU but they didn’t have the facility there. She further recommended if they could transfer me to another hospital. The doctor replied that they will do their best.

February 19, 15th day of quarantine: My condition deteriorated so they rushed me by ambulance to Tokai University Hospital in Isehara, Japan which is an hour away. I was met by a team of specialists at the ER and as soon as they checked on me they immediately intubated and put me on a ventilator. On my way to this hospital, the only words in my mind were, “Jesus I trust in You,” words I repeated continuously until they put me to sleep. The memory of my first night in this hospital was so vivid and devilish of a hallucination or nightmare. Someone brought me to this place, I assumed the gate of hell, where I could see so many human faces and different creatures I’ve never seen before. I wanted to enter but a bright blinding light held me and prevented me from entering this place. On my way back to the other side, I saw so many people I knew who have passed away and people that I knew from long time ago who are still alive. It was a long journey but Jesus showed me HELL to tell me that there is HEAVEN! I was half awake when someone asked me, “What day is it today?” and I couldn’t answer. Then a Japanese doctor said,” it is February 23, you have been out for four days.” With the sedation, I went back to sleep.

Sally - I was not allowed to accompany my husband and so I was left alone at the Japanese Military Hospital. I couldn’t do anything but to pray. While Esok was on his way to Tokai Hospital, my phone rang for the first time while I was there and it was a call from Maryland, USA. I answered the call hesitantly and two people from the US Department of Health wanted to find out how my husband and I were doing. I told them that my husband had to be transferred to another hospital and that I couldn’t go with him. They said that they will do their best to make sure both of us were in the same hospital. The following day, I was also transferred to Tokai University Hospital.

When I got there, I was met by a group of doctor specialists and I went through all the necessary procedures again. This was the time they mentioned to me that Esok’s condition worsened upon his arrival. My heart was pumping with fear but I had to trust God. The doctors accompanied me to see my husband who was in isolation at the ICU. I was so shocked to see him surrounded by so many health workers with all the monitor machines hooked up to him. My mind was overflowing with questions. Will he survive? What will happen to me? What will I do in case he won’t make it? How are we going back to US? How about my son and his family? How about our finances, where are the passwords? But I had to fight all these negative thoughts with prayers to Jesus and Mary. I even bargained with Jesus. Lord please don’t take us yet; we still have a lot of work to do in CFC. And Lord, we also want to see our grandkids grow up.

The couple enjoying themselves on board the Diamond Princess.

I truly believe in the power of community prayer so I requested Sis Gigi Ares (AGT CFC Florida) to please storm the heavens with prayers as a community and they started novenas that were offered in our behalf for our healing. CFC USA was also our prayer warriors. It was overwhelming to know how family, relatives and friends all over the globe expressed their concerns with love, thoughts, masses and prayers upon knowing of our condition. Prayers are our only weapon to fight this dreadful disease and we are so blessed to be surrounded by faithful and sincere people who were united with us in prayers.

Esok’s condition had been improving in the last two days. But the doctors were worried about me as my pneumonia was not getting any better and my fever was not going away. They recommended an experimental drug but asked me if I could consult with my son’s friends who are doctors in US. They gave their go signal. I was pumped right away with antibiotics round the clock and some antiviral pills for eight days. Just two days after the treatment, my fever subsided and never came back.

On February 28, after nine days on a ventilator, Esok was extubated and was breathing on his own. His vital signs were good. The following day, he already started to eat solid food and started to walk and move around. Miracles do happen and Esok is a living testimony of this! The following day, all my IVs were removed and all my meds were stopped. I was feeling much better since then and Esok’s fever was gone too that day.

March 01, 2020 – Isolation in a hospital for a long period of time felt like I was in a retreat with time spent in prayers and talking to God. At about 4 am as I was sleeping, I dreamed of Mama Mary in a dazzling white gown with her long hair worn down and clad with a white veil. She stooped at the left side of my bed and placed a white blanket from my neck down and said, “This will make you well and clean.” At 8 pm that night as I was preparing to go to sleep, I called the nurse twice to ask for a box of tissue since mine was already empty. But she didn’t answer. I was not sure if I dozed off for few seconds but I saw Jesus at the right side of my bed standing and he told me, “I’ll get everything you need.” As he walked away, I vividly saw his eyes staring at me with pity. How grateful I was that my Lord and His mother visited me even just in my dreams, affirming that I will be healed and Jesus will supply all our needs.

Four days after Esok’s extubation, he was transferred to the regular floor where I was. With God’s grace and mercy both of us started to recover from Covid-19.

On March 9 and 10, I tested negative twice from the virus and a week later so did Esok. This was a requirement of CDC for us to board the plane to USA.

March 21, 2020 – This was the day the Lord had made; we were on our way back home to our family and friends in Lakeland, Florida.

This is our testimony of God’s loving mercy, kindness and forgiveness. He answers the prayers of His people for He is a faithful God. It was a journey full of fear but also full of hope with our utmost love and faith in the Lord Jesus. He used all the medical frontliners who untiringly and patiently took care of us at the hospitals. They did their best to treat us despite the absence of a cure to this dreadful disease. We were treated well and did not pay a single penny for our hospitalization, hotel and flight accommodations. So truly, Jesus provided all that we needed!

We’d like to end with 2 Corinthians 2:14 “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.” Truly God manifested His victory in all these challenges and glory is His forever. We personally experienced Jesus’ passion in our sufferings during this difficult time and we also experienced His resurrection in the New Life He gave us this Easter with so much joy!

We thank everybody who extended their love and offered their prayers during those challenging and unprecedented times. You all bargained to God for our healing! We will forever be grateful.

The road we’ve traveled hasn’t been easy, but we’re still here. The only reason we’re here today is because God was walking the road with us, every step of the way. Amen!”

May God be Praised!

By: Esok and Sally Adraneda

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