Copy editor/writer Simone Delochan interviews Candace Sobion who tells a deeply personal story of how God called her back to faith and to motherhood, in the midst of a successful Carnival business.
There would be some Trinbagonians who are heavily in the Carnival scene, who would recognise the company Candy Coated Experiences for the excellent fetes, and other events (tours, boat rides etc), and would also know her husband Jules Sobion of Caesar’s Army fame.
Candace Sobion’s journey to faith begins amid a busy life throwing parties that took her to New York, Miami and up the islands.
She grew up modestly in San Juan in the first ten years of her life, baptised and had her First Communion at St John the Baptist RC Church. Her entrepreneurial leanings began early with her selling snacks while at school, and later blossomed when she met Jules while at university and began working with him in hosting fetes.
After a falling out, she began her own company, Candy Coated Events, which is now Candy Coated Experiences.
Sobion would not have classified herself as particularly religious as a teen into a young adult, even though she did participate in both COR (Christ our Redeemer) and Choice retreats and attended Mass irregularly.
In Choice, she had her first experience of really feeling God’s love. Still, the world called more loudly. “After that I still went off course—[In Jamaica at university] I partied a lot, sex before marriage…When I came back home, my life became that partying business….There was no foundation for me. I knew right and wrong, but the world was louder…”
The first call
In July-August 2017, after a hectic travelling schedule supporting her husband’s events and hosting her own, she began to suffer with an intense neck pain. She persevered through it (she had events in Barbados), and after visiting a masseuse, and working through the pain, it eventually subsided to a manageable level.
However, on August 5, 2017, she found herself unable to get off the bed. “I was struggling more than I had to…the pain was like a level 2”, and a voice came to her distinctly, “What are you doing? Get up,” and she was able to.
What followed was, she believes, a message of her mission. “It was the moment my life changed. I went on Twitter and saw a tweet from the Pope, ‘Other people are gifts to be received with respect, especially if they are weak and frail because Christ comes to meet us in them.’ God telling me, you have to love everybody…. I looked back at my life until that point, and my life made a 180….I don’t remember pain after that”. A seemingly innocuous event that in retrospect marked a turning point.
October 2017, she heard the voice while hosting a tour to Africa, with Candy Coated Travels. While admiring the savannahs of Africa, the voice popped into her head, “This is what Heaven looks like.” She laughs as she tells this story, the element of disbelief.
In 2018, she hosted six events and lost half a million dollars which sent her into a depression. She went to YouTube to pull up a guided meditation. It assisted somewhat, and she then thought of doing a day of meditation at a yoga centre in New York where she was at the time. While on her way, again the voice, ‘Google that’… “the” Holy Spirit was telling me that is not for me. So, I didn’t go.”
Thereafter, Sobion said, Jesus started making Himself known to her, “like a neighbour that you see around”. She began meditating more, and smoked marijuana to “feel a connection.”
As she put it, she was so lost, she didn’t know how she was supposed to respond to God’s calling her, or what she was supposed to do.
She traditionally hosted an extremely popular event on Ash Wednesday called ‘Wine Down’, and then other events in Tobago during that first week of Lent. While meditating, she heard the voice tell her, “You have to move Wine Down from Ash Wednesday.”
Her eyes flew open; it wasn’t her voice. She decided to have a week-long fast and at the end of it, understood the message. “God was trying to tell me, everything in moderation. Carnival is over, and this period is a time of rest.”
She cancelled all the events she usually had that first week in Lent and her company also changed focus. Uncomprehending what was happening to her, Sobion returned to church and later began going to the Living Water Community, starting spiritual direction.
“I was going every day. I was so lost, I needed to pray. I started to be afraid of God because He was calling, and I don’t know to what…. I knew I had to obey this voice, but I didn’t know how.”
He continued to subtly guide her life: “He started to tell me, about the marijuana. I needed to stop but I didn’t know what else would give me this feeling of connecting with God….”
While meditating she saw a vision of Jesus, and felt the Holy Spirit open her palms, felt Jesus draw on her hands. “I didn’t even want to open my eyes. I wanted to keep the feeling.” She again asked Him, “What are you calling me to?” His response: Be a mother.