New post from missionary Erin Mackenzie
Posted: 20 Sep 2020 06:06 PM PDT
At almost every missionary presentation I give, someone inevitably asks, “What’s a typical day/week like?” The honest answer is that there is no such thing.
But I was determined to go beyond that. I’m almost always busy doing…what? It’s difficult to distill the demands of my job plus what I do to unwind into something that sounds articulate, especially on the spot. So, I decided to journal it (and in many cases, photograph or record it) from a Sunday to a Saturday.
In the past when this idea has crossed my mind, something about every week for the foreseeable future was not “typical.” When I’m in Peru with a team, or “on” 24/7 hosting Venezuelan pastors or US-based DRLM supporters, my every movement is (happily!) governed by the needs of the individuals I’m responsible to. While these are some of my most fun and fulfilling days, I spend more time in Santiago than away from it, sans visitors. Moreover, I wanted to convey the beautiful ordinariness that isn’t always so ordinary even by my standards and probably isn’t ordinary at all to someone in suburban Ohio or rural Nebraska. Then a pandemic happened. So not typical. Given that today is day 194, though, I just plain got sick of waiting. We still have a curfew and have to wear masks in public, but life is as typical as it’s going to be for who knows how long.
Certainly there are some very typical aspects of life not represented by the past seven days, (I was really hoping to catch one of those teeny lizards in the house!) and, likewise, I don’t know that I’d define 100% of what happened in that time frame as typical. What follows is the best way I knew how to introduce you to life as an international missionary with the LCMS. Welcome to A Week* in the [Pandemic] Life.
Sunday, September 13
5:59 am Arrived at the botanical garden, where every good day (and therefore week) starts with a walk or run. I usually leave my house at 6, but on this particular day, I wanted to be there at 6 due to an early morning commitment. Side note: it’s getting light out noticeably later these days.
7:45 am Picked up my friend and colleague Blake and left for PriceSmart (like Costco) so we’d be there when they opened. Why so early? Blake & family were leaving on vacation later that morning. On his list: a new car battery (I had successfully helped him jump his car the previous afternoon, but the charge didn’t last).
7:55 am Arrived at PriceSmart. We had a moment of panic because the posted hours said they opened at 9 am, not 8 am, but, like many businesses, they’ve pivoted to open earlier since curfew forces them to close earlier.
8:11 am Left PriceSmart to go install a battery (Blake, not me). Success! From then until it was time to leave for the airport, I hung out with Blake, his wife Lizz, and their three girls, making myself useful however I could. Lizz said it was the most relaxed she’s ever been, pre-trip.
11:00 am Loaded five people (seven, with drivers) and 10 suitcases into two vehicles and caravanned to the airport.
1:30 pm Joined fellow missionaries who hold a similar role in other regions for a game “night” to bid one of our own Godspeed as she transitions back to the States. I use the term “night” loosely, but it rang true for some on the screen in Africa and Europe.
3:21 pm FaceTimed with a high school friend of mine who was celebrating a birthday. Maintaining friendships across an ocean is hard – I’ll leave it at that.
3:52 pm Having been unable to attend an in-person service in the morning, I watched the recording of “my” church’s service on its Facebook page. Join us any live any Sunday you’d like!
7:39 pm Sat down to dinner of flatbread pizza and a movie, In the Time of the Butterflies, that dramatizes the true story of the Mirabal sisters and their underground campaign against dictator Rafael Trujillo in the late 1950s and until their untimely death on November 25, 1960. I had just finished the book, which I highly recommend.
Monday, September 14
6:00 am Left for the botanical garden.
7:20 am Home and ready for a shower!
7:45 am MKs Hans and Rolf came over for the first time. They’re two of eight children, six of whom are doing online learning, so their mom reached out looking for quiet homes with reliable internet. Check and check. So far, it’s a great arrangement on both ends.
9:00 am Headed to Blake & Lizz’s for a work session with Assistant Volunteer Coordinator Courtney (she was house sitting). Most of our time was spent planning for an unprecedented, 100% online mission “trip.” From November 18-22, our goal is to introduce participants to the Church’s work in the DR through evening and weekend interactive Zoom sessions. If you’re with me so far, click here to learn more and sign up.
12:04 pm Lunch (and dinner, consequently) included avocado. No Hass avocados from Mexico here! Ours are about twice as large, smooth on the outside, and lighter-colored and milder on the inside.
12:30 pm Headed to Palmar to do some library cataloging.
2:30 pm Headed back to Cerro Alto (specifically, my house) loaded down with all remaining uncataloged books. We knew there was a 50/50 shot there wouldn’t be power in Palmar (don’t ask) and were overjoyed when there was…until there wasn’t. Cataloging remotely was far from ideal, but alas, the job needed to be done, and WiFi is a necessity.
5:00 pm After an afternoon of cataloging at my kitchen table, I gratefully accepted Courtney’s dinner invitation and enjoyed slow cooker salsa chicken courtesy of Lizz.
6:45 pm My phone alarm went off, signaling that curfew was drawing nigh.
6:50 pm Left for home and ran into some fellow missionaries en route! This is common when you all live within a square km. of one another.
8:28 pm Exercised boundaries and did not stay up until midnight cataloging books!
Tuesday, September 15
6:00 am Left for the botanical garden.
7:39 am Smoothie time! I’ll readily admit that I’m not a big fan of many Dominican staples, but readily available, fresh tropical fruit I can get behind.
9:03 am Session 1 of CHE TOT1 got underway!
11:50 am It ended 10 minutes earlier than expected.
12:52 pm Aaaaaaand the power went out. Outages ranging from a flicker to a few hours occur almost daily. My house has an inverter (backup battery) that powers some things (my router, ceiling fans, and one outlet that I’ve found) temporarily…
2:30 pm Sat in on Panama’s English Conversation Partner volunteer orientation to listen, learn, and lend moral support.
3:09 pm Joined the meeting using data on my phone when the inverter copped out and I no longer had WiFi…and moved outside for a breeze because it gets rather warm rather quickly with no fans.
8:29 pm Turned on the Cardinals game until it was too painful to watch (they lost 18-3) and then switched to Netflix. I’m currently on Season 3 of Friends. No spoilers, please – yes, I’m probably the only person in my generation who hasn’t seen it before!
To be continued…
Until next time, blessings!
*For your sake and mine, I’ve chosen to split up the week! Wednesday through Saturday will be detailed in a subsequent post later this week.
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