Journals
Posted on August 9, 2020 Five Months into Covid Life; Five Emotions that Accompany Us Today
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These past five months have been a journey for us all… despite the fact that most of us have not left our homes! (except for essential trips to the grocery store and daily walks for our health and sanity). During this time, the weeks are difficult to distinguish, and as we thought about sending an update, it felt as if we had little to share. El Salvador remains “closed”, with no flights in and out, schools and businesses closed, and quarantines keeping people at home. We, Eliberto and Molly, have remained in our routines of working from home and limiting our interactions to phone calls and Zoom. Despite feeling that we had little “news” to share, we wanted stay connected through some sort of update. As we reflected on this time, there are several emotions or themes that have accompanied us and even a few notable events we want to share with you. We hope these give you a glimpse into our “Covid world”, and inspire you to reflect on and share your own experiences!

Gratitude

After some twists and turns, we are thrilled to share that we are expecting our first baby in October! This has been quite a journey, but we are grateful for the promise of new life. While we originally expected baby boy would be born in El Salvador, our plans have shifted and we look forward to the support we will have from family and friend here in the DMV as we adjust to a family of 3. Although this pregnancy has been different than we imagined, with quarantines, working from home, and virtual midwife appointments, it has been the greatest joy and light in the heaviness of Covid. We are so excited and so grateful for this gift.

Some other things that fill us with gratitude during this season include: being physically close to Molly’s parents and sister’s family, lots of phone calls with family and friends, our engaged and diverse church community FBC Silver Spring, a new apartment and place to call home, lots of walks and nature time, and for Molly, the chance to sing for our streamed worship services on Sunday mornings.

 

Lament

We are all lamenting during this season. We mourn our unattainable expectations for 2020 that became impossible due to Covid. We lament the unexpected deaths of so many. Some of our deepest moments of lament over these past few months are noted below:

  • death in our MVP family, “la hermana Coyito,” a dedicated woman who served the children of Nejapa sharing the hope of peace, mother and grandmother to many colleagues and friends. See her in the picture below (second from right).

    This picture was of MVP volunteers in El Salvador during the first few weeks of the 2020 school in February. Our friend and sister “Coyito” is second in from the right; she will be missed by many, but her spirit of servanthood for peace will live on with us all in MVP.

  • The daily struggles of our students/clients at work. Both Eliberto and I work with immigrant families in the DC area. Many of them have experienced loss beyond our understanding- job loss, sickness, lack of food, lack of shelter, death, depression. As we walk alongside our immigrant neighbors during these months, we lament the unequal access to assistance and support, we lament the rhetoric of fear that grips so many, and we lament the systems that strip these neighbors from their basic human rights.
  • Ineffective leadership in El Salvador. During these months the government has been divided and unwilling to work together to respond effectively to the pandemic. This has led to violence, extreme hunger, and a lack of clear plans as we move forward. We lament the physical and emotional effects of isolation for so many children during these months, and the uncertainty that stems from a lack of leadership during critical times.
  • An extended period “away.” As we near our 2 year mark in the US, we realize that this time of preparation in the US has been extended far beyond our expectations. Along with our longing to move back to El Salvador permanently, the last 5 months have been marked by a strong desire to be home. We have committed to making trips every 4-6 months to El Salvador to be with family and our ministry partners. But it has now been 8 months since our last visit, and this time away is quite a challenge! We long to spend time as a family with Eliberto’s children, to visit his mom and sister, to have coffee with friends, and to share in person with our MVP family. Even with the knowledge that it is literally impossible to travel to El Salvador (the airport has been closed since March), our hearts are still heavy during this very extended time away.

 

Reassurance 

In June International Ministries provided matching funds to all new monthly partners for missionaries. We first thought “What a difficult time for this campaign! Our world is struggling to survive a pandemic and the US is devastated by racial injustice.” Yes, we were. Yet people still generously partnered with us for the work of MVP in El Salvador. In the midst of such chaos and struggle, you all, our friends and family, found value in this work for peace in a tiny Central American country with people most of you will never meet. You chose to become part of MVP. We are so thankful for the 12 new monthly partners who are now part of our MVP family, and the gift of over $4,000 matches by IM for our work for peace. The financial support is definitely a huge gift, but above that, the reassurance that we have a great community walking with us and supporting us as we continue to work for peace is incredible. What a reassurance of our mission and calling, and of our growing MVP family. Thank you to all who form part is this family; we are so grateful you are on this journey with us!

 

Uncertainty

As difficult as it is to express our uncertainty and doubts with words, there is release and freedom in naming these questions

Despite spending most of our time at home, we have enjoyed getting to know local parks in the DMV on the weekends!

bouncing around our heads:

  • When will we return to work “in person”?
  • When will schools in El Salvador reopen?
  • When will we be able to visit extended family?
  • When will we be able to enter a store without wearing a mask?
  • When will we be ready to move back to El Salvador?
  • When will our baby boy make his entrance into the world?
  • When will a vaccination become available?
  • When will we feel “safe” in public?
  • Will this ever truly end, or will we learn to live in this new Covid world?

These are just a few of our uncertainties these days… take time to share your own questions with those close you. We are not alone in our doubts and fears.

 

Hopefulness

A socially distanced peaceful protest at our church. Grateful to be part of a community that stands for justice in our world.

After a hard hit, “un golpe” as we say in Spanish, we often get a sense of hope. Of course we first experience the immediate effects of the hit, the pain, the frustration. And sometimes it takes a while to move through these feelings of pain and defeat. But most of us manage to get back up, and with that rising, we can claim a sense of hope. Our hearts are heavy for all the pain in our world, for the loss of life and the loss of ministry. Yet there is a sense of excitement as we begin to imagine what comes next. It’s a chance to reflect, a chance to hit the reset button. What should change? How can we use this crisis as a springboard into something stronger, better? It seems that we are still in the process of getting back up, perhaps with one knee still in the ground. Yet the hope that we will rise, that we will regain what has been lost, and that we can even exceed beyond where we left off in March can feel exhilarating. How does Covid change us personally? Our families? Our communities? Even our world? We are slowly learning and will continue to discover what newness is born out of this pandemic. One thing we are certain of – we want to be active leaders in the discovery that is to come, shaping our paths forward with a strong emphasis on peace and community. We may not be there yet, but the prospect is something to be excited about, something to fill us with hope.

 

We hope this update gave you a snapshot into our minds and hearts these days. Our daily routines have not changed much since March, but we hope you can feel connected to us and to your own communities of support during these days of isolation and separation.

May we continue to be people of peace, caring for ourselves and our neighbors as we hold all that is and all the unknowns to come.

Thank you for being part of the MVP family.

Peace and hope to you,

Eliberto, Molly, & Baby Boy