Lost and Found in the Pandemic

As we move through the COVID health crisis, an unprecedented event in the last 100 years, PRUMC and its community are building their “next” normal along with the rest of the world. Our experience of living in isolation, when much of the world as we knew it simply stopped for an unknown period of time, has realigned our assumptions about the future and our connections with each other. What’s important, and what falls away? What can we learn from each other, and what can we leave as a chronicle for the future?

We asked some of you, our members and staff, to tell us about your experience. You generously, thoughtfully and humorously contributed. From an 89-year-old who lived through World War II and the polio epidemic, to a high school senior who did not have the milestone year she expected, to a PRUMC property team member who took care of an eerily empty church building every day – you tell a story of resilience. We are finding our way.

All interviews were edited for clarity and length.

Rev. Leslie Watkins
    I think about how that is our fourth commandment, to take a Sabbath. And I think about how foreign this quarantine was at first, when we had to just be still. I wonder: if we’d all been better about taking a Sabbath before, would we have been better-equipped emotionally for this quarantine time?
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    Samantha Cole
    Everybody remembers “the boy in the bubble”, right? I have one of the more moderate forms of that. But I’ve never had to go into complete isolation until now, because my treatment protocol had allowed me to live a pretty normal life. I’ve been receiving donor antibodies for 12 or 13 years. But this virus has caused me to experience my diagnosis in a whole new light.
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    Philip Mastin
    Some things in my past probably have given me a different perspective on the experience of being isolated or not getting to do what I’d like to do. After I graduated from college, I was drafted into the Army and sent to Thailand, where I was processed in and then just waited for a month, with absolutely nothing to do, until they could get us transportation to Korea. Once I got to Korea, I spent 11 months, mostly on top of mountains in radio relay stations.
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    Brittney Haynes
    Beyond the day-to-day, the pandemic has made me incredibly grateful for everything. A friend once put in my mind that people say “I have to” all the time. I have to go get groceries. I have to go to work. I have to pay bills. She helped me change my perspective. Now I think, “I get to go buy groceries, I get to work, I get to pay my bills.” I have so much appreciation. I know that everything I have is not because I deserve it but because God blesses and trusts me with it.
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    Sarah Frances Cox
    I don’t really get to see any of my friends unless they’re on my street. The other day it was my friend’s birthday, and we did a drive-by birthday parade. The teachers came by to give balloons out. Don’t worry, they still social-distanced! During spring break we built forts down in the basement or upstairs in my room or in the dining room, and we used blankets. And I tried to teach our dog, Nelson, some tricks. He’s not the best, because he’s 11.
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    James Jordan
    These are trying times, and it’s strange going through something so different than anything we’ve ever experienced, especially being my age. In some ways it’s like a kid on his very first day of school. But we should all see that we’re not in this thing alone. Since nobody’s ever seen this before, everybody’s opinion counts. Our staff has learned to come together in a different way every day but still make things work as a team.
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    Shawn & Tracy Ryan
      So now a normal day is the older kids and me all in the kitchen together for school! Asher is at one end with his computer and headphones. Alden and I are in the middle at the bar, because she needs a lot more help. Caleb is our oldest and in 5th grade, so he’s more on his own but at a desk that’s also in the kitchen. We have never been a big screen family, but Micah, our youngest, is watching a lot of screens, because it’s hard to find activities to keep a kid that age busy for long stretches while the home schooling is going on. And we’re all near each other, because Shawn’s office is in a bedroom on the same floor. He goes in there at 9:00 and begins his work day when we all start school.
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      Catherine Sherling
      About two weeks before school closed, when we still had no idea how bad this was going to be, they showed us a video on how to properly wash your hands. And we all just thought, “This is so dumb that they’re making such a big deal out of this.” And then they shut down school, and that was a little surprising. But it was supposed to be just two weeks, so we thought we’d be going back. We thought, “There’s no way this is the end of school, is it?” But it was.
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      Betty Lee Kennedy
      I was just 12 when World War II started, and I was 13 when my dad was called into service. Someone told him he might have a basis for exemption, but he said, “No, everyone else is going, and I need to go too.” He went into the Navy, and I didn’t see him for years. I missed my dad, but my mother was very calm and steady.
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