Above photo: Courtney in Belize with Linda Just, Erin Mackenzie and Jamielynn Flores
Photos and story by Jana Inglehart
Today we said farewell to a valuable member of the Latin America & Caribbean missionary team. Courtney Zalmanoff, a GEO missionary arrived in the Dominican Republic on September 30, 2019. Armed with degrees in Spanish and Psychology, she faithfully carried out her role as assistant volunteer coordinator for over two years.
Within a few months of her arrival, Courtney traveled to Belize with the Regional Leadership Team, which meets twice a year to plan and evaluate ongoing mission work. Weeks later, she made a quick trip to Peru to assist with and participate in a community health evangelism team.
The lockdowns began to impact short-term teams of volunteers in March of 2020. In fact, the flow of volunteers came to a halt. LCMS volunteer coordinators from regions across the globe put their heads together to discuss ideas for continuing their work. They settled on the idea of connecting English-speaking individuals in the United States with students in other countries who wanted to learn to speak English or improve their English. Courtney was excited to be involved in the launch of this online English conversation partner project.
Missions Unpacked and Missions Unpacked for Kids were two other mission education programs resulting from the brainstorming meetings. Once again, this young missionary was eager to be involved in the planning and development of the programs.
Courtney traveled to Puerto Rico and took part in a radio program, Café con Fe, or in English, Coffee with Faith. The Lutheran Hour Ministries director in Puerto Rico works with our missionary team to host the twice-weekly program. It is broadcast on a local radio station and focuses on topics of interest to the Christian community and upcoming events and activities in our Puerto Rican Lutheran missions.
In March 2021, eight Brazilian alliance missionaries and their families came to the Dominican Republic for a month-long orientation. Additionally, delegations from the LCMS International Center in St. Louis, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Brazil, and the Africa region were on hand during the orientation. Courtney worked on the logistics, housing, transportation, scheduling of events, food and other errands related to the care of the missionaries and the various delegations. She worked from early morning to late in the evening throughout the month to handle the challenges without complaint.
Courtney was always busy working on a new project. She hosted missionary kids at her home for Christmas, assisted with webinars, taught English classes and helped organize FOROs both online and in person. It is difficult to recount all the ways she was a blessing during her time of service in the Latin America & Caribbean region.
Today she returns to her hometown of St. Charles, Missouri, and to her family. No doubt they are delighted to have her back. Once she settles into life in the United States, she will begin a new chapter in her life. For now, we pray she can relax a bit and enjoy reconnecting with family and friends. We pray the Lord will guide her next steps and bless her on her way. Her fellow missionaries and friends in Latin America already miss her warm smile, kind heart and incredible work ethic.
Thank you and God bless you, Courtney!