Mackenzie Rollins | Weblog

.lost in translation.

with 14 comments


m: female. 23 years old. 5 foot 5. reddish-brown hair, pulled back in a ponytail. jeans. black fleece. striped scarf. traveling with two big black bags and one brown shoulder bag.

this, the search criteria given to unknowing persons in various cities of hungary, searching for the lost woman. she left sarajevo on the 7:14 train, to arrive in sarbogard, hungary at 5:30. the train arrived on time. passengers exited, but she was nowhere among them.

andi (who was to pick up the girl) panicked and immediately thought the worst. what if she fell asleep and missed the sarbogard announcement? what if someone did something terrible to her and threw her out a train window? what if she was kept at the hungarian border because of her notoriously crappy passport (it’s possible that she washed it right after getting it. some would say it looks like it has been through a war. or two or three.) andi asked about the train and no one said anything about two cars from bosnia being delayed at a border crossing. they acted as if everything was, well, as it should be. andi called arpi, and the search began.

“search teams” consisted of various friends and family in different countries. laci and keri called all the hospitals and emergency services on the train route in croatia, for reports of any accidents involving a 23-year old female. daniel and patricia, people who’d never met this missing passenger, danced and screamed with huge signs bearing her name. each one, at a different train station in hungary. each one, unable to find her. andi waited at the train station in sarbogard. arpi, at home with nina, called the emergency american services at the u.s. embassy in hungary. rob and janet were phoned, told that she whom they’d parted with earlier that morning had never arrived. her family back in texas was phoned. friends found out.

no information was given by the train companies in bosnia, crotia and hungary. information about delayed trains is, apparently, hard to come by. calls were made to the train stations in various cities. no pertinent information about a certain two train cars was given.

hours passed. nothing. none of the search crews could find her.

as you’ve probably guessed or heard, the girl was me. yes, i went missing on sunday night. did i know i was missing, and that search teams were looking for me? heck no. so here’s my side of the story.

the train promptly rolled out of the sarajevo station at 7:14 a.m. i was bawling after saying goodbye to the mezgers. fortunately, i had an understanding cabin-mate named rebecca, from philly. her first words to me were a whispered “it’s okay to cry. i’ll give you a good ten minutes. whatever you need.” it was a comfort and a joy to have an english-speaking traveling companion. we got to know each other quite well in our eleven hours together.

we chatted about everything. when one of the first topics was of her adventures in romanian pig pastures, i knew we’d get along like peas in a pod. romanian pigs apparently have no reservations when pooping. rebecca’s shoes verified that truth. (i’m not sure that i needed verification, but it made for a laugh. many of them.) of hungarian history (she’s studying in budapest at the moment). about meditation. prayer. jesus. judaism. awkward moments. travel. growing up. learning who we are. of suicide. pain. at-risk children. of restoration and healing.


rebecca was a breath of fresh air. not afraid to be real. thinks she doesn’t really know who she is, but i saw it developing and shining through her words and actions. a gifted singer. magnetic. a writer. romantic. dreamer. thank you for sharing that time with me, becca. i appreciate you. and yes, more banana bread is coming your way.

a simple equation will provide insight into our time together in that train.

rebecca : chocolate

mackenzie : milk.


thus, i shared my liter of milk (thank you janet) and she shared piles of chocolate. i’ve never seen a more abundant supply, replenished with the taking of each bite. if only i’d brought a cow with me. i guess there’s always next time. our lactose and sugar highs made for a time of singing, dancing, yoga and photo-taking in the train, with many of our new friends. countries represented were venezuela, austrailia, u.s.a., argentina, hungary, croatia, bosnia. i love trains, mostly because i love that they link people from all over. always. i have met some of the most interesting people aboard. and we all know that more people means more with whom to enjoy milk.

eugene kept us company for a while. eugene: born in russia. moved to new york at 11. now works at a bank in london. traveled to sarajevo with a friend, who happens to be a professional gambler. eugene loves photography. we were photo dorks for a while and discussed everything photo. (thank you, becca, for enduring this.) they then discussed yoga this and that. i was educated on all things yoga.

all the yoga talk made us want to sing. sing. sing. what did each of us bring to this singing trio? rebecca’s got soul. eugene has charm and energy. and i, i have giggles and sound effects. the light in our cabin didn’t work, but here’s a little snippit of our singing.

when informed of the two-hour delay to be had at the hungarian/croatian border, i asked a bilingual friend if he’d communicate with the conductor. i knew andi and arpi would check at the train station for delays, so i wanted the station to know our whereabouts. they assured me the information had been passed, so we resumed our singing.

abrupt goodbyes occurred as i exited the train in sarbogard. my friends helped block entryways for extra time to toss my mammoth bags onto the platform. they joked that i must’ve had bodies inside. well, i did really love my sarajevan friends. who knows?

it was 8:30 when i arrived. pitch black. c-c-cold wind. i, the pack mule, trudged across the tracks to meet andi and arpi at our pick-up spot. or so i thought.

that pick-up spot and i became very well acquainted over the next 3 hours. as temperatures dropped, i added layers. i thought the extra chocolate would act as perfect insulation in the cold, but this was not so. when finished, i was wearing five shirts, two fleeces and one down jacket. two pairs of socks. two scarves. that makes for one hot mama. (i actually looked just like the boy in this picture, minus the whole being-a-boy thing.)

each attempt i made at contacting andi and arpi failed. pay phone was down. train station phone, not to be used by passengers. taxi service, closed for the night. the heated sitting rooms were closed for the night. the ticket window lady was, how do i put it kindly, a witch. i think she must’ve lost her broom. too bad i didn’t have one in my body bags… if only she lost a body.

things didn’t add up because i was assured the station in sarbogard knew of our delay. i started to wonder if something had happened to a & a on their way to pick me up. car accident? nina? knowing there was nothing i could do, i moved my things and laid on a bench to sleep for a few hours before the 3:48 a.m. train.

in walked my pocket-sized hungarian angel. she was the cutest little janitor. cleaning supplies at her side, she saw me and dropped her things. i must’ve been quite a bundled sight. an obvious foreigner with my ample cargo. frozen snot from being cold and crying a bit. (you know the emotions from being in a foreign country. not knowing the language. expecting to find familiar faces, but being wrong in that thought. lingering emotions from having said goodbye to friends in sarajevo. not knowing where was the safest place to sleep outside. etc.) she took my arm and a bag and led me to a heated room, which only she had access to with her keys. she led me to a warm bench and smiled. i hugged her for an awkward length of time and was left alone.

after a while of lying on the bench, i heard footsteps, followed by a “oooh mackenzie, it’s you! you’re okay! oh, you need to call your mom right now. she’s worried about you!” “my mom? how does she know we couldn’t find each other?”

…and so began the telling of their side of the story.

thanks to each of you for your part in all of this. for your prayers. your willingness to search for me at random train stations.  your phone calls (which undoubtedly left you on hold for a good while, i’m sure). i felt so undeservedly loved and touched by each of you when i heard of all who were concerned. it’s one of those weird/unfamiliar/difficult/humorous situations that makes can be looked back upon with gratitude at how well the lord takes care of his children, even when we are cold and snotty.

goodbye for now. i love you.




Written by Mackenzie Rollins

November 6, 2007 at 6:48 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

14 Responses

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  1. Oh man. This makes me cry! I’m so sorry and so something else that’s bigger than sorry that I just can’t describe. What an adventure. I’m glad you’re safe. (We got the call on Sunday too…)


    November 6, 2007 at 7:38 pm

  2. Wish I had been the conductor!

    Casey Jones

    November 6, 2007 at 8:04 pm

  3. oh, my goodness. i’m so glad that things can be funny in retrospect. the first half of this had me cracking up because that day, fresh hot tears rolled down my face while i was praying for the mercenaries who had abducted you and were forcing you into the infamous eastern european sex trade to be merciful and let you go. i imagined you half drunk with milk and chocolate while we were all frantic.
    then the second part, i felt so bad for you. well, at least you know how much everyone loves you, and what it feels like to be homeless in the cold.
    i love you dearly, sis. i’m already buying gallons of milk in anticipation of your arrival at my house. 🙂


    November 6, 2007 at 8:05 pm

  4. Sounds like God sent that janitor to get you out of cold. You could have frozen to death. Take your adventure as a LEARNING EXPERIENCE!

    Melissa Rollins

    November 6, 2007 at 8:57 pm

  5. oh my, unaware, but you gave me the cherry on the tufahija that day… 🙂
    I was coming home from a crisis intervention with a family and my phone rings… Mackenzie is lost…
    I was shocked. I made several million phonecalls… And Actually Keri gave the idea of you being possible in the train station… (that was on of the “theories”, where can you be…) And she saved you… 🙂

    Anyhow we are glad you are ok and safe…

    COME BACK KENZO as soon as GOD lets you…

    We miss you greatly…

    Lazo von in the name of THE NEMETHs

    Lazo Von Vukovaren

    November 6, 2007 at 9:44 pm

  6. Lauren called me, asked for your mom’s number and I thought, what happened? haha. Why is it that my mind always goes to that place, the place of the worst thing that could happen. I, like Lauren, also prayed for you that day. And Justin did too. I’m glad you’re ok. It was great to get your mom’s call. I am also eager to see you, and am GREATLY anticipating the girls night at lauren’s that the 4 of us will have. I love you and miss you. Times 1 million. I’m praying for you, and I’m so happy at all the things you’ve learned from your time in Bosnia. It’s so crazy how fast 6 months goes. It really seems like we all just said goodbye to you yesterday! Anyway. This was a good post. I’m glad I got to read it!

    Amy Pennell

    November 6, 2007 at 9:59 pm

  7. It was calling the American Embassy and having someone answer on a Sunday night when reality hit that I was filing a Missing Persons Report. Luckily I didn’t even get as far as description etc when you called. I have never been so elated to hear your sweet voice. Dad, Darcy (who couldn’ start driving back to school til she knew something) and Derek were so relieved. We love you and are so eager to see you. You have so many incredible friends who while thinking the worst, prayed and their prayers and ours were answered. Love ya ,mom


    November 6, 2007 at 11:09 pm

  8. Thank God you’re safe, warm and found. I loved your train video and hearing you giggle. What is your next destination, and when are you returning stateside. We miss and love you times ten.

    Denise Todd

    November 7, 2007 at 1:28 am

  9. hi lovey! i think i still don’t understand what happened? was it just a simple train delay or what? regardless, im glad youre safe! i was sure you were going to be the next face on the milk carton….


    November 7, 2007 at 3:27 am

  10. if I made a movie i’d include this story…i’m glad you made it to
    Vajta! and again, can’t wait to see you:-)


    November 7, 2007 at 2:45 pm

  11. i love you so much. i cant beleive what a wonderful person you are.


    November 8, 2007 at 11:59 am

  12. Wow. Loved the story. Funny how many times i have heard stories like this, living in Vajta. Hard to imagine what traveling on the trains is like here, until you have done it a few times. The things we Americans take for granted back in the states, kinda all goes ‘out the window’ here. Glad you were ‘found’ fairly soon and didn’t freeze. and, Good to have you with us for a few days.


    November 8, 2007 at 1:23 pm

  13. There’s no keeping you out of adventure’s way is there? Glad to hear you showed up in one piece, though cold and snotty. God bless the lovely lady janitor, God sent you an angel there Kenz. I wonder if you located your debit card yet? Excited for all those who are getting to see you after so long. I know what they have been missing! Praying for you and love you very much. xXx


    November 8, 2007 at 4:46 pm

  14. i don’t even really knew you, and even I knew you were missing. It is definitely strange to be a part of a stranger’s life who is currently around the world. Lauren keeps telling me how much I will like you; that, i must admit, is intimidating in itself. Will probably make me a bit nervous/shy when I finally do meet Lauren’s best friend, whom everyone else knows but me.
    But I still look forward to it. Don’t get lost on the way home.


    November 9, 2007 at 12:39 pm

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