Hey there everyone!
These past weeks have been so crazy. I’ve been in and out of emotional break downs, traveling for extreme distances, and enjoying my stay in my temporary home.
Lets rewind . . .
Monday the 30th of March
I sent and email out to everyone, with information about my situation in Argentina. I said that we would be pulled out in two to three weeks. That I would be sent to Utah to stay with my uncle and aunt.
Well, that entire week we just chilled in the pension, watched movies and went crazy. Being quarantined is not fun, as all of you know very well. But being suck in a pension as a missionary was not fun. We couldn’t go out, talk to people, and serve.
Tuesday the 31st of March
Normal quarantine day. Though, I decided not to write an email. I just though that I could write one medium sized one explaining my situation. Tuesday was also a normal day.
Except for one little thing.
At 5ish during the evening, we got a call. A call from our mission office. One of the many secretaries there, let us know that we needed to pack, clean the pension and finish all necessary responsibilities by the following morning. We were going to be hoping into a car on the freeway that would take us to the city of our Zone Leaders (Saenz Peña) Wednesday morning.
We freaked out! I immediately started packing. I finished around 9 pm. While we were packing, our District President called us, asking us if we had a taxi that would take us to Saenz Peña. We told him that the office had gotten us a car that would take us there. He told us that we needed to get a taxi, then hung up. We were super confused. So we called the office again and they told us that the District President was wrong, that a car would be picking us up. So we said okay and stuck with that.
A few minutes later the District President called again and asked if we had a taxi. We told him that the office told us we did’t need one, that a car would be picking us up. He sounded frustrated and asked for the office phone number. He called them and they called us, informing us that we did indeed needed to get a taxi. So we called out Branch President and asked if he could get us a taxi. He said of course. He called later and let us know that we had a car ready to go at 8:00 am the following day.
Wednesday the 1st of April
So we woke up at 6:00 am and finished up everything. By 8:30 we were wondering what was happening. We called the Branch President and he told us that they needed to go to the Police station and get some paperwork done. By 11:00 am we had everything signed and ready. We got into the taxi, said by to our Branch President and left to the freeway. We got stopped by a bunch of workers of the city’s municipality. They asked us what we were doing. The taxi driver told them that we were going to be making a long trip to Saenz Peña. They told the driver that he would have to come back and do a 14 day quarantine. He didn’t want to do that, because he would not be working for two weeks. So we turned the car around and told us that we will never be able to get out of Las Breñas.
We felt really depressed as we arrive to our pension. I thought I was never going to see that . . . place ever again. But that was not the case. We got our pension keys back from our Branch President, and pulled all of our luggage into our pension. We used our time wisely and made some lunch and enjoyed it. I talked to my parents for a while during our waiting period. They helped me loosen up from stress of this major change.
While we were waiting, we got a lot of calls. All of them were asking us why we were not on our way to Saenz Peña. We explained every thing and our District President decided to try to send a member from Saenz Peña to Las Breñas. So he got in contact with the highest police officer in all of North Eastern Argentina and asked if he could pull some strings.
Well, a few hours later a car was half way to Las Breñas. We got a different taxi ready and headed out the door. The official last time in that pension. We put all our luggage into the taxi and drove to the freeway. The city workers let us pass, only if the taxi went to the freeway and came back immediately. So that is what he did, just he dropped our stuff off as well as us. Our Branch President arrive a few seconds later and thanked the taxi driver. He left. A about 30 seconds later the car from Saenz Peña arrived. We loaded our luggage, said our farewells, and hopped into the car.
We drove the hour and twenty minutes to Saenz Peña without any problems. From 5:00 pm to 6:20 pm. Once we got into the city freeway limits we had to drive a bit slower. Then we turned into the city. There was a long stop with a bunch of police officers and city workers. They checked all of our temperatures and our paperwork. Since we had the signature of the head “chief” of the police department, we passed through super quickly.
We then headed over to the Zone leaders Pension. We dropped off all of our stuff and said by to the amazing member that helped us. Then we chilled with a bunch of Elders. One Elder had brought his hair cutting kit and I asked him if he would be willing to cut my hair. He was kind enough to cut my hair. There were 12 of us, with 11 mattresses. Of all the Elders, one decided to sleep with me. I fell asleep quickly.
Thursday the 2nd of April
The following morning I woke up at 6:00 am. I found that I was alone on my mattress. Apparently 6 Elders pulled an all-nighter. Kind of crazy. But yeah, I got up, took a shower and got everything ready. At 7:30 our bus got there. It was a small bus or a big van, which ever works. We all piled our stuff in, as well as all 12 of us. Two Latin Elders had to stay in the Zone Leaders pension, they were not travelling. But, two Latin sisters were travelling, well, at least to Resistencia. So there were 10 “gringos” and three Latins travelling to Resistencia (including the driver). We traveled a good 2:30 hours to Resistencia. I fell asleep, as well as many of the Elders, during our trip. We arrived at the mission office at 11:00 pm (ish). Then we waited.
and waited and waited, talked, played pool and did magic until the rest of those who were travelling to Buenos Aires got to Resistencia. We had to be really quiet though, which was really hard. Especially when we started to play Mafia. So much fun, but so frustrating when we could only whisper. I stayed in one room for about 12 hours until everyone arrived.
At 11:00 pm, President Patanía arrived and got us all together in one room. We were in two rows, in a semi-circle, 6 feet apart. We started the meeting with a prayer and announcements. They told us of the two decisions that we needed to make by April 30th. They shared their testimonies, as well as there amazing son. They all cried. They were losing their army, their family, their work partners. They thought they would be saying bye to us, when they go home in July. They were sad that we would be say bye to them. We love them so much, and I already miss them. They gave us some gifts. A recommend case with a photo of them and a scripture on the inside. They also gave the Sisters a necklace. They gave the Elders a pin with the mission Emblem on it. Super cool. We ended singing “Called to Serve”. It was a very powerful moment. Many of us cried as we sang our final song as missionaries. For many of us, it was the last time singing as a group of missionaries. For some of us, we will be given a second chance.
We listened to an amazing prayer and closed the meeting. Then we got our passports and other documents that the office had. We grabbed our stuff and packed up the large bus we had waiting for us. We did it in alphabetical order. I, of course, was one of the last. Luckily, my amazing friends saved me a seat in the front. I get major car sick during long trips. So it was definitely a blessing that I could sit up front.
Friday the 3rd of April
We started our travel from then on. We fell asleep around 1:00 am in the morning. We read the scriptures, watched a few Elders play Bean Boozled, laughed a whole bunch, and I solved my Rubik’s Cubes. We slept a lot as well. After our 13 hours of travel, we arrived in Buenos Aires at 1:00 pm. When we got to the Buenos Aires Temple Housing, we unloaded our luggage and organized them into flights. Those who were going to Salt Lake City and have connecting flights, were in one line. Those who’s final destination was Salt Lake City were in another line. We were pretty early compared to other missions, so the Temple Housing was understaffed. Only two people were there. They sent us to the cafeteria and let us mingle there. I took this opportunity to take a shower, since I hadn’t taken a shower that day.
We were given our last lunch in Argentina, the classic Milanesa Sandwich. It was a great send of meal that would always remind us of Argentina. We then were sent to rooms in the Temple Housing there were 7 beds in our room, with 12 Elders staying there. We played Catan, slept a bit, talked and messed around until 2:00 am in the morning. Yes, 2:00 am! We were not suppose to sleep during the night, because they wanted everyone up and running at 2:00 am in the morning. Luckily I slept from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm, so I was okay.
Saturday the 4th of April
At 2:00 am we started to load our luggage onto buses. Mission by mission, we got on buses that would take us to the airport. There were 570 of us travelling from Argentina to the US. Luckily, my group of travelers were on of the last ones to get on the buses. We were going to be taking the 10:00 am plane to Salt Lake City. So we got on the buses at 4:00 am ish. Then we waited in line to actually check in our luggage and go through security. There could only be a few missionaries in the waiting area in the airport at a time. So we froze outside as we waited. We got into the building at 6:00 ish and by then the first plane had started to board missionaries. I got my ticket and dropped of my luggage. I was in the very back cabin, main 45b. Left hand side of the plane, a little behind the wing of our 777 airplane. We hand to do do some paperwork to leave the country and make sure we did it right. Many people did not know how and were rudely sent back to do it right. I felt bad for them. I, on the other hand, got through very quickly. After we finished that fun stuff, I found my gate and waited. Around 8:00 I sat down and started to talk to some of my missionary friends. At 9:00 the plane started to board passengers. Luckily I was really close to the gate and was one of the first to board the plane. Most of my mission was in Comfort +, Preferred, or even Delta One seats. Here is the plane we took. I was seat 45B, Middle seat on the left side of the plane. One Elder from my mission, Elder Butler had 45A, so I was lucky to have him. (He and I have the same birthday. He was born at 7:50 am and I was born at 10:40 pm. Yes, he is older than me)
Just one little thing. He decided to try to trade seat with someone. So I moved into his seat to be by the window and a new Elder, an Elder I did not know, sat down next to me. At 9:30 ish we started to head out of our gate and to the runway. Then we took off.
I’ll skip the 11:30 hour plane ride. I was boring. I don’t know why we didn’t sing. I wish we had. But yeah. We landed in Utah at 9:00 pm ish, Argentina Time. We walked off the plane, did some paper work, got our luggage, followed a line of missionaries to a staircase, pulled our luggage up the stairs and headed to the parking lot. There we were directed to the parking place for our last names. I found my Uncle and Aunt waiting there with my Parents on the phone. I talked to them before and after talking to my grandparents at there house. Of course I didn’t get close. But they did take a picture of me. We passed by the house I had lived in as a kid as well. We then traveled and hour to my Uncle and Aunt’s house. I got comfortable in their guest room and slept.
Sunday the 5th of April.
That morning was General Conference . I t was an amazing conference and I enjoyed it so very much. At 5:00 pm I got a call from my Stake President from Costa Rica. He released me from my calling as a missionary.
I traveled a total of 30 hours from Las Breñas to my Uncle and Aunt’s home. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and calling I had to preach the gospel to the people of north-eastern Argentina. I am grateful that I traveled safely from Argentina to Utah and that I now can live in peace and tranquility here in my Uncle and Aunt’s home.
I thank you all for your love and support that you have given me during my time in Argentina. Thank you for your prayers, they have been felt.
Love you all
El Gringo CR