Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Time Has Come

  My mom, Jennifer, has been posting in my blog for the last two years while I have been on my mission and has done a phenomenal job.  She would receive my emails and publish them with the pictures I had sent as well.  I just want to talk a little bit from my point of view about when I came home from my mission and a few of the feelings I felt.

Two years ago I never thought this day would come when I finished my mission and returned to the United States to be with my family once again.  I still remember waking up the first day I was in the Missionary Training Center and looking at the ceiling thinking, "Where in the heck am I and why am I here?".  I thought my mission was going to be an eternity and this is what I would be doing for the rest of my life, but the end came faster than I had ever imagined.

I woke up early in the morning on May 20, 2014 knowing that this was my last day in Chile with a bitter-sweet taste in my mouth.  It was bitter because I had come to love the Chilean people, became friends with a lot of missionaries, and felt the Spirit burning within me on a daily basis while testifying of the truthfulness of our message.  But it was sweet because seeing and hugging my family once again would be a moment never forgotten.  I finished packing my bags, making sure I had put in all of the souvenirs I had acquired over the two year period and headed to the mission office where I would be instructed by my mission president one last time before it was time to leave for the Santiago Airport.  I reflected on my time in that wonderful country telling stories to my companion, Elder Richardson, while making him laugh.  Each time I shook my head knowing that the creation of memories was going to be halted very soon.  We arrived at the office and I saw my group, some with gloomy looks on their faces, and some with grins so big they almost fell off their faces!  Elder Castro's look was priceless.  He was grinning ear to ear and could not wait to get back to Ecuador to see his mom again.  That was all he talked about!  Soon after I arrived, President Essig called us into his office to tell us to be strong through this time in our lives and we needed to be searching for that special someone to marry in the temple.  When he said that, I realized that that was going to be the next big step in my life.  All I had done in the past was look forward to my mission and think about how it was going to be.  I had never looked past it and thought about what came next.  To think about marrying someone was so weird!  I wasn't even starting to think about that yet.  The meeting ended in a flash and we loaded up all of the luggage and were off to the airport.  

As we pulled out of the parking lot in route to the airport, I pulled out my camera and made one of my last videos while my companions talked about how crazy it was for us to be leaving and returning to our homelands.  The drive to the airport was like madness.  The bus was filled with hootin' and hollerin' while I continued to contemplate my time in thanks to the Lord for the solid testimony I had gained on what was now holy ground for me.  When we arrived at the airport, members of the church and converts were waiting for me to say one last good-bye before I walked through the doors.  They continuously thanked me for all I had done, but I just reminded them that it was not me, but the Savior who had guided my companion and I to their homes to help them know of the fullness of the gospel.  Before I knew it, I was on my way, through security, and to my gate to wait once more before getting on the plane.  All I could think was, "Is this really happening right now? Like, I'm going home!!!"  Elder Wortham kept saying "Qué loco", which means "How crazy!" It was funny how many times he actually said it, probably at least 100.  I found my seat on the airplane and wha-da-ya-know, it was a middle seat on a ten hour plane ride to Georgia.  I was in for a treat.  Some missionaries during the flight reverted to watching movies and listening to music that was available to each one of us on-board, but I decided to stick to my guns and be an example for the rest.  I was not going to be obedient my whole mission and then all of the sudden break one rule the day before and feel guilty about it.  As we approached the United States, I became more and more excited to be home and give my family a bear hug.  When we arrived in Georgia, I stepped off the plane only to be greeted by this weird language... oh yeah, English.  It was everywhere!  There were signs and people speaking English everywhere and I felt strange to me.  My ears had been desensitized to the Spanish language so much that I had to think even more to understand and communicate in English.  I forgot how to say different phrases and was translating everything from Spanish to English in my head and sounded like an idiot.  Everyone just looked at me weird and laughed.  I just smiled.  As we made our connection flights, I was the only missionary continuing to Denver.  Most were going to Utah because that's where half of the missionaries are from it seems.  Not having a companion was weird at first as well because I was all alone.  I had always had someone shadowing me throughout my mission, someone right by my side.  Now, it was that weird person next to me on the airplane.  I didn't like it much at first, but then it was alright.  Two more hours and I would be able to see my family.  Wow.  The time went by faster than I would have thought and all of the sudden I stood in the same airport as my loved ones.  

As I wandered towards the signs that said "Baggage Claim", I realized I was sticky, unshaven, and smelly from all of the time in the airplane not having showered, so I limped to the bathroom to freshen up a little.  My shoes were torn up, my suit was stained, and my shirt was more yellow than white.  I looked more like a hobo with a name tag, but that brought a smile to my face knowing I had worked as hard as I possibly could.  I took the tram to where baggage claim was and waited for everyone to pass through.  I just took a moment before taking the escalator up those stairs to video myself one last time and say what I was feeling.  Tears filled my eyes knowing that right up those stairs I would be able to see my family and hug them until they told me I had to stop.  I put both feet on the escalator and before I was even half-way up, my dad peeked down at me and I completely lost it.  He yelled to the rest, "He's here!, He's here!" and everyone gathered around to get their first glimpse.  I found my way at the top only to see my mom jumping in the air so high that I think she would have won state in the high jump in high school if she would have tried out for the team.  I gave her and the rest of my family gigantic hugs of appreciation for them and their support that they had shown me the whole time.  Seeing them was surreal and I realized just how much I really loved them.  I found myself speechless and couldn't talk much when I was with them. All I could do was hug and kiss them with tears streaming down my face.  I will remember and cherish this experience for the rest of my life.

PS. There are pictures and videos of my experience in the post below if you want to see them!

No comments:

Post a Comment