After 19 months of service, as a full-time missionary and full-time mission nurse specialist, in the mission Chile Santiago East, I'm here! I'm back! I made it!
You know, I thought it was going to be smooth ride home to Maine from Chile; however, I think Brandon jinxed me. Getting to Chile was a problem-solving test. Leaving Chile was a patience builder. Oh what a trip home it was! Here's what happened.
First in Santiago in the apartment. I packed little by little, throwing stuff away left and right. We went to the internet for my last Chilean post and President Wright calls and wants to see me before I leave, He says he's gonna stop by with the assistants and the secretaries (Elder Laurentino, Elder McGary, Elder Lopez, Elder Hansen Sr.). So we go back home and we take my bags down to the car. We had a good time talking and laughing about missionary life. Then we weighed my bags; one is underweight and one is overweight. So, I'm forced to take action in the street on the sidewalk. President said I wasn't a girl with much shame, so we got to work. I opened up my bags on the sidewalk and we start switching stuff around. I didn't have to leave anything behind! SCORE.
Then I say goodbye to everyone (that was not an easy task) and go to the airport with Elder and Hermana Mayer. We get there, All is going well.., until we get to the baggage check and I realize the Kiosk only gave me one ticket. Not three. Are you serious? So we look into it and it's because I have to switch airlines.... Ugh. Elder Sheffield, You really did make me a one way ticket to Hong Kong didn't you? Haha. The Delta guy just tells me to at least get to the states and then I could go from there. Say what brotha? Well, I figured that was the right option. I passed customs, security, and all that jazz; I got through without too many problems, THEN I found another missionary (Elder Hubler), Come to find out, he knows some of the people in my last zone!!! Small world. We did some contacting and got on the plane. I sat on the wrong seat (my fault haha), and had my first eventful 9 hour 15 minute flight.
Santiago, Chile to Atlanta, Georgia. I sat next to a Chilena and a Chileno. I was so thankful that I was able to sit next to Spanish speakers. I first spoke to the Chilena. After a little chit chat, I told her I was a missionary and gave her a pass-a-long card; I started explaining the card and she very frankly told me she did not want to talk to me. How rude! So I just sat there trying to not make it awkward. And then fear kicked in when I felt I needed to talk to the Chileano on the other side of me. I knew I needed to talk to him, but what if he rejected me too? Talk about an uncomfortable flight. So after a few minutes of self-battle, I decided not to be a pansy and I talked to him. He was amazing and very receptive! I ended up giving him my email address; we'll see what happens.
THEN... the hornery lady spilt her drink all over me (on accident). Oh but hold on, it wasn't just water. It wasn't milk. It wasn't soda. It was white wine!!! How lovely right? I still have the smell of wine in my nose... Charity suffereth long. Haha.
I get off the plane in Atlanta, try to help some Spansh speakers know where they needed to go, pass through customs, find my checked bags (man they're heavy), and then try to figure out how to do this whole change airlines business. I get some help after being referred to 5 different people, praying my checked bags got put on the right flight, and go through security. At security, the security sensors went off on my leg, they totally have to pat me down. Thankyou to the white wine all over my skirt. Ohhhh que vergüenza. I didn't say a word; I just let them think their machine was crazy. Haha. Then I had to find my connecting flight and realize that was going to be much more complicated than I thought. I had to take the "Plane Train" (last metro ride!) to another terminal, leave the airport security, check in and get my tickets, go back through security, then back onto the Plane Train to my gate.
Por las hermanas: en Philadelphia, necesitaba tomar un bus de un lugar en el aeropuerto a un otro. Bueno, estaban anunciando en el bus a afirmarse súper bien por los movimientos y todos lo hicieron con manos blancas el final. Jaja. También la gente tomó su espacio y no hicieron espacio por los demás. Estaba riéndome mucho porque obviamente nunca han viajado a Chile en bus ni metro. Fue el viaje mas suave que he tenido en mi vida. Jajaja.
And that's not all, I keep responding to people in Spanish!! Ooops. That has got to be the weirdest thing to see this white girl walking around talking to people in Spanish. I'm still thinking in Spanish and translating what I'm saying. It sounds so foreign. Also, I found out it's really hard to teach the lessons in English. I'm just Spanglishing it. How crazy is that? Oh ya, and people here are soooo tall!!!
By the way, Hermanas, I ate my Ramitas. Haha. At like 4am on the plane and for breakfast. Sing it to the toon of "Red Robins... Yum!".... Hagalo. RAMITAS. Yum.
Other side note. My legs have never hurt so bad before. Sitting so long after walking all day long for 19 months isn't all that comfortable. I ache with muscle burn from my hips to my ankles. That sounds like an old person! What's wrong with me?
The scenery of the USA that I saw was pretty. Even though it's not green nor is there snow, it was fun to see all of the lakes frozen over. But no snow??! Why not? Inflight from Chile to Georgia, I did pass by some countries I don't know if I will ever visit. Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Cuba, etc.
So I finally arrive to Maine…boy, it is COLD! I arrived and was so excited to see my family and friends. I had no idea who was going to be there, but I was content knowing that it would be those whom I love. I was greeted with a hug, kiss, and tears by my Mom and then everyone after. (I won't attach all the crying pictures. Haha.)
My Mom gave me a beautiful rose and explained that there were more in the airport with someone; I was to go find them. I looked at her and said, "It's Brandon." She responded with a doubtful and unconvincing, "I don't know…" As I looked around, I saw this….
He had the bill of his hat down farther, though, so I could not see his eyes. Good thinking. I knew it was him… the doubt kicked in for about 3 seconds…then I was back to how I was going to unleash the young body from the old man disguise.
IT WAS HIM!!!!! What a surprise it was. I had a feeling he was going to be there when I started on my flights from Chile to Maine. I believe I needed the assurance he was going to be by my side for a few days as some of my post mission stress began.
We stayed there at the the airport, talked, took pictures (Thanks Soubanh!!), and found my luggage (miracles). I introduced those there to a Bon a Bon thanks to Hermana Alejandra Albornoz. They all loved them! We left the airport shortly after. I was released by my stake president and became a normal person again (as Hermana Tingey would say)!!!
We are now at almost a week since I have been home. I feel like it has been a tornado of experiences already. My mind swims with information of what has happened, what is happening, and what needs to happen. I have laughed. I have cried. I have been lost in my own thoughts. I have been trying to be a "normal returned missionary"…I don't even know what that is! Things are coming together. I am getting to know myself as well as others again. It feels as if everything has changed and it's like starting from ground zero in order to get to know the world around me. Adventures! I am excited and scared for the future. I am ready to move on. I am ready to live and love whatever may come my way. Chau Chile! Welcome to post-mission life!