Sunday, August 24, 2014

The day missionaries leave

This week I heard from actual blog readers!  Thank you for letting me know; I appreciate your feedback.  This week, I am going to outline a typical day for missionaries going home.

The final day is always a Monday. This time we had lots of missionaries here because 15 were leaving.  Some of the companions who accompanied them stayed a little longer to say good-bye to others.  The assistants and secretaries and comisarios came to help get everyone and their luggage to the airport.  One of the senior couples was here to take the group picture and collect bank cards and extra cash.

It was definitely an active scene with some missionaries giving last hugs, while others worked to get their suitcases to the correct weight.  President Warne spent the morning interviewing those who were leaving, while I, with a couple of sisters, made a trip to Jumbo (grocery store) because we needed a few extra ingredients for the lunch.

Our tradition is to have a nice lunch or almuerzo in the dining room with those leaving, while the office elders and senior couple have the same meal in the kitchen.  Yes, it gets pretty crowded in there.  This group was a little different because we had 14 sisters and 1 elder.  He was a good sport about being there on his own.  We had delicious Chilean-style ribs, mashed potatoes, broccoli, rolls, and a dessert which is a specialty of our cook.  She calls it terramoto, which means earthquake; chocolate cake, with a coconut and nut base served with ice cream, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.  I'm pretty sure no one left hungry!

After lunch we have a testimony meeting which is always my favorite part.  This group of sisters is unique because they are the first group who came after the age change announcement and now they have finished and returned home.  Of course I love all the missionaries but it was a privilege to associate with these wonderful missionaries who chose to serve and were excited to be able to go at 19.

The traditional going home picture in the front yard.
As soon as we finish testimonies, it is time to load missionaries and suitcases and head to the airport in Santiago.  The flights are scheduled so that Americans and Mexicans leave and fly overnight, while all the others leave the next day.  They spend their last evening visiting former areas here in Rancagua and perhaps doing some teaching.

At the airport we try to keep everyone organized as we shepherd them through check-in.  We gather for a final group picture, last hugs and usually a few tears, and send them through the door towards security.  This group went home a few days early so that most of them could start school on time which means that we will repeat the whole process again in two weeks, although usually it happens every six weeks. 

Now, hopefully, you can picture leaving day, and also, hopefully, you enjoyed hearing about it!

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