August 20, 2014
What has happened to the last 10 days? I believe the treadmill we were walking on was switched to high speed! My brain only has the capacity to remember 3 days maybe, so I better write fast!
On Monday we welcomed 24 new elders to the mission. Before they could arrive, the mission had to find 9 new apartments and furnish them. 21 elders came from the MTC in Mexico City, and three flew in from the Provo MTC later in the afternoon. The ones coming from Mexico City arrive in time for breakfast – I think they are trying to save money that way! Of the 21 from Mexico MTC, only four were North Americans. Therefore, only a total of 7 came from North America. We spent Monday training them on everything from finances to medical cards.
Being a trainer of new Elders is one of the most important jobs in a mission. Trainers set the tone for the rest of a new missionary’s service. Keith prayed and interviewed a number of Elders and selected the 24 trainers. They were excited. Elder Kleven even bought gummy bears and treats so he could greet his new “son.” For the rest of the mission they refer to each other as “my father” or “my son.” At times I even here that someone is “my grandfather.”On Tuesday the “cambio” (transfers) was held. With this number coming into a mission of 192 young servants, there were a lot of changes. In fact, 134 missionaries experienced some type of change. If you ever have a chance to see one of these it is quite the experience. In Mexico, new companions are not just greeted with a passive “hi” or hand shake. They are given a full abrazo (hug). The sister missionaries usually scream and jump up and down. So here are a few highlights:
- Elder Keller just arrived. He is 6’7”. As he walked up to introduce himself (in Spanish), the crowd yelled “Elder Johnson!” Our Elder Johnson is tall also. When Elder Sandstrom was given Elder Keller to train, Sandstrom ran up from the crowd and didn’t stop running. He jumped up to Elder Keller’s waist, had both legs and arms around him for his welcome abrazo.
- Elder Muir walked up while the crowd yelled “Elder Norr.” Yes, they do look alike. Elder Muir was the happy recipient of Elder Kleven’s gummy bears.
- Elder McCombs is totally North American. However, he did his high school years here in Mexico. He walked up and started to talk in perfect Spanish that was probably better than most those sitting in the audience – audible gasp!
- Elder Kleven lost his distinction of the brightest red hair. As our new Elder Leavitt got up to talk, he introduced himself as Elder Red Hair. The audience loved it!
- Elder Ordaz is from Mexico so of course his language is Spanish. He is so happy to be here. He gave his welcome speech and went to sit down. I grabbed his arm and took him back to the microphone and said, “Elder Ordaz, where did you grow up?” Elder Ordaz said, “Michigan, and I am stoked to be here!” Once again, laughter reigned.
So on Tuesday we passed out the 24 Elders and sent them home with their trainers. We then brought the 5 that were leaving today to our home for dinner – the five plus five more. As we made 3 trips to the airport today, we cried with each one that left. How can we love them this much already? Sister Zambrano (our Sister training leader) flew back to Ecuador. She is the most fun to hug because my head can rest on top of hers. We will probably not meet again until Heaven. Elder Vizueto (one of the Assistants to the President) was put on a bus. It cost us a whopping $175 pesos (about $15) to send him home. His bus will take him to his Stake President to be released, and then he will make his way back to Mexico City for some training for a later job. Elder Vizueto was raised by his grandmother who passed away 1 month before he came on a mission. He is truly on his own now. I tried to not let him see me cry too hard. In his broken English he said as we parted, “I love you sister.” I love you too Elder Vizueto.