April 10, 2016
VISAs for Mexican missionaries who are called to serve in the United States or other foreign countries, often take many months. The VISAs to these countries do not seem to follow any schedule. It is hard to predict how long they may take. Therefore the church has started to send “temporary” Mexico born missionaries to the missions in Mexico. They serve with us until the VISA has arrived. Temporary missionaries who will be speaking Spanish in these foreign countries often go to the 3 week Mission Training Center (MTC) located here in Mexico City. If they will be speaking English, they arrive to us without any training and come straight from home. Their future training will be in the MTC in the foreign countries they are assigned to, once the VISA has arrived. Our mission currently has 7 temporary missionaries.
Elder Vargas arrived here 8 weeks ago. He is assigned to the Utah St. George mission and was waiting for his VISA. He did not go to the Mexico City MTC. His parents brought him to the mission office, hugged and kissed him, and bid him farewell. He is wonderful and has loved being here in our mission. We received notice last week that it was time to take him to the US Embassy to complete his VISA to the United States.
Keith and I were excited to visit the US Embassy. Having heard of embassies all my life, I pictured how it would be. In my mind I would find many Americans. We would share our stories of what had brought us to Mexico. Warm greetings with officials and laughs would be exchanged. I didn’t expect punch and cookies, but that would be nice also!
Well….high fences, guards with automatic weapons, and long lines greeted us instead. At least there was an American flag flowing in the breeze. Elder Vargas was the only one admitted, not even his companion Elder Call got to enter. Circling the outside were hundreds of people anxiously waiting for their loved ones inside. We would occasionally see someone come out from the enclosed edifice. The only pleasant part was the Yogurt Berry Frappuccino purchased from the Starbucks around the corner. We bought 8 of them for all the missionaries waiting outside while their companions were escorted behind the walls.
Elder Vargas exited about 90 minutes later. With a big smile, and pretty good English, he announced he was “going to Utah.” We were so happy for him, and so sad for us! We laughed on the way home about the cultural shock he was about to face…Mexico City to St. George, Utah….hummmm