Tuesday, June 9, 2015

People & Memories of Argentina.

I feel like Argentina was a dream, the best kind of dream. 
Since coming home from my mission, my love of travel has evolved into becoming more about the people I meet rather than the places I get to see. While in Buenos Aires, I was asked several times what I would miss the most about Argentina and my answer was always the same—the people. These are some of the faces that I will especially miss along with stories of some of the most precious memories from my trip.

On the way to Mexico City:
I met Aaliyah, age 5, on my flight from Salt Lake to Mexico City. Little Aaliyah talked up a storm and let me play with her hello kitty play set. I was sitting in my seat when Aaliyah and her abuela came to the row. Aaliyah told her abuela she wanted the window seat (where I was sitting) I thought, "eh, why not?" and let her have my seat. Her abuela looked worried, "are you sure? She loves to talk and will probably bother you a lot!" I assured her it would be fine and sat in between them. Talk she did, but I loved it. We talked about everything and became instant friends. We talked about her uncle on a mission in Chicago. "I miss him" she said. I told her I had gone on a mission. "To Chicago?" No, to Texas. "Oh, my uncle is kind of silly and lazy, but you'd like him. You should be his friend!"

At one point she wanted to take a nap, but couldn't get comfortable so I helped her unbuckle her seatbelt, made a makeshift pillow, and let her lay her head on my lap, as I rubbed her back so she could fall asleep. She maybe slobbered a little on my pants, but I didn't mind. :) The flight attendants thought she was my daughter as they handed me a customs form to fill out for us. When we got to Mexico Aaliyah asked, "So, are you going to Mexico?" "No, I'm going to Argentina!" "Where is that?" I showed her on a map. "Oh, well maybe I can see you tomorrow??" :)

Flight from Santiago to Buenos Aires:
I was feeling really sick, really gross from traveling for hours, and overall just exhausted. I was sitting in the airport at 5 am throwing a mini pity party for myself at my gate when I looked up and saw a group of ten missionaries coming down the escalator. As we were boarding the plane I introduced myself to them. They were newbies; Chilean native headed to the Buenos Aires MTC. We had to board a bus to get to our plane and while on the bus one of the elders said, "let's sing a hymn." I got so embarrassed. Here we were stuffed in a bus with tons of people who were probably still groggy because it was 6 in the morning. "Hermana! Canta con nostoros, sing with us!" The missionaries talked amongst themselves trying to decide what song to sing and I thought, "oh, good maybe they won't sing." Wrong. They chose "Llamados a Servir" Called to Serve. When they started singing I joined in and instantly felt bad that I had gotten embarrassed about the thought of singing. The spirit was so sweet in that little bus, it was transformed into a holy place. I was ignited by those missionaries' spirits and felt a sense  of calm and peace that all would be well and that the Lord's hand would guide me on this trip. 

Moments & Faces in BA
Gaby. The way she would answer the phone, "hoola." Our walks to Budhi's every day for lunch.
Los Hunter. The time we drove down a busy street the wrong way, and drove in circles for 10 min trying to get home to my place. It was hiLARRYous. 
Andrea & Alyssa. "¡Tienes Razon, buen punto!" "Me mueroooooo." The time we heard the craziest playlist on the colectivo: "Set Fire to the Rain" by Adele, "Achy Breaky Heart" by Billy Ray Cyrus (no joke I heard this song twice in Argentina. TWICE! I hadn't heard this song in years!), and "Pump Up the Jam" by Technotronic. I wish I was making that up.
Marcos. The best portero I could ever have. He always gave me big hugs and kisses. He was like my grandfather in Argentina, always looking out for me, always greeting me with the biggest smile.
^^We look related, no?
Ronald & Susy. The way susy called Ron, "Gordis." On the way down the ascensor to head out to catch my remis to the airport Susy squeezed my hand and said, "you were a born leader. Keep leading." I wanted to cry right there.
Sara. It felt like we were roommates for longer than just a week and a half! We went on adventures together and she was such a good sport and came to church with me.
Francsico. If I would have been the one to leave first, I probably would have cried. the multiple 3 am REAL talk conversations. My dinner date for when the senior missionaries invited me over. Also, what are the chances that he gets contacted by a Nuskin representative while I'm there and that he could possibly (hopefully!) come to visit Utah in October. En serio?
Franc's Crocs. I made SO much fun of him for these things. Shortly after I tried mate for the first time. I got these texts from my primo Ammon.

I instantly thought of Fran's crocs & just laughed. I told him I'd take a picture of his crocs to remember him by and so I did.
My Argentine family♥.

On this trip, people couldn't wrap their minds on the fact that I wasn't Argentine. "but your castellano is perfect????" As if asking for an explanation "I promise I was born in the U.S." Everyone was confused from the kids at institute, to the immigration officers at the airport. I even got asked if I was Peruvian. Asked if it was offensive for me to be called Yankee? 

I won't miss the construction noises from the new apartment building, but I kind of will. I won't miss the uneven streets or dog poop everywhere, but I kind of will. I won't miss the crazy driving on the colectivos and being smushed by all the people, but I kind of will. 

I'll miss the little elevators, the way you had to ring the doorbells to even get in to apartment buildings or stores. 

The Journey Home.
My remis asked if he could borrow a pen. I lent him one of my pilot .38 G2 pens and he commented on how good of a pen it was. I told him he could have it. Just another person I've converted to the .38 world. 

In the Buenos Aires Airport.
I decided to sit by the windows and had my eyes closed and began saying a prayer thanking Heavenly Father for the wonderful experience for the blessings of safety and protection when a woman asked to sit by me and said, "Are you flying to the U.S." (In spanish) I said, "Yes." "Are you Mormon?" I was caught off guard. "Yes, how could you tell?" "Por tu forma de hablar. The way you speak." I was so confused. I had literally said one sentence, that I was going to the U.S., but I went with it. Her name was Elena, she was a sweet little elderly woman. She wasn't a member, but she had rented a house that belonged to her mother to missionaries now for 8 years. She sat with me for a while. At the end she said, "congrats on finishing your mission!" I explained that I had finished my mission over a year ago, "Oh, I thought you were going home. You still have that glow." 


The plane ride from Santiago to Mexico City.
I sat by Elizabeth. She had been doing a study abroad in chile and had just gotten her purse stolen the day before. I told her how I had been in BA and prayed every night that nothing would happen to me. "What religion are you? You said the word orar instead of rezar." I told her I was a member. She had seen the other side of heaven and asked, "why do they put one American companion with one brown companion." (a legitimate, but hilarious question) I shared the story of the restoration and testified of how Christ had come to the Americas, "Wow! I never knew that." She had been baptized two years ago in a Christian church, but had gone "inactive." I pulled out my mission scriptures and had her look at the Book of Mormon and read the intro, she kept reading. I could of kicked myself though for not having a copy to give her, NEVER agin! I'll always have one with me now. I told her to ask the missionaries for one, and she said she would. They had stopped by before, but she didn't know anything about them. 

Mexico City Airport. 
Three missionaries going home (one to Colombia, one to Argentina, one to Bolivia) came up to me. "Hola Hermana!" We chatted some and I congratulated them on coming home and asked them for pass along cards. "We knew you had to be a member because we saw you reading the Book of Mormon." Technically it was the bible, but still... :)

Oh Argentina, you were so good to me. Every bit of the trip just felt so wonderful, so right, so guided. Buenos Aires has become sacred ground for me.

& now let me rise to a whole level of cheesiness and say

Don't cry for me Argentina, 
the truth is I never left you
All through my wild days, 
My mad existence
I kept my promise,
don't keep your distance.


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