Alma 29:9

I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wrapping Up

       My mission was the single greatest decision that I have ever made. I owe so much of who I have become to the people I met and the many experiences that I had. I will never forget those moments that were so important to me. One of those times was at the very tail-end of my mission, when finally it was time for the long-awaited arrival of my mom and dad to pick me up.
      They had been quite illusive for a while about their exact plans, so I suspected that they had everything worked out with my mission president and his wonderful wife. I just assumed that on the day of their arrival, someone would call me to see them. However, the day of my parent’s arrival came, and I heard nothing. I began panicking a little when evening drew closer realizing, that this was strange. I knew that my parents spoke no Spanish and would not be able to maneuver around the city without help, and it seemed that the mission was not involved because I hadn’t been informed. Growing more concerned as the hours went on, I phoned our mission president’s wife, who confessed to have been making some hasty phone calls trying to locate my “missing” parents. She said that she would call me as soon as she had more information. Mercifully a member who frequently visited the mission office drove past my companion and I tracting and informed us that they had just been to the office and met my mother and father. Much to my relief not much longer as night was falling we received the news from my Mission President’s wife about the arrival of my parents. She told me that they were in a hotel safe and sound, and that they would come meet me later that evening. She would be stopping by our apartment to drop something off for my fabulous doctor companion.
     Sister Marler arrived and gave me a hug expressing how excited she was to see my parents and I reunited. She made brief plans with my companion and asked if we needed a ride to our next appointment- which we really did, because we were quite late and the family lived really far away. I opened the van door to fall into the arms of not my mom, not my dad, but my sister-in-law Claire. I looked around the van with huge eyes seeing the face of each member of my family who had made the trip to Peru to get me. My mom, dad, brothers Matt and Dan, and Claire. We spent the next few minutes hugging and a bit of crying. Sister Marler had a great time snapping a million photos.

    It really was an amazing surprise that I will never forget. That night, we went to a family home evening where I was presented with a painting that had been done by one of my favorite members in the ward named Cesar. The evening was spent with them, where we taught a lesson and played a game. None other than ring on a string- the mission favorite.

     Mom and dad came tracting with me the next day, where they sat smiling, not understanding anything as my companion and I taught. They were real troopers walking all over the area without even complaining. They really enjoyed meeting my friends and eating with my pensionista: Hermana Silva. The last night was spent with another family home evening farewell. It was such a special moment for me where we sang and people shared what they loved about me. I will never forget that night. Over the next few days we met with other members and friends from my other areas where we cried and hugged and shared sweet memories.
      On the day that we left, we had some time in the morning to do some touring of some ruins. There were many in the mission, but I chose to visit Chan Chan, just outside of one of my old areas in Villa del Mar. We had a great time touring around, visiting some of the other sites: Huanchaco, Apiat and Avenida Espania, as well as Hermalinda the local market.

      It was heartbreaking to fly away from my beloved city. I looked out the window at the place that I loved so much, where so much of me was built. At the city where I had prayed so fervently for the people. The city where I shed so many tears, and so much sweat. I thought about where my feet had taken me in that city and how much I would treasure that place forevermore. My heart yearns for my other home frequently. I realized I didn’t know when I would ever see it again, but I knew that it was my time to move on.

     Our adventures were only beginning. We had no idea how the rest of our trip would turn out. We had planned to go to Cusco and eventually to Machu Picchu. However, due to some unfortunate circumstances, we had no guide. Right before leaving Trujillo Claire suddenly remembers a friend who actually was a tour guide in Cusco. She made one phone call and one email later and we were all miraculously set up for a FANTASTIC trip to Cusco and Machu Picchu.
      We stayed the night in a little ‘hostel’ in Lima until we actually got all the way to Cusco. We were greeted by our fabulous guides: Randy and Itala. They really saved us. We were arranged with a quaint little hotel, and were able to rest for a while and adjust to the 11,000 foot altitude city. That night we took a tour of the beautiful city with Itala who acted as our tour guide. It was a pleasure to hear all about the history of the amazing city.

     The next morning we woke up early to drive the 2 hours to get to the train depo that would get us to the city below Machu Picchu called Aguas Calientes. Randy was an amazing guide, and he really became our good friend. He treated us like family. The train ride was so beautiful, I could hardly take it all in. The town of Aguas Calientes was also so beautiful and touristy. We ate in the city (I was the one who did all the food ordering so that everyone could get a taste of traditional Peruvian cooking) and toured all the little shops and went back to the hotel to prep for the morning at the famous Machu Picchu.
       The ride up the traversing mountain was perilous (or so thought mom. For me it seemed almost normal.) The buses zoomed up and down the mountain with mere inches on all sides from running off cliffs to ramming other busses and colliding with the mountain. Classic Peruvian driving. We finally made it to the city of Machu Picchu and spent a fair amount of time touring the ruins. The surrounding mountains were simply exquisite. It was really an amazing experience. The trip of a lifetime. We had another tour guide named Jose, who took us through the city and explained what we were seeing. It was surreal to be in such an awe-inspiring location.

       We decided beforehand to try our hand at climbing the actual mountain beside the ruins. There is a pretty intense hike nearby that we wanted to go up to get a birds-eye view of the ruins. The hike was so strenuous that only half of us made it to the very top. It took 2 hours to go up an only an hour to go down. There were steep little half steps up the entire hike. It really took a toll on all of us, and we were all eager to be down the mountain for a little rest and relaxation. 

We enjoyed our last night in Aguas Caliente. The next morning was the start of the end. We started on our way home from trains to vans to airplanes where we eventually made it all the way home. We had a little trouble in the Peruvian airport with my expired tourist visa, but after a fine paid by the church, I was able to leave the country that I loved. I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding experience. I would not have traded these experiences for anything in the entire world.

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