Thursday, August 14, 2014

Vaya con Dios, Misioneros!

On Tuesday, August 12th, we said good bye to 30 incredible missionaries.  And not without a few tears, even though we have only been with them for 6 weeks.  President had a departing interview with each one - half of them Sunday evening, the other half Monday morning.  Then they all came here to the mission home on Monday afternoon for their final almuerzo.  I had been helping Ingrid get ready all morning.  It was a delicious meal - lasagna, salad, freshly baked bread, and banana splits for dessert!  Ingrid is amazing, have I mentioned that?

Here's what almuerzo for 34 looks like in the mission home. (Pres. is sitting at the head)

Missionaries as far as the eye can see!!!

After all were finished eating, we gathered in the living room with chairs everywhere, and had such a powerful testimony meeting.  These young people are now between 20 and 26 years old - still very young!  And yet they have dedicated their lives for the last 1 1/2 to 2 years to the Lord and His work.  They have sacrificed most of what is normal at this age - college, driving cars, dating, movies, music, computers, smart phones, iPads, etc.  They have lived in sub par conditions.  They have learned a new culture and a new language.  They have walked their legs off - no bikes in this mission!  They have been bitten by dogs and had rabies shots and have been cursed with fleas.  They have eaten strange food on a regular basis - often food they don't like!  They have been rejected and made fun of.   They have survived with the Lord by their side and have felt His love for them.  They have learned to love others more than themselves.  They have prayed and fasted and studied and planned harder and longer than most people do in their entire lives!  They have rejoiced as previous strangers have recognized the truth of the gospel and have accepted Christ as their Savior and Redeemer.  Their hearts have changed and they are not the same as when they came, nor will they ever be.  They are standing on solid ground, spiritually.  We felt privileged to bear witness to their growth.  We almost hate to send them back into the world and it's evils, and yet, these young people are the promise and hope of the future - of the church, of society, and ultimately of the world.   After each had expressed their testimonies for a few minutes, we knelt in prayer together one last time.  

And then there was major photo taking!  A big group picture and then 30 different photos of Pres. & I with each one individually - and lots of different cameras:).   Once the photos were finished, Pres. had a few more interviews to do, and the APs and office elders started transporting small groups to the Holiday Inn Express for a clean, soft bed to sleep in and a glorious warm shower in the morning before departing for the airport!

Our first departing missionaries - can you see how amazing they are?!

At the airport, Tuesday morning.  The North Americans left a little ahead - but they were all heading for Santiago and a long awaited opportunity to attend the temple there.  We don't have a temple yet here in Concepcion.  One has been announced, but no groundbreaking yet.  

Our great Latin missionaries!  Meeting with the others in Santiago for their temple trip, then heading for Peru, Columbia, Argentina, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Mexico!

The Photographers:)!!

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