Monday, August 24, 2015

The Bad Beginning: getting to Bilbao

The Bad Beginning: the first book in "A series of Unfortunate Events."
I swear I didn't quit and become a pessimist, but I already used the "Burn Notice" reference when I was moved to Barcelona (though it would have been more accurate here. Hind sight is 20-20).
I was very proud of my last email. Carefully worded, filled with sentiment and beautifully setting up my transition to a new place. I was ready to relax on a 7 hour train ride. The next few hours definitely shook all of that up.

I met my new companion (Hermana Randall from small-town Utah) at the Barcelona train station. Since most of the other Areas in our mission at least pass through there, I also met up and talked with a ton of other people I know. There were a LOT of changes this transfer and quite a few surprises. In the midst of a flurry of photos, catch-up conversations, and a whole lot of air-dropping, my companion checked her luggage... and saw that her bag was gone. A bag with ALL the important things (passport, wallet, journal, transfer journal, ID, YW medallion, glasses, things of political and personal importance). With 30 minutes before the train is scheduled to leave, we do a sweep of the area, we talk to people, we walk around and through a couple of things and don't find it. With 15 minutes to go we try to catch the train, planning to call the mission office and inform them when we get to Bilbao. The struggle with whitewashing (one of them, at least) is that you BOTH have 2 large (slightly over-packed) suitcases with a carry-on, and it's nearly impossible to manage them by yourselves. We got there 5 minutes before the train left.... and they wouldn't let us on.

 Long story short(er), a pay phone call and a few emails later (thank you, McDonalds free wifi), we were told to go back to the Barcelona piso [apartment] and we'd catch a train the next morning. Getting our luggage in and out of the metro, around the crowded city streets, and back to the piso I thought I'd left forever was the second hardest physical thing I've ever done (Monserrat still in first). It's enough to make anyone a minimalist.

It was a little awkward to suddenly be back after saying goodbye, but Hermana Eyring was really glad (and surprised) to see us waiting on the steps.

The next day we went to the Police Station to fill out a report, and then the U.S. Consulate to replace her passport. We were blessed by REALLY nice people, and good timing. That night we awkwardly worked in my old area, trying to do missionary work without a phone, passby list, or keys and without running into people I'd already said goodbye to.

So that was fun.

Thursday morning we were on the train, early and without a hiccup.

Thursday afternoon we arrived in Bilbao, with hundreds of questions and not a lot of answers.  That night, we wandered around our area trying to figure things out.  And we fell in love. It's absolutely enchanting, by far the most beautiful city I've ever been in. And it's ours.  It's a good thing we already love the city, because the rest is going to be a little bit hard.

Also, there's some sort of huge festival going on right now. More on that next week.

We received a warm welcome from the ward and are ready to work this week.

We still have a few questions, and there's still some things to iron out (like the fact that I'm paying for both of us until her new card and reimbursals come in, so it's a good thing I've been thrifty), but at least we know that it can only go up from here.

And for my quick spiritual thought...
Here's some biblical proof that the savior whitewashed too.
Isaiah 1:18
18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Love you! Good luck with school starting and whatever else is going on in your own little corners of the world!
-Hermana Een

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