Monday, May 2, 2016

After the (Spanish) Sky

Sky: A thing that airplanes fly through
Spain: An incredible European country, with half of my heart scattered around in it.
First sighting on the escalator by the lady who had also come from Barcelona--and choreographed "High School Musical"
 Understandably, a lot has happened in this last week y pico. I spent my last time in my area and with my companion. I did my last intercambio. We had our Talent show which turned out better than expected. Saturday night was transfer calls, and although it didn't really matter to me (I already know where I'm going) it was an exciting experience. As a missionary leader, and even more so as a member of El Faro, one of the greatest responsibilities as you end missionary service is metaphorically "passing the torch." Sometimes it's more literal. My companion, Hermana Arauco was called to be (and sort-of replace me as) a Sister Training Leader. I also found out that Hermana Manotas (mi hija) was called to the same position and also to train the new missionary. It was a great way to see the legacy continue with the the people that I love.
Last intercambio with Hermana Martinez

I had my exit interview with President Dayton (which included a longer talk on marriage and dating than I was banking for) and then was free to visit my old area of Barcelona. And so I did. I was able to visit with Willy, who was wandering a bit on that straight and narrow path we'd shown him. I went with sweet Norma (Best Spanish member ever) and shared Alma 5:26, and now he's dedicated to start again.

Willy and his family, in my Barcelona visit.
Dear sweet Norma. She's a missionary, just without the chapa. And so in an unplanned moment... I gave her mine. 

I also met with sweet Edy, ate gelato, reminisced, and caught up. On the last day I was able to stay with Hermana Manotas and O'Neill (a good friend going home with me) and catch up with whatever missionaries wandered through the Barce Sans Train Station.

Barcelona, Valencia, Lleida. Hermanas Een, Manotas, and O'Neill

And then I came home. I wasn't alone on the flights because of two facts

1) Missionaries contact people: I talked with the sweet lady sitting next to me on my long flight.
2) Members contact missionaries: Almost the moment we sat down by our gate, different groups of member came and talked to us- congratulating us on our service and asking about our return, and one of them stayed with me through my connecting flights and on into Las Vegas.
The Daytons on my last night
A last goodbye to Hermana Arauco
A last goodbye to Hermana Randall

Farewell at the mission home, which felt like mine

Saying goodbye at the gate, homeward bound!

The Barcelona sidewalk, my holy ground
It was quite the trip, and I was blessed along the way with understanding customs officers, perfectly timed flights, and so on.

The little brother that grew . . . and note the broken shoe strap.

And so I came home. It was a sweet reunion. I was released as a missionary. It was a little sad and a little strange, but it was also time.

Meeting with President Gutierrez to be released.

I've spent time with my new niece who is now old enough to waddle around and say words. I've gone to the temple, a wedding reception, a swim meet, a YSA devotional, church in English, and I've watched my first movie (Cinderella).

First temple trip as an RM

At David's swim meet, he cut 10 seconds of his backstroke and qualified for regionals, also bettered his time on the IM.
 Although I miss being a missionary and still slip in silly little ways while I'm continuing to adjust (I still call everyone "Hermana" and have to awkwardly translate little phrases to Spanish, and let's not talk about how many times I've almost awkwardly besoed someone or had to tell myself it's ok to hug guys), it really is good to be home.
The best way to describe this feeling, a heart torn between two good worlds, is said by a dear friend, Jack (from the musical, Into the Woods).

"When you're way up high, and you look below
At the world you've left and the things you know,
Little more than a glance is enough to show
You just how small you are.
When you're way up high
And you're on your own
In a world like none
That you've ever known,
Where the sky is lead
And the earth is stone,
You're free, to do
Whatever pleases you, (ok, not exactly, whitehandbook. Conversely, agency.)
Exploring things you'd never dare..." (Going to Spain, the mission, the untold adventures that follow)
(Then someday you go home and...)
"The roof, the house, and your Mother at the door.
The roof, the house and the world you never thought to explore.
And you think of all of the things you've seen,
And you wish that you could live in between,
And you're back again,
Only different than before,
After the sky."

Thanks for coming along on the journey,
Love you all!
(No-longer-Hermana) Alayna Een


Oh ye who labor planting seeds... in the month since I've come home.

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