For a different perspective, I am sharing what our daughter, Tricia, had to say about transfer day a few weeks ago when she was visiting.
Prior to my coming to Argentina, I asked my dad if he had any intention of me speaking at all when I was here. He acted like I was crazy for thinking that was a possibility. Imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and my dad said, "Sooooo, you are speaking today!" Thanks for the warning.
Today was transfer day and about 2/3 of the 180 missionaries were coming into the mission offices for transfer. The mission office is connected to a building with two chapels and a large cultural hall. It was so fun watching all the missionaries arrive, all with their luggage in tow. They were so happy to be together.
Dan and I have been writing weekly to one missionary from Panama. He joined the church not long ago because of a friend. No one in his family is a member. He was so surprised to see me, his jaw dropped to the floor. He is an accountant in a hotel in Panama City, so he is a guy after our own heart. It was hard for me not to give him a hug! But I did bring him his favorite treat…marshmallows. :)
The meeting started and I was in tears with the opening song. Their mission song is "I'll Find You My Friend" but they sing it in Spanish. Having 120 missionaries sing that song is so powerful. They also sang it as the closing song because my mom wanted to record it, so I got to cry some more.
My mom spoke about "Sister Lewis" and the power of hope and I cried through that, even though she spoke in Spanish. Then I spoke and cried through that. I felt badly for Elder Baudon who was translating for me. I told the missionaries that it was hard to let my parents go, but what an example the missionaries are to me and my family. Hearing their stories and miracles and feeling the spirit of their work is such a blessing in our lives. I told them a story about our son, and how they can always call on the Father, even when they feel lost or alone. I bore my testimony and then I had a hard time sitting down. I felt like I was having a conversation with each one of them and I didn't want it to end.
But then it got really fun.
They do a whole Power Point bonanza where they announce the companionship changes. It kind of felt like a cross between Let's Make a Deal and the Academy Awards. Everyone cheered when their new assignments were made. I loved that those being made Trainers, District Leaders, or Zone Leaders got a special cheer. My heart was with the Sister missionaries who are going into the campo (countryside) where only Elders have been before.
And then it was time for everyone to go! I milled around meeting missionaries. Two of the missionaries in this mission are best friends at home. Another missionary said that one of the witnesses at his baptism just 2-1/2 years ago is also in the mission with him here. What tender mercies!
We eventually made it back to the house to eat lunch/dinner (the main meal in Argentina) with the North American missionaries that were going home at night. (The South American missionaries had left earlier in the day.) We had a small testimony meeting with those five missionaries. Tears flowed freely as they reflected on their missions and the men they had become and the lives that had been changed. Such miracles.
The missionaries took time to write down their testimonies. They write them on the first day of their missions as well, and a package including those testimonies and all their weekly letters to the Presidente go home with them.
One of the missionaries was being picked up by his parents. His mom works at the Columbia Temple on Thursdays, so chances are that I will meet her again! The rest of us took a trip out for ice cream before heading off to the airport. It was so fun to listen to the missionaries tell stories about their missions today. A lot of times they were super funny. It was interesting to see them run through the gamut of emotions today. Denial that they were leaving, anguish that it was really happening, and then excitement and anticipation that the time had really come to go home.
We dropped them off at the airport and then went to the CCM. Located on the grounds of the Buenos Aires Temple, this is one of 17 missionary training centers throughout the world. We picked up two Latin Elders there. One is a visa waiter, but one has been called to Buenos Aires West. After meeting them and handing them off to the Assistants, we headed home.
All I can say is that this was the longest day of my life. I don't mean that in a bad way. It just seemed like time stretched out forever and I couldn't believe how much we did. My mom says the days are long and the weeks are short, and I can totally see what she means. My dad asked how the day's experiences compared with what I expected and all I could really eek out with tears in my eyes is that it is so much more.