Well... my stay here in Guatemala has come to a close. But I'm not leaving without one last "hurrah!" This weekend we baptized Hamlet and Keiry. They are so awesome. We have been teaching them for the past month and they are so smart. We would leave a pamphlet and they would read it all. A chapter in the Book of Mormon, same deal. They would even have questions. That's pretty awesome for a 12 and 10 year old. Their parents are members but had become inactive. As part of their baptismal process, they had to go 6 weeks consecutively to church. Because they are kids, we can't expect them to come by themselves, so the parents had to be reactivated. When we asked them to help their children get baptized it was like something woke up inside of them. They started coming to church, the dad got active in the elders quorum activities. Their baptism was so cool. Their family came from Coban to see them get baptized and confirmed. They even brought tamales from Coban, another department here in Guatemala. The Cobaneros (people from Coban) really like hot sauce and peppers (hence the chili cobanero) so I showed them my little bottle of hot sauce and they all wanted to try some. They approved of my sauce hahaha.
I had the privilege to baptize Hamlet and confirm him on Sunday and Elder Gordon baptized and confirmed Keiry. On Sunday, they got there really early and the dad came in his Army Class A Uniform.
On Saturday, before the baptism, I had a lunch with all of my family members here in Guatemala. I'm sure it has been a long time since they've gathered like that and even longer since they've seen or talked to me. It was great to see them all and talk with them. My cousin, Laura, told me she's going to get married and sealed in two weeks. We were planning on coming back in November anyway but I hope we come to be able to be there for that. I recognized some of them, others had changed a bit since I was little when I saw them last.
Saturday night we had a nice surprise when we were taking the baptismal clothing to get cleaned. We were walking down the road when a car honked and yelled at us. They pulled over and we found that the bishop from Economica, one of our areas we had in common, was at the wheel. He was going home with his family from San Juan. I was really sad because all the people in that area work and are only there at night so I wasn't able to go to that area to say goodbye. But we were able to take a picture and he gave us a ride to go drop off the clothes (They were really heavy because they were wet.
Sunday was also a day of goodbyes. I took a bunch of pictures with all the members I could before they got out the door. I went in the suit I bought for going home. In the mission we call it the "traje de muerto" (Death suit). I got a vest with it and it was all custom made. On the inside, I had the tailor put the Guatemalan flag.
I am now in Venezuela, Zona Nimajuyu where I served a year ago to say goodbye to more people. Last Monday I went to Roosevelt and a lot of people were happy to see me and remembered my name and everything. (that feels nice since a lot of times missionaries just come and go and nobody bothers to remember their names). It was nice to see that I had an impact in their lives. I hope to stay in touch over the years and have those relationships. Many promised that when I return they would open their doors to me, I plan on banking in on that promise.
I'm so grateful I decided to serve a mission. I've changed so much. I hope the changes stick. Now I'm going to start a new phase in my life. Coming home isn't coming back to one's old self; it is continuing on and progressing.
With my final goodbye and as Sister Caffaro always said "Goodbye is not forever, Goodbyes are not the end, it just means I'll miss you, until we meet again"
Barrio Las Brisas, Zona Florida, Guatemala Sur