The Longer Ones

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Calm After the Storm

The last days of the mission were a mess.

Initial plan:
-Go to the office on Tuesday
-Weigh bags, get interviewed, visit the American Cemetery, and eat sushi
-Sleep at a hotel with my friend Elder Parrenas
-Go Home.

And then everything changed when the fire nation Coronavirus attacked. Which started the longest 6 days of my life.

What actually happened:
-Friday Afternoon: we have an emergency meeting at the office to discuss having a written record in each area in case everyone is evacuated or trapped in their apartments.
-Friday Night: Nationwide lockdown measures were announced starting Sunday (including military involvement in some areas). All domestic flights are canceled. President announces to the leaders that transfers will occur early tomorrow.
-Saturday Morning: My last supper. I ate with my cousins and said my goodbyes while my companion handled one of the most disorganized transfers by himself. I get evacuated out of the province of Rizal before borders shut down.
-Saturday Afternoon: I became companions with the assistants (Elders Skye and Fowles). The Area Office announced all missionaries should proceed to do panic buying that should last us at least 3 months.
-Saturday Evening: Elder Parrenas, my old companion, dear friend, and only departing batch goes home early on the last flight back to his province of Bacolod.
-Sunday Morning: One of my companions Elder Skye gets sick with flu-like symptoms, and a heavy cough. We conduct sacrament at home.
-Sunday Afternoon: Last day of rest. We read our scriptures and are scared of what will happen next. Elder Skye and I have a long talk about perspectives and the future.
-Monday Morning: He's still sick and we are left alone to create a contingent plan in case every foreign missionary will be released early.
-Monday Afternoon: We create a scenario in which only Filipinos will be left behind, and we plan how everyone should be transferred. It's official, there will be a mass exodus of missionaries going home.
-Tuesday Morning: We meet new Filipino leadership who will assume our roles when we go home. We train them and brief them on the situation at hand
-Tuesday Afternoon: We meet with the Facilities Manager of our area and we plan how to transfer every foreign missionary as close to the airport as possible on conditions that (1) domestic missionaries constantly have a companion, (2) if at all possible one companionship is left at least apartment, (3) all additional food storage is brought to the mission home for distribution for those in need.
-Wednesday Morning: I gather all my stuff and bring them to the office. Transfer begins and plans to rent a Marriot hotel, along with chartering planes begin.
-Wednesday Afternoon: A chauffeur took me to the airport at 1pm and I came home the same way I arrived; alone.

Waiting on an airplane and in the airport gave me some time to think. The last few days have been hectic, crazy, and quite frankly normal. The past 2 years have been busy in all sorts of ways. Maybe it involved a pandemic, or a volcanic eruption, or some sort of madness. But as I sat there, I realized it's about to come to an end.

Walking around that mezzanine, I looked back on everything I experienced and realized most of the people passing me by probably don't know, and will never know the stories that come out of my mouth. But just because the world may devalue or forget what we've done, I know the Philippines won't. I know there are people out there whose lives have changed. Yeah, sure they might forget my name. They might forget my face, but they'll never regret opening that door to us. They'll never forget that black nametag that screams our Savior's name. And they'll never forget how we made them feel: happy.

After that long flight, I'm home.

No comments:

Post a Comment