The Last Epistle
TAKE A DEEP BREATH!!!!!!!
I will start with your questions. I am not panicked, although it is a little surreal sitting here writing my last email in the mission. Next week I won’t receive your emails, because I will be in transfer meeting all day, then go straight to the mission home for my exit interview with President, and then to the airport. This week I won’t be in my area very much, but I plan on working hard until the end. On Wednesday I go on the tour of Capitál with all my group. After that President has given Elder Sabey and I permission to go visit all of our converts in Ramos Mejia together, so I am WAY excited about that. We will spend Wednesday night doing that, we will be seeing Bryan, Fiorella, Carmen and Luis, all of them. Remember them? I do. Then on Thursday, Elder Sabey and I are going to be hitting up Villegas together, so I can see the Fernandez family, and he can see all of his converts from when he was there. He was there at the start of our missions when I was in Merlo. Then on Friday, Elder Hinton and I will be with the Henderson family (senior couple) looking for a new apartment for Parque Leloir. Just a few hours in the morning. So it is going to be a packed week, but there will be time for the work. Yes, we go to the Boca (colorful village place) where supposedly tango was born. World Cup fever has spread and infested the country. People can’t understand how we don’t watch the USA games. It is like a sin for them. “How can you not watch your own country in the Cup?” Even the members who know we don’t watch TV question us. “Yeah, but you can’t even watch your countries world cup game?” People were not satisfied with the Argentina game, they thought they should have won 5-0, and everyone can’t believe how lucky the US got with the goalie error. But life goes on. I probably won’t call in the airport…that would kind of be anti-climactic…if I had to request a food waiting for me in the airport…I think we all remember my nickname from my childhood…1 dozen donuts please…I will have already bought the root-beer in Atlanta. I have no preference for first meal back.
This past week has been probably one of the most eventful of my mission. It started with interviews with President on Tuesday. Great stuff but no time to tell right now. I did some divisions in Rivadavia with a new missionary who I predict will be AP someday. We had been trying to have the baptism of Maxi but the whole Dad situation was impeding him. Well, after he fought with me that one night I wrote about last week, he started to see black demon spirits in his house that were driving him crazy…Elder Hinton offered to bless his home so we kneeled in prayer and dedicated the home. After that he was our best friend… until the next time we went over…haha I am sure he is bipolar or something. So we were trying to get him to sign the slip giving permission to Maxi to be baptized. Elder Hinton battled with him for a good 40 minutes, was unsuccessful, and basically condemned him saying that he didn’t love his son and the sins would fall on his head…so we were walking out and he said to me, “You seem to understand me better than the other guy.” At this point I just wanted to get out of there, so I just rubbed his shoulder and said everything was fine and not to worry about it. He said he wanted to show me something, and brought out all of Maxi’s birth certificates and stuff. I told him they looked great…and then he said, “Can he get baptized if you have all of these documents?” “Yeah…” “Oh ok, well, I will sign your paper then…” I was confused, but didn’t ask more questions. So we showed up yesterday to pick Maxi up and his Dad was crazy again, and said that they were moving that day and he wouldn’t be getting baptized. It is just a sad situation, because Maxi is completely normal and loves the gospel, but his dad is a loony bird.
Which brings me to the climax of the week. I just want it known that without a doubt the greatest souvenirs that I will be bringing home are the relationships that I have with my converts. I love each and every one of them like my own family, and with some of them I feel like we are best friends. Remember Raquel Lobo that just got baptized in April. She is like my best friend in Parque Leloir. In the words of Anne Shirley, we would be “kindred spirits”. She is 73 but it really feels like we are both 5 years old when we are together because we make each other laugh so much. I will probably miss her most of anyone here in this area. She always gives us food when we go over there. We ate lunch with her on Friday, and she invited us over for an “asado” on Saturday, so we were pumped. The buzz was in the air for the Argentina game as we headed to her house. It was so crazy. Fireworks were going off, gunshots; people were running past us to get to their houses before the game started. It was kind of exciting. So we got to her house and the gate was open as usual so her dogs could run in and out, and we clapped. She didn’t answer so we clapped again. With all the fireworks she probably didn’t hear us, so I walked in the gate and knocked on the door. It was pitch black inside, but I could see that the back door was open. It was obvious that she had run to the corner to buy bread or something getting ready for us to come over. We went back out into the street to see if she was coming, but didn’t see her. Then it dawned on me that her grill is in the back yard, so she was probably out there cooking the meat still. So we went around back laughing about something, and got to the back door that was open. The smile on my lips slowly faded as I saw her feet, and then her hands, and then the blood…SHE WAS DEAD ON HER KITCHEN FLOOR!!!!!!! I felt my heart sink into my stomach and I almost started screaming just out of shock. It was the most eerie thing that has happened to me in a long time. She was just lying there. My hands were clasped over my mouth and I couldn’t believe what was happening. I yelled to the neighbor and he came running over and slowly all the neighbors made their way over. The ambulance and police were called. She was dead…but a neighbor had just seen in buying some food a few hours before. We had just eaten with her the day before. We found her body! We had to give a statement to the police and they took down our information. It was a natural death so we aren’t suspects. She had a heart-attack. It must have been right when she got back from buying the food and she walked into the door. I still am in shock a little bit. So we called President, and he told us to tell our bishop and offer our help with the funeral and stuff. It reminded me a lot of my experience with Garland Fairchild, and Elder Hinton and I became once again “the church boys”. All the neighbors and family members were talking about how much she talked about us, and the church, and how happy she was these past two months she has been going. They said she has been a fanatic, and she invited everyone to come over with the “muchachos” were over to listen to the message she had found peace in. Just a few weeks ago I gave her some pictures we had taken together, and the niece said that they were her most valuable possessions, and that every time they visited her she showed them our pictures. They were looking for them like crazy to put into the casket with her. She kept them hidden I guess so they wouldn’t get ruined haha, but the picture of her baptism was on her nightstand. In Argentina they don’t do the whole embalming process so they bury the people right away before they start to decompose. Before Church started yesterday, she was buried. That is less than 24 hours! Her grave was dedicated by the bishop. I can’t really believe it. We are kind of the celebrities of the neighborhood now because we found a dead body. In church the members kept praising us saying how we were guided by the Spirit to find her…I had no idea what they were talking about, why would the Spirit guide us to find a dead person? To say the least, it was an interesting way to end the week. It just happened two days ago! I just saw her and she was fine! What a blessing it is to know that she accepted the gospel in her life and found joy in the church these past two months. I can’t wait to see her again. I know we will see her again, and the plan of salvation was created so that we can have this hope. So in answer to the question, how are my emotions holding up? All over the place…haha. Well, I will see you all soon! Remember the donuts; my favorite is maple bars…
Love, Elder Gilmore
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