Although I brought an expensive high altitude cookbook with me, it has been of little worth. The first batch of chocolate chip cookies I made here was so disgusting I had to toss them. Ick!! Next, I tried the high altitude recipe with decreased sugar. Those cookies looked decent, but were health food store cookies masquerading as Toll House. Since our trainers were heading home, I experimented with my precious imported American baking supplies to see if I could alter the Toll House recipe to get it to taste like it was baked at sea level. I really wanted to see them off at the bus station with some homemade chocolate chip cookies. The secret for baking at 8000' is follow the Toll House recipe and then to load the dough up with flour until it is stiff and no longer looks oily, resulting in a genuine Minnesota chocolate chip cookie. Whew! Mission accomplished. I baked a double batch of jumbo sized cookies and bagged up 20 bags, one for each departing missionary.
The president has mission organization boards at the mission office and at the mission home. They serve as a visual aid to let him and the APs know who is where at any given time. These carnets have the missionary photos on them and it's our job to take the photos at the orientation meeting for the new arrivals. I keep all of the mission information updated on their assignment histories and at the end of the mission I give the extra carnet and assignment history to the missionaries to take home as souvenirs. They usually laugh when they see how much they have changed in the year and a half (young women) or two years (young men) since their arrival
The Alamo bus station is just down the street from our office, which is very handy. This is a small portion of the luggage the missionaries had, including handmade clay nativity sets, hand-carved chess sets, etc. One elder, who shall remain nameless, was heading home with two suitcases, one of which weighed 95 pounds! I made him promise to report back on his check-in at the Guatemala City airport.
Every six weeks there are missionaries leaving and the emotions are very overwhelming to these young adults who have so immersed themselves in the culture and the lives of the people they are quite devastated at the prospect of leaving. It is frankly phenomenal to see how much they love and support one another and how hard it is for them to say good-by to dear friends.
Elder Gledhill was Mike's trainer. He managed the mission's finances before we came. He left the office just before Mike was robbed at gunpoint as he and Elder Frodsham were walking back from the bank. Missionaries are often robbed here, but it changes your perspective when it happens to you. Elder Gledhill is very gifted with the language and has an intense love for the Latin people. He plans to live in Honduras and help his father with a humanitarian project there. Notice they are both wearing corte ties. The elders' favorite thing to wear here is the local hand-woven cloth made into neckties. The women are thrilled to see them wearing the traditional cloth, but we have speculated whether the Guatemalan men think the look is too feminine.
Elder Moody was my trainer and a huge help in the office. Office elders lug around an enormous amount of heavy stuff and Elder Moody thought that was good sport. He used it for his personal work-out and his companions in the office were very grateful that he felt that way. He was friends with every single missionary and loved to find bits of time in which he could chat with them. He is coming back in December when a family he baptized is able to go to the temple to be sealed. If I have any difficulty with his complicated Excel formulas, I'll have him fix the problem when he comes.
Elder Bergeson and Elder Glenn arrived just before the bus left, so they are a little frazzled trying to get their bags loaded. The last-minute weighing of bags and sorting out what can go and what has to stay usually results in a used clothing pile in the office. The office elders pick what they can use and we send the rest to a paca (used clothing tienda) or we chuck it if it is unwearable.
Elder Davis is the last one on board.
We were sad watching them depart, just as we were six weeks ago when the last group left and the six weeks prior to that.