The smell of concrete just after it rains mixed with a faint smell of dryer sheets always reminds me of Argentina. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think of Argentina. It was very much my home, even though I lived there for a short 16 months.

Every morning at 5:55am I would sluggishly tie the laces of my running shoes, and my mission companion and I would descend the four flights of stairs to the street where all you would smell for blocks and blocks was wet concrete and dryer sheets. Women would be rolling up their sleeves at the laundry mats, and men would be outside hosing down the sidewalks (unless it rained in which case God did their job for them), and I would run past and whisper, "Buen dia señor. Buen dia señora," to all the people we passed. Sometimes they'd nod in my direction with a half-burned cigarette resting between their lips, and other days they'd smile and wave back.

My companion and I would make our way to the plaza--a tiny park in the middle of skyscrapers--and I'd run my laps over and over again while my companion sat on a swing, resting her head and her eyes for an extra half hour. The only time she'd open her eyes was if she heard me fall on the cracks in the ground (I fell so much in Argentina, which is very unlike me) or if she heard an ambulance approaching from the distance.

There's a quote by Elder Holland (an apostle in the LDS church) where he says something like "there isn't a day that he doesn't think of his mission." I used to think that was ridiculous because life gets pretty crazy post-mission, but it's been 11 years since I stepped feet back on American soil, and he's right, there isn't a day that passes when I don't think of my mission. I think of the people I visited, the sounds on the busy city streets, the smells of freshly baked facturas, the connections I made, the service I received and rendered, and the God I found there.

God became very real to me there. He didn't seem so far away as I tried to help people feel their way back to Him. Helping people develop faith and a desire to be something more than what they already are is such an honor, and I'm grateful I had the chance to do it. In so many ways, it helps me teach my children. I know how to listen to their concerns and doubts, and without disregarding them, I help them see new possibilities.

Eleven years. That seems like an eternity ago in so many ways. But the fact that I can still hear their voices in my dreams and smell their food when I enter certain restaurants always brings me home.

1 comment :

  1. This is so beautiful Janine. Makes me feel a little guilty that I don't think of my mission more often.


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