We pulled up and saw a surprising sight, all 180 elders and sisters all in one place. The first thing I noticed was the AP’s. They were tired, looked like they hadn’t more than a few hours of sleep in the last 3 days. Elder Stanford was wearing basketball shorts, white shirt, flip flops and looked like a mountain man who was dressed by a three year old. I mentioned to him that he looked tired. He simply smiled like he always did and replied “Elder Gebauer, you don’t know the half of it”. He then told me to take my district and to go weigh our bags because we were only allowed to bring 44lb in a big bag and 20lb in a smaller one and that was it, nothing more. So I put my bag on the scale and it came in at 55lb. I had to drop 11lb. So we got to work just like everyone else taking everything out of our bags and sorting through it to see what we could leave behind (remember at this point we still thought that we would be going to Ghana another third world country so deodorant and things were still worth more than gold). You should have seen the mission home, just abandoned stuff everywhere, mountains or shirts, piles of ties, towering stacks of mission reference books and PMG’s. I still don’t know what happened to everything but I would hope that it went to membership and people that need it.
From there things started to get crazy. Plans would be made for us to leave and then they would change and we would be staying for days and then they would change again. This went on and on for a matter of hours. There came a point were we just didn’t even listen anymore. We were all just too tired, depressed and sick of plans. We were finally organized into a large mass so president could address us, he had a plan. All American elders were to go to a hotel next to the airport and would be flying out the next day. African sisters and elders were not able to leave the country at this point because of passport restrictions. All the elders and sisters said their heartfelt goodbyes and that was the first time I saw an African elder cry. Such a sight nearly brought me to tears but being so incredibly manly I withheld this overwhelming urge to sweat from my eyeballs. All the American elders collected their things and got into the vehicles and off we went.
When we arrived at the hotel we were all in awe at this place. It was an actual building with its cheap flooring and crappy bathrooms. It was the greatest thing we had seen in months. That was until we saw the girl working the front desk. We couldn’t believe our eyes. It was an actual white girl in the flesh!!!! If you could just image this poor girl, all she sees is 80 American elders walk through the front door and just staring dumbfounded. From there we all got checked in and went to our rooms. I was in a group of missionaries that I had never met. There were 5 of us and there was one bed. I volunteered to sleep in the chair. We soon discovered that the hotel had hot showers. If anything could brighten the mood in that hotel it was hot showers though they didn’t have much for water pressure and the water was brown. It didn’t matter, it was hot and not out of a bucket.
This is where the story will end for this week. I will continue next week.