“They may be from a different country, but I bet people are all pretty much the same no matter where you go in the world,” I said.
My girlfriend and I were sitting on the grass, late at night, with my guitar in hand. I had just sang a country song that I’d learned just for her and we were talking about how the next few years would be while I was in Guatemala and she was still in the United States. And that was truly how I thought, that people were pretty much all the same all throughout the world. I was right and I was wrong.
A few days later I entered the Missionary Training Center so that I could learn how to be able to spend those two years teaching people the gospel of Jesus Christ. I spent nine weeks with my nose embedded in my scriptures as well as hours and hours inundating myself in the Spanish language. I had a ton to learn on both fronts, but I was willing and I was eager. By the time I left the training center I was confident and, well, naïve.
Traveling from the Salt Lake City airport to Guatemala City took a long time, nearly 24 hours. Since our ten hour layover in Los Angeles was so long, we were given the okay to call family and friends, a luxury that I hadn’t had for a few months. At the Missionary Training Center, we were basically shut off from the outside world and hadn’t been give the chance to call anyone, so I was eager to hear my cute little teenaged girlfriend’s voice.
“Hello!” she answered with excitement.
She was a lot more comfortable on the phone than I was. I was nervous about calling her. I mean, sure, we exchanged letters regularly over the nine weeks I’d been gone, but getting a chance to call her was a lot more intimate than some scribbled words on paper and I was so glad that she sounded so happy to talk to me.
She carried on about how the roads were bad on her drive back to college and carried on about a bunch of other unimportant things for about a minute before she said, “Wait, who is this?”
“Russ,” I answered. “Why? Who did you think it was?”
“Oh, I thought you were someone else,” she said. “How are you calling me?”
Unfortunately, those first few awkward moments were actually the most comfortable moments of the entire conversation. A few weeks later, after a couple of bland letters, she told me what I’d already supposed. She had a new boyfriend even before I left the training center.
To be coninued...
To be coninued...