I am camped out near gate B7 at SLC Airport.
Still doesn’t feel real.
Still hasn’t quite sunk in.
We are going to Vienna. We are going to speak German. We will feast on Schnitzel. We will climb to castles. We will ride in effective public transportation. And, most importantly and most fantastically, I just got a message from my teacher that said, “You have a Refugee integration meeting on Friday.”
My heart is fluttering and my gut is tied up around it. It’s that last-day-of-school feeling, and yet, I am incredibly calm as I sit huddled around an electrical outlet like it is the last source of warmth. The truth that is getting to work with refugees for the next three months is way too good to be true. But, more on that on
Elda is sitting next to me deep in the depths of YouTube watching people try to beat insanely hard Super Mario Bros levels. Watching little pixelated Mario jump across lava and dodge angry cinderblocks is slightly anxiety inducing, but also you can’t really look away. I am listening to the Killers and Kaskade on a loop.
About three minutes ago, a missionary walked by our little campsite. He had a nervous smile of anticipation and a clean, only worn in the MTC (Missionary Training Center) suit. His tag was slightly askew, but his eyes were excited. Both Elda and I sat up a little straighter and I realized, that it was 2 and ½ years ago that I was in this airport, at this gate, going to the same little corner of the world. My hair was in braids, my eyes were red with tears, my nametag also askew, and smiling nervously at the thought of the weird adventure I was about to go on.
I looked back from the young elder to Elda and, with my now purple hair in braids, my eyes red with nostalgic tears, my nametag now tucked in my wallet, and smiling bitter-sweetly about the adventure I returned from a year ago.
It’s a special little miracle I get to be here with my darling Sister Harris and in less than 48 hours I will be chatting with the Viennese cab driver for ‘Style-Drive’ taxi service who will pick us up at the airport. But, until it sinks in, I am just a trunky returned-missionary getting teary-eyed in the Salt Lake City airport who is really excited about Friday.