The day after I arrived home, I was exhausted. RMs often talk of how they wanted to continue to get up at 6:30 AM, but for me, there was no way that was going to happen after a long plane ride across the Atlantic. I awoke and just laid there happy to finally have some time to myself. My mom knocked on my door (knocked!), and I invited her in. She asked if I’d like to come to volunteer at my little sister’s elementary school that morning. I accepted and threw on some jeans and a shirt.
On the car ride, we talked of all that I had missed. The conversation had been just about endless since I had arrived, but I liked it that way. The overabundance of thinking and reflection over the past few days made my head spin.
We pulled into the parking lot where I noticed the same chain link fence that used to protect me from the outside world while I ran around what the teacher’s called the black top. That interwoven metal was a real barrier then. Like so many other things, it seemed so small now that my perspective had changed.
We rang at the entry for the secretaries to open the door. I pulled the door open for my mother and we made our way past the stuffed bears that served as mascot for the school, into the atrium, and finally to the office. Inside, the visitor’s badges were sitting on a wicker table.
One of the secretaries exclaimed “Welcome back!” She had been there ever since I entered the school in kindergarten and was good friends with my mom who had volunteered at the school every week for years. I thought of my clear opportunity here to share the gospel. I could talk about my time in France and quickly bring up the Church and its marvelous teachings. We bantered back and forth…nothing.
We walked up to the cafeteria and began to remove the DVDs and movies from the storage closet so that the kids could borrow movies to watch in French. The laptops were booted up and the bar code readers plugged in.
All of a sudden, I heard my name in a cry that seemed to emanate in complete ecstasy from a voice with which I was entirely unfamiliar. I spun around to see a woman I did not know but had only heard about running towards me. Taken aback and slightly terrified, the missionary thought of how to avoid this imminent embrace. Ideas poured through my brain—handshake, wave, refuse, act terrified, grab some kid and pretend to help them—she’s getting closer…oh well.
Warmth flooded my body—emotions almost forgotten and foreign—my mental walls crumbled as I remembered how closeness can feel with my sister, even when she’s a complete stranger.