Yes, the phrase has been used a million times...but what better title to conclude our time here in Argentina? We are moving back home to Utah next week. The past month has been hard...quite emotional...and international moves never get easier. When we first returned to Argentina in Jan 2008, we knew there were challenges ahead. After all, we had lived here before...under various circumstances. However, we did not foresee the valuable experiences to be endured while back in Argentina. And of course, we overlooked the valuable friendships that would soon be formed.
As we were first preparing to leave Utah in 2008, we received mixed reactions from peers. Half believed we were nuts: "Why the heck are you going to Argentina?" The other half was proud: "I cannot believe you are going to Argentina! That is awesome!" Either way, we look back and see merit in both reactions...ha, ha.
We pursued this international adventure in order to change our environment, our rhythm, and our routine for a bit. This was not vacation - far from it - but it was another chapter of our lives carried out in a foreign place. It was both challenging and rewarding...and we sacrificed much more than we ever imagined. And in the end, we have no regrets!
So, we purchased our airline tickets in March, but decided to not inform our friends until recent weeks that we were leaving. After all, no need to create extensive farewells and goodbyes...it is much better to live and enjoy the moments at hand. So, what are some of our fondest memories so far?
-We relived our missions in a sense. We first met while serving as volunteer missionaries in 2001...in the Argentina Salta Mission of the LDS Church. Now, back in Argentina, we have shared similar moments together here in Mendoza. We have accompanied the local missionaries in sharing gospel lessons in the homes of new converts. We have organized exciting activities for the local youth groups. We have attended baptismal services, church dinners, and service projects. We have participated and contributed in our local congregation...and it has been wonderful. And, just like the mission, it is time to move on...but our prayers and best wishes will always be with the good people of Godoy Cruz Centro (especially the youth).
-We have seen Tania’s family together again. When we first returned, Aunt Karen and Uncle Ronald were soon married (Tania’s brother). We even had all the grandkids together in our home (Tania’s nieces and nephews). Dallin then met Aunt Carla for the first time (Tania’s sister) and even met his abuelos latinos at last (Tania’s beloved parents). In recent months, Dallin met his new cousin, Leandro (Uncle Ronald’s newborn son). Of course, Bella also welcomed Leandro into our home. We all celebrated the holidays together...despite December’s boiling summer sun. We will forever treasure such memories.
-We have made new friends...eternal friends. Together, we have shared numerous asados, trips to the river, bike rides, birthday parties, holiday celebrations, and emotional games of Jenga. These are the sweetest of people, always willing to give to others before themselves. While a mere "thank you" is never enough, we do express our sincere gratitude to those who welcomed us with open arms and helped make Mendoza our new home. Diego and Gabriela became second parents to Dallin, even watching him for an entire week while we took a brief vacation in Patagonia. As for Lucho, he became a second father to Bella, adopting her each time we went on a weekend trip. We are also grateful for Carla, Milagros, Jahir, Betina, Javier, Cindy, Laura, and so many others...including Cleto and Jack :)
We have been traveling the past week on another business trip/family vacation. We have not had access to internet until now. While we are departing Argentina this Tuesday, the blog entries will continue for weeks! We have plenty of stories - and photos - to share from our most recent journey:
-Iguazú Falls (Argentina)
-Iguassu Falls (Brazil)
-Boca at Night
-And so much more!!!
For now, it is time to pack. And then pack some more. And then get nailed with excess baggage fees. From there, it is time to look for work back home. We hear it might be tough, but we are well prepared. As for Imagine Argentina Travel, we are still pushing ahead despite the struggling economy. In fact, we are designing group travel programs for the next year based on our favorite places and people! Be sure to sign up...and tell your friends! You won’t be disappointed!
Gracias. Un abrazo. And don’t cry for me (us) Argentina...the truth is I (we) never left you!