I didn't sleep much the last day that I was in the MTC. Two months in that place had seemed like an eternity, yet I felt that the "real" mission was just beginning. My mind kept me up with the possibilities of the field. I had no true expectations, but my brain was in overdrive testing out probabilities of what the future held. Too many questions and not enough answers, and it was not simply a logical exercise. I was also flooded with a lot of mixed emotions. I was excited but anxious for the next 22 months of my life. I was homesick but this was also a great adventure. I lied awake on the top bunk in the bunker that had been my residence for 8 horrendous weeks.
The next day was busy. We had already packed all of our shit the night before - and that had been quite the task. Living out of a suitcase for two years - what do you take? Most of us had taken too much. We knew we were going to be semi-nomadic and packing the night before had brought on this stark reality. One of my bags had been packed in such a way that I was going to empty out most of it when arriving at the airport. Most of the other Elders had done the same thing.
The culture of the MTC teaches Elders one very specific lesson - watch everything that everyone else does and compare yourself to everyone else. While packing, everyone had a chance to look over everyone else's and comment.
"Why did you bring that?"
"Are you going to take that with you?"
"How did you fit everything into THAT bag?"
"How full is YOUR luggage?"
"How much stuff are YOU taking?"
We were loaded onto giant buses and transported from Provo to the Salt Lake Titties International Airport. Those of us who were fortunate enough live in Utah met our families at the airports and we quickly unloaded the excess items off to them before checking our luggage and heading off to security.
My mission was before September 11, 2001 so security wasn't a big deal and the entire family was able to go to the gates and wait for the departure. Missionaries with girlfriends were confronted with an ethical dilemma at the gates as to whether or not to hug them.
The mission rules were very clear that no contact other than a handshake was permitted between the opposite sexes. Some missionaries chose to break this rule, and others used it as a chance to show the lord how much they loved him more than the girls that they had dated for various periods of time before their missions. Because we all know how much sweeter the lord's embrace is than the chick who sucked our cocks and allowed us to dry hump the shit out of them.
Had we been normal teenagers, we would have just fucked the shit out of them. But we were examples of Christ's goddamn church, so instead we just rubbed those clits raw with our jeans on. Hot, dry, chaffing non-sex for Jesus!
I said goodbye to family and friends for what was assumed to be 22 months, but I called my parents again during the layover I had in Chicago. I don't remember if that was kosher, but I did it anyway. Afterwards I boarded the big ass plane to Frankfurt. It was the beginning of February and only a handful of people other than missionaries were on board.
By the time we had had our layovers the flight was going to be through the night. This wasn't a great set-up for me because I don't sleep well on planes. I might pass out for awhile with no recollection of the time interval, but not sleep. Not the kind where you have dreams that you are the Red Skull and you are fighting Captain America with a spear that you've fashioned from gardening tools, and every time you skewer him you yell, "The power of Satan compels me!" You know, normal sleep.
We arrived in Frankfurt at whatever fucking day it was. I had no idea at that point. I don't even remember what time it was. I just remember that we went through Frankfurt "customs" where every guard looked like they had been pulled out of the Nazi cast from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark.
And I'm NOT saying that they were fucking Nazis, ok. I'm just saying that they looked like the Nazi guards from Raiders or even the Death Star guards from A New Hope, ok. Calm the fuck down. You go through customs at Frankfurt and tell me I'm wrong about the comparison. I dare you.
Anyway, we got our shit from the airport and then went to a Marriott Hotel for a period of time. Again, I would like to say that I remembered what day or time it was, but I was strung out from the travel.
My companion slept, but I didn't. I just was jet lagged and felt completely out of it. It may have been a few days since I slept, it may have been a few weeks, I'm not sure. But what I do know is that the whole world seemed to take on a brightness to it that freaked me out, and that I was better at picking out conversations in the distance than ones happening right in front of me and that the thought of food made me physically ill.
At some point it was time for us to go somewhere, pick up our bikes, and then ride our bikes to the mission office.
This made as much sense to me as it does to you, but the only thought I had was, "Oh, fuck! I'm going to die." I got my bike - which looked like a blue version of Pee Wee's bike from his Big Adventure except without all of the hilarious gizmos, and then we took a "ride" to the mission office.
I hadn't slept in what seemed like a week and was riding a bike for the first time since I was about ten years old on narrow cobblestone streets with heavy traffic. I remember praying desperately to god, "Please don't let me die now!" as my bike jostled over the uneven pavement and cars streaked passed me.
God must have listened to my prayers that time instead of all of those other times I begged for mercy and he front kicked my chest and then stood over me laughing, "Hahahaahahahaha! Fuck you, faggot!" because I made it to the mission office without injury. I met several Elders who worked in the office as well as the Mission President. We didn't stay long before all of us, the "Greenies" were to meet at the President's home for a meal before getting our new companions and then going of to our actual field homes and assignments.
I didn't eat much at the meal at the mission home. I could only handle a few bites, and then I spent some time in the bathroom. The whole experience was a blur because of the jet lag and the insomnia. The president's wife probably made a fantastic meal, but I couldn't tell. My head felt packed with white cotton, and my stomach felt like I had just spent the last 36 hours riding the Tea Cups non-stop.
We had a meeting where we met our new companions. These were our "Trainers" because we were the "Newbies," the "Greenies," the "We don't know what the fuck we are doing heres" where our Mission President pontificated about the mission, the "gospel," and the German people. At some point the president said something that sparked my curiosity. I raised my hand and asked, "Why is that?" The president deflected the answer to my question and moved on. I had been curious and asked a question. He didn't answer it, and moved on. That was that.
My "trainer" and I gathered my belongings and we made the trek to my first area - Langen. A little town outside of Frankfurt. We resided in a cute little apartment overlooking one of the main streets to the cute "downtown" area.
Later I would learn from my companion that I had been labeled as "trouble" by the other "trainers" because I had dared to question the Mission President. My companion laughed it off from the other "trainers" because he liked the "challenge" of having a companion who was "too smart for his own good."