Alex surprised me yesterday and in the afternoon I got a brief 10 minute phone call from the Salt Lake City airport. By the time they got to the airport, checked in and got something to eat that was all the time he had.
He was very excited as we talked on the phone. He didn't want to tell me too many stories because he wanted to wait until he called from Dallas when everyone would be home to talk. Unfortunately, when he called from Dallas he had just woke up, was still tired and not nearly as animated. He couldn't remember what he had wanted to share because there were SO many stories. He started to perk up before he had to leave to go and get something to eat. In total we talked about 30 mins.
His flight from Salt Lake to Dallas was delayed a bit and then his flight from Dallas to Santiago was delayed even more because of thunderstorms. Alex arrived in Santiago at 8 a.m. this morning. Fred was tracking his flight last night until we went to bed and then checked again this morning. Alex will get his Visa right at the airport - $130.
Here are the highlights of our conversation with him:
*He told us that from Monday through Wednesday of this week it will be the biggest group of missionaries that has ever left the MTC at one time. He said it was something like over 500 missionaries.
*He was proud to say that his luggage was not overweight. He said he left behind one deodorant and shampoo so he wouldn't be overweight. I had enough Chile mission mom's tell me that it's better to pay overweight fees at the airport than to have to ship big things over (shoes, etc.). We ordered and had an extra pair of shoes sent to him this week so we wouldn't have to pay an exorbitant price to mail them to him down the road when he needs them. Also, we'd be taking a chance he wouldn't get them and I guess it's hard to find big shoe sizes over there.
*As much as he loved his MTC experience he was very excited and happy to get going. He said he couldn't wait to get to Chile and start working.
*Alex has always said he didn't want to go to Mexico on his mission and he said it again but this time gave a different reason. He said that right now Mexico is not issuing Visa's for missionaries. Because of this the missionaries who are in the MTC are staying anywhere from 11+ weeks instead of 8. He told us that in the group going out this week there were 70 missionaries that were supposed to be going to different missions in Mexico who were reassigned State side while they wait for Visa's. There was a kid in his zone or a kid that he knew who was going to a mission in Mexico and had been in the MTC 14 weeks waiting for his Visa. They just reassigned him this week to Salt Lake City. Alex is glad he wasn't assigned to Mexico.
*He ate Quiznos at the SLC airport and said it was good to have some non-MTC cafeteria food. He really liked the food in the MTC but he said it was nice to have something different and something that wasn't chicken.
*Alex told us the time difference in Chile is 3 hours ahead. I checked and it is.
*He also told us that his teacher in the MTC who is from Chile said it takes about two weeks for letters to arrive. I just updated his mailing information to the right of the blog. It tells how to use the pouch mail, mail letters & packages and how to use DearElder. It's all different now that he's in Chile.
*He was hoping that because they were landing early in the day that they might get to go to the Santiago Temple for a session before they did anything else. I didn't have the heart to tell him that that would most likely not happen :)
*Every time we asked a question that could have been answered with a "yes" his reply was "si"
*He was excited to tell us that in the SLC airport he gave away a pass along card to probably the only non-LDS couple there (for some reason my kids always think that everyone in Utah is LDS). The couple was from Chicago. They were Catholic, they were very nice and they talked about the Bible for a bit while waiting to board their plane.
*He also had fun playing peek-a-boo with a little boy before he called and while we were talking.
That about sums up the conversation other than him asking all of us what we've been doing etc. He sent home a box yesterday that has pictures in it and once we get it I'll post some.