Every day I returned home from my lifeguard duty, I would come home to my big brown mailbox calling my name. Before entering my house I would check for any mail. The day came when my mission call arrived, and I finally had my future in my hands. I would finally know where I would be going for a year and a half.
Friends and family gathered around me, predicting the country or state I would be serving. I read out loud, “Dear Sister Arellano, you have been called to serve in the …”
Brazil Vitoria Mission, and would leave on Nov. 27, 2017, to the Brazil Missionary Training Center. Moments after opening the call, people asked me how I felt. To be completely honest, I did not know what to feel. At the moment it did not hit me that I needed to go to Brazil. It felt surreal.
Hours later, all alone in my home with no family in sight, I began to look at the packet with my mission president and his wife on it. I looked at their picture and it gave me comfort to look at their eyes. I quickly got down on my knees and asked with full purpose of heart that Brazil could feel like home.
Boarding the plane felt typical until I took my connecting flight from Atlanta, Georgia, to Sao Paulo, Brazil.
“Bom dia a todo mundo, nosso voo vai sair aqui em cinco minutos,” sounded over the plane’s intercome system.
I arrived in the Centro de Trienamento Missionario exhausted from traveling for over a day. As I entered the CTM, I saw an elderly couple from my home stake welcoming with open arms. It had already felt like home.
They would check on me everyday and ask me if there is anything I needed while staying in Sao, Paulo. I never needed anything, knowing they were just there gave me comfort. After staying six weeks, I did not want to leave.
Arriving in Vitoria, Brazil, I felt more nervous than ever before. My mission president picked all of us missionaries up from the airport. During the car ride from the airport, he spoke about his mission. He shared with us that he had served in the areas where I live in California. Having this connection to my President made me know that he already had a heavenly love for me. I knew I could trust him. It helped so much that he could speak English.
We had a common Brazilian dish known as stroganoff. One dish was filled to the top with white rice and the other filled with chicken, covered in creamy sauce. Shoestring chips sat on top, a tradition.
While at my President’s house, I spotted Isabel Medina an old friend from California. The day she had left to go to her mission to Brazil, I had received my call that same day. Together in the same room, my President announced she would be my trainer for the next two transfer. Each night as we would fall asleep we told each other that it did not feel like we were on our mission because we were together. It felt like home.
5,619 miles away from home, I found people from home or associated to my home every moment after I stepped foot off the airplane in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The Lord continued to bless me to feel at home and safe on my mission. Even before I knew how important it is to ask the Lord for help in our prayers, I learned the Lord needed me in Brazil to teach His people, and He would keep me safe.