Thursday, September 11, 2008
7 Years Ago, Today.
I'm sure most bloggers today are posting about their experiences on September 11, 2001. And while you may have already read dozens of other personal accounts of what happened on that day, I suggest you read mine for a fresh perspective on the events. I was on my mission when it happened, and thus experienced the entire thing with a sense of disconnected torture. I could call no family or friends, nor did I have the day off. It was just another day of missionary work. Sort of.
I remember waking up that morning, showering in our little concrete bathroom and going through the rounds of personal and companionship study/prayer. It was nice, clear day. My companion headed out of the apartment and over to the local tienda to get some pan dulce for breakfast. We walked in and the little grey-haired lady was watching her humble 13 inch tv. Most mornings were host to the sounds of a telenovela (soap opera) or one of Mexico's gosh awful morning shows, but this morning she was watching the news.
There was a great deal of smoke coming out of the ground. I remember thinking that Popcateptl, Mexico's most active and dangerous volcano, had erupted again, as it had done so a few months before. But then, as the camera zoomed out, I saw the Pentagon. I just stood there on the polished floor of this little tienda in the middle of Mexico, gazing blankly at the Pentagon as it burned. In that fleeting moment my mind couldn't comprehend the entirety of what was happening.
We left the tienda to eat breakfast at the apartment and then headed out to our first appointment. Her name was Marta, I think. Or Maria. Anyway, the first words out of her mouth were, "Your country is under attack." Whoa! What!? "Come see."
We went into her nicely decorated home and watched tv with her. It was CNN. In English. (Thank you, Heavenly Father!) Hearing the news in the sweet, familiar phonetics of English was a blessing, as it connected me, in a way, to those who I loved and thought of that I could not call or communicate with. We watched the first tower smoldering against the baby-blue New York skyline. We saw the second plane smash, full-fury, into the second tower and just sat there in awe at the chaos that was taking place across the border. It was really scary. Was this the beginning of more for the rest of the United States? Was LA going to be hit? Chicago? Denver? Salt Lake?
After an hour or so of watching TV with our investigator, we put the news aside and taught our discussion.
We ate lunch, like usual, with a family in our ward (sidenote: the dad was a candy salesman by day and a professional Mexican wrestler by night!) We watched the towers continue to burn and then gasped as they fell like vanquished titans, into their billowing, ashen graves. It was so awful, knowing that in that instant so many lost their lives. And yet there was a strange disconnect to the whole thing, as if it were all a farce, like some replay of war of the worlds in modern times. Call it shock or divine protection, but I wasn't quite sure if it was all real or not. It's hard to explain.
Life as a missionary went on like usual after that. We'd get the occasional comment from people about how sorry they were for the tragedy, and, on occasion, some ass would tell us why the US deserved what it got. The Mexican people were generally very understanding, though, of the whole thing.
So that's my story.
Where were you when the towers fell? If you've written about it in your blog, please post a URL. Thanks.
Posted by Bear and Kel at 7:20 PM