My second week in León, I was approached by two presumably American teens. They asked: “Dónde está Burger King?”
They wore suits despite the fact that I was dying in the 80 degree weather. And mind you, I was walking back from the gym, so you already know my face was EXTRA sweaty. They wore name tags that read Elder Kiser and Elder Smith, and were each carrying The Book of Mormon - one in Spanish, one in English.
Assuming they were who I thought they were, I replied in English, “are you from Utah? I’m studying here from UW!” They looked at each other and one said, “like Pac-12?!”
Brady Kiser and Brady Smith, The Brady’s, as I like to call them, have been on missions in Spain since after they graduated high school almost 24 months ago.
When I met up with the boys at Tommy Mel’s - a stereotypical American diner in León - I would eventually learn from The Brady’s that going on missions trips is something that most Mormons pursue at some point in their lives; whether it be directly after high school, in college, or once they retire.
But, Jesus (sorry), two fucking years. How do they do it?
Everyday they follow the same routine:
7:30 AM - Wake up
11:00 AM - Work
11:30 PM - Lights out
"Does it ever get boring?”
Brady K. replied plainly and honestly, “yeah, it does.”
It's apparent that The Brady’s genuinely are passionate about the work they’re doing here. Which, if you haven’t caught on, is to convert (They baptized three converts last month. Go team?...!). But it's just as apparent that The Brady's are more than ready to go back home.
Brady K. finishes his mission in September, and Brady S. heads back in July. In the fall, they’ll be studying at BYU Hawaii and Utah Valley.
One day each week they get a "day off," and they have access to their friends and family via email and FaceTime. They work on iPads, so I asked, “couldn’t you just FaceTime whenever you wanted?” Brady S. shrugged and explained, “I could, but it’s not recommended. I think talking to my family everyday would make it harder.”
Unlike the first time I met them, they were both dressed extremely casual. One in basketball shorts, one in sweats, but still rocking their name tags - Elder Smith and Elder Kiser. This was seemingly the only thing keeping them from looking like "regular" American teens.
They asked if I had Instagram - I let them get on my phone and follow themselves on my account. This was Brady K.’s first time on Instagram in nearly two years. He checked Twitter out for a couple minutes, too. I was strangely happy for him, watching him laugh to himself while scrolling through his Twitter feed.
Aside from his family and friends, Brady K. says he misses music and sports most. Brady S. explained that Sorry by Justin Bieber was the last popular song he remembers hearing before he left the States. I rapped part of Bad n Boujee, and they just stared at me blankly.
We also talked a lot about the UW program. I told them stories from my Semana Santa break in Barcelona.
“I would’ve fucking yaked!” I was saying, as I told them about one of my friends who snorted Absinthe because they lost a round of Odds. BTW, 10/10 DO NOT recommend.
Brady K. laughed, “Yak! I miss American slang so much.”
At some point I realized, "sorry, does it bother you that I swear so much?" They both said no, but I still felt guilty. In instances where I would use "fuck," as a filler word, I would hear Brady S. say "flip" instead.
As we were leaving the restaurant, Brady K. was saying that he felt "so left out of the real world." They're isolated from everyone and everything that they know, and that is their world right now.
Throughout our conversation, I just had the constant thought, “how the fuck do they do this?” I can barely commit to going to the gym for a week straight, let alone putting my entire life on pause for two years. It's hard to not feel bad for them, but then again, they chose to be here.
I respect The Brady's, and their devotion to religion. It's easy to have preconceived notions about missionaries, or anybody in general that may have a strong dedication toward religion.
Each time I speak with The Brady’s, I’m surprised at how “normal” they are. I'll be honest - I was initially hesitant to hang out with them because I didn't think we'd find common ground. But these kids are interested in the same things as everyone else: music, popular culture, sports. They just so happen to be more religious than most.
FOLLOW THE BRADY'S
They'll follow ya back once they can get on IG ;)