Friday, July 11, 2014

On our way home and reunions afterward

The last days flew by: going through everything in our apartment, cleaning and preparing for someone else to live where we had called home for the last 18 months.   We came with two suitcases and a carry on and went home with the same; leaving much of what we purchased behind for the next Senior couple to enjoy.  It was nostalgic, but exciting.
 The night before we left we were invited to the farewell missionary dinner at the mission home.  Elder Regis was completing his mission as well as Elders Jamison and Dorman.  We had our last catered Trini dinner and a wonderful farewell testimony meeting.  A very tender farewell prayer was offered by President Mehr at the conclusion of the evening in which he prayed for each of the returning missionaries by name.  Very special........
 We will miss President and Sister Mehr.  They are both amazing, kind-hearted, incredibly talented and full of the Spirit.  It has been soooo fun to be her twin!  Everywhere we went people confused me for her and vice versa.  Many people also called Elder Monson, President Mehr.  It might have something to do with the fact that we are both comparable heights and Sister Mehr and I both let our naturally curly hair go its own way while in the mission field.  We both straighten our hair at home!
 We love these wonderful APs!  Elders Anderson and Hatch - great young men!
 Here we all were at the airport in Trinidad getting ready to take the last flight home!
 The Church was very kind to work with us on our returning home tickets.  We had a layover in Houston which is where our son, Ben, and his family live, so we requested to stay over night there and go into Saint George the next day.  We got to see this adorable little boy, Redek, one of three who joined our family while we were on our mission.
 This is the big sister, Reagan, and we got to spend the evening and morning with them in their gorgeous home. I have to say, after having lived in Trinidad and among people who we loved that had so little, we were a little shell-shocked to see their home.  It was an adjustment.
 The final plane ride to Saint George.   It was very emotional to realize we were going to have to remove our name tags in the near future.  I had been praying for just a few more missionary experiences before that dreaded moment came, and as we were waiting three hours in the Salt Lake airport for the flight to Saint George that miracle came.  As we walked into the gate area, we saw a young missionary sitting by himself on a row. I sat down next to him and asked where he had been and where he was going.  He was going back to his mission in Tucson AZ.  His mission president had called him four days earlier and told him his father was in critical condition in Las Vegas.  He was given the choice to go home to see his Dad.  He is the only member of the Church in his family.  He had joined ten years earlier because of the influence of some close friends, but none of his family had joined.  He felt impressed to go home, but only for three days.  He was able to see his dad for two hours before he died.  He said, with tears in his eyes, that his sisters and his mom had begged him to stay.  He had been on his mission for ten months and said it was really hard to go back to his mission.  He was struggling and had been praying for someone to talk to, to support him in his desire to return. I was able to tell him how courageous he was, how grateful he will be all his life that he returned.  Praying fervently to be guided by the Spirit, I promised him that he would feel the comfort of his father and that his father would be influenced to listen to the gospel beyond the veil, because of his faithfulness in completing his mission.  They called his flight, and he gave me his name to write to him in the mission field and thanked me for being the answer to his prayer and an angel to him as he struggled with his decision.  How sweet it was to feel that The Lord used me to answer his prayer.  How thankful I am for how close the Spirit is to missionaries.  Nothing sweeter, nothing better!  How am I going to go back to normal life???
 Dear dear Connie came to the Saint George airport with balloons and a smile as big as ever!  Our grandchildren brought their parents and my mother came to welcome us home!  So thankful!..............We began the adjustment, going through our house, cleaning up the rental house, reconnecting with our old life.  We have a good life in Saint George and are so very thankful.  We gave our homecoming talks that very Sunday.
 Seldom enjoyed pleasures - attending our granddaughters piano recital.  How sweet to have family nearby now.
 Reuniting with old friends that we love and have missed.
 Another of our brand new baby boys born while on our mission came to visit with his parents for the homecoming!  The family that bathes together, stays together, we always say!
 Delightful graduation from pre-school!  Ours is the one leading the music!
 Seeing great new additions to Saint George!  A beautiful children's museum with our adored grandchildren.
 The royal court waiting to pass judgement on the peasants......
 A few weeks after returning, we traveled with a few of our grandchildren, to our family reunion in Kauai with all our children and their families.  We were sooooo excited to see everybody again!
 Just some of the people we love......
 Two of the boys born while we were gone......Ezra (6 mos.) and Eli (4 mos.)
 So thankful for all these wonderful people we love!
 And just a few of their posterity..........and ours!
 We all hiked down to a gorgeous, rope-swing waterfall and spent a glorious few hours!
 One of the really special events of our trip!  Thais was baptized at the LDS church right across the street from our condo.  It was a beautiful meeting and so wonderful that we could all be there!
 Jordan's family.....and our special new member of the church!
 Ben's family and the first of the three new boys, Redek (18 mos. born right after we left)
 Getting to know one of our new boys with Papa time!
 Two little cousins sitting in a box...........
 We each had our own unit, but gathered in ours for dinner, adult time each evening and FHE.  Each day we went on outings, or played in the lawn, pool, shuffleboard and barbecue areas.  It was so sweet to be all together!
 Garrett teaching the FHE lesson .........Gracie......ummmmmm.......slightly distracted..........
Our newest little boy, Eli!  Soooo adorable!
 One of the outing sites......
 So much fun!
 Cousins having a blast in the ocean!
 Look what came to visit!
Beautiful!  It was everything we dreamed it would be.  We were so thankful to be with all of our family again to create such a perfect memory.  

It has been said that a missionary is someone who leaves those he loves for a time, so their family can eventually be together forever.  We are thankful for the opportunity we had to serve our mission in the West Indies.  We love all the friends we made there and hope to live our lives to see them again - if not in this life, then in the next.

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