Max’s missionary farewell was last weekend.  
That’s when the getting-ready-to-leave missionary gives a talk at church and lots of people who love him (or her) come to support them and sort of send them off.
I already said a few things about it, but oh boy so much has happened in the last week and I want to remember all the details.  So I’m writing them now before they get all mixed up in the muddle of taking him to the MTC on Wednesday.  
I want to remember how he looked and how he sounded and his funny facial expressions.
I want to remember how the girls sang so beautifully, “I am a Child of God” in Chinese and how Claire, who was the star (she knows Chinese best), started throwing up with the stomach flu the night before but still stood up there anyway on Sunday, a little pale but with a huge smile on her face full of love for her brother.  And I probably will always have Lucy’s face in my mind as she sang…so concentrated and loud above her more hesitant sisters.
And I want to remember how so much of the chapel was filled with family and dear friends.  They just kept coming.  And filling up my heart until it actually hurt with love and gratitude for all these people who have had a hand in raising this child of mine.
Max talked about BUILDING the kingdom of God and related it to building houses in Mexico (back here) as an analogy.  He went through all the steps of building that he feels are most important: learning, service and LOVE.  My face hurt from smiling by the time he was done (he talked for seventeen minutes...yes, that child of mine who would hardly say more than two words when he was a kid went on and on with story after story and did such a great job).
But let’s back up for a minute to capture the whole weekend, because all the little details work into the whole feeling around it.  
My brother who’s been living in Europe for eight months showed up first.  They have had some pretty amazing adventures and I wish they had a blog to explain them all, but let’s just say it was pretty great to get them to ourselves for a couple days.
They came from California and brought my other brother’s Sprinter van which was pretty fun to take to the gymnastics carpool right after they arrived. 
(don’t worry, we weren’t driving in that picture)
They came to watch Grace cheer…

 Claire was snuggled up their baby…

 They helped do all kinds of stuff at the house, including finally installing our kitchen light:

 …yes we have lived here for almost two years…have I mentioned I’m a little indecisive?


We got to celebrate my brother Josh’s birthday all together:

 Just the adults went to golf that night.

We hiked (back here)…

And then on Saturday Noah & Kristi and Saren & Jared arrived with all their kids just in time for a hot tub/polar plunge swim party:

…and a rousing game of “reverse charades.”

My favorite game to watch 🙂

Where, you might ask, was the star of the weekend all this time?

Well, five of his best friends from BYU came down for he and his roommate’s farewells (they were on the same day), and they pretty much made it the best weekend of Max’s life 😉

This picture was from right before they left on their own hike.  Brayden and Max were good hosts (I think) and tried to give these great friends a good show of the desert.  They were in and out and amidst all the other people around we didn’t get to talk and hang with them as much as we would have liked but they sure are great kids.  One of them is my college friend’s son which makes us both SO happy that they are such good friends!

And then, just like that, it was time for that farewell.

…which I already talked about up at the top.  It was a beautiful meeting.
I wish I had a picture of all the friends there, but here are at least a couple:

And a portion of the family:

And dear family friends:

Since we missed most of my family at the church we snapped some pictures at home.

Here are Jonah and Aja and their five kids:

 Noah and Kristi and their five:

Saren and Jared and their five:

Some good boys:

 The cousins:

 The twelve-and-up cousins:

 The adults:

 …and the siblings:

Four of us five up there have five kids and the oldest grandkids and words can’t really express how much it meant to have them all here.

I didn’t get a single picture of our pans and pans of dinner for this big crowd, but it was so fun to have everyone, including Max and his friends:

We had an open house that night.  Love that these good friends from Vegas came all the way to support Max:

Some other missionary moms:

(Moms of some of Max’s really good friends.)

I didn’t pull my camera out much but here’s the tail end of the crowd:

…and the tail-end of the crepes:

 They were gone half-way through so we just kept pulling out more and more of whatever we could find…it was pretty funny by the end.

 Loved that the kids got to share all their cousins with friends.

 It was so fun to watch them all hang together and get to know each other.

 The next time we will all be together is probably for weddings.


Love that all these adult aunts and uncles got to be better acquainted from both sides of the family:

 We have a cousin named Lyla on both sides of the family…finally got them together.

The two Bennets got together too and had a great time but I didn’t snap a picture before the one not staying with us left.

After everyone not staying with us left (it was probably 10 or 10:30), the next party started.

And when Eyres are together that always includes making cookies.

I didn’t get a great picture of the games, but we stayed up until almost 2:00am with just about everyone, kids included, playing all kinds of games (the name game, psychiatrist) and it was so awesome that we weren’t even sad we did it when we all felt like we got hit by a truck and kids were whiney as could be the next morning.

 I had to snap a few pictures of how we set up the kitchen for the open house:

 We put facts all about Taiwan up everywhere along with pictures.

And with that, the weekend was over.  
The families packed up and headed out (except for Jo & Aja who just left yesterday…so glad we got to have them for a little longer!)
How grateful we are for the sacrifices everyone made to help us out on the big weekend…all the food that was brought, the gifts, the notes and the LOVE that we felt from so many.  
So thankful these cousins were able to make the trek to join us, and for the notes and texts and emails from everyone who couldn’t come.

So grateful to be so fully enshrouded in family, especially right now.

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  1. Such a lovely post. So excited for Max, missions are amazing! I couldn't help thinking about my oldest, my soon to be 13 year old and how we have all this to look forward to.

  2. I can't imagine what this day would be like. So rewarding as a parent to hear your son speak and then hear your daughters sing I am a child of God in Chinese after having such a great semester abroad. What a bittersweet moment. i would have been choked up just listening. Good luck this coming week and months to follow. Thanks for sharing all the details.

    Ps I sure love your house and all your touches!

  3. Oh what an amazing weekend. My sweet neighbour's boy just returned from the Philipeans and it was his homecoming fireside last night.. such an amazing experience for these young kids. One that they will never forget.
    These next few days will be so emotional.. I can almost feel it!

  4. oh, this post hurts! I wish I could have come! So happy though to see all of these faces of people I love together. I love you guys, and max. Thanks for going first Shawn. You Pothiers are bright lights leading the way. Love from Boston.

  5. So happy for you and your family! Definitely a difficult time but one you'd choose for him over and over again if you could. One of the hardest but best choices our kids can make is to serve the Lord and give so much of themselves to people they don't even know. That service widens and enlarges their hearts to love those who they serve and somewhere along the way grow by leaps and bounds themselves. Thinking of your family and cheering you all on!

  6. Hello from another Missionary Momma also from your area. My son has been out 15 months in Mexico and LOVES the work. The growth and maturity missionaries experience is tremendous, but the best part is seeing their testimonies grow and strengthen as they serve and bring others to Christ! I have enjoyed reading about your son's mission prep and farewell. Hope you will share some of his letters/emails and experiences as he serves. He will be in our prayers. Vaya con Dios Max!

  7. I can't tell you how happy this makes me! It's the next best thing to being there, even though we were far away in New Zealand. Just loved seeing all the hoopla and that fine new missionary surrounded by so many who love him. He's going to be stellar! Love to all!

  8. Hi Shawni (or other Mormon readers) – please give me your thoughts on the teaching that if you are a Priesthood holder (or married to one) you will be given your own planet. If you think you miss Max now when he's in another country, how will it be when he's on a different planet than you? What planet do you and Dave want?

    1. Unknown–I imagine that Shawni and her family are enjoying their last few moments with Max, and she doesn't have time to answer your inane questions. Honestly, if you were coming at this as someone who wants to truly understand another religion's doctrines, that would be one thing.

      The idea that Mormon's believe they will "get their own planet" is a cute little sound bite. Should you care to actually educate yourself on this particular belief, I would highly recommend you review official sources. This link here should be able to answer your question:

      However, I imagine you won't take the time, because your question isn't coming from own who is honestly interested in understanding another faith's complexities.

      As a lifelong practicing member, I have never once heard, or been taught that I will get my "own planet." Oddly, the only time I've ever heard this particular claim is from those outside of the church. Have I heard we will become LIKE God? Certainly, theosis, or the idea of becoming "joint-heirs" with Christ (an idea touched on in Romans 8:17) is not a new concept. Early Christians believed this, including many of the Church Fathers (a few: Ireneaus, Bishop of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Justin Martyr, Augustine of Hippo). The concept of theosis itself is a very fascinating study, and if you were actually interested in the concept, either from the Church Fathers perspective, Eastern Orthodox Christianity, or from the Mormon perspective, I am sure you could put in the legwork and learn more about it.

    2. I would be careful what sources you are getting your information from regarding the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I find it best to get information directly from the source– which would be, if you are truly interested in learning what Mormons believe. Lisa

    3. Whitney, how do you know what my motives are in asking this question. If you are a lifelong practicing member, are you supposed to be calling people's questions "inane"? How insulting! I thought you were supposed to teach and spread the word and help people understand your doctrine. Thanks for making me feel bad for asking. And truly, thanks to Michelle (below) for actually answering.

    4. Unknown-I actually did answer your question. I just didn't sugar coat it, but do please take offense at one word calling out what your questions were. The link I provided will tell you more than enough, and I even provided some historical background for you to look up. As a suggestion, the website will usually have the answers to the questions you ask. You can continue to defend your questions, but you posted it on a very sweet and heartfelt post about a mother's thoughts on her son leaving for another country for two years. You can certainly continue to protest it was asked with a pure motive, but I find that incredibly hard to believe.

    5. I don't care what you believe about my motives. You have a lot of nerve. Yes you answered my questions in a very snarky sarcastic manner. If all Mormons were like you there would be no converts. Is that what they do, refer people to the website when they have questions? I've been answered very civilly by others so you can take your sarcastic and suspicious self somewhere else.

    6. Unknown-As you have pointed out, time and time again, this is a place for people to make comments and have discussions. If you don't care for when people are snarky to you, why are you so snarky in many of your own comments? And as a note, I have actually answered you very civilly in the past (or it may have been another Unknown. There are a few of you!).

      The website I linked is a great resource, especially for someone with as many questions as you have. I have referred people to it before, especially the chat feature for if they would like to talk to missionaries, but do not want to have missionaries in their own homes.

      As for your personal shot at me, I would hope other Mormons aren't like me, in many regards. I always hope other people are better than me. I know I have a lot of nerve. Depending on the situation, it can be a strength or a weakness. In this case, it's likely a weakness, because clearly you've been offended. If your motives were truly sincere, and the questions asked with real intent and no malice, then I am sorry for offending you.

      In all sincereness, I hope you have a pleasant day!

  9. They will receive everything our Father in Heaven has and will become like Him. They will even be able to have spirit children and make new worlds for them to live on, and do all the things our Father in Heaven has done."

    Gospel Fundamentals [2001], 201

  10. Oh wow. I've never come across a religion that believes they will one day have all the same powers that God has. So, is God no longer the most great and powerful being in the universe, when everyone will be able to do "all the same things" He can? Whoa.

    So they will be able to create life? Forgive sins? In paradise, Adam and Eve were banished for wanting to "become like God" knowing good and evil (by eating the fruit).

    Some would call that thinking blasphemy!

    1. It is possible that someone without a full understanding of this doctrine could think it blasphemous, and if members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints truly thought themselves equal to God in our current state, then it would be. Thankfully, we know we are NOT like God right now– just trying our best to emulate him and become more like him.

      Doctrinally, we believe that we are more than just spiritual creations of God– we believe that we are His spirit children. This is important to understand. Although a painting will never "grow up" to become a painter or a building will not become an architect, we believe that as God's spiritual offspring we have the capacity to become like our Creator.

      Is it illogical to assume that spirit children inherit a genetic "spiritual DNA" that gives them the divine characteristics and potential to become like their parent? All Christian churches advocate Godlike behavior. Isn't that what the Sermon on the Mount was all about? If it is blasphemous to think that we can become like God, at what point is it not blasphemous to become like God– 90%? 50%? 1%? Is it more Christian to seek partial Godhood? The scriptures invite us to walk the path of Godhood– to "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect". Are we invited to walk this path without the possibility of ever reaching the destination?

      I don't believe for a minute that God is interested in limiting us because He wants to retain Godhood for himself and is threatened by our progress and efforts to become more like Him. I don't believe He maintains His superiority by asserting man's inferiority. I believe in a loving parent who wants us to become all that He is.

  11. What a beautiful day for your family! You have taught him well and now he gets to share that goodness all the way across the world. I know your mother heart must be pulling so many different directions right now though!!

  12. What a wonderful weekend for your family – and having gone through this a few months ago for the first time myself tears came easily as the feelings of gratitude and love that filled the chapels and our homes are still close to my heart. You are saying "see you later" to Max today…it will be one of the hardest things you do – here's a quote that I found that helped me… "I sniffle not out of sadness, but of pure joy. Joy that, in a world which is increasingly self-absorbed, my child volunteered to be absorbed in the Lord's service instead".

  13. Your family is adorable and you've motivated me through the years to be a better mom, journal/family blogger and just an overall better, kinder, patient person. Thank you! Awesome to see Max's excitement to serve. I always say 'My Favorite Son' to mine, and he reminds me he's my only son – I get 2 more years until he's headed out on his mission. Tugs at the heart to miss them but oh, soooo happy for their experiences & sharing the gospel. So cute to see Max with his sisters and the love all your family shares. 'What matters most is what lasts longest…and families are for eternity' – Elder Ballard 10/2005. Best wishes Max and family!!! (ps – do you still use mainly Lightroom for your editing?)

  14. Your families are amazing! I cried through most of the post and loved seeing everyone in all the pictures. My best wishes to Max and he will be in my prayers. I love the quote above on Tawna's post'…families are for eternity'. I do wish I could give Max a hug.

  15. Thinking of your family today as you watch Max embark on his mission–to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in Tawain. The Primary song, "We'll Bring The World His Truth" is running through my mind right now. Hugs to you all from the Great Northwest! Lisa

  16. I can't tell you how much I love reading your blog, and how much it has affected my own not so little family. Kind of a random question, but how big is your round table, and where did you get it from? We have 6 kids, and l noticed it seats 8, and as hard as I've tried to find one even similar I just can't find one.

  17. I haven't been on your blog for so long! I can't believe Max is old enough to be leaving on his mission! I served in Taiwan too! My kids are all super tall too, because I'm 6'1" and I always wonder if they'll serve there too! He's going to love it! I'm sure he's super excited since his dad has shared all his amazing experiences with him! I served in the Koashung mission, which has been dissolved and now part of the mission Max will be going to. I will be blog stocking again to see if he serves in any of my areas! It was harder for me to leave the people of Taiwan when my mission was up, then to leave on my mission. I'm so excited for him and your family to hear all about his service! Gong shi 🙂

  18. It's been a while since I've checked your blog, but I used to be a regular, but life has gotten so busy. I teared up reading your most recent post about letting Max go. My two oldest boys are 12 and 13 and know that I will break up too at letting them leave although it's what I want most for them at the right age. Your words put it beautifully and I'm so glad you found peace. I started reading older posts and saw your kitchen table and chairs. I LOVE THEM! I am hoping you can tell me the name of it and/or where you purchased it. We need something larger, but round, and it's so fabulous!

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