Welp, Grace has gone from her home MTC (missionary training center) days here at home to Austin, Texas, where she is on a steep learning curve but happy as can be. It is so strange to have her gone but it’s so good to know she is tucked safely into her next mission step. She was so ready to go! Let’s talk about her mission prep and the end of home MTC.

Home MTC

Grace at the home MTC

We had some pretty sweet experiences having her here at home.

I talked about a few of them back HERE.

And I should include a link to her setting apart in this post too…it is HERE.

Grace was joining the ranks with her two cousins who left shortly before she did:

Grace with two cousins who are also heading out to be missionaries

How awesome is that to serve at the same time as your cousins??

It was so great to have her glowing more each day right here in our kitchen in between all her lessons, loved being able to watch a couple of the online devotionals with her, loved being able to have her insight in discussions sitting on the counter and in family home evening and to have her run errands with me.

And of course, to be my tennis buddy. Every single day.

I love that Lucy wrote Grace the sweetest note and gave her a little journal to write all her “spiritual notes” in before she began the MTC journey.

And even more I loved that Grace used that little notebook faithfully and read me lots of insights from that thing:

Love that we got to have the temple experience together in the midst of it all.

Grace at the temple

(All about that back HERE.)

…and got to have a “post-party-(temple)-wrap-up” with these people that night:

Grace’s District

I never got to be “introduced” to Grace’s district (group of missionaries she had all her classes with online), but I did hear lots about them…they sounded pretty awesome. Here are a few of them in a break-out session:

Grace at the "home MTC"

One thing that makes me so excited for Grace to serve a mission is that I’ve been right there, doing those same things.

And it changed my life in the best possible ways.

Reminiscing from my mission days

We took some time and went through MY old journals and scrapbooks from all those days ago.

Sister Bonding

Lucy is going through withdrawals from having this best friend around:

Trying to grab a few last things to try to get her ready:

Shawni and Grace shopping for her mission

One of the devotionals we watched:

Bo enjoyed being part of the MTC as well…

A funny MTC district class break:

Grace's home MTC district

Dinner with the best dad:

Lots of tennis

More sisters on the court:

Oh I am so grateful for sisters.

And for parents…my parents came to town to be here for Graces “farewell” talk at church…and of course we had to play some tennis:

Grace and Grandfather playing tennis

Grace’s Farewell

Dave and I sat in Grace’s room with a little advice the night before her farewell…I had to take this picture because Dave is the best dad:

Then it was on to the farewell talk at church:

(All about that farewell back HERE.)

Elle & Carson and Max & Abby were able to tune in remotely, which was kind of fun:

Grace's farewell talk at church

That night we put Grace in the “hot seat” and talked all about the MTC and her feelings and prep:

And also, this cutest-ever little gift for Grace got dropped off at our front door following the farewell…some sweetie little girl in our church congregation got busy and wrote Grace this sweet note and drew her two flags:

I pulled down my mission keepsake box and we dusted off all those memories.

LOOK at that box of cassette tapes we sent back and forth!! Am I really that old??? And all those paper letters…will we ever get paper letters from this girl when we will be able to talk each week? I sure hope so!

Let’s flashback to those MTC days back in the day…with two of my best high school friends who happened to be leaving as well:

Now those two friends who happened to have daughters who were doing home MTC at the exact same Grace was. Isn’t that so crazy? I wish they knew each other.

Some day!

Grace read with Lucy some nights:

Mixing in some service projects

And did some service projects with a friend who’s also a missionary:

Grace serving with a fellow missionary

We had a little date to drive and deliver for BrainFood:

Went to lunch with these friends/fellow missionaries:

Last Family Outing

One night right before Grace left we had a little family night out to soak in that girl like nobody’s business. We went to dinner:

Walked around the college campus downtown:

And stayed up playing some games and laughing until there were tears streaming down my face from Dave’s “acting.”

Mending clothes to get them ready to go

We sewed and mended all Grace’s clothes she wanted to take (many of which she collected from Savers and Good Will…my kids are weird).

“Pies & Ties”

We had a little “Pies & Ties” (or really it should be called “Skirts & Desserts” with sister missionaries) with extended family…with all these facts about Texas and Uruguay around the kitchen:

Shawni and Dave hugging Grace before she left for her mission

Packing up like crazy:

One last tennis match where Dave and I got beat by our girls (hence the “thumbs-down”):

Finished our “tennis season” just in time since Grace’s shoe wasn’t going to hold up much longer…and one last green smoothie:

We came back to find our neighbors had heart-attacked Grace…and made us both tear up:

One of the last things Grace wanted to do was visit the gravesite of her friend who passed away this year. I asked if I could join them. That has been such a huge part of their lives this last year.


…and last walks:

That last two weeks with no MTC were really weird…no schedule to really tether the MTC and mission together, but she was still set apart as a missionary. Just really so ready to leave.

And then there we were on her last night.

We invited Josh over and got the married kids on FaceTime and had a really sweet little family meeting, some sharing their testimonies, others giving advice, feeling the love all together, followed by a father’s blessing from Dave (as requested by Grace).

Grace surrounded by family after Home MTC and before leaving on her mission

Sneaking some love into Grace’s luggage

Grace left for a little for one last time with friends and we whipped up a little Thankful tree to stick in Grace’s suitcase…along with extra leaves for her and her companion to add:

Lucy wrote a million of these sweet little notes to hide through her suitcases:

Goodbye to Josh:

And some sparkling cider. I have no idea why we were “celebrating,” but for some reason it just felt right:

Saying goodbye at the airport

Then it was 5:00am wake up to send her off:

All about the drop-off back HERE.

The house was so quiet when we got home, and when I got to work on my computer out fell this sweetest ever note:

Gosh, I adore that girl.

A new companion in Austin

Later that night this popped up on my phone:

And this too:

And that missionary of ours was off to a great start.

Oh how we love her and miss her, but oh how excited we are that she’s there, living the life she’s planned and prepared for for so long. Sending lots of prayers that way every day.

Missionaries are the best!

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  1. Hi Shawni. I have a question about testimonies as a non-LDS person. I understand from your posts that people periodically share their testimonies. In your church, what do those entail? And – and I ask the following genuinely – what is the purpose or function of the same person sharing his or her testimony over and over again? Do they say different things? I look forward to hearing and learning. Thanks!

    1. This is such a great question. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints I often use words or phrases without even thinking of the meaning behind them. It was good for me to reflect on what a testimony is. (Of course my thoughts don’t represent what all members of the church think about this topic.) A testimony is our personal conviction or belief of gospel truths. We often share pieces of our testimony, when we feel inspired by the Holy Spirit, and when we have had personal experiences that have reinforced our beliefs. I have been inspired and strengthened by hearing other peoples testimonies. They inspire me to strengthen my own faith and sometimes even answer questions I’ve been thinking about. I also feel that I am strengthened when I share my own testimony because I feel the Holy Spirit confirming the truths to me again (and maybe that feeling of strength is also God’s way of showing that He’s pleased with my efforts to share my faith?). Because a testimony can include many different ideas/beliefs – about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, prayer, scriptures, baptism, faith, hope, and many more things – and because life circumstances are always changing, a shared testimony is rarely the same wording twice in a row. Just by way of example, I think so many of Shawni’s blog posts are pieces of her testimony as she shares her beliefs and faith.

    2. Thank you for this great question, Rachel, and thank you Camile for answering it perfectly 🙂 I love what Camile said about how some of my posts are pieces of my testimony, because a testimony is really just relating things we are feeling and learning and growing from, and I do like to weave those parts of what makes me fulfilled in life into what I share here. My testimony is always shifting and growing. I love the quote that says “what you water in life is what will grow.” I think a testimony is really the fruits of what we “water.” As we seek to get to know God, and try to understand how we, individually can “Hear Him” in our lives, our seeds of faith grow into our testimonies that are ever changing. Please let me know if you need more clarification, because this is something I love to think about. xoxo

  2. I borrowed your “Pies and Ties” idea many years ago and it’s become a favorite family tradition. We had a hard time coming up with a theme for sister missionaries … I love your idea of “Skirts and Desserts” – does that mean everyone gave Grace a skirt?

    1. Oh I’m glad you borrowed the idea, we borrowed it from someone else as well. And we also borrowed the “skirts & desserts” name just to make it work for a sister missionary, but there were no skirts given (at least in our family), since that’s a trickier thing to give. Lots of good advice and love was shared though, and that’s what’s most important anyway!

    1. Yes you’re right, it sure is a big thing right now! And I guess it’s great for sustainability but it does make me laugh sometimes!

  3. Hi Shawni – could you tell me where you purchased your leather chairs that are in your living room? I LOVE those and we’re looking for something like this!

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