He made up two teams representing each family and asked all kinds of questions.
Each person up in front got a chance to go up and try to get the best answers, but for some reason I only have pictures of these two.
The questions ranged from naming Max’s top five fast food restaurants to knowing any Chinese words to knowing where all Dave’s siblings and spouses served missions.
We read a letter of advice for Max from our current cousin who is out on a mission (in NYC), and got advice through the parents for the other three returned missionaries (who are at college and couldn’t join us).
Then Max had a chance to bear his testimony.
And then we had pies and Max opened his ties.
So much love from so many wonderful people.
Love that will carry him through that mission in so many ways.
Our neighbors (who we claim as family) came too for part of the night but the only one I caught a picture of was Taylor right after his volleyball practice.
I can’t wait to hear about how the language is coming for him.
We still haven’t heard from him…Hoping today or tomorrow!
He finished up his last day of work:
I couldn’t help but sneak him away for a little lunch date…
Dave’s parents took him out on a special “last date” for dinner:
He took all his sisters out to lunch before he left. I don’t have pics. of his dates with Elle and Grace but I joined him for the little girls and we brought this one to their school.
As you can tell, they were pretty delighted to have him there.
He wanted to go visit one of his old teachers he had in sixth grade who he loved, and who Claire is loving now.
We got stuff ready to stick a “surprise” first package in his luggage. The girls wrote notes and I love them.
We had our last dinner together.
He chose our family favorite: Chicken Tikka Masala.
(And yes, I made him wear an apron.)
And then it was probably my favorite part of the whole mission prep process.
Max got “set apart” as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
During dinner and while we waited for the Stake President and Bishop to arrive, Elle turned on some music and out spilled Ben Folds “The Luckiest.”
The minute it started swelling through the speaker tears sprang up in my eyes.
How is it that music can do that to you so fast?
It reminded me of my other song break-down I had concerning Max a few years ago when he turned sixteen back HERE.
But right there that night between dinner and an amazing blessing from our Stake President everything culminated.
I know these words are not really about a mother loving her boy, but that night, to me, they were.
In fact, I am told that a lot
Now I know all the wrong turns the stumbles,
And falls brought me here
And where was I before the day
That I first saw your lovely face,
Now I see it every day
And I know
And then this:
I love you more then have
Ever found the way to say
Spoke so clearly to me. How can you ever find a way to say the love as deep as a mother has for her son?
And it wasn’t just that boy sitting there in a suit I felt so lucky to have. I looked around at my girls with such a deep swell of love I could hardly bear it. For my husband at my side through thick and thin who I love more deeply than anything. For our leaders, for the scriptures that have led me through so many tough times.
My heart swelled with all that above, which was enveloped in pure love for the gospel of Jesus Christ that has changed our lives for the better in more ways than I can ever count.
And that my boy gets to go out and spread that love and the joy that comes with it.
Yes, right there with tears filling up my eyes surrounded by people I love most in the whole wide world I knew more than ever before that “I am, I am, I am the luckiest.”
We had a beautiful little meeting along with our church leaders, Dave’s parents and my brother Josh. Dave and I got to bear our testimonies, some thoughts and words were shared by our leaders, and Max was given a special blessing to “set him apart” as a missionary. When someone is set apart he starts living according to mission standards and I truly believe that when one is set apart (we are set apart of many different callings) he/she is blessed with a certain mantle of love and guidance particular to that calling.
After the blessing Max had the chance to bear his testimony.
I don’t know that I have ever heard a more heart-felt and tender proclamation of love and willingness to serve. Tears were literally splashing out of his eyes and the room was so filled with love it was tangible.
Last hugs and goodbyes to my brother and Dave’s parents…
One last back rub from his mother…
And then it was off to bed for us all before the early morning that awaited us in a few hours to get him to the airport.
I went to sleep so full of love for everything that had happened that evening, for all the mission prep we got to do together, and a sense of peace I haven’t had before.
Go listen to “The Luckiest” (HERE) if you want to cry for a minute and think about all the things that you are the luckiest about.