I tried not to think of the finality of that door closing.
Loved those last minutes of “normalcy” there at home.
Claire had been working on sewing a special little bag for Max to put his pens and “extra things” in at the MTC and she presented it to him at breakfast.
Elder Anderson (who is one of the twelve apostles in our church) also showed up…he had been in the desert for something or other and happened to be in the same flight. He shook all the missionary hands and wished them luck. And he reminded Max that he will be tall in Taiwan 🙂
Kind of a fun airline travel companion.
Last family picture for a while…
All the girls wanted their own pictures with their brother.
Hugs and more hugs, and a few tears too.
Dave and I were heading up (on a different airline) to take him to the MTC, but this was the last time the girls would see him.
I know this picture is blurry and not great quality. I snagged it from part of a video I was taking. But it’s my very favorite picture right now.
I love that you can see the excitement but also the love on Max’s face, and that the girls faces are buried in him. Oh how they love that brother of theirs.
Finally he unwrapped himself from their embraces and was out.
Of course I had to snap pictures until he was gone.
I loved watching how excited he and this security guy were.
We took Max to Hires to prove my old high-school-stomping-grounds still have the best burger ever.
(Max and I have had an on-going debate about this the last little while and although I’m still not sure I proved my Big-H was better than his Five Guys burger he tried to prove “the best” last week, I sure enjoyed trying to convince him:) Nice face Dave 🙂
We drove up to my parent’s house to get some things Max had left there when he left BYU for Christmas and promptly got stuck in the driveway.
It was bad!
Luckily there was a car in the garage my parents had left (they are in Australia with some speaking engagements they had committed to over a year ago, far before they realized that would be when Max would be leaving…we have missed them so!).
We transferred all our stuff to the other car and raced over the mountains to Provo.
By that time we were quite late to get to the MTC but amazingly none of us were stressed. We had the best drive in that car making our way through all that beauty. We were all just in the best moods laughing and joking and advising just a little 🙂
All the same, I think all our hearts were pumping pretty well when we pulled up to the MTC. They had us pull all the way up since there weren’t many missionaries being dropped off right then (remember how late we were…).
As soon as we pulled in though the gate though, Max saw one of his friends from BYU who is also going on a mission and has been in the MTC for a few weeks. He was one of the “hosts” welcoming the new missionaries. At this point, Max rolled down his window all the way and leaned half his body out yelling “Elder __________!” (I can’t remember his name) with all the excitement you can imagine.
This kid saw Max and got equally excited. He ran down the whole length of the driveway yelling, “I get to host this one!” to all the other “hosting” missionaries with a big smile on his face. I wish I had taken a picture of the reunion of those great boys.
Instead, he took a picture of us and told us it was time to go.
Just like that.
So we gave one last hug…
…and obeyed that missionary who told us it was time.
We were all smiles right at that moment. So excited for him and watching him walk off into the adventure of his life.
But when he turned around for one last wave, he did something that filled our hearts so much Dave and I both lost it. Just a little symbol of love for us that is kind of an inside-family thing.
It was such a beautiful way to say goodbye that made our hearts swell more than ever for that boy of ours.
We drove away with tears streaming down our faces, hoping the smile radiating from his wouldn’t change as quickly as ours did!
Oh parenting sure tugs at heartstrings more than anything else I can imagine.
We had 24-hours in Utah so we utilized it well. Dave took me to a movie to get both our minds off of the missing.
The only problem was that it was “Brooklyn,” which is a great and beautiful movie, which leaves a ton to discuss and dissect when it’s done (one of my favorite qualities of a good movie…part of it made me MAD which I loved discussing with Dave).
But the subject matter wasn’t the best for that moment in time. It’s about a girl who leaves her family in Ireland to find a new life in Brooklyn, NY. Not the best thing to watch after you drop off your son for a two-year stint so far away.
I just sat there with a few tears filling up my eyes.
Despite the subject matter (we’ll have to watch that again when we’re both a little more emotionally stable), we sure had a good time together up there.
Love this man more than I can say.
We dropped in to see his sister and watch our nephew’s basketball game:
So fun to snuggle them up a little bit.
Then we got to go out to eat on our own: a special date. Things have been so busy/crazy lately I was so grateful for some time to just decompress and just BE. Just the two of us. It was a pretty great night.
The next morning Dave headed out for his other love:
(he’s been drooling over all that new snow in Utah for a while and has been dying to hit the slopes)
…While I met up with my Utah sister Saren and got to knit my heart with hers for a little while doing something we both adore: hiking.
(I know that once again we can point out that I’m not good at hiking gear, especially in the snow…
…luckily my sister sure is!)
She hikes with friends every week and was ready for me with my own “gripper” things for my shoes.
They were awesome.
We went up behind the beautiful Utah state capitol:
And hiked up “Ensign Peak.”
See that peak up there? That’s it.
It was a kind of dry, cold and gorgeous hike.
Saren had the great idea that it would be a perfect spot to offer up a heartfelt prayer to Heaven for that boy we both love in the MTC, and also for our other children we hope we can guide and direct and love the way each of them need.
Yet another beautiful moment to cherish surrounding this mission experience.
Love following that great sister of mine through life. She has led me in so many ways.
I thought this building was so gorgeous as we drove away:
I think it may have been the old state capitol but I guess I need to brush up on my Utah history.
Saren treated me to a little late-birthday lunch after that. It was the perfect food and the perfect conversation.
And watch the sun set on quite an adventure.
How thoughtful is that?
(there wasn’t a note…THANK YOU to whoever was kind enough to think of that!)
There were also treats and notes and fresh-baked bread, so much kindness spilling out from everywhere.
Someone sent this too:
Let’s get a better look at that…
So sweet and it had no note but the return address was “Simply Designed” which I think is HERE. THANK YOU Simply Designed, we are so excited to have something documenting Max’s journey.
Our first four days look pretty measly on that big island of Taiwan, but I’m sure it will fill up before we know it.
How are people this nice? Makes me want to be nicer and kinder in every way as I try to “strengthen the feeble knees” as all these kind people have done for our family.
So grateful for the love and genuine concern that has come from blog readers as well. Many thanks and love to you! Feeling so very blessed and thankful for people who reach outside of themselves and lift. I hope all these examples will help Max “lift” as well as he works so serve and love the people of Taiwan.