The Sunday before the kids headed back to school we sat squished on a row in church, all seven of us: a whole, complete family.

I looked over and saw Max sitting there, his long legs looking way too big for the bench, his sisters interlinked to his arms and suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks that he would be gone in a matter of weeks.

December had been so full that we hardly had time to dwell on that little fact, but suddenly right then and there it became real.  
We have been doing everything in our power to soak that kid up the last few weeks.  It reminds me of a time when he was in his early teens and I was explaining the reason we were doing what we were doing (whatever it was, I can’t remember), was because we loved him so much.
I remember his reply really well though: “well I wish you could love me just a little less.”  Ha!  I think he’s pretty used to the “loving him too much” thing by now which is a good thing since we all can’t get enough of him.
Dave is not girly-emotional like the rest of us, but I know him so well even the expression on his face makes me more emotional because it tells me everything loud and clear: he’s going to have a hard time without his boy.  Cleaning out the garage together, fixing the sink the other day, talking through life, I see that expression over and over again.

One night when we were still on Hawaiian time Max asked about Dave’s mission at one o’clock in the morning.  We were all still quite awake so Dave lugged out his big box and we found some Taiwan treasures in there.

 I loved how interested Max was about everything in that box…

And he saved aside some great things for him to carry on to his own mission:

Among the treasures we found a letter addressed “to my son:”

Dave had forgotten he wrote that years ago to his future son.  I love that it is addressed to his “son” and not “sons”…he must have had some good intuition back in high school when he wrote it:)

Max opened it up and it had all kinds of great advice.

Then it was on to the shopping.  Boy, I will tell you what: there’s a lot to think about when you’re sending a boy overseas to live for two years and he won’t be able to buy any clothes that fit him there.

I’m pretty sure they don’t have any size 15 shoes or slacks that will fit a kid who’s 6’7″ in Taiwan.  We were able to knock out a ton at one store that it totally catered to missionaries and we felt pretty grand about that.

I felt pretty grand about having a helper at Costco too.

After that first big errand day Max started work so he’s been busy as can be and we’ve been trying to fit in things here and there as we can.

We’ve been trying to do a little “missionary boot camp” trying to get on a good schedule and reading and haircuts and attending the temple and even trying to eat better.

He’s been in charge of our morning scriptures most days…

And it’s been fun to see and hang a little with his friends who are still around.
One of Max’s friends from his high school volleyball team (Curtis) got the exact same mission call to Taiwan, Taichung leaving on the very same day.  Have I mentioned that before?  Sorry if it’s a duplicate, but maybe that little fact deserves a duplicate because how crazy is that??
Curtis’s farewell was last Sunday.

So many kids left in the summer, it was missionary farewell season galore (back HERE).  It’s kind of fun all over again to be in round #2 (but on a much smaller level).  These next boys are all leaving within the next few weeks:

So here we are, with Max’s farewell coming up THIS SUNDAY.
We stole away one evening to snap some pre-misson pictures in preparation.

Curtis came to join us at the end since he was meeting Max and the other boys to go to the temple so we snapped some of them together too.

And of course, had to get one with my photo-helper too who was meeting some girls to go to the temple as well.

SO, on to the farewell…I cannot believe this day is finally here!

Today some of my family who are coming for the farewell are starting to trickle into town and we’re so excited to see them.  Five of Max’s friends are coming down from BYU too (he and his roommate both have their farewells on the same day) so we’re trying to situate everything to get ready for all the festivities so I’ll log out now, but come join us if you’re local!

Yes, this is all getting real!


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  1. Just want to say…I love your blog. Thanks for writing real…the good and some bad and documenting so much. Certainly makes me want to be better at it…but though I'm a photographer…I'm not great at this documenting the day to day stuff.

    But I sure have worked to be a happier and more intentional parent…in part from what I've read here.

    I have 4 years until I'll send my oldest on a mission and I'm already dying a little inside. If I really knew you, I'd totally drop some flowers or cookies at your door that first day you are without him.

    I'm sad for you, but looking forward to hearing all the growth you are all having through this experience…you're gonna help me accept that fact that I too want my sons to serve!

    Good luck…hugs and prayers from a west valley reader =)

  2. I can't imagine how it will be to spend two years without him, so try to squeeze him as much as possible these last days! I love reading your blog (been around for quite a few years now…) but since I'm note from the church I can't actually relate to this situation. I just hope we'll get updates on him from time to time, but I'm sure he'll learn great lengths and enjoy so much his time in Taiwan 🙂

    1. I'm also not from the church so would love to learn a few more things about their time on their missions- how can you communicate during, can they come home at all during the two years, even if for a wedding, funeral, etc, can family members visit? Hoping you could elaborate in some future posts about Max! Wishing him the best of luck for him as well!

    2. I have served a mission. Although it has changed a bit since I served, a lot has stayed the same. For instance, missionaries communicate once a week via email to their family. Family usually then forwards their emails to friends and others. They can write letter to anyone they wish, but typically, email is reserved for family once a week. They don't call on the phone except for Mother's Day (Father's Day in my mission) and Christmas. Each Mission is different, but most allow face time or skype now when they "phone" home on those days that I mentioned. Missionaries don't come home for any other reason than typically a death of a mother or father. But even that is up to the Mission President, the missionary, and the local Stake President that is in charge of your local congregation. Family members don't go and visit the missionary. If they run into them by chance because they happen to be vacationing in the area, that is different. But coming home, calling home, having people visit is really difficult for the missionary and family members. You have to do goodbye's all over again and you become distracted from what you are trying to do, spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all that will accept it. Mission's are awesome, hard, but awesome. Both for the missionary and the missionary's family. You grow and mature so much as a person. You learn to work hard, sacrifice, focus, serve and love people of all walks of life. You also have a lot of fun getting to know people and other missionaries that you serve with. One of the greatest and best things I have ever done, hands down.

  3. I love what my brother wrote about his son leaving for a mission:

    The emotional reaction I’ve felt to the past week has been interesting. I am so proud of him and who he is. The last couple weeks before going he was really different and we could see how excited and ready he was to go. He carried himself differently and just felt prepared and mature and composed. I am excited for the person he is becoming and excited for all the experiences coming towards him. On the other hand I have this empty, throbbing hole in my heart because I know the boy that just left is gone and I miss him. I am surprised that the two emotional sides of this do not cancel each other out and that I can feel the pain of separation and the joy of separation simultaneously.

    This first week has been more of the pain – but I am looking forward to getting into a routine of weekly exchanges and watching the spiritual growth of this boy I love so much.

  4. Be sure Max knows to paint his bike "ugly" as soon as he can. Our son had barely arrived in the Taiwan Taipei Mission, picked up his bike, locked it up by the Temple when it was stolen. He hadn't had time to paint his bike, so his shiny new one was taken. That meant another few hundred dollars for a new bike which he promptly painted a horrible yellow and blue.
    He loved serving in Taiwan and loved the people he met and taught.
    It is so fun to hear my blond, blue-eyed boy speak Mandarin Chinese! He majored in Chinese at BYU. Now he is a first lieutenant in the AF, just graduated from flight school and moving with his cute wife and toddler this month to his first big assignment flying a military style Lear jet.
    They grow up on a mission, then they come home and get married! It's all wonderful.

  5. Oh man, I have a lump in my throat just looking at the pictures. My children are a few years away from missions but seeing this made it very real. Thanks for the precursor. What an amazing young man Max already is – all that good parenting and getting through the messy middles and hanging tough in the trenches – it makes it all worth it. You have done it well. Best of luck to all of you!

  6. Oh man! Seeing that Taiwan flag and Chinese Book of Mormon makes me super excited for Max!!! Give him our love. He is going to be great – and a giant in Taiwan! Love it!
    Ben and Ashley

  7. OH my, that letter from Dave just did me in. What a treasure. Dave, and the letter. Can't believe max is going on a mission! I wish we could be there this sunday, our hearts will be there.

  8. Good for you, you proud mama! And best of luck in the coming days! I have two currently serving, one in Chicago and one in South Korea, and what a fun thing it is! I should edit…. and what a fun thing it is, AFTER the drop off and about a month or so! 🙂 So excited for Max and for your family!

  9. I wish you all good things for your farewell day! Enjoy every minute of it. It is a day of full of family & fun and celebration, pure joy I tell you! I have one that came home from South Korea in April who is now married to one of the sister missionaries he served with over there (She's from Oregon). Those missions are life changing in so many ways! And I have another son who will be returning home from his mission in August! We can't wait!

  10. This brings a smile to my face, even though it's hard to say goodbye it's one of the best things ever! You will love your weekly email, they will be the highlight of your week. We dropped of our son at the MTC in December, he will be serving in the Tahiti Papeete mission (he's learning both French and Tahitian at the MTC) We had our first missionary come home last year (he served in Paris, France).

  11. Oh man, this makes me cry. Not only because I can't be there but because Max and his parents are three incredible people! Max is so teachable, loving and interested in people (and his parents are so loving and good to the core). He is going to be a fabulous missionary! I'll try to email because as of now, I can't text! Have a great and memorable day today!

  12. Hi Shauni, I'm sorry to bother you on this big day for your family (especially since I'm a stranger to you!), but I'm trying to plan a family trip out to the church history sites this June and I swear I remember reading a post you wrote a while ago with tips you learned from doing that very trip–maybe an itinerary too? Could you by chance send me that link? ( Thanks in advance! And thank you for your example; you have such a beautiful family and I love reading about your experiences/adventures/outlook on life!

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