July 23, 2015
In the last 3 months we have sent home almost a third of our mission. Of course we have received “replacements”, but this third that went home were missionaries that we had served with for a year. These were young men and women that we loved and trusted (except for a couple of rascals). We have laughed, cried, and enjoyed them for a year and they have become part of us.
Since our mission office is just 15 minutes away from the airport, we usually have the pleasure of taking them to the airport to send them on their way. As we stand and give final hugs and handshakes, we usually have tears running down our faces. Sometimes we can’t talk as we try and maintain composure. We stand there and watch such strength walk away with big smiles. We are putting them on a plane to take them back to family that we know loves them more than we do – if love can be measured. As we cry here, we know that the family will be crying there in just a few hours. Our tears are for one reason, their tears for another.
Even though that day of saying good bye usually starts at 3AM, I often stay awake a little later into the evening looking for pictures on Facebook. I want to see that they have arrived. I zoom each picture and see the expressions on their parent’s faces as they hold their children again. If there is a video, I play it over and over. It brings me some peace.
As I hugged an Elder good by yesterday (okay, it doesn’t follow “mission” rules, but I can’t say good bye with a handshake!), I had an interesting thought. I wondered how it was in Heaven before we came to earth. Did we stand at the “airport” with big smiles and excitement? Did we look forward to our new adventures? Did we nervously pace as we waited for the time to “take off” to Earth? And finally, did our Heavenly parents hug us good bye, not saying too much as they tried to keep their composure? Did tears run down their faces as they looked at the strength and potential they were sending to earth? My heart tells me it is so.