On Saturday, July 7th, after being home for a few days, we had a glimpse of Heaven. We invited our returned missionaries and their families over for an afternoon of visiting and food and getting reacquainted. We haven’t seen some of these friends for 2-3 years! Many families we’d not yet met face to face.
On Friday, June 29th, as we drove away from Yakima, we were so wrapped up in farewells and goodbyes and all the hard things about leaving people and a place we love, that our thoughts were all tied up in Going, not in Coming.
The drive from Yakima to Orem takes about 11 hours. That’s a lot of time to sit in a car and quietly process feelings. It was interesting that about half way home, something started to change. Our hearts started letting go and we started thinking about who we were Going home to: first of all our children and our little grandson, and then about all of the 100s of missionaries who have already returned home! The more we considered who was waiting, the more excited we got.
We planned a gathering of missionaries and their families for Saturday from 5:00 until 7:00, or whenever everyone left. At 4:30 the missionaries began to arrive. For the rest of the evening, it was one great reunion of loved ones! It was absolutely like Heaven. We also met parents and families of many of our missionaries who have served and who are currently serving. Come see the joy!
These are just some of the photos (it felt so good to take some pictures again!). All of the photos I took are in an album on our Facebook page. I think we had somewhere between 250 and 300 friends who came for hugs and visiting. It was a magical evening. We served grilled J-Dawgs with all of their toppings, watermelon, chips and salads. Our kids circulated with boxes of fruited popsicles for dessert.
We made a list of at least 60 of our missionaries who have already married after returning home. We had wedding gifts for those who came–we never had time to figure that out from Yakima. It was really fun to meet spouses and significant others. And it was fun to meet parents and families of these good missionaries.
What a wonderful day in Orem. Our hearts are here now, on this side of what we sometimes call “the mission veil.” It will be another 2 years or so before ALL of our missionaries are home, but so many of the 455 we served with are here now and we can be with them here. This is a nice shift and we have time and a front porch with rockers waiting to receive friends.
Our Homecoming was Sunday morning in our neighborhood Stake Center at 9:00. I didn’t take a single photo Sunday. I just soaked in all the love and hugged as many as I could get to. It was another perfect day filled with 100s of friends and loved ones.
After church, we had lunch with my brother and his family and my Dad and his wife, who traveled from California to be with us. It was wonderful to be reunited. Then we got in our cars with our kids and our little growing family headed to California. Sunday night we got to St George and Monday we arrived in Newport for 2 glorious weeks at the beach. Life is good, oh so very very good!