Monday we drove up to St. George and spent the night there. We took that opportunity to make sure Alex had everything he needed, mark all of his stuff with his name, and repack it in a manner that made more sense than his method of throw-it-all-in-and-hope-for-the-best. To me it is unbelievable that someone can pack everything they will need for two whole years into a couple of suitcases!
So we took a few pics and hit the road. This is Utah after all, there are other temples to be visited somewhere, right?
We finally made it to Provo and checked into our hotel, then made our way to temple #2 on our tour - Mt. Timpanogos temple. I remember visiting this temple during it's open house way back when we were picking up my sister from her mission. Alex was a little baby then. Now we were finally back to attend a session this time. It was huge and the gigantic parking lot was full on a Tuesday night. It made me feel so good to see the work moving along like this and so many people giving of their time to serve.
It was a beautiful temple! What a great experience we had inside!
After a very late dinner at IHOP, we went beck to the hotel to get some sleep before the big day.
Then it was Wednesday - the day. The date that had been burning in our minds since Alex had opened that white envelope way back in June. September 17. The day he would start his mission.
Alex wanted to start his day at the temple, so we chose temple #3- the Draper Temple this time. It was very different, but equally lovely, set in a very nice neighborhood up on a hillside.
The Draper temple has wonderful views of the whole Salt Lake valley, and several other temple spires can be seen. Just lovely.
For his last meal (it sounds like he is on death row or something!) Alex wisely chose In N' Out, like any good Californian should.
His check-in time at the MTC was 1:45, so we made our way over to the park that sits right between the MTC and the Provo Temple, temple #5. This is apparently the place where everybody goes to wait for their time and say their goodbyes. There were small groups of people everywhere, and in the center of each group was either a young man in a suit and tie, or a young lady in a dress, that was the center of everyone's attention, having their picture taken, etc. So it was with us. For the next 45 minutes, this boy was the center of my whole world!
Their first grandchild is going on a mission. They are so proud.
He is lucky to be so close to them.
Spending a last few moments with my baby boy. Just yesterday, I swear, I was holding this tiny baby in my arms, amazed that the Lord trusted me enough to hand over His precious son to me to raise. I promised the Lord I would do the best I could. Now the time had come, like it did with Hannah of old, to bring that son to the door of the temple, quite literally, and offer him up to serve the Lord. This sweet boy was God's gift to me, and now he was my gift back to the Lord.
A few last words to everyone before going in.
And, last, but not least, a final phone call to his dad, who had a few more words of wisdom for him.
OK, Dad. I will. Love you too.
No, he is not excited at all. Poor grandma.
It was like a well-oiled machine. Hundreds of missionaries are dropped off every single Wednesday in the period of just 2 hours, with the As,Bs,and Cs starting at noon. (Having a last name near the end of the alphabet usually means we are last for everything, but in this case it meant I got to keep my kid another hour and a half longer than folks at the beginning of the alphabet, so I'm not complaining.) There were missionaries all lined up along the curb ready to greet the newbies, help them with their luggage, and show them the ropes. There were also adults directing traffic and supervising everything. Everyone was super happy (except for the bawling parents, of course) and there was such a great spirit there! So much joy and excitement! I wanted to leave my kid there.
Your 2 1/2 minutes starts now!
Get the luggage out. Don't forget anything.
Meet your host missionary - a great young man heading to Hong Kong.
Get in those last hugs. Pose for the camera!
My baby! I really think I did a good job of holding it together - until that moment! Oh man!
The picture above right is out of focus, unfortunately, but I think it says it all. He was SO excited and I was SO, well, afflicted!
THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what it is like to drop your kid off at the MTC.
Just like ripping off a band-aid.
I was saved by this amazing woman. Cathleen and I were best buds during our newlywed days back in San Diego. We were pregnant with our first sons at the same time, and now those sons are both missionaries. Her son just left the MTC for S. Korea a few weeks ago, so she knows exactly what I was going through. She met me just a few minutes after dropping Alex off. She whisked me away and knew exactly what to do to make me feel better. No, it wasn't mani-pedi's or a trip to the mall, or even to drown my sorrows in fro-yo. Instead, she brought me to a local bakery that delivers to the MTC and I ordered a box of sweet rolls for my missionary to share in the morning, then to the dollar store where I packed up a care package of silly blue items. She even brought the box. Then we ran off to a local mailbox place that she discovered makes daily deliveries to the MTC, any size, any weight for just $2! When we walked in the store, they were just leaving to make that day's deliveries, so I quickly scribbled a note and threw it inside that said, "I was so BLUE when I dropped you off that I had to make you this package. Love you!" He had his package before I even left town!
I felt so much better by the time we were done, and we had a great time catching up as we ran around and did it all. I'm so grateful for a friend who was inspired to know exactly what I needed at that moment. Sometimes it doesn't take much to turn a smile upside down. Thank you, Cathleen!
So now, the boy is in the MTC, and we are all home getting on with our busy lives. We miss him like crazy, and can't wait to get that first email from him. Hopefully today!