After months and months of waiting, the time had finally come. It was time to make this kid an elder, say our goodbyes and send him off to serve the Lord.
Saturday night was his "Adios" farewell party, (click on link to that fabulous fiesta here),where about 100 guests came to wish Alex off! We were so grateful for everyone who came to support our boys, and to all those who gave so generously to either help with the party or financially for his mission or otherwise. We feel truly blessed to have such supportive friends and loved ones!
Sunday was Alex' farewell talk during sacrament meeting. What a wonderful meeting it was! We were so pleased that Alex' grandma and uncle were asked to give the prayers, and Dennis was asked to give a wonderful talk on service. Then Nathan, Derek, and Dylan sang a beautiful rendition of "Called to Serve." It turned out so well! I was one proud and happy momma even before my missionary spoke! Thanks Shari Thatcher for accompanying them and all your help with the number.
Finally, we got to hear from our missionary. Alex spoke about what it means to have a "change of heart," and how his mission will be to help others to do that. He did a good job, and we are so grateful for all the people who came out to support him. (And it was really nice to have a full chapel again for the first time since the ward divided.)
The closing hymn was purposefully chosen by Sharon Stevens to rip my heart out, I think. When they started singing "God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again," I couldn't hold back the tears anymore. Neither could Alex. I tried not to look at him and he tried not to look at me, but it was no use. It was not pretty. Man, how I am gonna miss that kid!
Pics with his cousin Kimberly.
More uncles, aunts, and cousin, Adam.
After church we had a big spread of sandwiches and leftover food from the fiesta.
It was a small gathering of just family, and by family I mean almost 50 people.
Saying goodbye to Aunt Lisa and the Macavinta family.
After everyone had left, it was time to get down to business - making this kid a missionary. On the drive to the church we were graced with a beautiful sunset! The rays spread out into the sky. To me it was a beautiful love note from my Father in Heaven reminding me that he is there and watching over us, especially his missionaries.
Luke was having a hard time letting go.
Our last family picture for a long time.
Then with each of his brothers,
Grandma and Grandpa Signs
We happened to have Alex' and Nate's friend, Donovan, spending the weekend with us. He is not a member, and I'm sure it was very interesting for him to witness all of the goings-on of sending a missionary out. Poor guy. We Mormon's don't really all cry this much all the time, I promise. We were glad he was with us.
Afterwards we went home and had a very special family testimony meeting together. Then, at my request, Alex gave me a priesthood blessing of comfort, his very first one. It was perfect and exactly what I needed.
Morning came all too soon, and morning meant saying goodbye.
We knelt down together as a family to pray for the very last time in a long time. What a moment! I had a hard time closing my eyes as I wanted to just memorize that sweet picture of the 8 of us kneeling, holding hands, and supplicating our Lord together forever!
But time waits for no-one, especially the time of early morning seminary!
Last hugs with the twins and dad.
Then a bit later with the littles as they left for school.
With that, we loaded up my parents' car and drove away. Alex will never return, at least not to this house.