Behold, I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish them;
and after will I send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain,
and from every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks. Jeremiah 16:16

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Saying Goodbye

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!

Afterwards we snapped a few photos in front of the church.  Alex looks so sharp in his new blue suit!

Pics with his cousin Kimberly.

With Uncle Marty, Aunt Cheryl and what is left of their big clan - just Will. (They also have 2 missionaries out right now!)  Notice Marty doing the "Grandpa Ralph photo handshake."

More uncles, aunts, and cousin, Adam.

The big guy, "El Guapo", Brother Bruner, was grabbed for a picture, and the other Alex, Alex Winder, who was just coming from a board of review.

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.

We all met with President Morris and President Verduzco.  They asked my parents, and Alex' parents to each share a piece of advice with Alex, then they set him apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  It was official!  Alex was now Elder VanBuskirk - a real missionary!

Our last family picture for a long time.
Then with each of his brothers,

Grandma and Grandpa Signs

I know he had been set apart as an elder, but moms still get kissing privileges.

Alex could not have a more loving and supportive dad!  Dennis was FULL of great missionary advice for Alex, trying to cram as much wisdom as he could into him before he left.

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.

This was NOT easy!  I tear up just looking at these pictures.  These little guys are going to change SO much while Alex is away and 2 years is an eternity to an 8 year old - its a full quarter of his life!

Nate had a morning dentist appointment that I had to take him to before we left, so he got to be the last to say goodbye.  This was the hardest goodbye, I think.  These two are best friends and the first friends each other has ever known.  Nathan will be leaving himself on a mission in a year, so they will not see each other for 3 years.  It was an emotional goodbye.

We had some time before we drove off, so I went into my room to finish packing.  Alex was in his room with Sparkey, I figured he was just relaxing.  But when we were leaving I ran back into the boys' rooms to get something I say that Alex had written each of his brothers a personal letter and taped them to their beds.  I didn't read them, of course, but I was touched by his sweet gesture to them, that he would spend his very last hour at home doing that for them.  I hope they will keep and treasure those letters.

With that, we loaded up my parents' car and drove away.  Alex will never return, at least not to this house.

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