Thursday, May 21, 2015

Saying goodbye

Yesterday we dropped Rebekah off at the Missionary Training Center in Provo to start her mission. Called to the England London Mission, we were informed she would spend 3 weeks in the MTC before heading across the pond. There is an MTC in England and we were asked often why Rebekah wasn't starting there. And the answer...who knows? But I'm thankful. Because, baby steps. I can't talk to her or see her or do anything more than send her letters and emails. But it is kind of comforting to think she is just a little over an hour drive down the freeway. (The same amount of drive time to Logan and her home at USU this past year interestingly enough...just in the exact opposite direction.) And having her at the Provo MTC means I can easily send her packages of any and all things she may have forgotten...or just cookies and treats. Originally we thought her stay there would be just two weeks. But we've heard the reason for that third week may have to do with visitor center training. Because while serving in London, some of her time will be spend working in the Hyde Park Chapel Visitors Center.

(Rebekah's picture was already up on the missionary board a the stake center when she went to get set apart as a full time missionary. Also...she found this in a fortune cookie right before we left for the MTC. I thought it was rather appropriate...)

I kind of dreaded this day. And yet as it got closer I just wanted to get it done with. The past two and a half weeks were a mad dash as we scrambled to get everything done before the big day. With Rebekah in Logan finishing up winter semester, we didn't have a lot of time to do our shopping and mission prep leisurely.

Me: "Rebekah, you need to come home more weekends so we can do mission shopping."
Rebekah: "I have lots of homework....I need to pass my classes, Mom."

How do you argue against that?

So between dealing with shopping and planning and lists and prep, we also had to deal with putting together a big open house after her farewell. And so by the time yesterday arrived I was completely burned out. As much as I hated the idea of saying goodbye, I knew there was no fighting was going to happen. So I was almost wishing it here faster, just so we could get going already. Let's just do this thing, you know?
Her arrival time for the MTC was 12:30. We sent everyone off to school and work in the morning, finished up packing...and then checked everyone back out of school, picked up Bryan from his office and headed to Provo early. We landed at the Provo Temple around noon with just enough time to take some pictures and spend some time saying goodbye. The MTC is drop-off only so it has become fairly common for missionary families to do exactly what we did...and we saw lots of missionary hugs and pictures and goodbyes.

I held it together fairly well at the temple. Rebekah let me hold her hand as we walked back to the car. And then kept holding it through the 3 minute drive across the street to the MTC. Because she would've had to climb over me to get out of the truck, I got out and helped get her suitcases despite there being a person there assigned to help Rebekah with her luggage. Which meant that I was kindly offered the opportunity to give Rebekah one last hug before she walked off. I told her I loved her. I told her I was so proud of her. I told her to enjoy this awesome adventure. I kissed my baby on the cheek and then watched her walk away.
Then I got in the car and Julianne passed me some kleenex. All of us were crying at that point. But because it was lunch time we stopped at Cafe Rio on our way through town. A word of advice...if you have just dropped your missionary off at the MTC, waiting in line to order food is not the best time to start looking at all the texts and messages that have come in on your iPhone. I got plenty of strange looks as tears started pouring down my face...and I decided that maybe I should wait to read all the friendly messages of support until after I was in the privacy of my own home.

Except that arriving home was worse. I felt like I had handled things fairly well with the goodbyes and the MTC drop off. There were tears yes, but a respectable amount. However when I walked in my house and saw all of her belongings, the things that she hadn't taken with her but were still sitting out, all the evidence of her being there just a few short hours before...reality came crushing down on me. And that's when I lost it. Julianne, Brandon and Lilian all took naps, so emotionally drained. I went to my bedroom and read through all my messages. Every text, email and facebook comment brought a new wave of tears...but I was SO thankful for the support and love. And the tears were cathartic.

It's been not quite 24 hours since we last saw Rebekah. I'm doing better today, but am still emotionally fragile. I hear that's normal. I've been told that over the next few weeks I'll find myself surprised by emotion creeping up on me at random times. That makes sense. I'm glad that we had a year of Rebekah at college...because once again, baby steps. She could call and text and there were visits every few weeks. But we got used to her being gone. So this mission thing isn't cold turkey for us. And for that I'm thankful.

I put a letter in the mailbox this morning. She should get it tomorrow. I ordered a missionary countdown map so we can start marking off the days. I'm a missionary momma now, as crazy as that thought it. I'm excited for the experiences and growth and adventures Rebekah will have. I'm excited about the people she will meet and the friends she will make. I'm so proud of her desire to share with the people of Great Britain the message of a God who loves us and knows us individually and personally, a Savior who atoned for us, the joy of eternal families and the knowledge that a prophet lives on the earth today.

My Rebekah...she makes my heart happy proud.


Natty said...

I lost it at the picture with her and Lilian. And then you had to throw in the one with her and Julianne! Geez! Tender moments. She is going to do awesome.

Mindy said...

I got teary at the pic with Julianne, so sweet! I sent you a text yesterday, but i'm not sure you got it, i hope so. Either way, love you my friend, i'm hear to cry right along side you!