Friday, June 30, 2017

Hasta Luego

I had been told that sending off a second missionary wasn't any easier than sending off the first. I had heard that knowing what to expect was actually harder in some ways because you know what to expect. People told me that dropping your missionary off at the airport was harder than dropping them off at the Provo MTC. After having experienced it I am now in a position to say that it's true. All of it.

Monday was spent packing and saying tough goodbyes. (Dad, who had a business trip, and boyfriend who she wouldn't be allowed to see as soon as she was an official missionary.) All too soon it was time to go to the stake president's office to get set apart as a missionary. Already emotional, by the time President Brown invited us in to join Julianne, we were a bit of a mess. Julianne shared her testimony and her reasons behind wanting to serve a mission. President Brown set her apart. And by the time he finished, we were all very glad that there is always a box of kleenex in the stake president's office. President Brown quoted D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.
I'm guessing it was meant to strengthen and comfort Julianne. I know it had that affect on me.
 (Julianne was rather pleased with the placement of her picture on the stake offices missionary board...right between Elle and Lauren.)

We had thought about getting up extra early to have a last breakfast at Granny Annie's, but packing didn't get finished up till midnight and we had planned to leave the house around 6:45am to head to the airport. We decided sleep was more important. Rebekah and Julianne had one last sleepover. They said it was because Julianne was now a missionary and Rebekah was her companion so therefore they shouldn't sleep in separate bedrooms. But really, they'd been having sleepovers most nights since Rebekah came home from her mission seven months ago. And seeing as by the time Julianne comes home, Rebekah will likely be married, this last time seemed significant.

The morning came all to soon, and not soon enough. Similarly to how I felt when Rebekah was leaving...I was ready. In a way, I had dreaded this day. And the stress and emotions had taken their toll, physically and emotionally. Julianne's leaving was going to happen no matter what, and I got to the point where I just wanted to be done, to get things going so we could start counting down, you know? I think Julianne felt similarly. Although I don't think she was dreading the day, but more anticipating it.

We made the drive to the airport and then sat in the car for a few minutes to have a family prayer. I felt like maybe it was my responsibility as the mother to say it. But of course that meant that my words came out in a tearful, heart aching, emotional mess.

We walked inside (wiping away tears) and got Julianne's boarding passes printed and her luggage checked. I was kind of amazed at just how incredibly helpful and kind the Delta counter agents were to all the missionaries there. Knowing that these missionaries and their families were running the gamut of emotions...fear of the unknown, feeling overwhelmed, confusion, sadness, excitement, and everything in between...they clearly see this every week. And while it might be easy to feel annoyed at all these clueless families, they instead responded with such empathy and asked us where Julianne was serving, expressed excitement over her call, offered advice with travel. It made me worry just a little bit less.
(And the pink/purple luggage makes a second mission go 'round...)

We went upstairs to the security line. The point of no return. This is where it becomes so much harder to say goodbye than at the Provo MTC. In Provo, you know you have more or less delivered your missionary to their destination, at least for the next few weeks. She is going to go inside and be assigned a companion, and a bedroom. She will be fed and taken good care of. At the airport you have to say goodbye and watch her walk through that security line all on her own. Will she make it to her gate okay? What happens if she loses her luggage? What if there are problems or delays with her flight? Will someone be there at the other end in Mexico to pick her up?

(I tried to smile for the camera...but didn't realize that Brandon continued to take pictures, so there is a progression of me losing the precarious hold I had on my tears.)

We said our goodbyes. We hugged and cried and hugged some more. Julianne was admirably calm. I think she had spent her emotions the day before and was just ready.

 Once again, the hardest part came when we got home. Saying goodbye is hard, yes. But coming home and seeing the pajama pants she had worn the night before still in my room where she had got ready that morning, finding her phone on the counter, realizing that all of the things that she had decided not to pack but had not put away were now my responsibility...because she wasn't coming home to do it herself....that's when the ache really sets in. So I decided to put my pajamas back on and allow myself to do nothing productive all day. I ate chocolate, binge watched Netflix, napped and allowed myself to cry whenever I felt like it rather than fight the tears. I didn't leave the house for two days. And I think that helped.

Another thing that helped? I got a quick email that evening from Julianne. She said she had arrived safely, that there had been 25 missionaries on her flight to Mexico and that her P-Days would be on Thursdays while in the MTC. The next day I also found a couple pictures of her on the Mexico MTC facebook page. Both of those things did much to settle any worries that I had.

There is a Julianne sized hole in my heart. And though she's physically little, her spirit is larger than life. Which means that hole is pretty darn noticeable. It aches, my heart. It very literally hurts. But I'm so proud of her as well. Knowing what to expect this time around means I understand already how hard the missing her can be and how long the time sometimes seems. But it also means that I am fully aware of all the blessings that come, to both her and us here at home. And it's worth it.

Monday, June 26, 2017

So long, Farewell

Julianne's farewell in church was two days before leaving for the MTC. She shared the day with one of her "core four" besties. Lauren was her first friend when we moved her ten years ago, so how appropriate and fun to be preparing for missions at the same time and then give their farewell talks together. Plus, talk about some serious Sister power in that meeting!
(The "Core Four"... Jessie with a mission call to Bakersfield, California-English speaking, Lauren with a mission call to Paris, France-French speaking, Julianne with a mission call to Morristown, New Jersey-Spanish speaking, and Taylor who just married her sweetheart 6 weeks ago. These girls...all grown up and going off into the world. Oh my heart!)

Julianne was asked to speak about the temple. She loved the opportunity to really think about her feelings for and the things she had learned about and in the temple. And though I know that my daughter is quite a deep thinker, very perceptive and incredibly thoughtful, I was still kind of blown away at some of the insights she shared...things that I hadn't ever really thought about in all my many years of going to the temple.

And then if that weren't enough, Rebekah and her boyfriend Tanner got up right afterwards to sing a beautiful musical number, a duet about the Savior. Then it was Lauren's turn. And just wow, what a meeting! I had been incredibly frazzled and emotional leading up to Sacrament Meeting...all the preparations for the open house afterwards, the stress of making sure Julianne was ready to go on Tuesday, the emotions of her leaving...all just weighing so heavily. But the spirit of that meeting somehow calmed me and buoyed me up.

After Sacrament Meeting we hosted...breakfast? Lunch? It was breakfast time but more of a lunch type of spread. So brunch? Lots of various kinds of food for all to come enjoy while they mingled and chatted and said their goodbyes to Julianne. I can't count how many we fed. There were so many at the house, some that I didn't even see and was only told later that they had been there. There were many that came to the church meeting to wish Julianne well, but were unable to come to the house afterwards. And though I tried to take pictures, I didn't even think about pulling out my camera until many had already left.  And then after the three hour church block ended, we had neighbors drop by, and other relatives. I was so very touched by all the visitors. So many people, some making very long drives, all wanting to support Julianne and make sure she knew how much they love and admire her.

 (Couldn't stop laughing at Melissa's photo bomb as she threw herself unexpectedly into the picture at the last minute...)

 (Aww....I look at Julianne's "core four" and see my own "musketeers" childhood besties. If Julianne's four end up having a relationship later in life anywhere close to what I have with my musketeers then she will be very rich indeed.)

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mission photo shoot

As always, when in need of photos, we call our good friend...the insanely talented Jon Woodbury. A photo shoot with him consistently yields amazing photos and a super fun evening.

Like Rebekah before her, Jon has shot Julianne's senior pics and a whole host of family sessions. He's watching Julianne grow up through the lens of his camera. It only made sense to ask him to take some missionary photos as well.

Julianne originally was hoping to shoot her missionary pictures at the Provo City Center Temple, but it was closed for cleaning, which meant the gates to the grounds were also locked. Plan B was the Utah State Capitol in Salt Lake, and it did indeed make for some gorgeous shots...especially when Mother Nature treated us to a winner of a sunset.

The photos are awesome...every single one of them. But here are a few of my very favorites...

Rebekah and Julianne also decided that they wanted to do some sisterly missionary photos together...