14 June 2009

Justin Enters the MTC

The great and dreadful day finally came! On June 10, 2009 Justin said goodbye to his family and entered the Missionary Training Center. For months (years, really) Justin has been preparing for this day, but it's still hard to believe it's really here!
That morning we arrived in Provo (see previous post) just in time for a farewell breakfast at Magleby's. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and college friends - about 25 people in all - came to feat on pancakes and french toast, and to wish Justin well on his mission. Then, we returned to Jill & Tom's house for a quick nap.
Soon, the time had come. About 1 pm we drove up 9th East to the Missionary Training Center. Because of the swine flu outbreak the MTC has a new policy: family members can no longer enter the buildings to say their goodbyes. A quick curb-side drop off is all that's permitted. We circumvented that a bit by parking across the street and then walking over. We stopped at the main entrance to take pictures by the MTC sign - it's a classic backdrop for a family photo.
Then, pulling Justin's luggage with us, we walked over to the front doors. A senior sister there took charge, showing Justin where to put his suitcases and then ensuring that the goodbyes were quick. Justin embraced each of us - Mom, Dad, Erika, Lauren, Nathan, Katy, and Grandma. Then, he pulled five letters from his suit coat pocket and handed them to us. Each was a personalized letter of thanks and encouragement he had written and saved for that moment. Later we would read the letters and cry and miss him like crazy. But at that moment we just hugged him and then watched him turn and squarely face his future, and walk into the MTC. He never looked back. Okay, I admit, there were a few tears shed by all of us!
It was a quick goodbye, but a sweet one. I can only image the emotions he was feeling. We talked as we made our way back to the car. We were feeling the gamut of often conflicting emotions: gratitude (especially to our Heavenly Father for bringing us there), love (for Justin and the rest of our family), pride (so proud of Justin for the way he has lived his life), anxiety (is he going to be okay? Did we remember to send everything he needs with him?), gratitude again (we have been so blessed!), sadness (we are going to miss him - two years is such a long time!), and finally, more gratitude (how blessed we are!)
We had delivered Justin to his destination, despite opposition and hardship, and even though it hurt like heck to say goodbye, it felt fantastic to watch him embrace his new life as a missionary with conviction!
We knew it before, but we know it even more completely now. God, our Heavenly Father lives. Jesus Christ, His Only-Begotten Son is our Savior. The gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the earth once again in its fullness by means of a true prophet, Joseph Smith. We are lead by a prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. We know Justin is a servant of God, a representative of Jesus Christ, and it feels great to know it!

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