His first order of business was to shower. Funny stuff? He felt weird being alone, and he forgot how to work the shower. Tuffy was a great comp for the first hour.
We opened Christmas and gave him a tour of his home once again. He showed us some cool things he brought back from Chile, and before we knew it, it was time to head to the Stake President's office for his official release.
After meeting with Elder L first, the rest of us were welcomed in. It was a very sweet and special time. President Winder gave some great counsel to not just Elder L, but to all of us.
He is an official missionary no more. Mixed feelings from everyone.
We headed to dinner at our traditional family place and he shared stories and experiences. He was still having a hard time getting used to things. The fact that everyone around him was speaking English was very weird to him.
After dinner, our home was inundated with family and friends! It was wonderful! So many came to greet him, see how he was, welcome him home and just BE with him. It was fun to listen to him talk and the best part for me was just BEING with him. Sitting on the couch, rubbing his feet or scratching his back or just watching his face as he spoke and seeing his mind work to find the English words when Spanish was dominating his thoughts.
Saturday we spent getting him some new clothes and a coat. Sissy and her mom came over and she got to meet L again. At first, she was a little shy with him, but once he offered her candy, she was putty in his hands.
He and Tuffy spend some time shopping together and getting dinner. Once they got back home, more friends came over.
Tuffy, BFF and Luka
Playing with Sissy
Even Jordan didn't take long to remember her boy
Today was an early morning meeting with the High Council to report to them his mission and testimony. They also asked Splenda and I to share ours. It was an awesome opportunity and one I will never forget. It was so sweet and the feeling in the room is one that is etched on my soul forever.
It has been a delight to have him home. To have him hanging around the house. To feel his spirit and soak up his goodness. We feel more complete with him here now. I realize he likely won't be here for too long. He has school in mind and marriage somewhere in the mix as well, though he's not in a huge rush, but I am going to enjoy him while I can. More importantly I am going to learn as much as I possibly can from this person who I left at the MTC 2 years (and 2 weeks ago) as a boy and then returned home a wise, confident and extraordinary man.
This is definitely one of the things I love about my church and my religion. We send these young people out to serve missions. A mission includes more than just proselyting, and trying to share the gospel message. It's more than just baptizing people and trying to reactivate those who have fallen away. It includes service for others and personal growth and development. He has learned things he could have never learned anywhere else and this has defined who he is now, and who he will become.
As a missionary mom, it has been an experience that I can't even begin to put into words. Words are inadequate, but I hope that somehow, anyone reading this can FEEL me. FEEL my happiness, my gratitude and my humbled spirit.
I can no longer refer to him as Elder L. I asked him what he wanted his blog pseudonym to be, and he told me Luca. Look it up in a Spanish dictionary.
Luca - I am beyond proud of you, and so happy that you would be willing to sacrifice and consecrate your life for 2 years (and 2 weeks), to your Heavenly Father and do the things He asked of you. You selflessly served in a foreign country, in extreme conditions, learning a whole new language and strange culture. You loved others when they were hard to love. You lifted depressed spirits, encouraged doubters, and were helping hands when aid was needed. You learned to love the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then transmitted that love to others, bringing them to their Savior.
You dealt with constant rain, cold, fleas, rats, spiders, intestinal worms, food poisoning, no food, holey socks, worn out shoes, mud, dog poop, torn clothing, sunburns, rocks being thrown at you, threatened assaults and more that you haven't even told us yet. You did it because you believe, nay, you know the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. You did it because you wanted to be obedient. You did it because you love God and you love others more than yourself.
I only hope I can live to be as good as you when I grow up.