The day I have anticipated for many years came on Oct 6th, 2010. Our only son was entering the MTC to serve an LDS mission. There were many times I wondered if this would ever happen, and now that it has I could not be more proud of him, yet, it was so much harder than I thought it would be. Saying goodbye.
TJ became Elder Franklin on Tuesday night when President Dale Cook and his counselors Pres. Benard and Pres Robb came to our home for the setting apart. Bishop Hill and his counselors Brother Grow, and Brother Westbroek came also. We had Grandmas and Grandpa there, along with two of TJ's good friends, and of course our family. It was wonderful. Stake President asked Rich and I, and Bishop, and Stake Counselors to bear our testimonies, and then for TJ to share his. Grandpa stepped in after Rich and asked if he could share his. The spirit was present and the feelings were so peaceful. Then the setting apart took place. It was almost as if Elder Franklin had been given actual armor. He was suddenly so much stronger, and he had a glow about him that made it difficult for me to not beam with pride. I didn't get the camera out, because it all felt too sacred. After the hugs and handshakes, and leadership had left,it was about 11:00 p.m. and TJ said, "I don't want to take off my suit, I am ready to go!" and did a right, left punch cross in the air. (boxing style)
Then the kids slept all on the living room floor together for the last time. Morning came and there was all sorts of feelings. We planned to go to breakfast before heading down to the MTC. Because of the new curb side drop off, we chose to take our pictures at home, since you are not suppose to take them there.
and this shall be my JOY
My favorite picture~ I was trying my best to hold it together.
We then went to Sills Cafe, enjoyed breakfast together, then headed for Provo. It was sort of a somber ride, but we reminisced about memories, talked about fears, and Rich shared some mission stories. We talked about some of the experiences TJ might have, and guessed who might be doing what, and where we will be when he gets home.
The minute we saw the gates to the MTC our hearts sank, and the butterflies fluttered. We still had a few minutes before our scheduled 12:45 drop off, so we drove up to the Temple. There were many others there, saying their goodbyes, crying and hugging. We didn't want to get out and do it just yet. So we drove and found another parking lot. We thought it seemed weird to get out and then get back in all upset, so we decided to just head in! As we drove through the gate, the directed us to the curb to the left. And then we saw this tender little mercy.... I HAD to take a picture.There to help Elder Franklin with his luggage and escort him in, was one of his best friends from Jr High, who had moved to Washington a few years ago. Elder Ward entered the MTC 5 weeks ago, and will be serving in Mexico City. There are 19+ drop off stations, and we were right where Elder Ward was standing! There were many times the only mission these two were on involved TROUBLE! But now, here they are, ready to serve the Lord. Couldn't be more proud of them!
We then said our teary goodbyes, and hugs so tight you don't want to be the first one to let go. I was first to go, I stood on my toes to give him a hug, I whispered in his ear, I love you , I love you, I love you, and am so proud. He said I love you too mom, and I kissed him on the cheek. He then went to grandma, then Shayla, then Mckena, and then Rich. I wanted to sneak one more hug, but I knew it was time to let go. He picked up his backpack, and an older Mission host, shook his hand, put one hand on his shoulder, looked firmly into TJ's eyes, and with a big smile said, "ELDER, Welcome to the MTC!" TJ looked back at us, tears in his eyes and said, "Well, C'ya."
We got in the car and then really bawled! Rich looked back, and saw two elders with their arms around TJ as they walked with him. Comfort filled us, and we realized we were now turning our second child over to the Lord now. He was in good hands.
I cried the whole way home. Obviously because I was going to miss him, but also because the reality that my days of mothering that boy are for the most part over. He will come back a man! Sure I will always be his mom, but not the way I use to be. Did I do enough, what could I have done better, and will he be ok, are just some of the thoughts I was having.
As we came back home, seeing where they slept the night before, the things we decided not to pack, his picture, started the tears again. I was like... "Wendy, this should be a piece of cake compared to Chelsea's mission." But it had its own kind of pain, attached with goodness and it was truly what I wanted for him.
I wrote him that night, and it helped a lot. I know they encourage the missionaries to write home that first night too. So hopefully, I will get a letter Monday. Sorry for the long post, this probably should have been a journal entry, but I just kept going, and it was therapeutic.
We are blessed by good friends and family, who text us throughout the day, to send their love. And then to come home to dinner was pleasant surprise and wonderful act of service... I love you Miss Sarah!
So there you have it. All you moms with boys, we talk about preparing our boys for missions, but I think we need to prepare ourselves as well. It is a wonderful thing, but I need to take all my own counsel I gave to him!
*Be strong, don't think of it as 2 years, take one day at a time, work hard, turn to the Lord, pray, sheesh. I better get busy!