It is September 16Th and a bunch of Hermanas and Elders start arriving in the office. It is the day before going home and the process is started. Here is Hermana Goodman and Nielsen are waiting for an interview with the Presidente. They are enjoying some memories with Elder Strickland, the office secretary who did all the arranging of getting everyone transferred and to the office. Great job Elder Strickland.
We had an office "brunch" of meats, cheeses, crackers, carrots and chocolate. We have from l. to r. Elder Strickland, Hna McConkie, Hna Nielsen, Elders Rumbolt, Evans, Ashby, Moore and Anderson enjoying a little eating time. We won't eat the final meal until around 6 at night so we needed to keep the missionaries feed.
When all the interviews are done it is out to the look-out point. Here Hna Goodman is pointing to the brown tall building in the picture. That is the building of the Hnas piso in Bilbao where she served. Hna Nielsen is enjoying the view.
Elders Sorensen, Rumbolt and Evans, the 3 departing Elders are enjoying a little spanish bread along with the view. Elder Rumbolt's last area, Sestao, is directly behind him.
The "Departing" for their formal shot in Bilbao. Hna Goodman is going back to Arizona, Hna Nielsen is going to Oregon, Hna McConkie is returning to California, Elder Evans, Rumbolt and Sorensen are also going to California. Lots of parents are getting ready and excited for their wonderful reunion. We are excited for their future but sad to see them leave.
One last look over the city that represents the mission they have worked, studied, cried, taught, served and grown to love over the last 1 1/2 to 2 years. Everyone of them can and should feel the love of the Lord for their valiant service.
In the mission home while the dinner is getting ready, they are busy signing a tablecloth and a quilt square that will become our souvenir of their service in Spain. They also take the opportunity to reminisce over their experiences in the mission field.
Hey, Hermana Clegg, did you say food? Yes Elder Sorensen, the food is ready. Navajo tacos, let's eat.
What, angels in the kitchen? More than angels, we have the Belnaps to help out. These two are proving to be worth their weight in gold. We love the Belnaps and it's not only for their cooking. This sweet wonderful couple are adding so much love and help to the mission. They are helping with the food and joining us for the final dinner.
Wow Elder Sorensen, is that big enough? Well I think he got full after 3. We had a wonderful dinner together. Then afterwards we had a very special and tender testimony meeting. What growth has come for all of them. Their feelings are tender as they realize they are going home to face their future. Some are sure as to what they are doing, others are not so sure what is going to come their way. But the night is over, time for sleep, and up bright and early for the airport. The alarms are set somewhere between 4:30- 5:00 to get to the airport on time.
This is a part of the office elders job that doesn't really run high on the "Ghee, I get to do this list." Elder Ashby is helping Hna Goodman with a sword that Elder Farnsworth is sending home with her. What? Hna Goodman, you are like your name, only a GoodWoman! Get in line to check the bags, hope all are under weight.
Elder Evans, don't look so sad. We'd keep you if we could. This is such a different time emotionally for all.
Elder Rumbolt and Hna Goodman give us the thumbs up. They are ready as Hna Nielsen and McConkie look on.
It looks like Elder Sorensen is asking one more time to stay. The answer is still no, but we love you. What a great Elder who has the nickname as the "happiest Elder in the mission." It is true and leaving us takes a little sunshine from Spain. You will be missed Elder Sorensen.
One last look at 6 incredible, valiant, hard working, diligent missionaries with the Presidente. We sent 3 of our children on missions knowing they would come home. This morning it feels like we are sending 6 of our children on missions that don't have a return date. But look at these faces full of hope and anticipation. They are truly the angels of the earth, the hope of the future, the strength of the church. We salute you and love you and pray for the best for the rest of your lives.
This is what it looked like to me, through my tears. We love our missionaries and pray that every one will realize their dreams for the future. They have put the Lord first, and the effect that they have had on other lives in immeasurable. This work is great. Every young man and young woman should have this opportunity one day in their life. Even if it is like me, a little later on. Missions are the best!