It's time to send some more Elders home, always a day with mixed emotions. But wait, the day didn't start at the look-out. Let's go back to the morning, where it all began.
We have Elders Johnstun, Alvarez, and Barber waiting for their turn to have an interview with the Presidente. The feelings inside each missionary at this time is a little surreal. They just don't know what to do with themselves. Elder Alvarez looks like he is getting nervous for something to happen!
Elder Harris looks happy, he must have had his interview. Elder Holmes is making sure they get their release packets and turn in the essential things that need to be left with the mission.
The day that every parent waits for. The first time you see your son or daughter after they have served their mission. Bro. Alvarez had business in Spain and arranged to come into the office this morning. I am glad I got the picture off quick. Hna Belnap and I had tears as we watched them have a long hung and shed a few tears of joy. Bro. Alvarez would stay with us in the office for a few hours and then planned to meet us the next morning at the airport and fly home with his son.
This is a very emotional moment for both father and son. We just felt privileged to be able to share it with them. I then sent them off to my office where they could have a little time together without all of us looking on. A proud father he should be as his son has fulfilled a wonderful mission.
Lunch time. Missionaries are always hungry and this day was no exception. Looks like Bro. Belnap is getting in on the food. He is feeling in reasonably good health for his age. (That's what he tells us every day. He is fun to have around.)
Elder Dredge is in a pensive mood. Do you think he is thinking about home? Not yet, he has too much work to do before he goes home in July. He is now going to be the senior ayudante. Maybe he has some things on his mind!
Here's the entire group with the Belnaps. From l. to r. are Elders Barber, Garcia, Johnstun, Harris, and Alvarez.
Now we have the whole group back where we want them. It was raining just a bit, and so we thought the umbrella's added a little artistic touch. But wait, who is that ayudante in the middle?
It is our wonderful new ayudante, Elder Woods. He was the Zone Leader in Bilbao and made a short move over to the office. We are enjoying his wonderful spirit and talents and humor. He and Elder Dredge will be a great companionship together.
Wait a minute, we have 3 Ayudantes? Well for half a transfer Elder Ashby will still be with us in the office. We are getting a new Elder in a few weeks and he will then be training him. Things will be super busy for the next 3 weeks.
Now Elder Woods, be nice to Elder Ashby, it is hard to leave the office. Or did Elder Ashby do something wrong and he is getting punished? I'm not telling.
We got back to the mission home where we have a lot of things planned. We actually had an eventful afternoon. The power kept coming on and off and finally it went off for about 2 hours. While we were waiting for the dinner to be totally done, Elder Alvarez was getting a little cat nap. He is awake now and ready for the rest of the evening. The dinner didn't actually get totally done, but we did fine.
Elder Garcia is telling me to be patient, the lights will come back. We actually had our testimony meeting around the "campfire." (It was a nice flashlight). It was very special and one that we will always remember.
The lights came back on just in time for the final picture.
The next morning, bright and early it is time to say good-bye. 5 young men who came as boys but now go home with excitement and wonder about what is to come. The smiles on their faces are full of hope and a little bit of uncertainty. But one thing for sure, they served the Lord faithfully and gave all they could. We love them and they will be missed.