Between next week and next month we will receive more than 50 new missionaries in our new Yakima Mission. I am thinking about you parents today, who are sending them to us. I just want to say THANK YOU for all you have done to raise and prepare righteous, worthy young men and women.
Above is a photo of our son at the Salt Lake Airport as we waved good bye to him when he left for the Santiago MTC. Aaron is serving in the Chile Santiago South Mission right now. His older brother, Adam, served in the Chile Santiago West Mission a couple of years before Aaron left. Right now Aaron is serving in Adam’s exact spot last area! It’s a miracle blessing for our boys to share.
I just want to let you know we love you parents, and we LOVE your missionaries. We know how hard it is to say good bye and send a good portion of your heart and your family to us. We will receive them with open arms, and will love them for the duration of their time here in our care.
Our prayers are with you as you prepare and send off your missionaries. We know it’s not easy. We love you, parents. We understand something of what you are feeling, and we are grateful for your prayers for us and for your missionaries. Please come to this blog often to check in on our Yakima Mission and to feel the love we all feel for you from here.
President and Sister Lewis.
Here are a couple of blog posts from our hearts to yours:
Today I changed the sheets on Adam’s bed, remembering the day two years ago when we dropped Adam at the curb of the MTC and I felt my heart walk away with him. I came home on that day, crawled into his bed, pulled up his covers and I wept. I smelled his smell lingering there and I wondered how I might possibly live without him for two years.
In 11 days he will be home, back in my arms, back in our family, back in his bed. He was a boy when he left, he will return to us a man. A man of power and testimony. A man sure of things that were only distant notions when he left two years ago.
I am grateful for a loving Father who watches over his sons, who scoops them up out of the world, sends them out on their own, away from distractions, empowers them with His Spirit, and lets them discover who they really are. Not only do their lives change, but they change the lives of each person they meet or teach or serve. In His care, they learn to see as He sees, to Love as He loves. They become Men of God.
Then they are sent back home to us–to mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters– and they bring that power and presence back into our families. What an amazing arrangement! What a gift we each will have been given!
Well, he’s gone. And we got a short but excited email from Santiago this afternoon telling us he’s safe and sound in the Missionary Training Center in Santiago, where he’ll spend the next 6 weeks learning to speak Spanish. They’ll be immersed in Spanish all day every day until they come out speaking it.
We had a few minutes together as a family just before I took this picture of Aaron heading through security. For several minutes we huddled in a family group hug and cried together, quietly, tears streaming unashamedly down each of our cheeks, feeling the love of our complete family for one last time. It was hard. Heart-wrenching. I wanted the clock to freeze, but it would not. Then Aaron had to walk away from us, and we had to stay behind a thin black cordoned barrier, as if it could separate our love from him. It could not. We wept and waved until he disappeared up the escalator. (John got on his hands and knees to watch him to the very top.)
It occurred to me then that this is a feeling we must learn and experience so we know the pain of separation and the joy of being re-united. If we didn’t feel the pain, we might not work at keeping our families together. That joy is worth every imaginable effort.
Aaron is gone from us now, but with us in heart and spirit. If you live in Santiago, I hope he’ll knock on your door someday. I promise you if you listen to what he has to say, it will change your life in beautiful and amazing ways. Please invite him in.