Monday, May 29, 2017

*Monday Memos* ("McKay's Home From Russia" version)


 (If pictures are too small, just click to enlarge) 
Weekly recap of my rather crazy, insane, but fun and rewarding life!

dear monday, I STILL can't believe he's going to be home tomorrow!  No run today as I was still too sore from the half marathon.  I stayed home and worked on printing out McKay's emails for his binder, adding his photos to his Facebook (I've been a slacker and thought I had a bit more time!), etc.  I cleaned and tried to get ready for his return. I didn't finish - too much to do.  I got some Russian flags to hang up. Squeal!  This is crazy! It's really happening!

dear tuesday, today is a BIG DAY!  I ended up doing my harp lesson on line because I didn't have time to drive to Kaysville and back with everything happening.  Spent most of the day cleaning and organizing.  Worked on McKay's room, etc. Seems there is so much to do to get ready.  Unfortunately it was a very hot day and we didn't have the AC on and I was dying! Dave was off or I would have turned it on! hehe  
Bryce and Sky's shenanigans.  Bryce trapped Sky in the pantry.
My shenanigans.  I wish.  

dear he's enroute!  One of the mom's posted this on Facebook.  Not sure who took it and posted it but these are the Vlad 14 at the airport in Korea!!!  They are getting closer!
I am getting sooooooo excited!!! I hope I can make it until his plane arrives at 7:45!

dear from the motherland to the promised land,  HE'S back!  But before we get into that, we actually managed to get an early start to the airport.  It is a dang good thing because we were in a major traffic jam (dead stop) on freeway for a good three miles. I was already anxious without throwing that into the mix.  After what happened at Taylor's arrival I didn't want a repeat.  Dave was parking the car when Taylor came down the escalator because his plane was 20 minutes early and Dave couldn't find a place to park. He missed the whole arrival!  Sad.  But we made it to the airport this time with time to spare.  However, Dave took forever parking again.  Luckily for him McKay's plane was 8 minutes late.  (Prepare for picture overload!)
Looks like Johnny Depp is on his way to welcome McKay home as well!  The driver looked exactly like him!
I somehow managed to get a Welcome Home on one of the city marques.   ↓

While we waited we had fun talking to other parents. There were four Elders arriving together.  10 others came with them that were being reassigned to other missions in the U.S.A. but we didn't see them.  
Elder Brower's fam with pix they enlarged from the MTC of the four Elders that are returning.
We had a large crowd of family.  Weston had Taylor on Face-time from Hawaii. Aubrey brought some friends to take photos and video it.  That was such a huge blessing because I hadn't even thought of it. I didn't have time, this all happened so fast! 
Holding the photos of the Elders in the MTC that Elder Brower's mom brought.
(Not so) patiently waiting!
Taylor all the way from Hawaii!
It's them!!!  I see him! He's almost here!
We had to wait quite a while for him to actually make his entrance.  Lots of people that came off before them told us the missionaries were at the back of the plane.  It seemed like FOREVER!  But then...  there he was!!!!!  OH MY GOSH!  He's actually HOME!  THERE ARE NO WORDS!!!  It is the most amazing feeling in the world to see your son after two long years!  Seriously, no words.  But somehow, I'll manage to use some anyway.  ☺ 
He is so cute and looks SO GOOD!  And he is taller! I didn't want to let him go from my tight hug I had waited two whole years for!  Did I mention two years is a dang LONG time!
I went back for a second hug
Missing Taylor, but he is smiling from Hawaii on McKay's shoulder
SO happy he's back!
Now, if only Taylor were here in person instead of joining in via Facetime. But I am SO glad for technology because it felt like he was there.  It's time for some kind of technology from heaven so Tyson could join us too!
It was fun watching his reunion with everyone.  He had on a cool suit with a purple lining that one of the other missionaries (we can actually call him a missionary now in stead of a volunteer!) gifted him before he left. He said his suits were bad and the pants looked like work pants they were so worn.  He had no access to money thanks to his dysfunctional debit card and so he had planned on buying a new suit but was unable to.  Amazingly this one fit's him like it was made for him.  A miracle McKay said. 
PURPLE lined suit!  Good job McKay!
Blessings!  SO grateful for his safe return!

We took some photos with the other Elder's parents.  We have had the unique experience of being a close knit group due to the unique small numbers of his very large mission with the majority of "volunteers" being from Utah.  We have a Facebook page and everyone is friends and we have gone to lunch a few times.  We also didn't get to know any of the members in Russia like I did with my other two sons because they don't communicate with us thanks to the strict Russian laws.  We got a group photo with the boys and their mamas.  And then with the dads.
Elder Barr, Elder Parry, Elder Wilding, and Elder Brower with their dads.
These missionaries/volunteers/now friends,  have been through a lot together the past two years!

 A couple of the MTC photos
After the family photos, we headed out to load him up.  We then went to Nielson's Frozen Custard on the way home because he wasn't hungry enough for Panda Express.  Yum.  
The drive home was so fun listening to him talk about his mission. Interesting stuff. We stopped at Big O for a photo.  It is so awesome to have him home!
Then we dropped the boys off and headed to the church so he could be released.  We were there late.  I have to say that was the highlight for me sitting there listening to him talk to his Dad about his experiences over there and how it felt to be a volunteer and then hearing him bear such a powerful testimony of the gospel, the people of Russian, the other missionaries, his Mission President, etc.  It brought me to tears to see the sincerity in his voice and heart.  All I could think of over and over was what a valiant young man he is and what a man he has become and how blessed and fortunate I am to be his mother.  I sat there in awe of this amazing boy that I sent out and listening to the man he has now become.  It gave me chills.  I could not hold back the tears.  He got a little teary as well.  He bore his testimony in Russian and I could feel his conviction, faith, and strength even with the language barrier.  It was one of those moments in time I will always remember.  It was a bit of heaven on earth.  The spirit was there in abundance. Coolest thing ever. I wish I could bottle what he said. So spiritual.  His future is bright. What an amazing young man.  I can tell he was one great missionary.  He loves Russia and the people.  He truly loves his MP.  He truly loved the whole experience. He has grown in so many ways.  The best part was when Dave told him that he had a big brother who would have wanted to serve a mission as well and he had a hunch he was there with them.  That was the moment I couldn't hold back the tears.  It really choked up McKay as well.  Him and Tyson were very close and best buds. 

It was after midnight when we got home but the boys were still up.  We all gathered in his room and chatted for a long time.  We got to bed after 2.  
Wow!  He's home....  What a blessing!
I am including this little excerpt from a letter Dave wrote to Taylor because he sums it up so well.  
 It was a week ago today that I was at the clinic when I received the message that a certain young man would be released from his mission.  Looking back it seems like a month with all that has happened since that fateful day.  I can only imagine what it has been like for McKay to come to terms and adjust to all that has changed.  As human beings we use time to adjust to life’s twists and turns.  Time gives us the modality to accommodate and prepare for the anticipated changes that inevitably come.  In McKay’s situation a plan was in place for a scheduled return from the Motherland to the Promised Land, but that all got turned on its ear when he was given a few short hours to pack up everything, close an area, and make the necessary arrangements for hastily made travel plans.  It sounds like a chapter from an international spy thriller.  I’m still not sure how it all came together, or how he made the adjustment to crossing multiple time zones on three separate planes, or how he endured a 10-hour flight from Seoul to Seattle, but when he showed up at the Salt Lake International Airport that little brother of yours looked great!  His flight didn’t arrive thirty minutes early like yours did, a topic that was repeatedly brought up on the drive from Brigham to SLC, so by the time he arrived all the principal parties were in place anxiously awaiting his appearance at the top of the escalators.  I know you were there in spirit thanks to the marvels of modern technology.  It seemed like it took an inordinate amount of time for the four elders to make their way from the gate to baggage claim, as we were repeatedly advised that they were coming from the back of the plane, but once the pilots started showing up I started to wonder what was taking so long.  Eventually they made it and you know the rest of the story.  We stopped at Nielson’s Frozen Custard on the way home and then McKay, Mom, and I went over to the church to issue his release from his full time missionary labors.  By the time we eventually got home it was close to midnight so you can imagine my surprise when McKay showed up a little after 6:30 a.m. the next morning to read scriptures.  It was something that we had done every day before his mission, but between the jet lag and trying to adjust to all the changes he had been through I wasn’t sure I would see him before noon.  Suffice it to say that I was greatly impressed.  Mom came down and joined us and we’ve been there at the appointed hour ever since. 
Aubs posted this on Snapchat. I honestly don't know what I was doing. I think I was tired of waiting and was trying to take my mind off of the long wait!  Or start a new fashion trend.  Flag skirts could become the rage.  

dear wednesday, I woke up wondering if it was all a dream.  Was my son really home from Russia?  He was!  And up early to read scriptures with us to boot!  SO GOOD TO HAVE HIM HOME! It was a cold morning.  Me and the boys all sat around talking to him.  It was fun hearing his stories.  Then Weston came.  We basically all talked about his mission all day. Weston was hilarious.  He had us all laughing.  So fun to have all these boys back together again!  Just like old times! Now if only Taylor was here!  I know I keep saying that, but it seems there is always one missing!  haha

I actually found time to practice my harp.  Then I left to run. I headed to KC to do my PT but cut it short when I got the idea to run to Golden Spike Burgers and surprise everyone with a burger.  McKay said that is one thing he craved while gone. Panda Express and Golden Spike burgers.  I grabbed some and took them home.  I met Bryce on the way since he was heading to SLC and gave him his.  The others were watching Star Wars (a movie McKay has been wanting to see).  
After Weston left, McKay unpacked. He brought all his souvenirs down and I laid them out in the family room. He got a lot more than I thought he did.  Sadly, most were bought in the airport due to him having NO debit card for the past six months. Long story.  He got several nesting dolls and even a head form of Putin.  haha  He brought home a fox skin!  Umm..... Yeah.  
Mr. Cat loves it. He thinks it's his new buddy. 
 Nesting dolls
 And of course, we need a statue of Putin. ;)
 Hand carved chess set
 Russian and Korean coins
The bottom left is Russian CHOCOLATE!  Such a good boy to bring his Mama some chocolate!  Lots of Shopkas, flags, books, DVD, hats, etc.
Most of his stuff
View from the balcony
Mr. Cat stalking the fox

We had a huge downpour with thunder!  That happened right after Sky built a bonfire to roast brats.

dear thursday, I got up early and ran five miles and did my PT by the train tracks today.  I think this shadow shot looks like long balloon things that they fill with air that blow around to advertise.  

McKay needed shoes, a suit, white shirts, jeans and a few other things and so we went shopping.  ALL. DAY. LONG!  
His worn out shoes and bag.  Those shoes have a LOT of service, basketball, soccer, hiking, etc on them and that bag has traveled many many many miles!  Both went in the garbage.  McKay retrieved the shoes because he didn't have any others.
We did go to Panda Express to eat, of course. I invited my parents to join us.  It was fun to have them there.  I'm so glad they can just come at last minute notice.
We took these photos for cute Carson because he is OBSESSED with Pandas!  
Shopping was frustrating trying to find a suit that wasn't $650!  We went to Ogden, then Layton, then Ogden.  I like to shop, but not all day.  I knew this was it and I wouldn't get him back out and so we marathoned it.  We ended up buying one on clearance at JCP that he really liked.  But I think mainly because he was done. Truthfully, so was I.  We left just before 11 am and got back around 7:45 pm.
NO, this is not the suit we bought, but I have a hunch if Tyson was still around, he would have had his eye on this one!  LOL
However, it was fun spending the day with just me and him.  He told me he's glad to be home.  That was good to hear.  I am amazed at how normal he is.  He hasn't really had to transition much.  I think that's because his Mission President stressed that they were normal people while on their missions and he had them approach people as they would if they were friends, not missionaries.  I'm sure there are other reasons as well.
Dave made dinner tonight.  I was so glad!

dear friday, before my run, I went and cleaned up Tyson's grave.  
I then ran 5 miles and did my PT.  I can tell a difference when I don't do it.  After I got home, I ran to Ogden to pick up a phone for McKay.  Sky finally found him one.  He has been so patient without one.  While I was there I returned some things I bought yesterday for Bryce and did a little shopping in the mall.  I guess I still had some "shop" in me. I had to go pick up my ring and so I was already in the mall.  Otherwise, nope! 
While I was gone several of McKay's friends stopped by.  I felt bad I missed out on that.  Yeah, I'm a groupie!  Hah  We went to dinner with Singletons to Chili's and talked about Boston and running.  I'm sure that was fun for Dave. ;)

dear saturday, I wanted to get in 8 miles, but was satisfied with 6.5, so technically I ran a quarter marathon. They should have races for that distance instead of 10K's.   I ran to the high school and found several coins.  
Can you tell this bridge is blue?  It's the coolest one in town.
I'm actually running across the bridge but you have to extra good eyes to see.
A mama duck with her ducklings!  SO SO SO CUTE!  Can you see them in the first photo?  10 little ones.
The big Pickleball tourney was today.  Dave should enter it. THAT green thing is what my shadow shot looks like!  Hah
Coins I found.  They are tearing up the track at the high school. It will be nice when it's done, but it's going to be hard to do speedwork until then!  There's a strange looking animal in the lower right picture. 
At home I tried to catch up on all the things I am behind, blogging, newsletters, laundry, etc.  Why do I feel I am always behind in those things?  Oh, because I am. Once they are done, I am behind again. Those things never stay done.   Our neighbors, the McCarleys, who live across the street are moving.  They both came over and we sat on the lawn and talked for quite a while.  I am sad they are moving.  They are older and feel like they need to get somewhere that is easier to maintain.  They have re-done a lot inside their home and so Betsy asked me to come and see.  Bryce has been working for them the past few weeks, doing handyman stuff (painting, repair work, yard work,etc,) and she showed me all he has been doing. That kid is one hard worker.  McKay took off to visit some friends, Sky was working, Dave was doing yard work at the apartment, and Bryce was at a Real game.  It was just me. I realized how tired I was (waking up at 3 a.m. every day and not going back to sleep will do that to a person) and so I headed upstairs and got in my PJ's at 9 p.m. and watched TV for a bit and fell asleep early.  

dear sunday, I am glad I went to bed early because I woke up again at 3 am and could not get back to sleep.  This is getting to be a habit. A not so fun one!  I had to be up at 6 a.m. anyway so I could go with McKay to report to the high council. He did an amazing job.  I even learned more things about his mission.  He bore his testimony in Russian and then they asked questions.  They all had some very good questions.  His mission was definitely not your run of the mill kind. I was very proud of him.  What a blessing to have him home safe!  Even though those two years were filled with a lot of worry, it was not as much as I planned on because I knew it was out of my hands and in Heavenly Fathers.  I came home and had to lay down for a bit.  Man, this no sleep is catching up with me!  Elder De Sandre's mom text me to see if we were home and asked if she could stop by to meet McKay.  We also had a letter for her from her son.  She was sweet and told McKay that Elder De Sandre couldn't quit talking about McKay and how much he loved him and how happy he made him.  She went on and on and on about so many good things about McKay that her son had told him. McKay was his trainer.  She is in awe of him.  I must say I am as well!

We headed to our sacrament meeting.  McKay was welcomed home by so many members. We sat in the back because we had to leave early to attend Elder Parry's homecoming. He came home with McKay as well as went over with him, so they have been together for the full two years.  He didn't want to miss it.  We had to miss Elder Brower's though.  Dave and I had a mix up with the car keys (he ended up taking the ones I needed with him on the stand) and so I had to drive the car without gas. Ox in mire.  I found out later the speaker we missed (Bishop Hicken) talked about Tyson.  He talked about the fast the ward had for him and how that affected the youth in the ward.  Dave said he mentioned him by name a couple of times and was choked up and had tears in his eyes. I feel bad I missed it.  More so, that McKay did.  Such is life.  

We headed to South Jordan.  It was a long drive.  We made it on time.  Elder Parry did a good job.  After the meeting McKay was swarmed with people.  They were all returned missionaries from his mission.  They were all so happy to see him and it was crazy to see so many from Russia.  Craziest thing.  He was like a celebrity with a huge fan club.  McKay, out of all of them, got all the attention.  After, I had several of them tell me that McKay was the light of the MTC and he made Russia so much fun and he was such a great uplifting presence for all of them.  I met cute Elder Crabbe and he told me the same thing. He said he loved "that guy".  He was McKay's companion for a short time and he told me he had always felt bad they only got to serve together for six weeks. Another sister told me he was an incredible missionary and made the experience so much better for everyone. I must say my buttons were bursting.  It did this mama's heart good to see what an amazing influence he was on everyone.  Elder De Sandre's mom was watching all this and told me that he truly was a great influence and I could see it was true by how they all interacted with him. He was like a magnet that everyone wanted to be around.  You would have thought it was his homecoming.  We stayed after for a long time while all the returnees caught up and I talked to the parents of Elder Barr.  They were very informative and I learned a lot of things I had no idea about.  Elder Barr was an AP and so he knew more than McKay about all the inside scoop on things.  Interesting. 
Sister DeSandre sent me these pix she took
All of the Russian missionaries that were there
This is their serious Russian photo for Elder De Sandre hahaha
On the drive home, McKay was learning new vocabulary words on an app.  It was fun because I also learned them.  I think we both learned about 20 new words.  It was fun. We got home and Dave had made a roast dinner.  It was delicious and I was so happy to be able to go lay down for a bit.  It felt so good.  I didn't fall asleep, but I did go to bed around 9.   It's been quite a week!  

dear taylor in paradise, a photo of the food Taylor sent.  Looks like he's doing pretty well in paradise and no longer has to live on PB&J's.  I think he sent this so I wasn't worried he was starving!  :)
 Yeah, he's really roughing it!  Pretty cool sunglasses effect!
I'm glad he loves his job!  
I've face-timed him quite a few times
Okay, this made me laugh SO hard!  Not sure why it struck me the way it did, but I couldn't stop laughing!  Just call me PEACHES!
Definitely a must do!
This would be fun to send to someone when they are expecting a photo on your phone!  I'm saving this!
Still thinking about this amazing day!

 This was a major letdown after Boston.  Pretty sure every race will be now.

dear quotes,


Nancy Mc said...

I enjoyed reading all about McKay's homecoming week. How exciting for you and your family. It is different for mom's--I think.
I am amazed that you still found time for running.
I loved the quote about the ultimate career. Being a MOM is the very best! I appreciate your great example.

Dawn said...

I cried a little reading about McKay's return. I'm preparing to send our last out and so it's very real to me all over again. What a fun, exciting, full week!


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