I have been noticing that my blog still says that my missionary son will return in 2 weeks. Well, he did return! May 28th at about 10 p.m., about two minutes before we came into the airport, even though none of the airport screens said his flight was in yet. We were walking down the hallway to head down to the waiting area when we heard a huge cheer!! I raced over to the overlook and sure enough, they were there! I missed the grand entrance. I tried hard not to cry that we had missed it, which worked okay, because HE WAS HOME!! I was so happy to see him. And just so happy for what he had accomplished as a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ.
He really did have the missionary glow that missionaries receive from such righteous living. I WAS a little surprised to see that he was much the same person. Which wasn't a bad thing-he was great before his mission. But the more I was around him, the more the wonderful new differences were apparent. We stayed up for 3 hours listening to him talk about his mission, and then for the next several days I followed him around like a lost puppy dog, and hugged him whenever I got the chance, and stared at him whenever he was around! My handsome boy!!
A few of the differences and things we learned about him (I'm sure I can't even remember all of them now):
He talks with his mouth more closed, and faster. I think this is from speaking Portuguese.
His suits were worn out. Except for this new skinny European suit (pictured).
He looks at us more directly when we talk to him.
He walks BESIDE us instead of several paces AHEAD of us!
He talks to many more people, and is not afraid to talk to people.
His prayers are more sincere and specific.
When we read with our younger sons from Preach My Gospel on Sunday nights, he LOVES to participate!
We learned that he was a super obedient missionary. We were discussing our younger son 'running the mile' one day and Caleb said, "Oh yeah, I ran a mile a couple weeks ago." They had just finished leading a discussion and were not going to make it home in time for curfew. They considered calling in to let them know, but instead, just decided to run to make it in time. In their suits and dress shoes! Also, one companion at the end of his mission called him the Energizer Bunny, because he kept going and going and going. Oh, how it did my mother's heart good to hear how hard he worked.
And the stories that he told over the next few weeks!! Hearing him express his testimony and talk about his mission was absolutely divine for me. He bore fervent testimony about his mission and the gospel as he reported emotionally to the high council and stake presidency, as he spoke in our home ward, and at least two other times in other wards. Even in July, that testimony was still emotional and fervent when my dad asked him to report on his mission to my family, most of whom were not able to attend his homecoming talk.
It is amazing what the Lord did for my son, and for others through my son, in just a short two years. It was oh, so hard to send him and have him gone, but oh, how grateful I am that he did and for the growth he experienced.
Caleb is now attending BYU and doing so well. He works driving a delivery truck for food services 7-11, has class 1-4, marching band 4-6 some nights, and plays with the marching band for 6-8 hours before, during, and after BYU football games on weekends. He is doing well, and doesn't usually feel stressed. Before his mission, a sealer in the temple told him, "You take care of the Lord's work, and he'll take care of yours." Caleb is now engaged to marry his sweet friend from before his mission, Miranda, in the Bountiful LDS Temple on December 30th. They are so happy, and so excited, and I know they will continue to serve the Lord together as they raise a righteous family.
We got to speak to our missionary, Elder Lee, for 40 minutes on Mother's Day. We asked him what his favorite part of Portugal is and he said, "The
pastries!" He said he has loved every area and that every part of
Portugal is so beautiful and that he wants to come back some day.
asked him what his favorite part of his mission is. He said, "Seeing
the growth in people as they accept the gospel and go from not knowing
anything about it to being baptized, confirmed, and receiving the
Priesthood, is just amazing." The Sousa family was baptized last week
and this week confirmed, and the father, Rui, received the Priesthood. Earlier, when Elder Lee and his companion went to teach the family about the Priesthood, but before they
introduced the lesson, Rui expressed a strong desire to really help
people. Caleb said it was the perfect introduction to talking about the
Caleb said the other part about his mission that he
loved was the learning. Learning through study. Learning to work with
people. And learning to be happy. I asked how do you 'be happy'? He
said, "You just decide to. So many times in the mission when things
would happen I would realize that this has all happened before, and it's
just a matter of attitude and deciding to be happy."
A few people whose lives have been changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ:
Elder Lee will be coming home to us in just two weeks, and we are so excited to see him! We know he has done great work and that he will miss his mission so much. A scripture he shared with us in his email yesterday: D&C Section 1 20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;
21 That faith also might increase in the earth;
22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;
the fulness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple
unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers.
I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were
given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their
language, that they might come to understanding.
Maren Christen is nineteen today! Missing her on her birthday while she is at college, even though we celebrated with her on Sunday. Maren is super smart, super committed to the gospel and doing what's right, and super loved by all her family. We love you Mar!
I don't think he realized it, but in his letter from his mission today, my son sent the most perfect example of following President Uchtdorf's counsel to be grateful.
This week seemed really uneventful. Except
for conference, which was amazing! We were able to watch all the
sessions, in English! Almost our whole zone was there, so we had a group
dinner of Fajitas in between the sessions. My Favorite talk was probably
President Uchtdorf's about gratitude; I really like how he explained
that we shouldn't just be grateful for things, but live in gratitude,
and I want to try really hard to do that. I liked the example he used of
Nephi when he was tied up on the ship, how in his afflictions he still
praised and glorified God. There are SO many other examples in the
scriptures of that praise, another one I really liked was when Ammon
meets up with his brothers again. So, that's my goal, to live more
gratefully. I also really liked a talk in the priesthood session, I
don't remember who it was by. It was about the POWER, AUTHORITY, AND
KEYS of the priesthood. There was A LOT of doctrine in it that I thought
was interesting, how everything in the church is done under the
AUTHORITY of the priesthood, even those serving in callings that don't
hold the priesthood. He talked about how the blessing of the priesthood
are available to everyone, man and woman.
Here's a funny/cool story from last night. First, I've had a really
bad rash behind my knees and on my legs for about 3 weeks (I'm going to
the hospital for it sometime this week), and last night we slept at
the Alverca elders, where the conference was. Because I was a leper, I
got voted to lay on the ground. I ended up finding a small bean bag, and
some folding chairs that weren't too bad if I laid them flat on the
ground. I haven't slept well lately because I've been waking up itching
all night, and I knew it would be worse there on the ground. So I said a
prayer that I would be able to sleep alright, and after I finished I
had the idea to wrap my socks around my knees, to cover up the rash. It
ended up doing the trick, and I didn't wake up at all that night
itching. Kind of an interesting way the Lord answered my prayer! Also,
the other elders said they slept horribly, because their mattresses were
really uncomfortable. So that's what they get for casting out the