Wednesday, September 30, 2015

SURPRISE! You can run... but you can't hide!

Some like surprises more than others.  Like extra goodbye kisses and hugs in connecting airports?  Why not! I would have loved to see the look on Elder McLaughlin's face as he walked off the plane and was greeted by his Ama in Salt Lake City at the gate!  In perfect Ama-style, she brought him homemade cookies to share around with the other 20 or so missionaries headed down to Mexico City.  I think the cookies helped calm his nerves and became a talking point to meet the other missionaries flooding the terminal. Best Ama Ever.
Another series of goodbyes...
His LAST Kisses for two years!

Some of the Elders in the airport heading to Mexico City

The Send-Off

A 3 am wake up before the sun. I think this early and very rushed nature of getting Elder McLaughlin on his early flight to Mexico City via Salt Lake City this morning robbed all of us of the deep emotion that is sure to hit in the hours and days to come.  Brayden was anxious, on par with normality in the life of Bray.  Public displays of affection are all too much for him to handle and this was no different.  Besides being rushed for time, and all of us being complete zombies, I kind of longed for a different drop-off experience with a little more time to pause as a family circle and take it all in. But our experience was not like that.  
Zombies in the car at 3:45 am

We were pressed for time since we were technically late for this international flight, and could the Delta terminal in San Diego be any busier?  Seriously. 
Curt's picture taking skills... LOL
Ooops he cut himself out of this one.
Curt circled the airport with the littles, as Monson, Kenz, and I helped him navigate the check-in and get him to security.  At the ticket counter, the agent next to us took one look at Elder McLaughlin and smiled big... then told our ticket guy to "Ask him where he's going."  

The nerves must have been getting the best of my boy, because he said, "Salt Lake City." 

 I caught on immediately and poked Brayden... "NO, TELL HIM WHERE YOU'RE GOING."  

Elder McLaughlin then responded, "Mexico City."  Sometimes we have to spell it out for our Mr. Literal. -- so I poked him again-- 

"HEY MISSIONARY.... you're a missionary-- OPEN YOUR MOUTH! Tell him WHERE you're going!"

So I finally told the obviously Mormon ticket guy the final destination was Columbia, South Carolina.

Anyhow, then the agent said, "OK, ask him WHY he's going."   

That question never even got answered with 'Elder Literal' being flustered over the luggage.

Elder McLaughlin was hyper-focused on getting his check-in's just right-- of course, one was over-weight and so we had to shuffle some things around, which was taking his attention away from BEING A MISSIONARY.  And then on our walk to the security, we had a little chat about what it means to pay attention to people and open your mouth.  I can see a lot of growth ahead, and true to Brayden-style... he was annoyed that I was trying to snap one last shot of him heading off.  
But we are thrilled for his journey ahead!  This is where boys become men engulfed in service to God and fellow-man 24/7 for two years!  Be blessed, my sweet boy!  AND OPEN YOUR MOUTH!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Officially Elder McLaughlin

It's a journey sending a missionary off... no one told us how just expensive and time consuming all the nitty gritty would be, or how much detail goes into the planning and preparations prior to leaving!  It's definitely a learning curve- and like with most things, Brayden is our guinea pig. The biggest thorn in our side has been locating and purchasing a bike.
The mission gave us some resources, which we explored and when the local SC bike shops couldn't return messages and the Elder in the mission office was not helpful, frustration ensued.  The mission requires that one is purchased prior to Brayden's arrival in the MTC.... so I suppose it's an epic fail that this item has yet to be checked off our list. Amazon prime... here we come!  

On a more positive and productive note-
Packing in full swing... For once, Brayden is organized!  He absolutely did procrastinate, but that is just staying true to Brayden's comfort zone (which drives all of us crazy:)

And because we probably won't be living in this home upon his return, he also had to pack up every. last. belonging. in his room.

The part Brayden was dreading was THE haircut.  It didn't end up being too short--- and he will probably end up needing to have it cut again in a few weeks, but at least it looks decent (even if he makes weird faces).

President Ham is truly an inspired and lovely human being.  He is a personal family friend, and such a wonderful, loving man.  He spent some time sharing stories and giving advice to the family and Brayden before officially setting him apart as a missionary.  See HERE for an explanation on why we do this.  

Some of the things President Ham blessed him with during this setting-apart:
  • Magnified in his abilities to learn Spanish
  • The gift of tongues as he seeks it
  • The assurance that he was called by revelation to labor in this wonderful place
  • An excitement and enthusiasm that will never fade
  • Ability to remember and be grateful for God's work
  • Health, strength, and to meet demands and rigors of mission life
  • Diligence will bring successful opportunities
  • Determination to knock on one more door and give all heart and soul to the work
  • Protection and an added measure of the promptings of the spirit
  • Patience in difficult moments, to get along well with companions in unity
  • Love the people; in a very real sense they will become family to him
  • Heed counsel of mission president and his wife
  • Feel the love of the Savior for the people
  • Harvester in the Lord's kingdom.
Introducing.... Elder Brayden Curt McLaughlin

His last snapchat:
"See ya in two!"

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Farewell Weekend

Never in the history of Missionary service had we heard of more than two farewell talks being given on the same Sunday.  Brayden's farewell broke all records-- FOUR missionaries from our ward were all going out to serve around the world the same week.... so it was a sacrament meeting for the books.  Standing room only.  And it was a beautiful experience.  My only regret is we didn't get a picture of the four missionaries that day.  And, we went to the wrong foyer after the meeting, and therefore, didn't get to greet those that came just for Brayden.  Big bummer!  Brayden spoke on 'true religion' and did a fabulous job, as usual.  The missionaries leaving the same week:
Devin Downing:  Barcelona, Spain
Chase Gilbert: Republic of Congo, Cameroon mission region
Jed Ramos: New York

This family weekend was also one for the books, as Curt's mother, Carol Windhorst, came to spend this special time with us. It was the first time all our children had met her, which is a story for another time.  We had 27 people sleeping here under the same roof- party time at the McLaughlins!  Also present were: Ama & Pops, cousin Christina Menzie, Uncle Matt & cousin Mattie, Uncle Mark, Aunt Tallie and cousins Luke, Hank & Venna; Aunt Brooke & cousins Briley & Katie; Uncle Brett, Aunt Emily, cousins Jonas, Makai, & Caysa.  We are so grateful for the family support and the fact that at least one representative from each of my brother's families was present!

The night before the farewell sacrament meeting, Brayden's wish came true as most of us ventured to the Rose Bowl to see BYU vs UCLA.  Disappointing that we lost, but a fun adventure with people that meant the most to us, and a memory forever stamped on Brayden's mind.