A crowd of family and friends gathered at the airport for the arrival. It should be any minute now. The mood was happy. Eager anticipation. A celebration of two long years of service. Oh how this missionary was missed.
Nine months ago it was quite a different airport scene. The mood was somber. Nerves were raw. No celebration. No welcome home posters. No balloons. Just a grieving mom and three brothers. Silently waiting.
Same missionary. Two very different settings.
Same commitment to God.
Two years ago this missionary made the decision to serve a mission for his church. Not an easy decision. He had football scholarships. Phone calls from college coaches. “We need you.”
But this missionary knew in his heart that the Lord needed him more.
Against incredible outside pressure, this missionary reached deep inside and followed his heart.
His parents were proud. When he announced the decision to his family, his dad cried. It was a great desire that his son serve a mission.
Tender hearts linked together in this spiritual journey.
And so this missionary left loving arms in Montana for a higher calling to the people of Wisconsin. A two year journey. Commitment, sacrifice, and duty.
And then an interruption. The unthinkable. An unexpected tragedy. Something no missionary should have to endure.
The loss of his father.
So this missionary returned home to serve someone else.
For a few short days, this missionary wrapped his arms around and held her tight.
For a few short days this missionary grabbed onto his brothers as they held each other up. For a few short days this little family wept.
His mother wanted this missionary to finish what he had started. Complete his father’s dream.
“I’ll be alright,” she said. Giving her son permission to make his own decision.
And so this missionary returned to serve his God. To serve the people of Wisconsin. Incredible devotion by a 21-year-old man.
He would return and teach.
The principle of eternal families. Life after death. The Atonement. The grace of Jesus Christ.
Certainly this missionary was changed. A raw, yet tender soul. Embracing eternal truths and his own testimony like never before.
This missionary would teach with his heart.
How often do we waiver in our faith and lose patience when faced with difficulties and trials? There are tough times when we or our loved ones encounter doubts which shake our testimonies. Doubts due to unplanned and destructive events in our lives.
Doubts which begin as small cracks and fester into larger, deeper crevasses.
Patience is continuing on even with those doubts.
Patience is slowly and deliberately moving forward even with shaken beliefs in place, rather than tossing everything to the wind. Patience is recognizing and accepting that we don't have all the knowledge or understanding, yet still choosing to live and learn the gospel one day at a time.
Patience is faith and hope in trusting His timing ... not ours.
And so after nine months this little family gathered at the airport again. This time there were welcome home posters and balloons. Friends and relatives swarmed the gate. And waited.
A somber, yet joyous celebration.
Recognizing that someone was missing.
His picture and memory held in a locket worn by this missionary's mother.
We gathered to celebrate honor and sacrifice. To pay tribute. A testament of this missionary's character. And patience.
Celebrating this missionary’s love and commitment.
And to his dad.