Well that was the quickest night ever!!! We all got up early and headed to the airport. One of the little blessings of living in Idaho Falls is our airport is not quite as busy as most other airports. We got there and truly, there were not many people there. Gabriel check in. His bags were right on the edge when it came to weight. He was less than 2 pounds away from the limit on one and within 5 pounds on the other.
We had 3 pretty sad little girls. All of this became just too real. Each knows that she has the best brother ever. Hannah said it best once when we were teasing Gabriel about being everyone's favorite brother. She said, "Nope, he's not mine." We were shocked for only the briefest fraction of a second before the grins all started to appear. "Jesus is." Like I said it only took a brief fraction of a second before we knew where she was heading. I guess if you are going to be trumped by only 1 person he is the guy to trump you! Gabe really is in good company.
There was a kind lady who offered to take our picture, although I think none of us, with the exception of our missionary of course, was looking their best!
Finally, it was just time. Our Elder was so ready! He hugged us each goodbye and then he headed toward the gate. We watched as a he took off his belt and shoes and watch and emptied his pockets. We stood as he walked through the gate and put everything back in place. A kind TSA person walked from behind where our young man had just walked through and brought us kleenex. She said, "He said that he was pretty sure his parents would be okay but, maybe not his sisters." Then we moved so we could watch him go up the escalator and turn the corner out of sight. The whole way up the escalator Lacey was quietly muttering what my heart was pleading, "Please just turn around, just one more time." He did. He grinned, and waved, and was gone.
Now you would think that that is the end of our day. But it isn't. Not by a long shot!!!
We all walked back to the car after that. It was a pretty wet ride home. I was a bit surprised that they didn't have a flash flood warning in Idaho Falls. As we were driving and the girls were crying, Brad glanced at me and said, "You're just going to head to work and really come back to watch his plane take off, aren't you?" He hasn't been married to me for the better part of 24 years for nothing. We got home and the girls pretty much headed back to bed. Brad said, "I'll come with you." Secretly he really wanted to go, not so much as a support for me but because he just wanted to see the last seconds of his boy in Idaho Falls too. He and I went back and found a spot to watch our boys plane take him away for the next 2 years. I got out and took a picture as I watched the plane carrying a huge chunk of my heart begin to climb into the air.
|That little white thing in the middle that is perhaps a blur to you is clearly that chunk of my heart I was talking about!|
This part of the story actually began about a year ago. Our missionary daughter is serving in the Georgia Atlanta North Mission. She left on her mission on July 10, 2013. Her story is fun too but is told in a different blog. Yet this part is something that is a shared blessing for both of my missionaries. When Molly, Sister George, to all in Georgia, got to Georgia she figured out that Atlanta was a hub for Delta. Years ago, before 9/11, she had an aunt serving a mission in New York. Her uncle was called to serve in Spain while his sister was in New York. Well, during his layover in New York, on his way to Spain, they got to see each other. Of course, like I said, that was before 9/11 when you could still go into the terminal and wait at the doors. Yet the gift they were given was still the sweetest of miracles.
Well, I remember when I got a letter from my Molly that told me that she had told her trainer that her greatest wish was that her younger brother would have a layover in Atlanta and that she would be able to see him. Her trainer told her to get that wish out of her head because it would never happen. That even if he did have a layover she would never get permission to go see him. Yet I believe that my daughter never ceased to pray for her miracle.
The day after we got his flight plans, only 6 days before he left, I got a text from a member in ward where she is serving. She said that my daughter wanted to know what her brother flight plans were. I was crushed because I knew of her wish and the thought of her not being blessed with it crushed my heart just a little bit. I hoped that maybe knowing that he was in the same state as her would be enough. I reluctantly sent his plans to the member with the message that hopefully knowing that they were in the same state as each other would be enough for my little girl. Well, maybe 3 hours later I got a text that said, "She got permission to go to the airport!!" Oh my! I was not sure how I felt. I wanted her dream to come true. I knew my son would be stressed, his layover was only 2 hours long, and Atlanta is a HUGE airport. And so plans were made to try and help from our end what was going on in Georgia on her end.
So most of the day was spent with our missionaries' parents silently praying. I watched as Gabriel's little animated plane flew across my screen and landed in Atlanta. He landed a full hour early. I knew that if they saw each other I would get a text picture; for my little Sister George and enlisted the help of one of her choicest members in Georgia. Sister Watkins was sure to send a text picture of the two of them together. After an hour of him being there I still hadn't received that picture! Then suddenly my phone rang, it was Sister Watkins!!! She has been known to be a little naughty and call me when my child has been in the car with her. She said, "Kelly, his plane landed an hour ago and he still hasn't called!" I was so frustrated and so very helpless. I had given him her cell number and told him to find a phone and call if he had problems. There was nothing I could do. My heart was breaking just a little for my little girl.
I hung up and not 10 minutes later there was a ding from my phone that said I had text. And there it was!!! There was my picture of my missionaries together!! There was the answer to many prayers!!
|Sister George and Elder George!!!|
|And their Momma's joy was full!|
Well, as they waited, Sister Watkins looked at them and said, "We need to say a prayer." And they did right there in that busy Atlanta airport. They appealed to a loving Heavenly Father. My cute daughter said in her letter home, "Momma, after that prayer I just felt peace fall over me like a blanket. I didn't know if I would see Gabey or not but I knew that it would be okay. I knew that everything would be fine." Sister Watkins later told me that Molls said after the prayer, "Maybe it is just too hard for him and maybe it would be too hard for me. It's okay. It is enough to know that we are both in the same airport." Molly continued, "But Sister Watkins went into Mama Bear mode and went over to some airport guy and was trying to find out if they could page a passenger. As she was talking to him, Molly looked down the hallway where she was hoping to see the face she loves, the hoping was over. He was there. He was coming. Accompanied by the Elder from Georgia who they had talked with.
Our favorite Georgian Peru headed elder had gone and found the other missionaries who had flown from Salt Lake. He found Elder George and asked if he had seen his sister yet. Shocked, Gabe said, "No. I don't know where she is. I don't know how to find her." This sweet young man looked at Gabe and said, "Grab your passport and your boarding pass we will need those to get back through the gate." Then he looked at the other elders and said, "We are leaving our carry-ons with you. No matter what happens take them with you."
And so my joy was full! My missionaries got 15 cherished minutes! The Watkins, both Brother and Sister, will forever be a blessed part of the George family.
Just one last note, we watched as Gabe's animated plane flew over Ecuador where one of his best friends, Parker Kuhn, landed earlier that day to start the proselyting part of his mission. I was not by the computer when my boy landed in Lima, but his dad was. He came and told me, "He just landed. He is in Peru."