This morning I woke up early, like 3:30.
I lay quietly in bed, thinking about the day ahead.
I realized that Christian was awake, too. We didn't talk.
I finally got out of bed at 6:00 and showered.
I could hear Claire's footprints upstairs like
I have since she became a missionary in January.
She was always up before me.
I went upstairs to find Claire packing
the last-minute things in her suitcase.
She didn't eat any breakfast.
We took some photos all together in the living room before heading out.
Before leaving the house, she said goodbye to Angus.
Turns out that was super heartbreaking!We all cried the whole way to the airport.
Jane had collected songs that remind us of her, and we listened to
them last night at her farewell dinner and on the ride to the airport.
That was a big mistake because I just cried.
I can't stop thinking about her fingers, tiny mouth, and HUGE brown eyes.
At the airport, the man who checked her in saw she was a missionary
and blessed her with success saying,
"All for Jesus! Anything that can help share His excellent name!
Blessed be God, blessed be God!"
It was a perfect send-off from a stranger!
I kept telling myself through the tears on the quiet ride home:
This is hard, but we do this for Him!!
Claire's service is the highest manifestation
of her love and devotion to Him, and I'm proud.
Claire is strong, brave, fearless, and where she should be,
and she'll always be my little Toad!
I thought about this scripture in Mark:
"Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, but whosoever
shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it."
I e-mailed about twenty of the strongest, most amazing
former sister missionaries in early February and asked
them to write Claire a personal letter with tips, wisdom, and advice.
I gathered them all up and gave them to her at the airport.
I hope these letters will give her hope,
especially in her most discouraging times.
She deserves all the love and support
from angels here and angels on the other side.
Gigs made Claire a possum with his 3D printer,
Jane made Claire a worry doll,
Christian wrote her a letter and slid it into her suitcase.
I think all the love and support from her family
will help her along her 18-month journey.
We walked to the side of the airport near the
security check-in and had a big family hug.
We held each other and cried for several minutes.
We all have such love and devotion to Claire and our Savior
who will protect her while we are apart, and somehow
being all together huddled around Claire, we felt the spirits
the promise of protection and comfort for all of us.
We stood and watched her slowly inch her way to security until
she was out of sight.
And just like that, she was gone.
We drove home from the airport listening to the songs she loved-
the songs that remind us all of her. I cried the whole way.
Then I felt the most beautiful, peaceful, warm feeling.
I felt the spirit confirm and testify that
Claire is where she is supposed to be.
And she will be OK. Her tummy will be OK, her body will be OK,
EVERYTHING WILL BE OK!
I felt the spirit comfort me that our family would be OK.
We will find our groove
and resolve all our issues and troubles.
I felt God's love and power sustaining me. It was a gift.
We came home and didn't know what to do.
I lay on my bed next to Christian while Jane lay
on my couch, and a text came in.
It was from Claire, who had made it to her first layover in Charlotte.
She also sent me a photo of her next to a few other missionaries
who would be traveling to New Hampshire.
She also told me that her COVID test came back negative.
IT CAME BACK ALREADY! We were planning on it coming
3-5 days and worried that not knowing would delay her service.
She texted me: "Mom, my first missionary miracle! "
along with a photo of the results.
I was relieved and wished we could have texted for hours.
Christian and I took a nap.
Actually, Christian napped while I cried on my bed.
After a while, I woke him up and asked
if he wanted to take me for a motorcycle ride.
The weather is starting to get nice again.
We drove near a park and then went for a walk.
I shared with him my feelings of worry about our future,
and about our life and work.
We got home, and I didn't let my phone out of sight.
I didn't want to miss a call or text from Claire.
I knew I'd get to talk to her one last time.
Before sunset, Christian and Jane gave Angus a MUCH NEEED
haircut! It took them 3 hours, but it kept their minds busy.
I stayed inside and made soup for dinner.
It would be a very casual dinner and evening because
I couldn't bear the table and not set a place for Claire.
Maybe tomorrow, but not today.
As we were putting everyone to bed and JUST as
I was walking down the stairs (at 10:00) my phone rang, and it was CLAIRE!
We all gathered around the phone and talked to her.
A perfect way to end the night.
I slept much better knowing she was safe and happy.
She looked so happy!
Paige Holland sent me a text to share her love and support for Claire and me
by sending me a beautiful quote by President Nelson:
"Teach them to be obedient to the laws of God and man.
If they do so, they will be protected both physically and spiritually.
Teach them that, despite the ever-present risks, they will be
much safer on their missions than will their
classmates and colleagues who were not called on missions.
A mission is the safest place in the world for them at this time."
Thank God for his beautiful counsel!