Thursday, June 21, 2018

Transfers and another trip home

I came back from the wedding just in time for transfers. We received four new missionaries, and two "visa waiters" which is missionaries that can't go to the MTC yet because their visas have not come through, but they become one of our missionaries and do everything our missionaries do. So, technically we received 6 new missionaries this transfer. Unfortunately, my picture is missing Elder Moller. He arrived later than the others, and received his own personal orientation. I accidentally forgot to take a picture... :(

We are very excited for our new missionaries. They always come with such excitement and zeal. A little bit groggy from the plane ride, but ready to go to work.

It was also time to say goodbye to another group of missionaries. Each of these seven missionaries has made such an impact on the mission. It will be very different without them here. They have served well, and will be missed in the UKM.

Farewell dinner

Unfortunately, two hours before the lunch and testimony meeting with our departing missionaries, I was called away on an emergency. I was so sorry to miss the final meeting with them.

I received a message from Elder and Sister Wright that something was wrong with Elder Wright. He was having episodes of bradycardia, or a slow heart rate. These episodes were causing him to feel light headed, and very tired. At first they were very sporadic, but then they started to happen more and more often. I was in communication with the Area Doctor, and we made the decision to get him home to Utah for care. We had a group of missionaries leaving on Thursday at 11:00am to transfer to Rwanda, so it was decided that I would travel with them and escort Elder and Sister Wright back to Utah. The decision was made at 10:30, so I had 30 minutes to say my goodbyes, pack, and leave.

When I got to Rwanda, the plan was to sleep that night, then pack up all their belongings, train office missionaries in all the things that Elder and Sister Wright had been doing, take care of all legalities with the new office missionaries, and say our goodbyes all in one day. They would be leaving at 6:00pm that night. It felt like a massive, and almost impossible task, but we just got to work. It was amazing to see the Lord's hand in everything we did.

There were a lot of people who wanted to come say goodbye to my parents, including all the missionaries. We actually had time to accomplish everything, and eat lunch with the zone who sang them several hymns (our favorite was Come, come ye saints. We kind of laughed when they sang, "...and should we die before our journey's through..."). We also had several of the members come by and say goodbye, and help them to accomplish all they needed to do.

We made it to the airport with about an hour to spare. We had two 50 lb. suitcases each (6 total) along with carry on bags. It's quite a chore getting through security. You have to put all of your suitcases through an x-ray machine. Dad was in a wheelchair, and mom was helping me get all the bags through the security check. It went relatively smooth. Then we went to the ticket counter and started weighing all the bags to check them onto the plane. The woman at the ticket counter said that a man in an office wanted to speak with me. To our shock, we were told that the flight had been over-booked, and there were not enough seats for us to get on the flight. We had been bumped! I was so surprised! I told them that this was a medical emergency, and they said they were sorry. I tried to buy business class, or first class tickets, and they said they were sorry. I couldn't believe that as blessed as we had been to accomplish EVERYTHING that day, this is what happened just as we were getting ready to get on the plane. I decided that it must be the Lord's will, because he had helped us so much throughout the day, but I still was completely shocked. As we tried to leave the airport, everyone we passed acted shocked. I guess people don't get bumped off flights in Rwanda. Each security guard we passed asked why we were leaving, and what was the "program". One stopped us, and when I told him that I spoke with a man in the office, he said to wait, and walked over to that office to verify that we were really leaving. They didn't even have a way for us to exit, it was quite a chore to get out of the airport. We called the zone leaders and asked that they come back to the airport to pick us up. That night we slept soundly, we had worked so hard! The next morning, my dad confided that he was glad to get a day of rest in before taking the long flight back to Utah. He really would not have been able to handle such a flight after such a hard day of packing and training. The Lord knew he couldn't handle it, and allowed him to have another day to rest, and we are grateful.

Taken after we were told we wouldn't be getting on our flight home. 

One final day in Rwanda was just what was needed. We were able to wrap up a few loose ends and say a few more goodbyes. The new office elders took us to the airport, and finally we were on our way. Dad got special treatment with a wheelchair in each airport. It was really great to have that, he has been so tired.

Our amazing new office elders in Rwanda

FINALLY boarding the flight

Their view of Amsterdam... these were comfortable chairs!!

Our seats on the flights were all together. 

They were so surprised to have so many waiting at the airport to welcome them home! It even brought tears to their eyes. 

My sister had made a big dinner for my parents to welcome them home, but I changed the plan and told them that dad needed to go right to the emergency room. I was so relieved to have him where he could get really good care.

After a couple of hours in the ER, the doctors decided that he was stable enough to go home and meet with a cardiologist in the next day or two. We were able to get him home with family that evening, and work on getting him feeling better in the coming days.

It was so hard for Elder and Sister Wright to leave the people they have grown to love in Rwanda, but it's what needed to happen. They say it has changed them forever. Elder Wright will be having several procedures to get his heart rate under control, but he is in good hands, and should be fine for a few more years.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Home for a wedding!

My son, Conner had his wedding on June first. I was able to fly back on May 26th, and spend a few days with my extended family and kids. So grateful I had the opportunity! When I was traveling to Utah, I had a stop in Amsterdam, where I met two other sister missionaries. It was fun to connect with them and get to know them a little bit better. They were both returning home from missions in the Philippines. I took a picture of them and sent it to their moms, who were waiting patiently for them on the other side. I received letters back from both of them, grateful for the picture.

When I arrived, I was met at the airport by all of my kids, and grandchildren. I was completely exhausted, but so happy to be able to connect with all of them. My grandchildren have grown a lot in the last two years! I was also able to meet Taylor, my future daughter in law, in person. She is a sweetheart and we are so excited to welcome her into the family. My other kids traveled from far away places, and I really appreciated the sacrifice they made to be there for me. I'm so blessed to have a wonderful family.

Only missing my son in law, who came later in the week

We went directly from the airport to my brother in law, Kenney's, home. His son, Cameron is leaving in just over a week to serve a mission in Uruguay, and he had his farewell in church on the day I arrived. I didn't make it to church, but went to their home and had lunch with them, and got to spend a little time visiting their family, and my mother and father in law.

The next day was Memorial Day. We were able to go with my kids to the cemetery to visit the grave site of my granddaughter, Allie. She would be close to two years old now. It was a very sweet experience to spend that time together with my son Steve, and Sarah, his wife.

Allie with mom and dad

All my grandchildren at Allie's grave site. 

My siblings got together that afternoon for a dinner, and bridal shower for Conner and Taylor. It was really fun having the majority of my siblings there with their children and grandchildren. It was fun for everyone to meet Taylor, and to just hang out together for the day.

My siblings, missing 3.

Conner and Taylor after the bridal shower

Cousins playing downstairs

I have a missionary who was in need of some medication that we could not get in Uganda. His mom drove all the way from Idaho to bring me the medication he needed. It was so nice meeting Sister Gilbert. We really enjoy working with her son.

Meeting Sister Gilbert

On Tuesday, we were able to attend the temple with my nephew, Cameron, as he prepares to go on his mission. It was a wonderful experience being able to attend the temple with them and with my kids. I appreciate it more now that I am away, and can't go whenever I want to. I loved gathering my children around me and sharing this experience with them. Afterwards we went to Texas Roadhouse for dinner. I really miss good steak here in Uganda. It was nice to enjoy it while I was there!

I went back home with my mother and father in law, and spent the night with them. They moved into a new home while we have been away in Uganda, so it was fun to see the new place. It's a really lovely home in a very nice neighborhood. I remember wondering if it was actually a REALLY nice neighborhood, or if things just look extra nice because I have been away for two years.

The next day all the girls met in downtown Salt Lake at City Creek. I had some shopping I needed to do, and then we all had lunch together. I got to spend some quality time with my grandson, Harvey. He is almost two and very independent. He is happiest when he can just run. I just let him run, and followed him around to make sure he didn't run anywhere that he could get hurt. There was an outdoor staircase on the East side of City Creek Center that goes along side a waterfall. He spent the majority of his time on that staircase, going up and down, up and down, up and down. I can't believe the energy that little man has. It was actually really nice. He would stop on one step and raise both hands above his head and just cheer, like he had just won a race or something. I got such a kick out of him.  The lunch we had was at Kneaders. I think everyone enjoyed it, then my mother in law went back to her home, and I went with my girls back to Lakepoint, where I spent the rest of my time.

On Thursday, the day before the wedding, I went with all the girls to get our nails done. I don't get a lot of time to pamper myself in the  mission field. It was nice just relaxing and primping for a wedding.

We also had dinner together at Casa Del Rey, which is a restaurant in Grantsville where President Collings and myself would go several times a week.

When my missionaries ask me about this trip home, I say that I got down on my hands and knees and just played with my grandchildren for 5 days. I loved every minute of it!

Friday was the BEST day! Conner and Taylor were sealed in the Salt Lake Temple for time and all eternity! We had just a small group of family attend the temple ceremony, which was very special. Conner and Taylor wanted the reception to be small with just close friends and family. I enjoyed it so much because I was able to spend quality time with family members that I had not seen yet. They held it in the back yard, and it was done so well! The decorations were so nice, and it was such a warm atmosphere. Everything was just perfect.

The parking garage was full, but they made an exception for the bride and groom...

There they go!

Mr. & Mrs. Collings

Addie and Avery

Hoskins family


Harris family

Collings family


Casi and Erin

Collings brothers

Wright siblings

After the sealing

They got to Face Time dad (President Collings) right after the ceremony

Uncle John's family

Uncle Adam's family (missing Cait)

Uncle Kenney's family, missing 2 kids

It was a windy day, which did AMAZING things to Taylor's veil!

Our family
Taylor's family

The whole group

Sarah and Addie

Collings Sisters

Collings cousins

The day after the wedding, Conner and Taylor were gone, but they just received keys to their new duplex. They had a lot of high hopes of moving in, but it was in desperate need of a paint job. We decided to surprise them and paint their home for them. It was a fun project, and because we had so much help, we were finished by early afternoon.

painting the trim

prepping the walls

removing the outlet covers

taping the walls

First coat done

Painting the corners

Three working in the bathroom.


Front view of the house

and DONE

I left back to Uganda the next day. It has been a wonderful trip, but I'm missing Uganda and ready to get back to missionary life. So grateful to have Taylor in the family, and to be able to reconnect with everyone! This is a week I will always cherish!