It's official: my green-eyed baby boy is now a full-grown missionary. He doesn't report to the Mission Training Center until Wednesday afternoon, but he is on his way--literally.
28 Nov 2010: Jacob with his siblings, Sarah and Dylan.
Yesterday he gave his farewell talk in sacrament meeting. His topic was--what else--missionary work. He was nervous and emotional, but he did a great job.
The entire family: Sarah, Mary, Jacob, Ed, and Dylan. (Dylan's sleeves are too long
because he had to borrow one of Jacob's shirts, since Dylan loaned his own shirt to his cousin Julien.)
The event was even more exciting because Jacob was surrounded by family and friends. All the family members who attended church with us filled up 4 whole rows of benches!
Jacob with his grandparents, Kathy and Myron.
After the meeting, Jacob was enveloped with hugs and well-wishing and beaming smiles. All the members of our ward at church have become close friends to us and like an extended family for Jacob. Everyone is so excited that he made the decision to serve a mission to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Jacob with his Aunt Karla (left) and Aunt Dana.
After the meeting ended and the visiting died down a bit, all family members and a few of Jacob's closest friends were ushered into the high council room. It's a large room, but it was wall-to-wall people. There, Jacob was set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our stake president, President Shumway, gave Jacob a beautiful blessing. It was a very sacred experience.
Jacob is surrounded by family, with Aunt Karla's crew on the left and Aunt Dana's clan on the right.
After church, everyone came back to our house for a dinner of grilled chicken, salad, rolls, and french fries, served up by our resident chef, Ed. Then Karla's family packed up their bags and headed back down the mountain toward home.
Jacob with his cousin Elyssa and her husband Ross. They missed Jacob's talk because Elyssa was sick.
Dylan made the handmade scarf for Jacob.
Unfortunately, it had been snowing heavily all day and the roads were becoming slick. They found one road closed due to weather conditions, and the other closed due to a fatal accident involving a tractor-trailer. They turned back and waited out the situation at Jeff and Dana's house, since they knew we were busily preparing to travel the next morning ourselves.
Jacob opens a card and finds a gift from Karla and her children.
We were up late, doing laundry and packing, and then we were up again very early today. I got only 4 hours of sleep myself. Nonetheless, by 8:00 this morning Ed, Jacob, and I were loaded up in Ed's diesel one-ton truck and on our way to Provo, Utah.
North of Flagstaff, traveling the highway to Page, Arizona, we paused at a rest stop to see the deep canyons on the far eastern edge of the Grand Canyon. It's hard to tell how awesome they are from the picture above.
Before long, we'd reached the small town of Page on the southern shores of Lake Powell, and the bright blue waters of the lake were stretched out before us.
We crossed this bridge over the lake, above Glen Canyon Dam. Lake Powell was once a gorgeous canyon towering over this section of the Colorado River, but after the dam was built the canyon filled with water, and Lake Powell was born.
Once we'd crossed the bridge and drove onto the northern shore, we found ourselves in the state of Utah, Jacob's new home for the next few weeks!
One stop we knew we had to make was in Manti, Utah. When Ed was a child of 10 or 11, he was sealed to his parents and siblings in the Manti Temple, but he's never been back since then. We decided it was time he returned to the place where his family was united for eternity.
I had never seen this temple at all, and I was amazed by it's imposing magnificence. It's a 4-story, towering work of beauty that was completed by Mormon settlers in 1885! The lyrics "A mighty fortress is our God, a tower of strength ne'er failing," kept echoing through my mind.
Ed and Jacob at the entrance of the Manti Temple.
It was closed, as all temples are closed on Monday evenings for family night.
Mary and Ed at the temple doors. It was bitter cold, down to 2 degress below zero at one point!
Mother and son outside the temple, enjoying their last few days together.
Our room at the Best Western Cotton Tree Hotel in Provo, Utah.
($40 per night on priceline.com!)
We were blessed with a lovely day for our trip, despite the previous day's snow and predictions of more snow today. Instead, we had clear skies, open roads, and only a few light flurries until we hit a storm just south of Provo. And even that storm moved away from us in a very short time. Ed called it a miracle.
Jacob studies his scriptures in our hotel room.
It was a long trip, but I will forever treasure the memories we're making today.