Tuesday, August 25, 2015

THE Day Has Arrived

The night before Connor entered the MTC we took him for a final family dinner out. We let him choose the place--Brick Oven. 

After dinner Connor was set apart as a missionary for The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter-Day Saints. It was Tuesday evening, July 28, 2015. He was set apart by President Paul Warnick of the Orem, Utah Stake. We were all there as a family. He received a lot of great promises and blessings and was given the power and authority to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ and His Church. Shon stood in the circle with President Warnick and President Burgener, as did his cousin Cooper, who will be serving soon as a missionary himself. That was an added bonus--to have Cooper be able to participate in the setting-apart. From that time forward Connor was to wear his suit and tie, be with a companion at all times, and obey all the mission rules and standards. He was officially Elder Hopkin.

 These two boys are only 2 months apart in age. Hard to believe that they are both old enough to serve missions. Cooper will leave just shy of two months after Connor does to serve in the Nicaragua, Managua mission. I love both of these handsome guys so much!

Just after Connor was set apart.

Connor entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. He was to report at 1:00 pm. We spent the morning finishing packing up his room, packing his actual mission suitcases and spending time as a family. I made him his favorite breakfast--Kneaders french toast--homemade style. It was hard watching the minutes and hours tick away, knowing that we would soon be saying goodbye for two years. Right before we left the house Shon gave him a final Father's blessing. He was promised some amazing things as he served the Lord faithfully for the next two years. It really was a beautiful blessing. After his blessing I had Connor give me a blessing as well. What a neat experience to have my son do that for me. I felt so grateful to receive that blessing from him. Moms need peace and comfort too as they are about to send their babies away for two years.

Here are a few pictures of right before we left the house.

Connor is going to miss this truck! It has been one of his best friends for the past two years since he's been driving. He wasn't too happy to be turning it over to Makaeli while he's gone, especially since she's threatened to paint it blue.

Here are some pictures we took up near the Provo, Utah Temple just before we dropped him off at the MTC. This is the designated spot for families to say goodbye to their missionaries. There were a lot of people just like us there--taking pictures, hugging each other and shedding a few tears....sorta dreading the next few minutes ahead. I have to say it was very surreal. Hard to believe it was our family and our son doing what we had seen so many others do before. Connor was pretty nervous at this point. Who can blame him, really?!

 All my kids together for the last time for quite a while.

 This one is my favorite! 

Here is our drive from the temple to the MTC curbside.

And, here are the final pictures of us dropping him off. I had heard horror stories of them not giving you time to say goodbye, not letting you hug him for the last time, and making you drive off before you were ready. I had, in my own mind, envisioned us driving to the curb, barely coming to a stop as they ripped Connor's luggage and then him out of the car while we were told to wave goodbye and speed quickly away. I was actually pleasantly surprised. The Elder who was Connor's "escort" helped us unload his luggage out of the car, let us all give him a final hug and even took one last family picture before walking Elder Hopkin into the front doors of the MTC. I turned and watched as they walked away. He had Connor engaged in conversation so that he didn't even see us pull away. We all cried on the drive home. It's a pretty emotional thing to do. I just kept reminding myself that he was now in the Lord's hands. And, there really is no better place for him to be.

 Last complete family photo for now

 My last hug!! So bittersweet!

And, there he goes, folks, walking away from me. Can't wait to see that boy walking toward me in two years!

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