Technically Whitney has been home for a week, but as you might have noticed I have done very little except spend time with my family this past week. It has been glorious. The anticipation and overwhelming joy that was felt as we saw her walk down the concourse towards us was wonderful.
Hugs and kisses for siblings, grandparents, a great grandmother, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews. 18 months worth squeezed into one embrace. I am so thankful for this joyous reunion.
The girls made signs and a few roses were in hand for the big entrance.
The waiting and visiting while we waited for her to get off the plane.
As people started to come down the hall.... I love that Dash brought his binoculars. All the boys took turns trying to get an advanced peek at her.
Then came the hugs and tears.
First family photos after 18 months. I am so blessed to have all these children call me mother. They are a beautiful sight!
One thing that I have loved was how quickly Whitney adjusted back to normal life. Jokes were immediately told. Lines from movies shared back and forth. John commented that Whitney brings balance back into our family. If you ever wonder if you matter, don't. Each of you is important and fills an important place in the lives of those who love you.
As we drove home and every minute since, Whitney has been peppered with questions. Everyone has stayed close to her. Loaf didn't want to get to preschool the next day and cried and cried. When we finally asked what was wrong she said she was scared that Whitney would be gone when she got home again. Tears of joy.
As a mother, I have to take a minute and express how much this mission experience has meant to our family. We have learned and grown in beautiful ways. Challenges still happened on both sides of the world and hard moments were had by all, but the end result: the lessons learned... I would not trade them for anything. I love Whitney so much. I love who she is in our family. I love our changing relationship as adults. I am so thankful for her testimony.
John and I were able to be sit in the stake president's office and listen to her talk about some of the lessons she learned as a missionary that night. Whitney realized through this time who she really is, who we always knew she was. Her testimony of Jesus Christ is so strong it added to my knowledge of our Savior. I can say, just as her mission President said in her final interview, she did everything that was expected of her as a missionary. She served with all her heart, might, mind, and strength. She didn't give up, she pushed a little harder. I love you sweetie! I am so glad you are home. I will miss you letters, but not enough to send you back. I look forward to seeing your growth with regular text messages, phone calls, and hugs saying "I love you".