Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Welcome Home

Why was I so nervous Friday as we drove to the airport to pick up Andrew Elder Robarts?  We were in plenty of time to find a parking place and the right terminal and all that.  Picnic food was ready and waiting at home to be traded for the suitcases we would soon have in the trunk. There was no doubt that we would recognize each other.  I don’t know.  But I was nervous.

Andrew’s dad was already there waiting.  The flight was on schedule. Our former Bishop, the one who sent Andrew out, came to the airport. I began to worry that his sisters wouldn’t make it as planned – especially as the arrival time passed.  But it takes a couple of minutes to get everything settled and deplane.  The girls and kids arrived minutes before the passengers came down the escalator.  Esther and Jared had a “Welcome Home Uncle Andrew” sign that Esther had made.  They stood in front holding their sign, then the sisters, then Dad, Bishop, and Joseph and I holding a Welcome Home Elder Robarts sign for him to run through. (Not pretty like Esther’s sign)  

I chatted with the family of another Elder coming home (to Merced or is it Modesto? I keep forgetting) from the Canada Winnipeg Mission.  We had a nice conversation.  The Dad was quite friendly and talkative which seemed to embarrass his daughters.  “She doesn’t want to hear about that!” they said.  It was all very interesting, but I hardly remember a word.   I just know that he is very proud of his kids and has had some good experiences with them.  

We knew our missionaries would be among the last because they would politely wait for the other passengers around them.

And there he was!  Hugs all around!  He looks great.  He seems taller.  More hugs for Mom!

On the drive home, Andrew Elder Robarts kept exclaiming about how green it is here and how well you can see the paint on the road.  Winter can be long and hard in Canada. 

At home, there was a good bit of exclaiming about the improvements and changes. (and eating Ranger Cookies Benjamin had ready) Elder Robarts approached the small half bath off the family room saying, “Well, I am sure this room hasn’t changed.”   Opened the door, then shut it with a look of amazement.  It has been painted and there are fish decals swimming along the walls.  Fun.

With difficulty we tore everyone away, loaded up the food in Ruth’s and my cars and headed to the park for his welcome home picnic.   We were almost surprised to see that the tablecloths that Benjamin and I had spent over an hour trying to tape down were still there.  It was a windy day! 

All of Andrew’s Sacramento siblings were there except Tom who was out of town for work.  Friends from the ward came by.  We ate lots of good food and visited.  Elder Robarts played Frisbee with his brothers and went over to the playground between visiting.  

We got a welcome phone call that his release appointment was moved from 8:30pm to 7:15.  Which meant we needed to quickly clean up the picnic stuff, take it home, put away what left-overs we could cram in the fridge, and get him out to the Cordova building.   We thought it was a family thing, so his siblings, nieces and nephew joined us.  It was, however, private.  Just him and Stake Presidency Counselor Norman.  That’s ok.  Entertainment was provided.  Galena Street East was performing the resident ward.

Newly returned and released missionary Andrew went home, got out his skateboard and went off BY HIMSELF for a few minutes.  Alone for the first time in two years.  Then one of his sisters whisked him and Benjamin away to play.    Joseph and I stayed home, caught the recap of the royal wedding, and went to bed.

Saturday was a busy day.  We spent the morning at the Mormon Helping Hands service project cleaning and beautifying a local elementary school.  A nice lunch at a park by another school MHH worked on.  Visiting with David and Teresa who also worked MHH.  A very short time at home.  Thankfully our friends who want help moving changed the date to the following weekend!  Then off to Debi’s for Chinese Dinner and games.  We played Sribblish and Things.

We enjoyed a relaxed Sunday morning before taking Andrew and Benjamin to choir practice.  At church, Andrew was constantly greeted and welcomed home – well, not DURING meetings, of course! Testimonies were shared, lessons taught.  Then we had David and Teresa over to dinner.  David, Teresa, Benjamin and Andrew played Uno with multiple decks including Princess Uno (because it has dragons and not because that was the only way Elder Robarts could hold a girl in his hands while on his mission.)

This week he is settling in and slowly working his way through his various possessions which burst from two very packed suitcases and landed all over the front room.

Welcome home, Andrew!

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