How to Welcome Home a Missionary

I've heard about people who do all kinds of things in the weeks before their missionary comes home... things like remodeling, finishing the basement, moving the garage from the left side to the right side of the house, installing a pool and/or various landscaping tricks-- like spray painting the grass green if the summer heat has siphoned all its color. I've seen the frenzied hair stand on end and the ragged look of exhaustion. I vowed I wouldn't be like those people.

And then I had a missionary of my own coming home.

We didn't want our missionary to come home to the house in the exact condition he left it. Then he would know the truth: that our house was in the exact same condition as when he left it.

Plus there is our mantra: when it's time to spruce, we'll use any excuse.

So... starting about a month before Sean got home, Possum and I were on our own mission to spruce things up and get our home looking like it was going to the prom. After all, our house had a date with a very important person. Just as going to the prom is a passage of growing up, our son had just completed an important rite of passage. He left as a boy and was returning a man. And men notice missing molding and unfinished sheet rock, and the implications of slothfulness behind it.

I decided to document our countdown schedule below, not because I think anyone in their right mind would be interested, but because I want to remember how it all fleshed out. The truth is, it was a glorious time of anticipation and industry. Our family all worked together with a common goal. We accomplished much + the atmosphere in our home was fizzy with love and excitement to see our son/brother again.

  • The kids and I cleaned out every cupboard, closet and storage room. Side bar -- I LOVE having a clean, organized house, and I love having the looming prospect of house guests and a party to catalyze me into action. Problem is, I obviously don't LOVE it enough to keep it clean all the time. (Or I love doing other things more). I'm already excited to think that my house will be clean again when Otto and Andy come home from their mission in 3 years.
  • Possum and the boys worked hard on the pool and backyard. 
  • Possum finished the unfinished sheet rock, hung cupboard doors and finished several loose-end projects that have lingered for years.

  • Made a T-shirt quilt for Sean, using shirts from his childhood and school years. This took 5 days and then I turned it over to Karen, my quilting guru. She had the quilt for one week working her magic sewing spirals and curly Q's and wigglywigs. 
  • Possum began scheming and preparing to build an awning over our back porch (more on that in a later post).

T-shirt quilt

  • Began the baking bonanza. Made 3 batches of rolls this week and froze them. 
  • Got jam fever, filling our freezer with 6 batches of jam: strawberry, raspberry, raspberry-blackberry, and strawberry balsamic thyme (ok.. really this has nothing to do with Sean coming home). 
  • Yard pruning and weeding.

  • Cleaned the house thoroughly: washing windows, sheets, and all our blankets. 
  • Got Sean's room ready. 
  • Finished up the book / journal I had been keeping for Sean throughout his mission. This consisted of all his letters to us and our letters to him. 
  • Got the quilt back and put on the binding. 
  • Printed and framed some of Sean's missionary photos. 
  • Designed and printed framed words (below)
  • Made 3 more batches of rolls. 
  • Filled bags of ice each day from the freezer and put them in deep freeze, so I wouldn't have to buy ice. 
  • Andy starts painting the poles for the awning

DAY of ARRIVAL (Saturday, August 15)
  • Marinated chicken and made potato salad, bread, and chocolate cake for next day's dinner. 
  • Wrapped Sean's quilt. 
  • Everyone helped dust, vacuum, wash windows and doors, mop floors and clean bathrooms. 
  • Otto and Andy washed and folded all the laundry. 
  • Possum swept the front porch, and hosed off the back porch.
  • Daisy painted a darling poster the size of Toquerville, and risked life and limb to get gigantic balloons filled with helium.


Sean's plane was scheduled to arrive at 4:30 pm in St. George. Not that we were anxious or anything, but we left about 2:30 (airport is about a 40 minute drive).

We had a few family and friends at the airport to welcome Sean home.

At 4:30 pm, Daisy got a phone call. It was Sean. He had missed his connecting flight to St. George and was still in SLC. He told us some nice people in the airport had helped him find a connecting flight into Cedar City at 9:00 pm. Now it's crazy that Sean called Daisy, who had a new cell phone and number that Sean didn't know. His acquisition of her # is a Facebook miracle that I should blog about another day :)

Daisy hears from Sean

The original plan was to have our song and dance at the airport and then go out to eat while we were in St. George. Now we went to Plan B. But our stomachs were still holding out for Plan A. So we decided to go celebrate anyway. Sean was back in the West and that was good enough for us!!

After eating Mexican food at La Frontera, we drove home and sat basking in our super clean house....I mean when we sat on the couch, I could have sworn I heard it squeak. We sat. And squeaked. And watched the clock.

FINALLY the hands on the wall gave permission for us to go, and we piled in a vehicle Sean had never seen and left for the hallowed pick-up grounds. Grandpa and Grandma Hackworth met us there. The Cedar City airport is homey and warm and looks like a big ski lodge instead of an airport. To add to the awesomeness, we were almost the only ones there right up until the plane landed and even then, there weren't many people. It felt like our own private airport. We got up close and personal with the painted bird.

Of course, Sean waited and was the last one off the plane. When he finally came into view.....he looked blurry.  

Notice the suitcase on the right.... that went with Possum on his mission and saw Sean through his.

Just kidding. He looked GREAT!!!

And sounded great!

There were hugs all around...

I couldn't stop staring....

or smiling....

And then a family photo shoot....

I had to keep touching Sean to make sure I wasn't dreaming....

This may sound the cheeseball bells, but I don't care. When I held Sean tight, the entire world faded away. I truly have never been so "in the moment" and so present. Or so proud!!

Now, I totally understand the expression "my joy is full." There wasn't a smidgen of room left in my heart for any more of it...

A video of Sean's arrival. Believe me, I wanted to burst onto the tarmac, but showed great restraint. Oh ya... and for a fun game, try to pick up on how Sean feels about paparazzis.

Thanks to my papa for these images, and Otto for getting the video: freezing time and harnessing memories.

Keep swimming,
a joy-full Ms. Fish

Vocabulary Word of the Day
WigglyWigs: n. A colloquial term used to describe a stick straight stitch, which when placed in a certain formation, gives a curvilinear appearance like John Adam's hair. Not to be confused with WigdiggetyDigs, which is an annoying practice of labradoodles and dachshunds.

1 comment:

LGH said...

WOW, Jenni, what an awesome post. You and your family certainly worked hard to ensuer his welcome home was so great. And, you've captured the entire thing very well on this post.


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