|Merry Christmas: Go Ye Into All The World|
For Christmas, some mothers will be greeting their returned missionaries after 18 or 24 months of faithful service in the California Riverside. This week was one of those bitter-sweet ones, where missionaries left, and missionaries arrived. We love them all!
We went to the Redland Temple the week prior! What a sweet experience that was, especially greeting them as they entered the Celestial Room. Wonderful, wonderful missionaries!
|President and Sister Hammon with Outgoing: Sister Chandler; Elders Thacker, Fairbanks, Doi, |
Gulbranson, Simpson, Peterson, and Match.
|Elders Thacker, Gulbranson, Peterson; President and Sister Hammon; |
Elder Simpson in the back; Sister Chandler; Elders Match, Doi, and Fairbanks
|By the manger scene|
On Monday, the outgoing missionaries arrived at the Mission Home. Sister Chandler started it all. Then, they all began arriving: Elders Thacker, Fairbanks, Doi, Gulbranson, Simpson, Peterson, and Match. Soon, I was visiting with them one-on-one about their My Plan, their post-mission strategic plan, which we hope and pray they will follow and enhance.
|Elders Peterson, Doi, Simpson, Gulbranson, Fairbanks, and Thacker; Sister Chandler|
After they all arrived, we had a delicious meal: street tacos, all the trimmings, and tres leches cake that has become a tradition for each outgoing dinner. We had a nice time visiting with them about what they were about, reminiscing about their missions and the incredible journeys they have had.
|The "last supper" in the mission field|
Testimony meeting was delightful, spiritual, self-reflecting. They were all amazed how fast the time had flown by. Yes, there were some regrets. Yes, they could have done things differently. But, yes, they felt they had all grown and learned much on their missions, especially the knowledge that Jesus Christ lives, that they have a loving Heavenly Father, and that the Book of Mormon is true. They will be great assets when they arrive home and then spread their post-mission wings to college and/or jobs and ultimately marriage and a family and careers.
|Adjustments for pictures|
On Tuesday morning, we were up early and fixed breakfast for them: muffins, egg/ham bake (delicious!), oranges, bananas, yogurt, and orange juice. I think they all ate their fill and were ready to go, a bit skittish, full of anticipation of home and a different way of life--yes, even a different mission. They all took off their bed linens and re-made their beds. They did a very nice job. Their mothers—and hopefully their spouses—will be pleasantly surprised with the domestic skills they have learned. Hurrah!
|Terminal 2: Elders Fairbanks, Gulbranson, Peterson, Thacker; President and Sister Hammon|
|Terminal 4: Sister Chandler; Elders Doi and Simpson|
Off we went about 7:40 a.m. to the airport. Missionaries left from both Terminals 2 and 4. We saw each of them slowly ascend the escalators, closer and closer to home and family and friends, yet farther and farther away from the California Riverside Mission and their past 18 and 24 months of incredible experiences. We will miss them all.
|And off they go in Terminal 2!|
|And off they go in Terminal 4|
Elder Gregson came from Canada on a 1:00 flight. We met him there, and the Assistants whisked him off to work until the rest of them arrived around 6:00 p.m.
We returned a third time at the airport for the missionaries coming from the Provo MTC around 6:00 p.m. Well, we arrived early, and we kept checking the flight schedule on the way there. It said that they were still in flight. When we arrived, we were met by President Dixon, Redlands Mission President, who informed us that our missionaries had already arrived and were at the baggage claim; so, we trundled down and greeted them: Sisters Adams, Brown, and Reese; Elders Evans, Moon, Nelson, Quinton, Victorino, Johnson, and Francis.
|Elders Patterson and Elder Nelson (new)|
|Elder Brown (m) with his two trainees: Elder Francis (l) and Elder Johnson (r)|
|Elder Holloway and Elder Quinton (new)|
What a saga! Fortunately, the Assistants were waiting in the call zone. I called them and told them the missionaries had arrived. We soon had them in the vans, truck, and our van on our way home to a delicious baked potato dinner. Once they were finished, they were off to their respective beds for the evening until training the next day.
|Elder McCracken and Elder Evans (new)|
|Elder Royce and Elder Moon (new)|
|Elder Victorino (new) and Elder Cox|
The next morning, we arrived early for the incoming missionary training. Sister Hammon and I did mission basics and purpose, and then I and then began interviewing them one-by-one while the rest of them stayed for training about health, finances, teaching, training, cars/bikes, letters home, language, housing, and general missionary things. I had great interviews with the new missionaries. They are such good young men and young women. The visa waiters will do well here and then off they go. I would love their mission presidents to say, “Wow, you were trained so well, I think we will redshirt all of our missionaries in the California Riverside Mission.”
|Sister Adams (new) and Sister Harris|
|Sister Harris and Sister Reese (new)|
|Sister Brown (new) and Sister Goodwin|
|The Trio: Sisters Gray, Brown (new), and Goodwin|
After making the assignments, we had a wonderful testimony meeting. These are strong missionaries with great goals and aspirations. After the testimony meeting, we shook their hands, handed them a packet of MMs, and gave them our new temple recommend holder for our mission. And off they went with their piles of things they brought, Christmas presents sent by family members, and their bicycles.
|California Riverside Temple Recommend holder|
What a wonderful week we had with outgoing and incoming missionaries. Sadness mixed with tears of joy for the outgoing missionaries. Happiness mixed with elation for the new missionaries who are vigorous and ready to do the Lord’s work in the California Riverside Mission. We love them already and look forward to serving with them.
|Go Ye Into All The World!|
President and Sister Hammon