tchau, meu irmão

My brother left for his full-time church mission. He'll be gone for two whole years, and our primary method of communicating will be through letters and email. We'll get to talk to him on Christmas and Mothers' Day. I chose not to serve a full-time mission, so I can't say that I can relate fully to anything that he's experiencing right now. In the days leading up to his departure he was a little nervous, but he stayed mostly calm and focused.

Seeing my brother come into his own this way was such a beautiful experience for this older sister. He's still completely himself--witty, laid back, and silly all once--but there was something else there, something only God could give him. He possessed both confidence and humility, and that is a wondrous and powerful combination.

We all cried our fair share of tears, especially the night before he left, but really, this time was more exciting than sad for my family. We (minus Emily who was struck down by the flu) accompanied John to the airport and waited while he got ready to make his way to his plane. All of us gathered around the entrance to the security line and took our turns giving him hugs that will have to last him a long time. My eyes smarted a little, but what I felt was an even greater urge to smile.

We waited at the place in the airport where you can see all the security-cleared passengers go down the escalator to the train to the terminals. When we saw Elder Wood, we waved and smiled like goons and took a million cell phone pictures. Those moments will forever be etched in my heart, because even though I will be apart from my brother for a long time, I feel closer to him than ever before; he is fully engaged in God's work, and a shared love of Jesus Christ is the best glue for a family.

John is in Brazil now, and his mission president at the training center has sent us a few pictures. He looks happy. I pray for him every night and look forward to this time in two years when he'll be back in the States. But I don't need the time to rush by. John's mission is the most important thing he's ever done up to this point, and I want him to savor it and relish it and get lost in it.

You can go here to follow his mission!

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