Army of Angels
For months we've watched the "October Batch" with surprise, delight and yes, trepidation. They have been this giant mass of goodness, strength, power, leadership and potential traveling through the "pipeline" of mission life. The trepidation stems from knowing this mighty group would leave a big hole in our mission when they went home. We said good-bye to 21 valiant, hard-working, leader-filled missionaries with this October Batch. They have truly been an Army of Angels in the Angeles mission. We will miss them but are excited to watch what happens in their new adventures.
I love seeing the pictures that were taken when our missionaries first arrived. There is quite a difference between the first and last picture....18 to 24 months. You can tell that they have been strengthened and refined. Oh, how we love and will miss each of them.
The Weber's served in our mission office for the past 7 months. They gladly (and mercifully) came into the office to filled a void left by the departure of Elder and Sister Woodruff. They will go home to Utah and work on an ambitious project of tearing out and remodeling their kitchen. We will miss their wisdom, humor, dedication and generosity. Salamat po!
The Final Days of a Missionary
The last two days of a missionary's service in the Angeles Mission are spent mostly at the Mission Home. They receive counsel and guidance to help prepare them for their journey back to and through "regular" life. It is a fast and furious two days and I thought you might like to see what it entails.
As their missions draw to a close elders and sisters are transported from their final assigned area throughout the mission after saying their final good-byes. It is quite a process to organize transportation for them and their luggage. The only vehicles available are President and Sister Clark's truck and SUV plus the Assistants and Office Elders' vehicles. Some missionaries come in by bus, jeepney or trike. The journey starts on thier last Sunday in the field. By 8:30 a.m. on Monday morning, they are at the Mission Home ready for a healthy breakfast.
The first thing they do is weigh their luggage. There are different weight restrictions for different airlines. The missionary is told weeks in advance to make certain their bags are within the weight and size restrictions. Those who live in the Philippines or Pacific islands are given an opportunity to mail some of their goods before leaving. This all needs to be done before arriving at the Mission Home. If there is excess weight when they arrive here, the missionary must decide what treasures will be left for someone else to enjoy.
Elder and Sister Naegle are the Self-Reliance Missionaries in the Angeles Mission. For six hours on Monday, they teach a Career Workshop to help our missionaries gain some wonderful tools to help prepare to move forward in life. The presentation is filled with life experience and lively discussion. It is, at times, painfully awkward for the missionaries to start to think about life beyond the mission. Thus the real transition begins. Our missionaries really benefit from the Naegle's workshop.
At some point during the time our missionaries are at the Mission Home, they have an exit interview with President Clark. When I walk near the room where the interview is taking place, I feel a real warmth. The missionary shares with President Clark those things that have been learned and he shares some wise counsel with them. I love looking at the faces of those who have just come from their interview.
Great meals prepared by Sis. Lopez and her sister are loved and appreciated. On Monday evening, after the Career Workshop dinner is served. Then, Family Home Evening begins.
Family Home Evening
For our Family Home Evening activity, we have movie night and show, "Meet the Mormons." Although this movie has been out for awhile, most of the missionaries haven't viewed it until now. After a long day of study, socializing and decrompressing, the missionaries return to the homes of the Assistants and Sister Training Leaders in Tarlac for the night.
On Tuesday moring the missionaries arise early and return to the Mission home for the final day of their mission. President and Sister Clark speak to the Missionaries for the last time. The presentation is known as the "LAM talk" - Life After Mission. It is then we teach a crash course on the life practices and principles that they will need to carry on in the future. We learn what excites the returning missionaries (hot showers and seeing beloved family members) and what they fear (dating and career decision!!) We love the missionaries and know they will succeed!
Final Farewell Pictures Taken
Luncheon and Testimony Meeting
After a PowerPoint presentation filled with memorable pictures of each missionary put to great music is shown, testimony meeting begins. I often think that anyone who is walking or driving by the outside of the house must know that something sacred and special is going on inside. The glow of the Spirit is bright and the missionaries speak with conviction and power. They are truly amazing!
Until we Meet Again...
As soon as they leave this door, they are on to a greater adventure but they are armed with all of the necessary tools for a successful life. We trust we will see our missionaries again and thrill at the thought of that reunion.