These girls are silly and adorable. It completely makes my heart happy to see my kids with "cousins". This weekend has been very nostalgic.
It started off on Friday night eating dinner at a park I grew up going to regularly during summer months. I have many memories of both my Mom and Grandma taking me to the "pumpkin" park playing for hours as they chatted away. This year my sister and I chatted away with the kids playing around us. It is amazing the simple pleasures that rekindle the most fond memories of childhood.
All of the family was in town for a special day for my nephew Tommy. Tommy is my sisters oldest son who is leaving to serve an LDS mission in Ecuador. He spoke in church today, and both sides of his family arrived in masses.....literally masses.
My younger brother Billy and I are the only two that live outside of Utah. Mike and I had the chance to stay with Billy and his beautiful new bride at my Dad's house this weekend in Salt Lake. With my Dad and his wife Sylvia out of town, we had a chance to reminisce about childhood memories at our home, and enjoy spending time together. It is amazing how Billy's new bride Abby has helped make our family feel complete. I feel I have known her for years, and she has been part of our family forever. She is an instant confidant, friend, and amazing sister. Not any part of their romance has felt less than orchestrated from the Heavens above.
We celebrated Billy's birthday on Saturday with swimming and cake at my sisters. She was an amazing host considering she was preparing to feed and entertain masses the following day. The celebration was finished as a family by eating at a favorite Edward's restaurant.....Kyoto's.
Today my nephew Tommy spoke in church in preparation to leave for a mission. He leaves for Ecaudor on Wednesday to serve a two year LDS mission. He had over a hundred family and friends their to support, and listen to him speak. I was prepared to enjoy his talk, but wasn't prepared for the strong emotions and spirit that I felt. Ten years ago when Mike and I got married Tommy was just getting baptized. I have been away for much of his growing up and have missed out. But I was reminded today of the countless times cute Tommy as a baby showed up at Mom's with Rebecca while I was in college. We would watch him run around with his other brothers and sisters while my sister, Mom, and I chatted and chatted.
As I listened to him today I recognized I had no idea that 17 years later what a profound example and influence this young man would be for me. I look up to him. I admire him, and I find strength in his courage to serve an LDS mission. He is a leader, and I admire this quality. I felt strongly today when Tommy was speaking that not only is he going to be a missionary to countless people in Ecaudor, he is a missionary to his own family, including me.
Missionary work has taken on a whole new meaning for me over the last ten years. While living away I realized for me missionary work is as much or more about service and inspiring others to be better than it is about converting people to a religion. I always equated missionary work with baptizing people into a certain religion. I found while living in Pennsylvania I was a recipient of missionary work all the time.
People in my church and community served me. They helped me to become closer to God through their example and beliefs. This is exactly what Tommy has already done for others, and will continue to do in Ecuador. Just as he has inspired me to become a better person he will inspire countless others. I know many people shut the doors on LDS missionaries because they think they just want to baptize them. Although....missionaries do want to baptize, they also genuinely just want to help and uplift others. They want to help others recognize that God loves them.
I believe people sometimes have a misconception about what missionary work is. I think in our own way we all serve missions on a daily basis if we are in tune to needs of others. I know I have been blessed by family and friends, Mormon and not who strive to be in tune with God, and help others to have faith in him.
I know that my nephew will be a great missionary because he has already been one for 18 years.
I was reminded of the importance of missions today. It made me excited to serve one someday with Mike, and motivated me to become a better person and example.
What a special couple of weeks we have had in Utah. The best part of leaving this time around is that see you soon......really means see you soon!!!:)