Monday, September 9, 2019

The Final Email

I'm feeling all kinds of emotions tonight as I send my final email to Ryan. Writing a weekly email has been my Sunday evening activity for the past 4 years with Jack's mission to the Texas Houston South Mission from 2015-2017 (and one month break) and then Ryan's mission to the Florida Fort Lauderdale mission from 2017-2019. As bitter sweet as it may feel...I am so very excited to get Ryan home and have our family complete. Being a Missionary Mom is one of the hardest things I have done but it was also one of my favorite things and I am grateful for the time my boys got to serve and for the letters that made our love stronger and appreciate each other even more. So here final email to Elder Ryan Seal.

8 September 2019

Dear Elder Ryan Seal

It’s crazy to think that our two year emailing streak is about to end. It’s been a good two years, Ryan!!  It seems like just yesterday we were dropping you off at the airport with you telling us "We aren't going to cry!" and then giving you our final hugs and sending you through the security line with Elder Lambert with tears streaming down our faces as we watched you leave us for two years.

I know that you are not the same 18 year old boy that we sent out two years ago. The boy who was scared of change and was determined to come home the exact same person. You have changed and grown and even in the few paragraphs that you have shared in your emails each week it has been obvious that your mission has shaped you into a strong, loving, and faithful man.

I’ve loved every Monday...every email, surprise birthday card or Christmas letter from you in the mail box, chatting on google hangouts and the occasional video chat.  Having a child out on a mission is harder than I ever imagined and better than I ever imagined.  I’m grateful and so excited to know that in just three more day you will be back home with us.  Thank you for sharing your love for Christ with those in your mission and with us back home.  I am excited to have some family time with you and hear all about your mission experiences. I am also really excited to go back to your mission field as a family over Thanksgiving and meet the people who meant so much to you these past two years! 

I am so excited to hear your discourse on Sunday but I am the most excited for the airport and to give you a great big hug on Thursday! It doesn't seem real that it's really been two  years since our last hug. Time is a crazy thing. Some times it seems like it's been longer than two years and other times it seems like we were just dropping you off at the airport. Do you remember how we weighed you on the luggage scale at the airport when we dropped you off? I'll have to see if I have a picture of it so we can get your weight again and see if you were successful at gaining weight these past two years. I know I was! Well I lost it for Jack's wedding but then found it (and more) so you can just call me an over achiever! Haha

I still remember how difficult it was for me to leave my mission and go back home. It may not be that way for you because everyone responds differently to change and I don't respond well. It was hard for me to leave Argentina and the people I loved. I had a layover in Miami and it made my heart so happy to still hear everyone speaking Spanish in the airport. It made me feel less far away from my mission. I was excited to see my family but it was so hard to say good bye to a country, language and culture that I had learned to love. Luckily for you, the world seems a lot smaller these days with social media and free video chats. It will be easy for you to stay connected to those members and investigators that you grew close to on your mission. And you served in one of the prettiest parts of the world so it will be fun for you to go back throughout your life.  

(Pics of me leaving my mission and coming home)

I'm sure you will feel all kinds of emotions as this chapter in your life comes to an end. So on Thursday when you get on the plane and look out the window, with maybe a few tears on your face, (or maybe that was just an Hermana Stewart thing) seeing Florida fade into the distance, remember that your mission is not over. That flight home will be just the beginning of a lifetime of dedicated service and love for your fellow men. It may look different without your name tag and not speaking Spanish but I know that true joy comes through service and love and I hope you will continue serving and loving just like you did on your mission for these past two years.  If I could give you any advice it would be to remember the goals in your "My Plan" and remember why you felt like they were important when you wrote them. Just because you are no longer on a mission doesn't mean they shouldn't matter anymore or were "silly goals". Be grateful for the change that has occurred over these past two years and use this change to direct you in your future path...find the hope, love and joy that you felt on your mission as you continue to serve and give of yourself to others.

Thank you for you short but sweet emails. Thank you for taking lots of selfies (and car pictures). Thank you for keeping your same sense of humor and tender heart. Thank you for being willing to give of your life these past two years to serve your Savior and the people of the Fort Lauderdale mission. Thank you for working hard and being obedient. Thank you for being a good example and companion. Thank you for being a good leader to your fellow missionaries. A mission is so hard...emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally. . .  and you made it! You have proven time and time again that you can do hard things. You are a true disciple of Christ and determined to do your part for Him. Don't forget all that you've learned as you go throughout your life. Dedicate yourself and give 100% percent in everything and you will find happiness and success. If a job is worth doing, it's worth doing it well (including cleaning your bathroom)!

We have missed you like crazy around here and can't wait to have you back with us right where you belong! I am so very lucky to be your mom. Thanks, Ryan!! I love you forever and ever...even a million (y mas)!

Enjoy your last few days in the mission field and WE WILL SEE YOU SOON!!!!

Te quiero sin cesar,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

It's Great To Be 8!

It's hard to believe this littlest girl of mine is 8 and getting baptized this week.  She has been so excited and looking forward to this day for a long time.  I took her to Deseret Book to pick out her own set of scriptures.  She had picked out a nice burgundy set until a tiny little set of four books (new testament, old testament, book of mormon and doctrine & covenants/pearl of great price) caught her eye.  She instantly knew she wanted that little set (and it didn't hurt that it was on sale for $8).  She picked out a few book marks (one with a picture of each latter-day prophet and the other with a schedule to read the book of mormon in one year), a scripture case and scripture marking pencils and we were good to go.

She was so excited to start marking her scriptures and Gavin told her she should look at my scriptures to see how I marked mine and do something similar with hers (using different colored pencils for specific themes).  I found her a few minutes later with my scriptures going through each page and highlighting the exact same scriptures that I had highlighted and in the same colors (except she chose orange to mark her favorite scriptures).  The first scripture she marked with orange as one of her favorites was the one her big brother, Jack, chose as his favorite to share on his mission plaque that is hanging up in the church.  Awwww!!

The next night I had my mission reunion here at my house and it was late.  I had asked the kids to please hurry and get in bed since it was a school night and almost midnight.  I went into Mia's room and was upset that Griffin and Mia were still awake and talking. They were sitting on Mia's bed with scriptures open and reading the Articles of Faith and trying to decide which color they should use, (I gave Mia a sticky note to put in the front of her scriptures with the color key for different scriptural, Christ, prayer, commandments/obedience, missionary work, etc)  "I think we should use red for the 1st one because it mostly talks about God and Jesus." Then a few minutes later, "I think that scripture is about missionary work, don't you?" So cute!  How do you get mad about that?

She is excited for her big day and wants to invite everyone that she knows!  She also can't wait to get her baptism memory book from her grandma.  When I told her Grandma and Grandpa might be out of town for her baptism, her only concern was whether she would still get the baptism scrapbook or not. Luckily, we changed the date to earlier in the month and not only will Grandma and Grandpa be in town but so will her cousins and Aunt and Uncle from Washington!

It's definitely GREAT TO BE EIGHT!

Friday, December 25, 2015

25 Days of Christmas Countdown for our Favorite Missionary

I thought it would be fun to do a 25 Days Countdown for Jack's first Christmas in the mission field.  I was late at getting started and had to hurry to get things there in time for him to open something each day.  I would've tried to do something more centered around Christ if I had thought it out better. I tried to tie in a scripture or thought with each gift but didn't write them down before I mailed them and of course don't remember what I wrote with each gift but this shows the general idea for his countdown.

Day 1
Advent calendars for his companion and 2 roommates

Day 2 
Elf on the Shelf

Day 3
Deck The Halls (or your apartment) for Christmas!

Day 4
Paper Christmas Tree.  I cut this tree out of butcher paper and then sent it to him with tinsel, lights, a light up star for the top of the tree and ornaments that represented favorites for him and his companion.

Christmas Ornaments

Day 5
Hot cocoa and mugs for Jack, his companion and roommates

Day 6
Christmas stationery and snowman candle

Day 7
Christmas goodies to make and to share

Day 8
Reindeer antlers and noses

Day 9
Magnetic Snowman and Christmas Trees 

Day 10
Snow in a can (for the sunny Christmas in Houston)

Day 11
Yummy Christmas Treat 

Day 12
Old Maid Card Game

Day 13
Christmas Paddle Ball Tournament

Day 14 
Make a Gingerbread House

Day 15
Panini Grill

Day 16
Pine Scented Candle...Let your Light Shine

Day 17
"Baby It's Cold Outside" hand warmers

Day 18
Calendar with sticky notes and messages from ward members.

Day 19
100 Days on his mission = 100 piece puzzle.  Seals, of course.

Day 20
My missionary loves frogs so I try to always send him a few frog items.  Frog notepad, book mark, notebook and "excelente" frog stamp .

Day 21
CTR rings in Spanish to give to investigators, members and recent converts with a picture of his little brother wearing his CTR that was published on Spanish LDS website with a Spanish quote from Elder Holland.

Day 22
Star Wars premiere was on this day back home so I sent him some Star Wars decorations and candy to make him feel included in our family viewing.

Day 23 
New ornaments to add to his tree

Day 24 
Slippers for his tired feet

Day 25
His Christmas package . . . stocking (filled with his favorite treats), sweaters, tie and BofM "Moroni" socks.

And of course the best Christmas gift of all came later that day when we got to see our cute missionary's face for the first time in almost 4 months!