I mentioned yesterday that we just returned from our annual pilgrimage to Idaho. I would’ve loved to have stayed longer, but we had an important day we wanted to get back for. Our nephew Paxton returned home from his mission in Manaus, Brazil and was speaking in church on Sunday alongside his brother Smith who is leaving for his mission this week to New York. It’s not very often you have brothers speaking together, one reporting on his mission and one giving his farewell talk.

These two bothers are close and watching them interact on the stand before sharing their talks was tender. Pure love and admiration between the two of them and you could see it from every seat in the congregation. It was worth coming back for.

We gathered at their house afterwards for a welcome home and farewell party.
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Paxton shared pictures and stories from his time in Brazil.
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And we played trivia games about Smith and his mission.

My heart always gets a little heavy as I watch one of our nephews (we’ve only had nephews go as of now) prepare and leave for their missions. 2 years is a long time. They have no idea the challenges that sit before them. And I just know they’re about to have some of their greatest struggles. But then I see them come home and that heavy heart is a grateful heart. I see so much growth and maturity and humility in those returned missionaries. I’m grateful for their examples to my children. Grateful to their commitment to God. Grateful that we live close enough to celebrate these milestones.

Here’s the group two years ago when Paxton left:
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And now as Smith leaves – everyone has grown like weeds:
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Not to mention the changes in our own family while Paxton was away – I was pregnant with Cannon when he left and he came home to a walking, talking toddler!
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We sure do love these boys. Grateful to share this day with them.