Today was the day.
Before today though, there was last night.
At 8:30 pm, those that could make it, gathered at my parents stake center so Willie could be set apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As we were waiting for a few final people to arrive, the Stake President pulled Willie out of the room and we waited a few minutes for their return. The Stake President shared a few words and then those men holding the priesthood who were present, gathered in a circle around my brother to set him apart as a missionary.
It's a pretty special thing to witness.
Quinn was asleep and my big boys were perfectly quiet and still with their arms folding, eyes closed and heads bowed for what was a pretty long prayer. It was a beautiful blessing, with lots of promises of great things in return for obedience to the Gospel and the mission rules. After, Willie bore his testimony to us, and he was a missionary.
And then Elliott figured it out. That his best buddy was really leaving. His quiet sobs in the corner of the room brought everyone to tears. I could sense that his little 7 year old mind had been spinning all day, with all the reality of what we'd been talking about for weeks hitting him like a ton of bricks. He was so sad. Luckily, he's a pretty resilient kid and....grandma had doughnuts at her house. That can pretty much make anyone stop crying, right?
As we sat at my parents house, our last gathering as a whole family for two years, there was some sadness in the air, and some puffy faces with stark red eyes. But, there was also joy and a lot of happiness. We all know that Willie has made the right decisions, and that he will be blessed and protected. When it was time to go, the boys gave Willie a couple "anaconda squeezes" and ran out to the car to get buckled in. Then it was my turn to say goodbye, and in typical Petersen fashion, Willie and I both bawled like babies. But just for a minute. Because it's all good.
He is going to be such an amazing missionary. I am so excited for him.
And luckily, we seem to have gotten all our tears out last night.
Willie was to report to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah at 1:00 pm today. Haley went with my mom and dad to drop Willie off, but I stayed home with my boys, requesting a quick pit stop on the way down. Our two flexes pulled into my driveway after picking Wyatt up from school at the same time and both cars unloaded.
There were no tears today. Just happiness and excitement. We took a few pictures. Gave a few hugs. Made a couple jokes about chap stick and tissues. Then, just as quickly as they had pulled into the driveway, they were off. Taking Willie to his grand adventure.
But not without a stop at Wendy's for some french fries first.
At 12:58 pm, I got a text from my mom. All it said was, "Done!" Man that drop-off is a quick one.
And now, we watch his adventure unfold from the sidelines, waiting weekly for his letters home, the occasional picture to prove he is still alive, and the power of the gospel to wash over all of us. We will all miss him so much, and I have to admit that I've had a few moments of weakness today where I've shed a few tears, wondering, "What is he doing right now?", but they are happy tears. Which really are the best kind.
Now, we just have to figure out what to do with him gone. And, decide if we let Molly sit at the kid table during Sunday dinner.