Earlier this year I had the amazing opportunity to welcome my daughter home from her mission to São Paulo, Brazil. She is my oldest child and first to return home from a mission (her brother is still serving and will be home in a month). I watched the progress of her airplane all night as she traversed South America and the Caribbean Sea. As her arrival got closer I felt a mixture of excitement like Christmas Eve and having a new baby all rolled up in one.
My daughter struggled quite a bit on her mission; there were emotional issues and lots of physical ones. Dengue Fever and severe back pain competed with sadness and anxiety to get the best of my sweet girl. Trips to the emergency room (or what passed for one in Brazil) for either her or her companion became so commonplace we barely even noted them after a while. Our family and friends fasted and prayed that she would be able to stick it out. It was hard and I spoke often with her Mission President and his wife in the first few months. I remember thinking that if she stayed the entire time it would be nothing less than a miracle.
But she did it! She served the entire eighteen months! No matter what was thrown her way, she succeeded and made it home, full of faith and with a happiness I had never before seen on her face.
As she descended the escalator into the baggage claim area where our family waited, I burst into tears and cried like I have never cried before. She made it home! She was finally back with us!
We waited for her luggage as she chatted excitedly, telling us about companions and how strange it was to not speak Portuguese anymore. All the injuries and illness and depression were a thing of the past and all that mattered was being back in the place she came from with the people she loved.
I think about the missions that all of us our serving; our mission here on this Earth. Will we make it back to our home with success? Will our Heavenly Parents be waiting for us, falling on us with happy sobs when we return home? Marveling as they hold us that we did it! No matter what came our way we were true and strong and made it back with honor!
Welcoming home my missionary has given me a tiny glimpse of the feelings I hope our Father in Heaven Feels when I return home. Each day I strive–some days more than others–to make this mission a good one. Eventually the troubles and heartaches I feel now will be a distant memory and I’ll be joined by those who love me most, excitedly welcoming me back to my oldest home. This time to stay, surrounded by nothing but joy and peace.