Elder Brendan Nicholes returned home from the Canada, Winnipeg mission on January 2, 2017. This was a wonderful day for our whole family for many reasons. The first and foremost reason was that we were all able to be at the airport to meet Brendan when he arrived. The second reason is that we were all together again with our four wonderful children along with our daughter and son in law. With Brendan's return from his mission, that makes four out of four missionaries from our family. The next to go will be us, the parents of these four wonderful children.
After literally either flying or waiting in airports all day long, Brendan finally came down the escalator at the Salt Lake Airport along with two other missionaries from the Winnipeg mission. With three missionaries returning home at the same time, you can imagine the crowds that were gathered at the bottom of the escalator to meet them. Of course, the first person to welcome Brendan home was his mother. Carrying a big sign that said, "Welcome home you hoser!. We Love You!", she quickly made her way to him so that she could be the first to give Brendan a big welcome home hug. Following Brendan's mother was yours truly and then all three older siblings and spouses. Needless to say, it was a wonderful reunion at the airport.
Other than the fact that Utah has mountains and Winnipeg doesn't, Brendan's arrival home didn't feel a lot different. At least as far as the weather was concerned. Our drive back home from the airport was on snow covered roads and very cold temperatures. Maybe not as cold as Winnipeg, but cold none the less. Of course we put in a special order for this weather because we didn't want Brendan to feel too much of a shock when we got home. This way he could acclimatize gradually. ;) In reality, Brendan will probably do just fine with his transition from being a full time missionary.
Being just a little over a week since Christmas, Brendan still was able to come home to some Christmas presents under the tree. That is one of the great things about having your missionary come home at Christmas time, we get to celebrate Christmas more than once. Brendan got to open up his Christmas presents at home with his whole family talking and laughing and telling him all about how life in Utah has gone by over the last couple of years.
Early the next morning, with at least eight inches of newly fallen snow on the ground, we all climbed into our four wheel drive truck and made our way to the Stake Center to meet with the Stake President. With some additional council from the Stake President and a certificate stating that Brendan had served an honorable mission, the Stake President released Brendan from his full-time service as a missionary. Spending that time with Brendan, our family and the Stake President, listening to Brendan reflect on his mission, was one of the greatest things every. Then we spent the rest of the day with our family, talking about missions and basically doing the same thing on the day after Brendan's arrival home, as we did before Brendan left. I'm not really sure how or why we ended up doing the same things but on the day before Brendan left on his mission, we all went to Nickelcade to play games followed by breakfast the next morning at Kneaders before dropping Brendan off at the MTC. Well, on the day after Brendan got home, we went to Kneaders for breakfast before spending that evening at Nickelcade playing games again. I'm not sure we really planned that whole thing out that way, but it makes for a great story and a memory.
With Brendan being our last missionary, I just wanted to say how wonderful it has been over the last eight years to watch our kids receive mission calls, serve our Heavenly Father faithfully as missionaries and watch them grow and mature along the way. It has been a wonderful blessing for us to have had the opportunity to send four great kids out on missions and have them return home as young men and a young woman. Their missions have helped them to grow into the great people they are. In their service, they have introduced many people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ, helped some become members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints and influenced a countless number of others in a positive way. But just like us all, their service is not done. There is plenty more to do as returned missionaries, members of this country, husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, friends and church members. My wife and I are very proud of our children for all of there accomplishments as well as the accomplishments they have yet to achieve in life. Just as we looked forward to welcoming each of them home from their missions, we also look forward to watching them continue to serve our Heavenly Father throughout their lives.
The blessings of our Heavenly Father are real. If you have never seen or felt a real blessing in your life, this picture below is our blessing that we share with you.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen