Don’t you just hate that moment when you have been waiting for something exciting to happen and the moment arrives, your stomach gets all flighty and a smile spreads across your face and then the moment comes and goes. That exciting thing can still happen any moment but after a while you are done waiting. The excitement is gone. Now you just want the moment to be over so you can move on to the next thing.
This was kind of how I felt sitting in the plane at the airport. I had reached my destination, I knew my family was waiting just inside and that’s enough to make anyone excited. But after a half hour of waiting to exit the plane the excitement dies away. I just sat there watching the snow drift past my window leaving a fine layer on the runway. It looked quite bleak out there compared to the beautiful spring weather I had left behind in New Jersey.
Then finally we were allowed to exit. I grabbed my carry on and followed a fellow returning missionary into the busy airport. I had no idea where to go. We both just walked the halls looking for signs of where we should go.
I was walking past some stairs going down when I saw a group of people below. I made a mental note of them but didn’t pay particular attention until I heard someone say my name.
It wasn’t the name I was used to hearing. I stopped in my tracks and stared down. There they were, my whole family minus a brother who was on his own mission. My youngest sister was the first to run forward. I hadn’t realized how shaky I was until she had me in her arms. It was tough work getting down those stairs with a carry on and being nervous and all. She kindly informed me that I sure was shaky. My eyes were so full of tears that everyone just looked fuzzy. I barely recognized them all, but that also could be because they were so much older than when I left.
I gave them all hugs, so happy to see them yet recognizing the awkwardness that comes from a long absence. I didn’t know what to say or do. It was weird. Then the group parted and my mom said, “look whose here.”
Two former missionaries who I had known in the Missionary Training Center appeared. They had come to New Jersey with me or me with them. We had been so close all the way through. I gave a cry and ran to give them both hugs.
“Sarah, this is Duke,” Annie, one of the former missionaries said pointing to a tall, brown-haired lad. I had remembered her letters about him after she got home. He gave me a hug hello and I wasn’t sure whether to freak out or not. I settled on letting him hug me and then I took a safe step backwards trying not to look as startled as I felt.
“We knew you were going to be wearing that outfit,” Kary laughed and I had to look down to remember what it was that I was wearing. Yep, orange button-up shirt with long brown skirt and thank heavens we weren’t supposed to wear high-heels. I had had no problem with that.
“They did said that was your favorite,” Mom said with a smile and I had to laugh, “well you were right!” It’s scary to know that they know you so well.
Annie, Duke, and Kary went on their way after we exchanged phone numbers and me and my family left the airport taking my baggage with us.
Because we don’t get to town very often other stops had to be made. As we shopped and stopped for a bite to eat and even as we drove home I wondered how one could go from serving, teaching, and studying full-time to a regular somebody in one day. All I could talk to them about was what happened the last two days which mostly involved the lesson with the McCasters and the crazy dinner we had with an older couple who had a malfunctioning whip cream dispenser. Funny story but you kind of had to be there.
But I didn’t have to talk very much. I just sat and enjoyed the conversations and listened to the stories they had to tell. Poor Kaitlyn, second to the youngest, had a stomach ache and didn’t feel well the whole time. I told her I could sympathize, except my pain was in the throat, not the stomach. The lump simply would not remove itself.
The longer the day progressed the more I found myself doing things that missionaries don’t do. These were things I hadn’t thought about for a very long time, like putting in earphones and listening to the news on the radio.
When we got to our hometown the stake president released me from my calling. That was probably the scariest thing that happened to me all day. I was terrified to enter that office. But it all turned out okay of course and I didn’t cry like most people said would happen when the tag was removed from your left shoulder. He wasn’t going to have me take it off but I made sure it was done. I knew I had to move on to the next thing and having the tag removed was a good way to symbolize the start of a new beginning.