Two months ago we learned that the prophet of our church, President Nelson, would be coming to Phoenix for an evening devotional with President Oaks and I knew at that moment I wanted to be in the stadium when he spoke. Tonight was that special night.
We packed our family (aside from Briggs) into the car and made the hour drive to the Cardinals football stadium and joined 65,000 people to hear the messages that had been prepared. None of my kids had been in the same room as our prophet and this was unique opportunity that we were excited to share together.
Before President Nelson entered the stadium – everyone stood in reverence waiting for him to enter the room. And when he did, Cannon’s face lit up. “That’s President Nelson, I’ve never seen him before.” He then turns to his friend sitting behind us. “Do you see him? That’s really President Nelson.” He’s seen him on television but to see him in “real-life”, as he put it, was so exciting for him.
I was just as excited. Even as he entered the room there was a feeling of peace and confirmation in my own heart that he was called of God to serve as the prophet. His wife shared some experiences they’ve had in the last year as he was called and has served in this capacity and it made me admire and appreciate her even more. Every opportunity we have to hear from them is a spiritual treat.
Hallie’s experience trumps just about everyone’s as she sat on the floor in the front row with her cousins. (They happened to be doing a news article on Steve’s sister’s family and they wanted to film our niece and nephew with their cousins when President Nelson came in – they had the best seats in the house) She was beaming when it was through. I loved her excited voice as she recalled different moments as we made our way back to the car. “During the closing song we waved at him and he smiled and waved back at us.” 65,000 people and she got him to wave.
She won’t soon forget tonight. None of us will.
(Well perhaps Cannon – he’s young and fell asleep!)
Here are two pictures from Deseret News from the event. The first one you can see Hallie and her cousins front and center. The second one gives a good look at the stadium as a whole. 9,000 youth on the floor and 56,000 in the stands. It was a packed house.
I’m the camp director for my church’s girl’s camp this year – its an added bonus that Hallie is twelve and gets to come along! (For girls ages 12-18)
When we first sat down as a committee to discuss theme ideas, we couldn’t help but jump on the Greatest Showman bandwagon since the girls sing it non-stop. Not to mention all the great themes woven throughout the movie that we could build on.
We had our camp kickoff a couple weeks back where the girls were introduced to the theme, we gave instruction for camp, had the girls race to set up tents, fill out waivers and make their payment, as well as vote on different things for camp including camp shirts.
The invite was Barnum’s animal crackers. (I love any calling that I get to design for!)
I’m not sure who had the brilliant idea of dressing up but I tried getting out of it a number of times. Which is funny because I love Halloween and dressing up. I was just looking at the long list of things to worry about and costumes weren’t high on the list. Luckily, there was someone who insisted we dressed up because it made a huge difference for the girls. We made a surprise appearance, with a special and dramatic entrance which included the lights out, a spotlight, Greatest Showman song and a choreographed little number. I was totally uncomfortable but we had such a great time. Camp is going to be fun with these ladies!
I’ve said this before – but there is something special about watching a family reunite for the first time in two years. We witnessed first hand last week the tenderness of this moment when our nephew Max returned from his mission in Taiwan.
The excitement was thick waiting for him to get off the plane and you could tell my sister-in-law was anxious. These next two pictures are the pure joy of a mother when she spots her son making his way through the long corridor exit. I teared up just looking back at these photos – so much emotion as is evident on his sister’s faces. These pictures tell a story on their own.
We had Briggs right after he left so he looked down and said, “I don’t even know who this is!” It’s hard to keep track of so many cousins, especially when they all changed so much in two years.
We saw two other missionary homecomings while we were there…I wanted to photograph all of them! So much happiness and even more gratitude to have them home safely!
We gave Hallie her birthday gift a little early and we didn’t hear any complaints! (Except from Hunter who wanted his birthday gifts early!!) She’s turning 12 in a few weeks so I took her up to Utah to watch general conference (or as our kids put it – church on TV) in person and to spend time with her cousin and my parents. We told her just a few days before we were going and she was more than willing to leave all her brothers behind for a long weekend.
I surprised Steve’s sister at my nephew’s football games. Surprises are the best. I was waiting in her seat when she returned from the bathroom and she looked right at me before recognizing it was me.
It was conference weekend so our plans revolved around watching/listening to conference, but we managed to squeeze in a lot between sessions. The girls made treats and managed to complete a couple sewing projects, they are just about the cutest cousins together.
The boys were occupied Saturday night with their Priesthood session of conference so we set out to find curtains for my mom, go out to dinner and hit an outdoor mall. I’m pretty sure these girls could’ve spent hours at Bath and Body Works. What is it with this age loving that store? I distinctly remember going with my best friend when we were young trying every spray and every lotion – walking out smelling like an awful fruit basket. I also remember my first lotion was Sun-Ripened Raspberry, the second one I purchased was Juniper breeze. To this day, those smells take me back!
Sunday morning we got up bright and early and made our way to Salt Lake. My parents had never attended conference there and I had only been one time before when I was dating Steve. Hallie has made a couple visits to temple square, but this was totally new. It was the best of both worlds for me. I got to experience this with my parents and I got to bring my only daughter along. It was a special day.
It was announced just days before that Elder Hales would not be in attendance and that President Monson would also not be in attendance. I was pretty disappointed. I wanted Hallie to feel the presence of the prophet in the same room as her – the same way I had years before. Instead, I reminded her that she was in the presence of the apostles, which she would see as prophets in her lifetime.
In between the morning and afternoon session, we stayed on temple square. We heard the news that Elder Hales had passed away as we prepared to enter for the afternoon session. It was a tender session to witness as they opened sharing news of his passing and then the last talk of the day also spoke of him. I have to believe his fellow apostles were mourning his death as they sat on the stand – where he once sat with them.
My dad had the special opportunity to meet up with his old mission companion as well as someone he had taught while serving in England. It was fun to sit in the old tabernacle after the second session and hear stories from them as they compared details. By afternoon, the drizzly morning weather had moved on and we were left with beautiful blue skies and moderately warm weather – but coming from Arizona I’m probably not the best judge of weather because 75 seems cool at this point!
Hallie and her cousin have had these matching pajama bottoms for two years – they have about grown out of them and they’re both a little sad about giving them up.
It was a beautiful weekend, so good for the soul. Not only from the messages that we heard, but the people we spent time with. Just what I needed. Steve on the other hand wrestled four boys over the weekend and was left depleted! He needed a vacation from his weekend!
I asked Hallie for her account of the experience.
It was really different being there in person instead of watching it on tv. (even though I was pretty much watching on the big screen the whole time!) While we were walking there, I was anxious and excited. When we got there, there were a couple guys yelling at the mormons with signs. It kind of made me sick to my stomach because I hated to hear them yelling lies about us. But we kept on walking. When we finally got inside, the spirit came over me and it felt like this was all a dream.
But when Dieter F. Uchdorf stood up to conduct, I knew it was real and I was really seeing the apostles. During our break in-between sessions, we had 4 extra tickets and we give them away to complete strangers. The first 2 people we gave them to were an older couple with missionary name tags. The 2nd couple we gave them to were from Cambodia. We didn’t know this, but they were in Utah for a service mission and they wanted to go to conference. They ended up sitting in the row right behind us and they kept thanking us! (I guess we gave them to the right people!) The second session was just as good. After conference was over we went to the old tabernacle and it seemed so much smaller. (even though the new one is only 3x bigger)
We got home from Idaho just in time to see our nephew get off the plane from his mission in New York City.
If you’ve not been at an airport homecoming – let me set the stage. The missionary has been gone for two years – with limited contact, two phone calls a year and a weekly email or letter. The airport is filled with excitement. The parents – especially mothers – are a mix between anxious and excited. It’s almost painful to see people walk though security from the flight and not be the missionary. I’m not sure why, but they always seem to be at the back of the plane and the wait becomes unbearable.
And then you see them through the glass security barriers. They start walking faster as the mothers meet them as close to security as they can and tears of happiness fill the air. It’s tender to witness.
I’ve been in airports when a missionary was coming home and I started to get choked up watching them embrace their loved ones and I didn’t even know them! But knowing the missionary makes it even more special, it is such a sweet reunion. Our nephew was no exception. How good it was to see him embrace his parents for the first time in two years. Welcome home Smith!