On Monday March 31st he drove to Utah with his mom, dad and grandma. Me and my family were anxiously awaiting his arrival. That night he was able to spend some quality time with us and get a nice long "big sister" pep talk from me...in our family the word "cousin" doesn't adequately describe our relationships. We are way closer than most cousins, we are like brother and sister. (We even dressed all matchy matchy without even trying)
Tuesday morning, April 1st, Manuel and I were able to go to the Bountiful temple and go through for some family names, a brother and a sister, it was a very special experience. It was only Manuel's second time through the temple, and because the session was so full we were able to sit by each other.
The rest of that day was busy getting last minute errands done and spending time together.
The car was full but Eden didn't mind riding dirty...
His mom and abuelita made sure that the suit cases were packed properly and that he had everything he needed.
Tuesday night I had planned a special farewell dinner for Manuel. One of our other cousins, Leah and her boyfriend Jay, came up to eat and spend time with him.
I had made some chocolate mint brownies for dessert since they were Manuel's favorite. Leah fed him his first bite.
Nothin' but love between these two...although this picture looks like Manuel is about to slap her, he is really just stroking her cheek...
Leah and Manuel have a very special relationship so it was important for Jay to get Manuel's approval to date Leah. He won him over...
That night he also got a visit from the Stringhams. Their son is serving a mission in Manuel's hometown in Oregon. Manuel spent a lot of time with him the past few months.
After dinner Manuel and his mom (and Leah) were able to receive priesthood blessings by Aric (my husband). It was a very beautiful and sacred experience. He stayed up late visiting and getting last minute counsel from me, Aric and his mom.
April 2nd, Wednesday morning, he got up and took his time getting ready. The plan was to be in Provo around noon to meet up with our other cousin, Ammon, before Manuel reported to the MTC at 1pm.
He said his goodbyes to his cousins Maya and Eden before they went to school.
Once he got to Provo Manuel still needed a messenger bag, so after we picked up Ammon he ran into the BYU bookstore and his dad bought him a very nice bag. By the time that was done he only had a five minutes to say goodbyes before being dropped off at the MTC.
The last words I said to Manuel were "You can do this...You ARE doing this! I love you." I wrote it on an index card and gave it to him just in case he forgot.
The relationship between a mom and her son is something fierce, especially when you waited and prayed as long as this mama did to get her baby. She is sending him off with the faith of a warrior mom...
Julie Beck said, "In the Book of Mormon we read about 2,000 exemplary young men who were exceedingly valiant, courageous, and strong. “Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him” (Alma 53:21). These faithful young men paid tribute to their mothers. They said, “Our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:48)
The drop off went smooth and there was a super sweet elder waiting to greet him and escort him inside. There were just a couple of minutes to unload him and take a few pictures.
This was the hardest thing Manuel or his parents have ever done. To be a witness to it all was an honor. Manuel is going to be an amazing missionary and the lives he will touch will be too many to count. He is an example of strength, courage and faith to his family and friends.
You've got this Manuel! XOXO