Elder Hales called yesterday. I answered the phone the way Adam used to: "Center of the universe." He chuckled and said, "This is Elder Hales." (So formal!) He called on our Christmas Day, his Boxing Day. It was right before his church. His companion is from New Zealand, so he had called his family the day before. That made the timing convenient for all of us.
We got Carly & Michael and Michael & Laura and kids on the computer using Skype. We were at Cheri's house, so we put her phone on speaker and everyone could hear.
He sounded very serious and I'm guessing, melancholy. He only has 10 days left and it's weighing heavy on him. He's not trunky at all. David and I attended a special Christmas Missionary fireside last year where the mission president told his army that "...the homesickness you felt when you got here will be NOTHING compared to the 'homesickness' that you'll feel for the mission when you go home." I suspect he's already feeling that. It'll be interesting to see how he adjusts. (We did tell him that he should get his brother up at 5:30 for scripture study. Payback.)
We talked for around 30 minutes. Nothing profound, but just fun to have all of our children interacting. And as usual, I got a little teary as we said good-bye. After we hung up, the rest of us continued to talk. All the guys said that the feeling they got returning home as the plane descended was just the weirdest feeling. Closing a chapter. You could tell that all four of them were reliving the moments.
He gets home January 5th at 9:45 a.m. It'll be just David and I there to greet him. The rest of the family will trickle in over the next two days. He will speak in church on the 9th at 9:00 a.m. All are invited to come and hear him.
Oh -- he did have one request. He will have three other missionaries with him and they are all DYING for an In-n-Out hamburger. (They are continuing on to Utah.) So I guess we have our assignment. Be waiting at the gate with our poster AND hamburgers. (most especially hamburgers)
Well, he made it sound like we might get one more email. We'll see. Hope you all had a Fair Dink'em holiday!