Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Mission Revival

In July last year I was able to attend a Reunion for the Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Mission in Utah.  It has been 25 years since I served the Lord.
 My sweet friend Sandy picked me up from the airport and we played for a while.  I have missed this lady.  I met her when I was pregnant with Miss Boo and moved away when I was pregnant with the Dude.  The kids are 12 and 10 now.   Too long away from this lady.  Soraya surprised us and snuck behind us in a store.  What a calculated, fabulous surprise by her and the help of her husband, my brother in arms, Jon.

I expected to only spend an hour at the reunion as it's been a while.  I could hardly remember names of more than a couple missionaries.  My spanish was sketchy and I wasn't in a very social mood.

At the check in was several people, I assumed were missionaries from the DR.  As one of them grabbed my hand and said, Hermana Wiltbank, all of sudden I knew who he was.  Elder Belnap.  Bel nap...such wonderful memories came flooding back into my mind.  All of sudden, names I couldn't remember seconds before were there.  Places and Spanish.  My mind was opened.  I wanted to cry from happiness.  (I never understood that saying before.)
 And then my sweet companion of La Fe decided to come although she has said she wouldn't be able to.  Cindi Steele Buckley and I taught the gospel to Soraya's mother before we met Soraya.  I was anxious for Soraya to meet the one that helped convert her mother all those years ago.  Soraya's mother passed away last year so it gave her something special to hold on to.

Then she got to meet the elder that baptized her Mom.  And of course, Elder Budenbender photobombing us in the back.  He was there when we taught Soraya.
Elder O'Connor was one of my favorites.   His uncle taught science to me in High School.  So much fun to have something in common in an uncommon country.

And Boone... sigh

What a great friend and missionary.  We arrived in the mission field together and served in our second areas for a long time together in San Pedro, becoming life long friends.

He surprised me also by saying he wouldn't be there so I wasn't looking for him.  All of sudden I hear as I am being picked up and swung around, "Wiltbank!".  Sheer joy is the only word to describe how I felt that night.  I can only imagine how much sweeter and joyful it will be when we arrive home after our journey here on earth to see those we love.  

I do not doubt that these people will be there for me as well.   A mission binds you for the eternities.

 Soraya has a sweet daughter that calls me Aunti (Tia).  My dear Amanda.  Families are more than we are born into and I am so grateful for that.
 And to top everything off and to show how the Lord brings those into our lives and how they can always be part of it... sweet Haley Jensen from Mississippi.  She is done with school and working at BYU.  She came and hung with us for a while.  So grateful the Lord has blessed me with such kind people.

I wish this picture were better, but this is President Sorenson and his wife Elaine.  He changed my life.  I can never repay him for putting my life on a better track and teaching me so much that has followed me until today.  
He gave an amazing talk.  We hung on every word.  He reminded us that Satan is real and we shouldn't forget that.  It's like driving on the road and not realizing we are passing the center line or on the shoulder.  We should constantly "Check Ourselves" to make sure we are on the straight and narrow.  He gave me personal counsel and reminded me how close he is to our Heavenly Father.  How he has stayed humble and workable so the Lord can use him to do good constantly.

What a great time with friends.  Sadly I will miss the next one February 2017 in the DR that will celebrate Presidents 70th Birthday.  Good people.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

This just warms my heart - so happy for you!! I hope the friends Joe is making in Guatemala will still be there for him in 25 years like these sweet people are for you.