Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Elder Avery Leaves for the Peru Missionary Training Center (MTC)

Written by Shannon, mother of Elder Jacob Avery

His bags were finally packed at around 3:00 a.m., so his dad took a 45 minute nap before waking everyone to get ready to go to the airport. As is usual for the Averys, we left the house 20 minutes later than we had hoped. Thankfully, the lights and traffic were in our favor, so we still arrived at Salt Lake International Airport a little after 5:00 a.m.

We spotted the missionaries right away. Three young men dressed in dark suits, and white shirts and ties. Mothers with tear streaked faces, dads beaming with pride, siblings in pajamas, some of the younger ones with blankies and stuffed animals. The four boys checked their two allowed bags, said their goodbyes, hugs all around, then walked into the best two years of their lives.

Jake looked like a professional traveler as he navigated his way through security. The many trips he's taken all around the globe probably gave him a little more confidence than he'd have otherwise. The last glimpse I got of him was when he reached the top of the escalator on the other side of security. There he stood, shoulder bag open, boarding pass in hand, studying the signs to find his departure gate. That is a moment I will never forget.

He has 18 hours of travel ahead of him. A short flight to Los Angeles, a four hour layover, then an eight hour flight to Lima. I'm glad he will be traveling with other missionaries. I'm sure they will look out for each other. My hope is that I'll hear something not too long after he arrives in Peru.

I don't think anything could have prepared me for all the different emotions I've felt over this week (and the previous months). The last three days, especially, have been a mixture of sadness, joy, anticipation, dread, pride, fear, hope, and most of all love. Ironing his 10 white dress shirts, placing copies of The Book of Mormon in his carry-on bag "just in case" he found someone who needed one... every little thing seemed to bring me to tears.  
Elder Avery posed for a final picture in the
wee hours of the morning.
From the time he was born, I hoped Jake would choose to serve a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Being a convert to the church, I remember my life before and can't imagine where I would be without it. I thank my Father in Heaven regularly for the missionaries who left their homes and families to travel to a distant place and teach my family the true gospel of Jesus Christ. I can hardly describe the joy I felt when Jacob made the decision for himself to share that same gift with others. 

Still, it's a huge sacrifice, for him and for me. Each step of the process; submitting his application for missionary service, receiving his call to serve, being ordained an Elder, receiving his Endowment at the temple, being set apart as a missionary, taking him to the airport; has brought a different dimension and wave of emotions. Despite all the unknowns, there is one thing I know for sure...Elder Avery is going to be an incredible missionary!

Elder Avery walks into the Salt Lake International Airport
before his flights to Los Angeles then Peru.

Elder Avery and his dad on the escalator
at the airport.

Elder Avery and his dad waiting to check in for his flight.

Elder Avery's brothers and friends came to the airport to send him off.
Left to right: Braden (brother of Sister Lindsey Jeppson), Brigham,
Elder Jacob Avery, Jared Avery, Austin, Joshua Avery

Elder Avery's First Email from Peru (July 4, 2013)

Elder Avery's Plane Ticket and Passport Arrive (June 26, 2013)