January 27, 2013 was a great day! Ben gave a great, tender, heart felt farewell talk. He testified boldly of the plan of salvation. We enjoyed sharing the day with family and friends. Thanks to everyone for your love and support of Ben. He has a big heart and loves you all. We ate a lot of pulled pork sandwiches, fruit salad, veggies and dip, and cookies. It started to snow in and it snowed about 18". I thought we might have to keep everyone at our house until the plows dug us out.
We spent the next two days taking pins out of white shirts, washing and folding white shirts, picking up a few last minute items. It sure is hard to find mosquito repellent in the middle of the January inversion. Ben ate his last Chik-Fil-A for two years. His grandma made him scones. We filled his two big suitcases each waying 50 lbs. Packed a few snacks and a change of clothes in his back pack. And Ben was ready to go!!
The grandparents and Bishop Owen joined us while Ben was set apart by President Hicken. President Hicken gave him a great blessing. As soon as he said amen Ben whipped out his missionary tag and put it on. He was so excited to get started. It was great! His blessing was a great comfort to all of us! We are so grateful for awesome priesthood leaders in our stake and ward!
We got up early the next morning to leave for the airport by 6:30. Ben wrote some letters and drank a big glass of milk before we left. He just wanted a good glass of milk! The roads to the airport were snow packed and we got to the airport about 7:30. Ben wheeled his luggage into the airport. We checked him in and said our goodbyes then took him up to security. We said our final goodbyes and he got in line to go through security. We chatted with another family who had brought their missionary. He was also going to Peru. We were excited to know that Ben would have another missionary on the plane with him. We went to watch him in another spot. I stood up on a chair and had a good view of Ben. Just before he put his stuff on the conveyor belt he turned around and gave me a big smile and waved to me. The image is etched in my mind. What a bittersweet moment. So hard to let him go but I wouldn't want him anywhere else!!
We went to breakfast and when we got home we checked to make sure his flight was still on time. It had been delayed until 5 pm. This meant he would miss his flight to Lima. We didn't know what to do. We decided to wait for a call from either Ben or the church travel lady, Sonya. We were very anxious. I called Sonya and she told me she had spoken with Elder Stanley and that she was rebooking his flight for the next day and that his parents were coming back to get him. I asked her if she was doing the same for Ben. She said she hadn't talked to Ben and she couldn't do anything until she had. She said when Elder Stanley called her back she would ask if Ben was with him. Todd decided he better go back to the airport because we might have to bring him back until he could get a flight to Atlanta. We still hadn't heard anything. I even called the airport and had him paged. He didn't answer the page. Todd went to the Delta counter. They told him that Ben was on the earlier flight to Atlanta. That he was in the air and on his way. What a blessing. Todd saw the mom we had talked to earlier that morning. Sonya had called her and told her to come back and get her son. But when she got there her son wasn't there. Her son is Elder Richards. At the airport there was also a very lost looking missionary trying to use a pay phone, Elder Stanley. Elder Stanley was the third elder that was supposed to fly with Ben to Peru that day. His parents hadn't been called, so Todd let him use his cell phone to call his parents. We felt so bad for him. To have to say goodbye to his family twice. He is Ben's companion. Todd met him before Ben did.
Todd came home very relieved. We spent the afternoon checking the progress of his flight anticipating the landing so he could call us from the payphone in Atlanta. The flight ended up circling Atlanta for an hour before it landed. But it landed 3 gates away from the gate for his flight to Lima. He called us and told us he they had put him and Elder Richards on the earlier flight. He said there was a sister missionary and 3 other elders there. We were so glad to hear from him!! He said the flight made him sick. We talked for about 5 minutes and he was off to Lima.
It was a crazy day. We stayed awake until we knew his flight landed in Lima. Thanking Heavenly Father that he had made it on the earlier flight. We were so grateful for the tender mercies of the day. For the guidance and impressions of the Holy Ghost.