Sunday, August 16, 2015

Absence makes the heart grow fonder or missionaries without companions

Debbie and I have talked about serving a mission together for years.  Once we actually got our mission call in May, those talks started becoming a reality.  Things were changing so fast for us, no one understood the full picture of all that was going on except Debbie and I.  With our pre-mission opportunity in Frankfurt, we truly and emotionally started this mission way back on June 1 when we got on the plane for our first experience in Frankfurt, Germany.  This occurred only two days after we moved out of our home and into our condominium with Grandma Rueckert.  Every step of the way has been an adventure, but much more than that, it has been something that Debbie and I have done totally together and that has brought some very special feelings between us. As we made our final preparations to officially move on July 20th, our life was full of preparations and decisions, including adjusting to a new lifestyle and responsibilities and trying to begin learning a new language.  Of course, it also included our bittersweet feelings with our children and grandchildren, loving them and leaving them to the care of our Heavenly Father while we are away.

The experiences of these past few months have brought us much closer together, increasing the closeness that we have felt for such a long time.  It is hard to explain to someone who has not experienced it, but it has been so very special!  Add to that our conviction that we are doing what our Heavenly Father wants us to do and the strong guidance of the Holy Ghost that we have been feeling individually and together.  As we arrived in our apartment in Frankfurt on July 21, 2015, it was the first time in our married life that we had ever lived alone in our own home, without children or Grandma Rueckert.

So three days later, when we heard about Shawn's untimely passing we just stepped up for one more change in our life and we did the right thing, allowing Debbie to quickly return to Utah to help Kari and others during the funeral and adjustments.  We never did doubt if this should happen, I was able to carry out the planned travels and activities while we divided and conquered, we had done this many times in our married lives.

What was surprising to both of us, was how hard this separation was.  We both were busy and doing good, but we were not together and we both felt this incredible void.  I have traveled much more than I would have liked to over the past few years and we have adjusted to those times, but this was so much different.  I guess it was like being a missionary without a companion and it certainly felt different.  After 12 days, we were back together and we are now continuing on in this wonderful experience TOGETHER!  This experience of serving our Heavenly Father together 24/7 is much better than either of us ever expected.  We are finding special ways to offer all of the talents and blessings that we have each received and have found a satisfaction and peace that has exceeded all of our expectations.

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