We watched her plane travel across the country on the Delta website and then once it landed, we all sat around the phone waiting for the next call. It finally came through at 11:20am. This time, we weren't rushed at all and were able to talk to her for 66 minutes before she had to hang up and go get something to eat. That experience was HORRIBLE!! I'm not going to lie...knowing we wouldn't hear that voice again until Christmas was excruciating! It had been so wonderful just to relax and talk to her then to have to stop and know we have to wait four months...AWFUL!!
Here are some of the highlights:
- After checking her bags (she only had to move a towel and her straightener from one bag to the other to meet the weight requirements), they all went to find their gate before making the phone calls. As she was walking down the concourse, she saw Roy and Rosalie Millard (our neighbors across the street) walking toward her! They were on standby for a trip to Florida to visit friends they had met on their mission. Again, WHAT ARE THE ODDS??!! They were able to talk for a few minutes, get hugs (only Rosalie), and send a hug home to me (can't wait to get it). They ended up on the same plane but Sammi lost track of them after they landed in Atlanta. She said it was great to see a familiar face from home!
- Her experiences with Dezi/Elder Swain were wonderful! She said it was so fun to see him each day and to be able to give him some advice. He's been struggling a bit but she was able to advise him on how to overcome some of those obstacles and she thinks he's going to be a GREAT missionary!
- The MTC was WONDERFUL!! She said the food was unbelievable--she's never eaten that well and probably never will again. She didn't gain any weight because she was eating three good meals a day. She was very impressed with that! She said the Spirit there was beyond anything she could have imagined. They work them hard but also give them so much support and help with their concerns. She just kept saying how "AMAZING" everything was, how "AWESOME" the people were, and how strong the Spirit was all the time. She said they kept them so busy they don't have time to get homesick. We're grateful for that...
- She said one of the missionaries in Elder Dezi's district, honestly one of her favorites, is our Stake Patriarch Barney's grandson. She said he was adorable! The Elder she sat next to on the flight from here to Atlanta is President Allred's (our first councilor in the Stake Presidency) nephew. I believe he's going to Ft. Lauderdale Spanish-speaking.
- No one believes she's shy!! She said she would tell the other people (missionaries and teachers) that she is really shy and no one believed her! She asked them if they wanted evidence from her family but no one bought into it. I can't believe how much she's changed since she began this journey!! Brother McBride, one of the counselors in our Bishopric, said he spoke with her in March or April at a Stake Baptism. He said the person who spoke at that meeting and the one who spoke in our Sacrament Meeting on July 19 (her farewell) were two TOTALLY different people! I can only imagine the difference between that person and the one who landed in Florida yesterday! She said the Lord has definitely given her what she's needed to survive this!
- She PROMISES to send pictures as soon as she can once she arrives in Florida. As soon as she does, I'll post them on here.
We can't wait to hear where Sammi is assigned and who her companion will be. We do know the Hales are ready to help give her a great experience in the field and will take GREAT care of her while she's there. The hole in our family, here at home, is HUGE but we love trying to fill it with letters and thoughts of her. We're so lucky to have a wonderful daughter who is willing and able to serve the Lord.
Now, to wait for P-day on Monday!!