Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Tale of Three Wings - Part 3 The Mission

Missionary Wings! Time to put on the tag.
After months of preparation and checking and re-checking it was finally time to head to the airport to put Joe on a plane bound for Spain.
Earlier Joe had made arrangements with his good friend Jeremy to drop by the airport to say a final farewell. However, the flight times had bounced around a bit and arrangements got jumbled.
With nerves already tight, it hit like a ton of bricks when Joe received a text message from Jeremy as we were travelling to the airport.  The message was to inform Joe that Jeremy along with a couple of other friends whom Joe has not seen for a while and had not expected to be there (making the news all the more difficult) would not be able to wait for him any longer as they had to get to their classes--so they wanted to wish him good luck and goodbye for two years.
The poor boy could hardly contain his disappointment.
We traveled on to the airport in silence.
Emotions were running high as Joe's dad and brother retrieved his suitcases from the car and we began the walk to the airport.  We had to look around a bit for the counter serving Joe's airline as it was clear to the back, behind the other airline counters.
As we approached the check-in counter I heard excited whispering and chuckles behind me and felt a "whoosh" brush past me as Joe's friends rushed forward to surprise him.  They had decided one last prank on Joe was the way to go so they had sent him that text then hidden in the airport, lying in wait, to sneak up on Joe and thump him on the head.
It was a great reunion and such a lift for Joe to have his friends come all the way to the airport to see him off and support him as he takes this giant leap in his life.  I am so thankful my son has such good friends who would do this for him.
The instructions for international flights is that you must arrive at the airport at least two hours before your scheduled departure time to give plenty of time to get everything into order and pass through security and all that.  However, this is a little tiny airport without a lot of traffic and it only takes a few minutes to check in and get through security.
So we had some time to kill.
Having time to kill isn't always a good idea with this family.
It was nice to have time to visit and play and enjoy our last few minutes with Joe.  And Jason was fortunate enough to have a gate pass so he could go through security with Joe and wait with him at the gate until he boarded which gave them some precious father-and-son time.
It was a great experience and we couldn't have asked for a better send-off for Joe as he goes to begin his adventures of teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in the beautiful country of Spain.

Oh, and it was stormy again...

These are the snakeskin Vans that Joe bought Jason as a Christmas gift.

And there he goes!
(please forgive the bad audio--storms, my kids' missions, it's how we roll...)

A Tale of Three Wings - Part 2 The First Flight

First Flight Wings
Except this wasn't his first flight.  Really.  But it was the first flight that he could remember since the other times he had flown were when he was just a baby.
Before travelling to Spain Joe had to pick up his VISA to make his stay there legal.  To obtain this Visa Joe was required to make a personal appearance before the Consul.  This was going to involve travelling as there is no Consulate in Nowheresville, Middle America.  Go figure.
Being nervous about flying into european countries with languages he couldn't understand or speak, Joe was very glad to have a chance to first fly around the U.S. where he would be able to get a feel for airports, transferring planes, and all that before he had to do it in a foreign language.

And of course the storm clouds rolled in.
Less than an hour earlier I had been standing out in front of my old barn enjoying the bright, sunny, Spring day.  By the time I picked up the other kids from school and got home to load up for the trip to the airport storm warnings were being issued.
Apparently my kids can't do their mission work without having to push through the storm.
We drove through crazy downpours and lots of lightning on the way to the airport--digital signs along the side of the road flashing "severe thunderstorm warning".  Thank you Captain Obvious.
We were worried about Joe's flight not being able to take-off on time.  He had a close connection to make in Dallas and would need to land there on time in order to make it.  As we turned onto Airport Road the rain stopped and the storm disappeared and there was even a little patch of blue sky for a few minutes.
After Joe's plane left the runway and headed South the storms started back up, building to the South.  His plane was just ahead of the storms all the way to Texas.
We, however, drove home in more torrential downpours and had just pulled back into our garage when the hail opened up and pounded everything.  And to top it off, we got to have our first tornado outbreak of the season.
I'm getting too old for this!

A Tale of Three Wings - Part 1 The Eagle Court

Eagle Wings
In March we celebrated Joe's accomplishment of earning the rank of Eagle in scouting.  He has worked hard over the years (especially the last year--nothing like the last minute to motivate you, right?!) learning the skills and passing off the goals in training to achieve this rank.
Eagle Scout may be earned by a Boy Scout who has been a Life Scout for at least six months, has earned a minimum of 21 merit badges, has demonstrated Scout Spirit, and has demonstrated leadership within his troop, team, crew or ship. Additionally he must plan, develop, and lead a service project — the Eagle Project —that demonstrates both leadership and a commitment to duty.
Nine Eagle Scouts have been awarded the Medal of Honor.
At least forty astronauts earned the rank as a youth.
Eagle Scouts who have held public office include 38th President of the United States Gerald R. Ford, 22nd U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, 13th and 21st U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court Stephen Breyer
The National Eagle Scout Association researched the total volunteer hours of the Eagle service projects ever done and it came a total of more than 100 million hours of service. Each year, new Eagle Scouts add more than three million more hours.
We had a great turn out of family and friends who joined us to celebrate Joe.



President Martin made a long drive to help us celebrate Joe's accomplishment.

Joe's good friend Jeremy drove in from the town he is currently living in while he does his college work.

When asked about the gummy bears... 

We had a great surprise that Joe's first scoutmaster, Bro. Jarvis, was in town and able to attend the court.

And I managed to get a sneak-attack photo of Carla before she could hide her face from me!