Tonight at Family Home Evening we celebrated the mission of Elder Plautz because he has finished his mission and is going home. For the lesson, he gave a final talk to our singles ward about doing missionary work and why it is important to share the gospel with people around us. Afterwards he did a song parody about missionary life and leaving a girl at home and getting a "Dear John" letter. It was pretty funny.
While he was doing this, I couldn't help but think about my mission and about what it was like to come home. I served my mission in San Antonio Texas from December 1996 to December 1998. It's hard to believe that it's been almost ten years since I came home. Crazy how time flies. The last day in my area was memorable, not because of who we taught, but because of how less effective it was. The crank arm on my companions bike broke and so we ended up having to walk everywhere. Fun last day in the mission field. The next day was spent in the mission office waiting as the mission president gave us our exit interviews.
The most memorable part of finishing my mission was coming home. After spending the night at the assistants apartment we were taken to the airport to catch our plane. No fanfare or anything. I was dropped off at the terminal and was left to myself for the first time in two years. I went to the gate and found out I had too many bags to be checked in without being charged an additional fee. Being a missionary I had no money and was trying to figure out how I was going to get everything home. I must have had a look of utter panic on my face because the airline worker let me check all my baggage and told me there was no charge. Talk about relief.
I don't remember much of the flight home. It must be my old age. Basically I remember running from one end of the Denver airport to the other so that I could catch my connecting flight back to Montrose. Not even enough time to find a restroom.
After landing back in Montrose, it seemed like it took forever for everyone to get off of the plane. Standing there I was super anxious. I'm not sure why though. I was excited to see my family and friends that I hadn't seen in two years, but for some reason I felt anxious. I wondered to myself how different things would be. Walking into the terminal and seeing all of my family and lots of friends there had an profound effect on me. I saw all of those people and immediately started crying. I was amazed at the love that I felt from them.
Coming home was a wonderful and happy experience but hard as well. I was no longer a missionary and wasn't sure that I knew how to be normal anymore. I look back on that day with fond memories.