Thursday, October 30, 2008

Thankful Thursday: 8 years ago today... How is it possible?!

Sister Gazaway, was a beloved name that I went by for 18 months of my life as I lived in Riverside, Ohio. Deleware, Ohio. Westerville, Ohio. Englewood, Ohio. It was a name that defined who I am, what I stood for and who I represented.

I am literally in shock and don't know how it is even possible that 8 years ago today, I was walking off the plane with my Mom in Salt Lake City, returning home from my 18 month sacred grove in Columbus Ohio.

I still remember that day like it was yesterday...

After touring my mission and other areas for about a week, (Kirtland and Palmyra NY) with my Mom and Grandpa and Grandma Schroeppel we had to separate to go on our flights home. I sat in my seat on the airplane grasping my Mom's hand and tears just pouring profusely down my face because I had to leave the land that I loved SOOO much. It really was a good thing that Mom was with me, I am pretty sure I would have run off that plane and stayed a while longer! (at least 6 more months.. that was the first time ever I wanted to be an ELDER)

We had a lay over in Cincinnati, OH and when I found out that our plane would be delayed 4 additional hours I had a nervous breakdown...literally! There I stood with Mom at the ticket counter as they told us this news. I started uncontrollably crying. Mom was so embarrassed with my antics as I had my missionary tag on.. she kept nudging me and saying, "stop it! You are a representative of the Lord!" I couldn't stop! I had so much pent up emotions inside they just came tumbling out of my eyes. The ticket agent didn't know what to do and Mom could tell she felt awkward about my situation that she proceeded to explain to her the reason I was crying that way. She told her that I had been away from my family and friends for 18 months and wasn't able to talk to them or anything so I was very anxious to be reunited. She explained that as missionaries we pay our own ways and in return we focus on what we are there to do and so we aren't able to call home. The agent felt pity for me and I think she really wanted me to stop causing a scene so she sat us FIRST CLASS! (Mom, you can thank me later for embarrassing you! hahhaa)

I was so worried that all the people that made such effort to come would be waiting at the airport for hours that I started to call and cry as I talked to each of them and tell them that I was delayed.

As emotional as I felt there at the Cincinnati Airport I could not expect how much more emotional I could possibly get until I walked off the plane in Salt Lake City to a sea of a hundred waiting at the terminal for me. It was an unforgettable moment. When I started to walk down the ramp into the terminal it was like the herds were unleashed. ALL the kids in my life that I loved so much ran down the hallway (nearly where I got out of the door of the plane) and litter ally tackled me. I was flat on my back with kids dog piled on top of me and I just kept hugging and kissing them and crying. I can't even imagine a better reunion. So many people that I loved and cherished were there. All My Aunts, Uncles and Cousins, The Whiting Crew, Draper Crew, The Goulds and Latus, Friends, Missionary buddies more people than I could count... all there for me! I felt so loved and so special.

I remember my Brother driving home with Mom and I and his new bride and just crying as he told me and showed me all the new things that had been built in Utah while I was gone. I remember that from the point of the mountain back to Orem NOTHING looked the same.. there was NO LAND LEFT! One of the funniest parts was he had to take the long way home so he could show me something amazing! We got off the University exit and there at almost midnight there was a line of cars a mile long trying to get a Krispy Kreme doughnut. He thought they were so amazing and I played along with him but on my mission Krispy Kreme was like how it is now in Utah, you could buy it at every gas station and grocery store and so I didn't understand the fuss, but I played along!

I hid from the Stake President for 3 extra days until Lynn Whiting ratted me out and told him that I was home and I got a call asking me to be released. I didn't want to be released. I didn't want to give up the badge that gave me great honor and courage the last 18 months! I wanted to wear it forever. I was so thankful that President Lloyd never asked me to take the badge off. He just read the letter he had received from my mission president, gave me a blessing and released me as a FT missionary and asked me to stay in my family ward for at least year after.

I went home with lots of tears. Sat on the couch in the front room totally numb as to the fact that I was going to have to surrender that tag and wondering how I was going to do it. Just then a tap at my door and then someone opened it. There stood Richard Kolopeaua (one of my best-est friends since twelve yrs old) he gave me a huge hug, escorted me back to the couch and put his arm around me and I just snuggled up to him and he held me. He asked me for my tag, I handed it to him and told him all about my mission and he told me about his. I don't know how it all came about. I can't remember if I even told him I would be released that night, all I know is it was the BEST way to end the wearing of the tag I could have ever imagined.

Today I don't wear a tag with the name Sister Gazaway over my heart which gave me such power and authority. But just as we learned at conference I can still have Christian Courage to share the gospel and stand up for the right, day and night where ever I may be.

My mission wasn't just the best 18 months OF my life, it was the best 18 months FOR my life! I left a part of me in Ohio that I will never get back, but I came back a stronger, more in tune, more Christ-like, more compassionate and fortified person. How eight years has come and gone since this day recalled, I don't know. But what I do know.....



The Burners said...

Oh Meggers - what a sweet memory about your mission. I struggled so much coming home from my mission too! I remember you telling me that when I first came home, so I didnt feel so bad. I think I cried for 6 months straight (not really, but kind of!). Oh the joys from the mission. Thanks for sharing your story on your blog. LOVE IT! :) And I loooovvvve the Christian Courage talk - awesome!

Boise Buhrley's said...

What a fun memory! I can't believe it's been 8 years!! You had to have been the BEST missionary, you still are. Love you meggie girl!