I can already tell you that I am not ready to say goodbye. There are so many changes going on with missionaries leaving and missionaries arriving.
It has been easy to get close to the other senior couples whom we have had the privilege of getting to know. They are all here because they love the Lord and want to serve His children here. We all serve in different ways as has been talked about before. From traveling around Russia as an auditor, working as a lawyer in Moscow for the Church, providing humanitarian services such as wheelchairs or visiting orphanages, serving in the office (area office or mission office), serving as medical advisors for sick or emotionally distressed missionaries, are only a few of the services provided. Missionary couples are invaluable as they serve in their little branches helping to strengthen the church which is still so new here in this part of the world (about 20 years old). They also provide great support for our young missionaries who are so far from home.
We met together on Thursday to honor our mission president and his dear wife, Stephen and Corinne Sorenson, as they are coming to the end of their 3 year mission here in Moscow. We have had the privilege of working closely with the Sorenson's as we have served in the mission office. Patient, loving, kind, wonderful sense of humor, strong love for the missionaries and for the Russian people are only touching the tip of the iceberg concerning their attributes.
We had a nice dinner with homemade salads and delicious carrot cake, President and Sister Sorenson spoke to us for a few minutes. There was a wonderful musical presentation in their honor written and sung by our talented Elder Bice as he put their life to words and music. There was a beautiful pencil drawing beautifully framed depicting the Savior that was drawn by our wonderful Elder David Cook (who recently went home with his equally wonderful wife Becky), a lovely table runner beautifully made of Russian material and quilted by Sister Donna Jones and Sister Sheryl Storm. The final gift was from ALL the missionaries. I started asking months ago for missionaries to send in their letters of love for Pres. and Sister Sorenson. They were collected over the past few months and a dear young member offered to use her talents in scrapbooking and put them along with pictures in a book of memories for them. It was very lovely and many of the Russia Moscow Mission missionaries participated in this lovely gift for them.
I'm trying not to think that they will be leaving the end of June back home to Salt Lake City. We will welcome our new president and his wife, President Garry and Sister Borders with joy, but how we will miss President Sorenson's soft spoken sense of humor, his love for the missionaries. Some of the missionaries have referred to him as a gentle giant and it fits. Sister Sorenson has been by his side as they have traveled all over this vast mission (spanning the size of the US). She has taken care of the missionaries, fed them in her home, greeted them and loved them as part of a large extended family, has loved them as a mother for her child. Will I miss them? Terribly. I tear up as I think of them leaving. And yet, their service here is coming to an end and it is time for a well-deserved rest. Being a mission president is one of the busiest callings in the great Church of ours.
I'm not ready to say goodbye yet. Maybe I never will be.