Friday, December 18, 2015

Sweet Homecoming

By Rodger Dean Duncan

Our year-long missionary service in Texas has come to an end.

We met Jeannette Lane during our first week in Waco. She
was completely inactive. She's now stalwart and faithful in
every way. A native of Wales, she is delightfully spunky,
with dazzling intelligence and a quick wit.
We can honestly say that in our 48 years of marriage, 2015 was one of the very best. We labored together in consecrated ministry in a way we'd never experienced before.

We've served in many church callings over the years, and have often been companions in that service. But being full-time missionaries is different. The focus is intense and constant. The sense of unity is magnificent.

Our final 90 days in the mission were a blur. We've never had a year pass so quickly, and the last three months seemed especially fleeting. Obviously the "time flies when you're having fun" cliche is a fact.

Although our missionary service was wonderfully satisfying, that's not to say it was always easy. We are tired. But it's a good kind of tired and we know we will soon be rejuvenated by other opportunities to serve.

A common question about our mission has been "What was the hardest part?" By far, the hardest part was saying goodbye to our new friends in Texas. We loved being in Waco. Except for the Brazos River and the strikingly beautiful Baylor University campus, Waco is not a particularly attractive town. But the people are kind and generous and very easy to love. We treasure our new friendships, and will forever cherish the memories of what we did, what we learned, and what we felt while serving as missionaries.

Over the past year our blog posts have only scratched the surface in reporting our goings-on. Suffice it to say that we're confident we accomplished a lot of good in Waco for a lot of people. Most of all, the experience was a blessing to us.

We will never be the same.

A few days before our mission's end we drove down through the beautiful
Texas Hill Country. We spent a day and a night in the delightful town of
Fredericksburg, famous for his antique shops. It was all decked out for
Christmas. We especially enjoyed the carriage ride through town. Before
heading back to Waco, we drove over to Stonewall, Texas, to see the
Lyndon B. Johnson Ranch. Because we arrived early in the morning, we
enjoyed a private tour of the ranch house. 
You'll recall our sweet friend Amber Cook. She was baptized in March. She's
a Baylor University graduate and a school teacher. Now she's in graduate
school at the University of Texas. She was originally introduced to us by
Ross Cooper in the Waco Young Single Adult Branch. Let's just say that Ross
takes fellowshipping very seriously. They drove all the way up from Austin
to say goodbye to us on the eve of our departure from Waco.
These eight Elders helped us load the trailer for the move back home to
Liberty. A couple of missionary Sisters helped with final cleaning. Also
pitching in were a friend from one of the Waco wards and a member of
the Waco stake presidency.
Our friends Isaac and Wyndi run The Retreat, the terrific apartment complex
where we've lived for the past year. We will always remember their kindness.
We spent the last night of our mission in Southlake, Texas, at the home of
Kevin Kaufman of the mission presidency. We enjoyed a fine dinner and a
memorable evening of singing and devotional with several other missionary
couples. 
Upon arrival in Liberty, we had our first meeting with Adeline, our new
great granddaughter (daughter of our granddaughter Morgan). When we
drove up to our home we were greeted on the front lawn by about two
dozen members of our ward congregation. Daughter Rachel had
orchestrated the decoration of a ten-foot Christmas tree in our living room.
There was fresh food in the refrigerator, Christmas candles in the windows,
 and the sweet feel of homecoming.
The afternoon after our return, our stake president visited our home and
issued our formal release from missionary service. It was a heart-tugging
moment. We're of course happy to be home, but we sorely miss our
Texas friends and the indescribable blessing of full-time service in the
cause we love.
Back to Reality: For now, my office (above) and Rean's studio (below) resemble a tornado scene. But in a few
days we will sort it all out and begin to ease back into our home routines. For Christmas we will host a
houseful of loved ones. How could life be better?
Thanks for reading our mission blog these past twelve months. We hope you have enjoyed a glimpse of our joyous journey.

5 comments:

  1. I loved your mission and I love your coming home. Just wish I was there to hug you both! Lots of love and a Happy Christmas!

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  2. Your last evening in the mission was in our ward! Sister Kaufman is our son's seminary teacher and they are legendary. How did we miss you? Well done--now enjoy Christmas with all your babies!

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