we are back safe and sound in our texas home with lots of memories of family and fun to hold us over until next time.
my phone sat abandoned in my room for the last half of yesterday while we were busy celebrating a special three-year-old's birthday. when i finally lugged my tired body to the bedroom at 11:36 i picked it up to find a few missed calls and a text.
"well i thought i would just say hello the last time that i can use a phone."
i knew who it was from. my brother marcus. our whole trip to arizona revolved around the fact that it was our last opportunity in the next two years to spend time with him. he has chosen to spend these next years sharing the good message of our Savior Jesus Christ with the people of Resistencia, Argentina. we are proud of him but will miss him something fierce.
our first sunday in arizona was spent listening to him talk to the congregation, which is what is typically done in the LDS church before a young man or woman leaves on their mission. i guess it's like a final parting message before stepping into shoes that seem so very big to fill. you listen to the boy that you have watched wander the church halls since his head hit somewhere around your hips and you realize that he is giving up the last days of his boyhood to serve the Lord and to become a man, far away from the comforts of his home.
at the end of the meeting his bishop spoke for a few moments and recounted a story of marcus from a few years back. i will probably botch the story, but hopefully the spirit of it stays intact because that is the part that touched me.
as a newly called bishop, he had been invited to join the young men on their yearly trip to the grand canyon. being that he was a bit past his prime, on the morning that they were to hike up out of the canyon, the bishop made sure that he was the first to set off. so he started the 12 mile hike at the lead and just shortly after was passed up by his son, levi, and marcus.
more time passed and eventually all but two of the young men had come and gone. he kept on and the other two stayed within viewing distance behind him. as he reached the last two miles, full of switchbacks and steep slopes he looked up to see one young man making his way back down. it was marcus. he reached the bishop and asked if he could help him. he responded that he was okay but that maybe he could check on the last two boys who were slipping slowly behind. marcus followed the suggestion and continued back down.
after a little time passed he heard someone behind him. with two new packs on his back, marcus had caught up and continued the final and probably most difficult leg of the hike. soon after the two boys were also passing him and he was now bringing up the back.
once again he noticed a young man, making his way down the mouth of the canyon. and once again it was marcus offering his help. he took the pack from the bishop and made his very last trip up to the top with him.
after relating the story he continued that this was the kind of missionary that he pictured marcus to be. being very aware of the needs of the people he served and being willing to take their packs for them and ease their burdens. it made me emotional to hear those words from someone else. i have always known marcus to be this kind of a person. it reminded me of a time when i was first pregnant with our little gage. it was in the afternoon on a fast sunday and my phone rang. on the other end of the line was my then thirteen-year-old brother calling to make sure i knew that i wasn't supposed to be fasting while i was pregnant. his concern over me was something that made me teary eyed. he has always been a tender person. of course i remember his pestering our youngest brother to tears at times, but the overpowering trait that marcus has always carried is selflessness.
i know that he will serve the Lord well and i know that he will be a blessing to the lives of many many people. i already miss him but couldn't be more inspired by the person that he is becoming.
i love you marcus!