Eleanor entered the Missionary Training Centre in Provo yesterday and began life as Sister/ Soeur Holt. This was the culmination of a week of mixed emotions in the Holt house.
Last Thursday Eleanor celebrated her 19th birthday which continued into the weekend. On Saturday night we had birthday party to which we had invited lots of family and friends. This doubled as an opportunity for people to say goodbye to Eleanor. We were so touched by the number of people who came and offered their good wishes to her. There was a Barbados theme to the decorations as will be evident from the pictures. We also had a nod to France as Eleanor will be spending most, if not all, of her mission in the French territories of Guadeloupe, Martinique and French Guyana. As part of the evening Eleanor had selected different photos from her childhood to display- she wasn’t very good at selection as there were over 300- enough to make a 25 minute video!
On Sunday as it was the last day for her attending our ward (parish) Eleanor was the final speaker in our sacrament meeting. She spoke about how her whole life has prepared her to serve her Saviour as a missionary. We were very proud as we listened to her words and feelings about her Saviour, us, and her upcoming mission.
I am sorry this blog post is turning into a travelogue but I’m trying to cram in all the different things that happened but each day brought a new experience and challenge. Monday’s was the feelings associated with an IKEA flat pack multiplied by 100. Eleanor had been packing for weeks, but we needed to check weights, etc. Most missionaries have two 50lb bags plus a carry on for all their belongings. The Barbados Bridgetown Mission, because of the flights between islands, suggests that only one 50lb bag and a carry on is taken. Trying to balance all of the different things she needed to take with the weight allowances was madness itself. After two and a half hours of trying we go there!!!!! The sense of relief when the bag weighed 22.9kg (the limit was 23kg) at the airport was immense.
Before a missionary sets off for their service they are set apart as a missionary by their Stake President. This is a blessing that means from that point on they are a missionary and follow all the missionary guidelines. We were joined by a few close family and friends for this important event on Monday night. For obvious reasons it is performed as close to their departure date as possible.
Tuesday morning came too quickly. While we know that what Eleanor is doing is right and will be a fantastic experience it doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier. There are many analogies I can draw, but if I think about everything that has happened in my life I have to say that this was the most emotionally draining days of my life. To say goodbye to a child is a feeling like none other I have ever had. It is tempered by a love and sense of excitement but still…
We had the option of her going straight from the airport to the MTC but we all felt that a familiar friendly face to greet her would be beneficial- a former Sister missionary who had served in our ward and Eleanor knows well, Kylie Madsen met her. It certainly great for us as we received a text at 2am telling us she had landed safely. We also received some photos shortly after this of her visit to Temple Square with the Madsens.
We were truly grateful for people taking time to care for our daughter and then take her to the MTC the following day (after having a try of driving on the wrong side of the road and meeting up with another former Sister missionary).
Shortly after arriving she was able to email us and concluded with ‘I am currently wearing my badge and got all my language study stuff, there is loads!!! I also have met my teacher she is from Washington State and she served her mission in Mauritius.” Never have we been so excited to receive an email; if nothing else it allows us to breathe as Soeur Holt begins her fantastic experience.