We arrived at the Salt Lake City airport on July 3 at about 5 pm, to our family yelling and screaming as we descended the escalator into baggage claim. Our family, consisting of Alma, Mackenzie, Ashlen, Loren and AJ; Jeremy, Katie, Brittany, Ehlena, Jaina, and Lydia; Kristi, Brodie, and Elsie; and Jorgen along with our friends Stan and Rose were waiting for us.
When we descended the escalator, Stan yelled out to the other people who were waiting for their missionaries, “We win, our’s is first.”
We drove home where we met our Stake President and were released from the mission and then took off our Missionary Badges, which was difficult to do.
Still on an emotional high, we decided to take our entire family out to dinner, going to The Old Spaghetti Factory. Next, we went home for our first night’s sleep, preempting Jorgen’s bed.
The next day, we found that Alma needed to return a rental truck to Las Vegas. Alma had been working with the food committee for his Stake’s Trek where they fed about 750 people for 3 or 4 days. His Stake had been promised the use of a refrigerator truck but when the company owner could not be reached at the last minute, it was given to others causing Alma to search the entire northwest for a replacement, which he found in Las Vegas, 300 miles away. Alma and Mackenzie flew down and returned with the truck which served its purpose well. However, when the trek was over, the truck needed to be returned to Las Vegas, and Alma was elected to return it, by default. On July 4, at 3 pm, I volunteered to ride with Alma so he wouldn’t need to drive alone, skipping the fireworks I would have seen from the Stadium of Fire and the Ward get-togher at the end of our street.
We made it to Mesquite, Nevada by midnight, spending the night at the Virgin River Casino, the cheapest place in town.
We arose at 5 am on July 5 and continued on, only to have the truck fail 2 miles down the road. There was a loud explosion sound with high pressure air rushing out, leaving the truck with half as much power as before. Quickly the ‘check engine’ light came on followed by a ‘DEF’ light, which shown solid for a short time then started blinking. The information panel on the visor told us to pull over and call for assistance if the DEF light started blinking, so we pulled over and called the emergency number. An hour or so later the repair man showed up and ran a refresh procedure which cleared the lights, taking a half hour, then we went on our way again, only to have the same lights turn on in the next 2 miles. This time, the emergency people sent a tow truck to take us the remaining 50 miles into Las Vegas.
As it turned out, the tow truck driver had been raised LDS but dropped out of the church when he was 18, but he was now in his thirties (or forties) and had 3 children with another on the way. We left him with strong testimonies and a Book of Mormon. Perhaps finding this lost member was the reason for our truck’s failure. We turned in the non-operative truck, caught a taxi to the airport car rental, rented a car and drove home, arriving at 7:30 pm, taking all of 30 hours to deliver the truck and return home.
On the good side, this trip helped me overcome any ‘jet lag’ I might have had.
July 6, Saturday was our first visit to our storage unit where all our things had been stored for the past year and a half. We grabbed several monitors and assorted tools then went shopping at Sam’s Club and Costco, where I purchased some leisure clothes at Sam’s then spent nearly $600 at Costco buying Julia a new camera and a bunch of food and other stuff. This gave us our ‘Costco Fix’ which we needed because we had truly missed Costco during our mission.
Sunday was fast day so we hung around home waiting for 1:00 pm when church would start. At church we met many of our old ward friends but also noted many new faces showing that people do move away and sell their homes to younger families. Both Julia and I bore our testimonies, trying to be careful to not say what we planned to say during our main talk which would happen on July 14. It was wonderful meeting our friends again and being able to sing and hear the songs in English, which we had missed. We sorted through the ties, scarves and skirts we had brought for gifts and began delivering them to our closest friends.
Coming home had been wonderful, filled with happiness and Joy, although we felt a twinge of sadness having left our Cambodian Friends.