This week was bittersweet for my family.... on Wednesday, we dropped our 'son', Jon, off at The Mission Training Center in Provo, UT to begin training for his mission to the Belgium Netherlands Mission. He will be teaching the gospel in the Dutch language. We are LDS (mormon) and all worthy young men, 19 years of age are asked to go serve the Lord for 2 years. He was willing and excited for this experience! We're so proud of him and his choice to serve. It was a difficult road for Jon, he isn't a member of our family and he admits that if he hadn't come to live with us he certainly would not have chosen to serve the Lord.
Let me tell you a little about how Jonathan came to live with our family. A little history first... my father baptized Jon's dad (Carl) back in the early 1970's. My dad was the bishop of our ward and met him through the missionaries and took him under his wing. He became close with our family and we spent lots of time with him. Carl served a mission in Austria and met a great family while there. After his mission, he returned to visit that family and ended up marrying one of their daughters, Eva.
They lived in America for a while, but ended up moving back to Austria, where Jonathan was born. Jon's father died when he was 5 years old. His mother came out to visit our family when Jonathan was 10 and he asked if he could stay the rest of the summer with our family. His mother agreed, but Jon ended up staying a full year. His mother had always had a difficult time with Jonathan and asked if we would help raise him. We agreed.
When Jonathan came to live with us he didn't speak must English, but learned very quickly. After that year, he went back to live with his mother for a couple years. He began to be very rebellious making life very difficult for her and she asked if we would take him again. We were excited to have him come back! When he returned though we soon saw that we had taken on a different kid than had been with us a couple years earlier. He was causing lots of problems and we really didn't want to have him if he was going to make life in our home crazy. So, we told him that he had to reimburse us for the plane ticket we spend to get him out here and make the money to go back to Austria. He was 14 at the time and we had been homeschooling him. We found him a landscaping job and had him working full-time to earn the money to go back to Austria. We knew that having him work hard to earn the money would most liking make a change in him and we were right!
By the time he earned most the money he had become very humbled and asked if he could stay. We were thrilled to see his change of heart and we were glad to have him. He only returned to Austria twice during those years to visit and his mom and sister came out a couple times to visit him. So Jon lived with our family for more than 5 years. He has been a joy to have as part of our family. He has always fit in and always felt like one of our own. He's been a great blessing to our family and such a great example to our other kids!
Some of our extended family coming out to say goodbye to Jon.
The girls just love Jon and are so happy for him. Although, Cassie (the one on the right) is still crying that he's gone. Jon and Cassie are very best friends. She's away at college and I call her several times a day to see how she's doing. It's getting better now for her, thankfully!
My boys! All my kids bring me so much joy!
We all love Jonny so much and are going miss him like crazy! But, we know these are going to be the best two years of his life!!!