When my heart overflows, it is in the form of tears. And there have been some tears around here lately. I have had an amazing experience and I am in no way capable of finding the words to describe it all.
I have to try because I want to remember. Also, I want to record it for Braeden.
It was incredible to have Stella here. At the airport Stella hugged me when we met. Then she set her bags down so she could give me a real and proper hug and said, "And that one is from your son."
And that is when the tears started.
She had had lunch with him that day.
There were many things Stella and I bonded over. We talked about anything and everything much like women that are soul sisters do. We share a love though and it's for that kid. We talked a lot about Braeden. She knows him in ways that I don't now. I am pretty expert on the first 18 years of his life but she knows him now.
I loved hearing about what he is like now, as a missionary. I loved hearing about what he means to her. What mother doesn't love people who love her children?!?
Stella is the most remarkable person I've ever known. She has had a very successful and full career and her work in Africa for UNICEF has literally saved millions of lives. She held positions of high esteem and great importance. Yet, she sat in my kitchen and made me feel like a wonder because I made pumpkin muffins from a mix.
She is wonderfully generous in both her praise and with everything else. She bonded with our children and they loved her much like I assume everyone who meets her must love her.
I was filled with gratitude when I heard the ways her life has changed as a result of hearing about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She had endured a series of heartbreaking losses but her pain has been lifted. It is amazing and wonderful. It is the same miracle that is available to all. And it is precisely the sharing of that peace that makes it worthwhile for me to send my boy across the country. I want him to share that message with as many people as possible.
We had the opportunity to go to the temple with Stella. We performed proxy baptisms for her parents, grandparents, and her son.
Does my face look tear stained? Because it was one of those occasions when my feelings poured out my eyes. Incredible!
We attended two sessions of General Conference together in the conference center. Stella applied the tenacity that eradicated diseases in Africa to getting tickets to conference. And she got them!
How I loved being there with her!
Sunday afternoon, on our way home from conference, we stopped by and met the Morris family. Elder Morris has been Braeden's companion and has been teaching Stella also.
The above picture is from Stella's baptism, three weeks ago.
We "recreated" the picture with the moms:
And then the dads...
And then for good measure we had our favorite missionaries' younger siblings pose for a picture:
Monday, Adam and Stella and I went back to Salt Lake City and saw the sights at Temple Square and then drove through the mountains which were showing off their fall colors and also dusted with snow. It was beautiful!
One great thing about spending time with Stella was the fascinating conversation. We talked about everything from politics to religion to race relations and her unique perspective was enlightening. Before dropping her off at the airport, I asked her every medical question I had. It's not every day you share an order of sweet potato fries with an accomplished doctor.
Before Stella came to see us, Braeden emailed that she was like family to him. She's like family to all of us now. I never knew Braeden's mission would result in new friends--friends that are like family.
Stella is part of all of us now and I couldn't be more grateful.