At 4:31 this morning the phone rang, and we knew it was Hank calling from SLC airport, as he was getting ready to board his plane, heading to Mississippi. The kids all scrambled into our room, they were determined to be a part of the conversation, so as quickly as we could, everyone took a turn to say hi to him. (I've NEVER seen any of my kids move that fast at 4:30 in the morning! Loved it!) The phone call only lasted 9 minutes, as they were getting ready to board. But Hank sounded GREAT, and although a bit nervous about this next phase, he was more than ready to go. I was sad it was such a rushed conversation...but expected it to be short, especially when he said they'd be boarding any minute. He asked us if we were going to track his flight to Dallas on the computer, and we assured him we would. I went in, logged in his flight number, then went back to bed for another hour or so. When we got up at 6:15, he was over Colorado Springs. I love flight tracking! It's pretty neat. By the time we got all the kids off to school, he had landed in Dallas. John left to take A.J. and Addie to school, and I was getting ready to walk out the door with Jonna to work, when the phone rang. It was Hank again! This time, we had about 15 minutes to talk, and John got home in time to talk with him too. Jonna on one extension, I on another, and John on the other. He said "thank you" many times, for the letters, packages, and keeping in touch. I don't think I've ever heard him say thank you so much. He sounded enthusiastic, a little nervous, but ready to get out there. We talked until they called him to board, and expressed our love to him, said "Bye Hank. We'll talk at Christmas!", and that was that. Just like that...he wasn't there anymore. I was a few minutes late to work, but I didn't care. I wouldn't have missed this conversation for the world, and was grateful I was home when he called.
John texted me at work later, said he'd landed at 12:07 Mississippi time to beautiful 62 degree weather! Pres. and Sis. Tucker (his mission pres.) were planning on picking him up at the airport, as well as the other 11 missionaries going to Jackson.
One fun story Hank shared, was that there was a 13th missionary traveling with them just to Dallas. He is from Tahiti, and only speaks French. He was going to West Indies on his mission. All the way to SLC airport in the shuttle, Hank sat in the back seat with this Elder, and they attempted to communicate. (Hank took French all through high school). He said he loved it. And then on the plane to Dallas, they tried to continue to communicate. They said goodbye to him in Dallas, and this Elder headed on to West Indies, and the rest of the 12 missionaries boarded for Jackson. So that's the update. We know he landed safely, and can only imagine he's had a very eventful day, and is probably exhausted.