Thursday, November 28, 2013

Safely in Johannesburg!

(The previous posts were written by Shannon.  From here on out, they will be letters directly from Elder McClellan!)
I got here safely as did my luggage. The flights were long, cramped, loud and uncomfortable. I was alone until I had been at Heathrow for about 5 hours. I then bumped into a group of about 15 missionaries. I'm super excited and am already having fun, Today is kind of just an orientation day. My companion is about half my height but super black. I have no clue how to say his name haha, hopefully I'll have it down by the end of the day.
I've been feeling the Spirit super strong, I spent quite a bit of time journaling and reading my scriptures while traveling. I've only slept 4 hours in the past two days so I am incredibly tired. Can't wait for bed tonight! I talked to 3 or 4 awesome people while traveling, unfortunately I do not have the time to tell you all about it at this moment.
ITS HOT! They dun lied haha, I really really wish I could shave and take a shower right now. The mtc is super small, 32 elders and sisters in total. I think there are only 4-6 sisters. The food for lunch today was amazing! No clue what it was but it was tasty. 
I'm feeling fairly sick right now, probably from lack of sleep. Hope you all are doing well! Can't send pictures until I'm out of the mtc, the internet is really bad. I've been thinking about and praying for you guys a lot!
Elder McClellan 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

the big day is here

It has been such a privilege to be part of Kelly's life the last two years.  His self-confidence has grown with his testimony of the gospel.  There will be a big hole in our hearts and our home as he serves in South Africa.  But - I wouldn't want it any other way.  I am so proud of him, and excited for the experiences, opportunities to serve and blessings that he will have.

On Monday I was thankful for one last trip to Starbucks (well, for two years anyway.)

Kelly was my errand buddy.  He doesn't really like to sit around, so any time I was going to Walmart to get groceries, or running to Wenatchee, or just wanting a cocoa, he was game.  I will miss our chats.

Yesterday was the big day!  We left the house at 6:30 am, making sure to leave enough time so that we could stop in Entiat for one more hug from Carrie.  While enjoying the beautiful sunrise, I couldn't help wondering how they will look in Johannesburg.

Our next stop was President Hunsaker's office, where Kelly officially became Elder McClellan.  Joe and I were allowed to come in for his blessing and setting apart.  What an amazing, powerful, spiritual experience!  One part that brought me great comfort was the promise that he would feel angels around him, lifting him up and protecting him.

We had just enough time to grab a quick bite to eat and then we went to the airport.  Pretty impressive that everything Kelly will need for the next two years is contained in two suitcases!

One last photo before it was time to say goodbye...

I have been tracking the flights online.  First stop Seattle - what was supposed to be a 6 hour layover ended up being 9.  He left for London at 9 pm, arriving at 615 am our time.  As I type this, he is having another layover, waiting to depart on his 10 hour flight to South Africa.  He should arrive in Johannesburg at 1130 pm our time.  I am earnestly praying that he has somehow been able to get some sleep, that he has had nice people to sit by, that he is able to find the other missionaries he is supposed to meet up with in London, and that his luggage safely arrives.  So I am also grateful for the power of prayer!

open house

On Sunday we had a dessert open house for Kelly - a chance for a few people to send him off with love.  He was so funny about the party; he told me a number of times that he was more nervous about being the center of attention for two hours than he was about spending two years in South Africa!

Once people started to arrive, he settled in.  I was only allowed to invite people he had a personal relationship with, but I think every single person who was invited showed up, so it was still a houseful.

I am grateful for all of the support we feel from our church ward and from the community.  And that Kelly survived being celebrated!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Farewell Sunday

(This was originally published on our family blog November 9, 2013)

Today Kelly gave his farewell talk at church.  He did such an excellent job - he hates speaking in front of people, but you never would have guessed.  One of my favorite parts of his talk was this:

"A few months ago I realized that there is a huge difference between having faith and acting on faith. The people that know me know that I loathe radical change, I am perfectly happy with something being the same day in and day out. Serving a mission, however, is quite a change, and because of that I was afraid to do so.  There are countless examples in the scriptures of people spreading the gospel, but my scripture study brought me to one example time and time again, and that was the story of Enoch. After the Lord had told Enoch what he wanted him to do :
bowed himself to the earth, before the Lord, and spake before the Lord, saying: Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?
And the Lord said unto Enoch: Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good.' (Moses 6:26-27) I spent a fair amount of time thinking this over, and I believe that Enoch was afraid to serve because he didn't think he was good enough. But once the Lord reassured him that he could and would succeed, he went forth to be one of the best prophets of all time. My time spent studying the scriptures has given me much reassurance and has helped me to decide to serve a mission."

I am thankful for Kelly - for the good decisions he is making and for the experiences he is going to have in Africa.  I am thankful that we get to claim him as part of our family.

A day to remember!

(This was originally published on our family blog September 9, 2013.)

We had the opportunity to go to the temple with Kelly in preparation for his mission.  Danny Weidman, one of the missionaries who taught Kelly the Gospel a little over two years ago, came up to WA for the occasion.  Carrie and Celeste also joined us.  (Paul was initially dressed up, but got impatient and changed into comfy clothes; Joe was in Manson for football.)  It was a beautiful day.

I am so thankful for Kelly, and for the chance to share the last couple of years with him.  He is going to be a great missionary; we will miss him while he is blessing the lives of the people of South Africa.

Called to Serve

(This was originally posted on our family blog on August 3, 2013)

When we arrived home from Utah, something very exciting was waiting...  Kelly's mission call!  I think we were all holding our breath while he opened the envelope.

"Dear Elder McClellan:
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the South Africa Johannesburg Mission..."

Kelly has been saying for the last couple of months that he wanted to go to Botswana.  Unbelievable!  That is the mission right below the one he will be serving in!  He reports to the South Africa Missionary Training Center on Thursday, November 28, 2013.  He is absolutely thrilled.

I want him to know how much I sincerely appreciate the opportunity to share his life.  I am so happy for him, and proud of  the challenges he has overcome.  I will be praying for his success and baking cookies for the next two years!