Salt Lake to Moscow
June 20, 2008
June 20, 2008
This is the morning that we leave for Moscow. Up at 4:00 am, dressed & packed, checked out at the front desk, and in the minivan heading for the Salt Lake International Airport. It takes just a few words to cover the hour and twenty minutes from alarm to car, but it doesn’t describe the mixture of feelings at leaving this spiritual storehouse and the so-familiar burning in my nose that precedes the tide of tears that begins to rise in my eyes threatening great waves to crash down my cheeks.
The corridors are silent as I make my way from M2-150 (our senior housing unit apartment in the basement) up the covered walk to the Admin building door that young elders held open for us so many times each day, up the fifteen steps kept clean by the hand-washing of missionaries (doing service hours) and BYU student workers, down the wide hall that passes the cafeteria where young elders often asked to take our trays to the scullery, and the B101 chapel where we learned those wonderfully spiritual elements of Preach My Gospel presented to us and where the families of new missionaries have their orientation and tearful last goodbyes, past the corridor where the Travel Office staff answered our concerns and met our needs, up the few stairs to the main entry foyer where I signed out with the lone Security person on this warm, quiet Friday morning.
At the Delta terminal we unload and thank our driver, get the help of a Skycap with our 6 biggest suitcases, and head past the dozing Lunds as they wait on the bench next to the entry. These great friends had to be in Utah for some family business and came down from Layton just to say a last goodbye and see us off; wonderful friends that we will miss.
The first miracle of the day was the discovery that as Silver Medallion members we did not have to pay the over-weight charges for our two 70 lb. bags. It would have been nice to know that before we spend the money and time to buy a smaller suitcase and struggle to get two bags to weigh 50 lbs. But, it was good to avoid the $80 per piece fee for the two heavy bags. I still had to take 2 lbs. out of one of them and put it in one of the 50 pounders, but that was an easy fix.
Our next miracle was Maurice. He was a 20-year-old sailor in his whites sitting with his mother in the next row of seats in the baggage area where we sat with the Lunds. I usually try to thank military personnel for their service when I see them in airports so I went over to him and thanked him for serving and his mother said, “Elder Simmons, would you pray for my son?” I was a little taken aback, but said I’d be honored, got Cindy & the Lunds to come over and I prayed for his health & safety, peace of mind, and admonished him to remember what his family taught him and follow that counsel to be well and safe. It was a gift to be asked to pray for this young man and his mother was grateful.
We later saw Maurice in the Atlanta airport, on the train that goes between terminals and had the opportunity to ask him what he knew about the LDS Church. He had some LDS friends who had given him a Book of Mormon and Cindy encouraged him to read it. He said he had it with him and would read. I gave him a pass-along card with the mormon.org website on it to give him a contact for questions; another gift.
We’re feeling like real missionaries by now. Back in the Salt Lake Airport; another little miracle. After saying a last goodbye to the Lunds, we parted and got into the Security line that had grown quite a bit since we arrived. A female TSA worker came up to us, looked at our name tags, and without a word motioned us into the first class line where we went directly up to first screener. What a nice thing to do.
The flight to Atlanta and on to Moscow was uneventful and pretty much as expected. It will get a little more exciting in Moscow.