So two weeks ago on a pday we received an email with Bryce's return date, flight information, and all those great things. We were ecstatic! I called the girls into my bedroom and Dad was there and we had this big celebration of knowing the exact return details. The email was carbon copied to Bryce, Dad, Mom, Bishop, and Stake President. We were so excited and full of joyful emotion! Our loved one had a return date.
THEN.....later that day we received the pday email. Apparently Bryce had received a phone call the Friday prior and was told his return date and told he would have an itinerary emailed to him. He was waiting to surprise us with the news except we received the email before he did. So that didn't work out so well. He opened his email to see his flight information, his tickets, his date to leave the mission......and.....he was devastated. We soon realized our joy was not his joy. We don't talk about home or return with him so I never really knew how he felt about it but it became very clear on this day. He does not want to come home. He is lost in the service of the mission, loves his companion, loves the work, loves the people of Mexico, and the last thing he wants is for any of it to end. Although he is so sad, this was the most joyful news a mother could hear. He is truly in love with what he is doing and has truly converted to being a missionary.
He speaks English but in Spanish format. He said, "This is all so shocking to me, it's real and the tickets are purchased. This is really happening, Holy Cow. I really have to come home. This has all hit me a bit in the sadness. that last sentence, oh my goodness the phrasing was so fun.
So after all that was established it got kind of odd. Every six weeks missionaries transfer into Mexico and missionaries transfer back to their homes. This is the cycle that continues on and on during the two year mission. Bryce transferred in during a cycle and now he will transfer out at the end of a cycle. Since Bryce was the first cycle in for his Mission President, this means he is the first missionary to have completed 2 years with President Montoya. That's where the weird part comes in. Whenever a group of missionaries are transferring out they bus to Chihuahua the Monday before they leave and have a "last supper" with the Mission President and his wife. They then sleep in the mission offices and fly home Tuesday or Wednesday. Bryce was the only North American to enter the field during the cycle back in 2016. There are other missionaries that entered with him but they are from other countries. Apparently all the elders that came with Bryce are leaving the mission early. Their visa's expire before the 2 year mark and the mission doesn't want to pay for new visa's for them to stay just a few weeks early. So those elders will be having a "last supper" one week early and then flying home. This means Bryce will the the only missionary left from his generation. He claims he is attending the last supper with his generation (a generation encompasses all the missionaries that arrived on the same day) but that doesn't make too much sense to me. He will still have his companion he's training, he'd have to travel to chihuahua for the dinner and then back to Delicias the next day. Then stay another week and train. So I'm honestly not sure what will happen. What we do know.....A day was subtracted from his mission. Instead of having a last supper for one elder, they decided to just have him fly home the Monday his supper would be on. His original return date was to be the next day (a Tuesday). Although I'm thrilled to have him home a day early, I pray that his last evening there will be special and he will feel he gets to take part in the rituals that is standard for the Mexico, Chihuahua Mission.
His arrival was under different circumstances and his departure is following suit. Sort of feels like a trend of his mission. He is the only missionary I know of that was the only North American of his generation. That changed many things for him. For example, he didn't bond with fellow North Americans in the CCM, he didn't arrive into Chihuahua with a support base of people he was familiar with, etc. He doesn't have that group that so many are blessed with throughout their mission. Despite that, he's been an amazing trooper and fought hard when times were tough and has made amazing, amazing, life long friends. I'm sure it was all for a reason and he had to learn to depend on many and when to stand on his own.
His final words: I've really changed so much. In a lot of ways. I feel more mature and I'm able to handle stress better. I have a lot to do and time is moving to fast. I need to work fast and hard. I'm not ready for it to end so I'm just not going to think about it.