Warning - this post may get long, nostalgic, and churchy, but not preachy. That's not how I roll.
Upon landing yesterday, we headed south to Miami Gardens where I lived for a time. Let me be clear, there is nothing garden-esque about it. Upon seeing it, The Boy asked, "You really lived here?" This would not be the first time he would ask that question during this trip. From there it was off to the unholy hot mess that is Hialeah, which was my first area. Again, there was head-shaking about that apartment. I took him to the chapel where I spent many a Sunday:
Not much has changed here, which was a little surprising. I should note that as soon as we drove up here, I started to cry. My emotions were pretty close to the surface. After a walk around, we jumped back into the car, but not before taking this picture:
After checking into our hotel up in Aventura, we headed to Davie for our scheduled tour of this:
When a temple of the Church of Jesus Christ is built, it is open to the public before it is dedicated. Thirty years ago, when serving here, the thought of a temple was a distant pipe dream. It is now a reality and I'm so glad I was able to bring The Boy here as he prepares for his own missionary service. As our tour began, I got choked up as we talked briefly with the young missionaries there. Fortunately I could claim the tears were sweat from the humidity...
The tour, while brief, was awe-inspiring and comforting. At the end, we had a chance to talk with a member of the Ft. Lauderdale mission presidency. I was BLOWN AWAY as he shared with me about the growth of the Church in south Florida. We talked about people we knew. I got emotional again. Couldn't help it. He introduced us to the wife of the mission president. When I explained that I had served there so long ago, she shook my hand again and said, "Thank you. We stand on your shoulders. Our missionaries stand on the shoulders of you and your companions." I was done for at this point. How I wished all those with whom I served could have been there to hear that. We worked so hard then to help the Church grow and to hear that yesterday was so comforting. I can't adequately express my feelings because I don't want to sound chock full o'pride but it was an amazing experience. Those two years, in many ways, shaped me into who I am today. I wouldn't have traded those two years for anything, nor would I have traded yesterday's experience.
After that, we capped the evening in South Beach. Saw another one of my apartments, which has gone condo and is completely choked by angry Florida foliage. We walked Lincoln Road, where The Boy got an unedited view of the crazy that is South Beach. Suffice to say, it's nuts with a capital 'N' down there.
What a great day the first day of the Look Back was. The second day has been pretty great too. More to follow soon