Anyone who reads this blog with any kind of regularity has probably noticed a pretty consistent theme of family popping up in my posts. This one isn't any different.
In my church, young men are expected to dedicate two years of their lives to serving as missionaries, preaching the gospel in every country whose government will permit it. They generally leave when they turn nineteen and return at age twenty-one. And it's always amazing and wonderful to see what two years of studying the gospel and serving people will do to a boy.
My kid brother Mark returned from his mission to Spain on Tuesday night. I suppose I really can't call him my kid brother any more, since he's several inches taller than me, in his twenties, and a pre-med student at college. I met up with most of the rest of my family on Tuesday evening at the airport (sans Rebecca and her family) to welcome him home.
Mark and I have always been good buds. I'm not sure why, since he's five years younger than me, and in general, thirteen-year-old girls are not good pals with their eight-year-old brothers. But Mark and I were. For whatever reason, we've always had fun talking about everything. When we were younger, we both loved plants a lot (I still do, I'm not sure Mark's infatuation is as strong as it used to be, though), and we decided at one point that we were going to live near each other when we grew up with a setup so our backyards were back-to-back one huge yard, with a greenhouse in the middle.
When we were kids, we had an old grey clunker of a family van. My dad's solution to getting more kids in the family was to simply add more seatbelts to the van. So by the time Michael made his appearance, we had four seatbelts in the back, three in the middle, and a bench seat in the front so there could be three seats up there. Because of its color and bus-like nature, we began calling it the Greyhound.
Once, when Mark was about fourteen, I think, he and I decided to go see "The Lord of the Rings," which was showing in theaters. So we clambered into the Greyhound and got about three houses down the street before the engine suddenly died. We sat there in the dead car and looked at each other and then Mark said, "put it in neutral and I'll push it to the side of the road!" Now Mark was a rather skinny kid, but I agreed to let him try. I was very impressed when the van actually moved while he pushed it.
Now he's no longer an absentminded, happy-go-lucky, slightly disorganized teenager, but a dedicated, hardworking, motivated young adult with incredible people skills and a mind like a trap. Isn't it great what dedicating your life to the Savior can do?