Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Manila to Las Vegas: A Homecoming (November 1, 2013)

We were so grateful to receive this wonderful
photo of Mom & Dad on at the hospital on our
last day in the Philippines!
I thought I would sleep better knowing that Mom had made it out of surgery, but that did not happen.  It was after 1:30 am before I finally managed to close my eyes for realzies.  We stayed at the Manila Airport Marriott, a six star hotel - amazingly nice.  So, our final night in Manila was much better than the one we had with Jordan the night before flying to Palawan.  (Thank you Marriott Rewards!)  The hotel is more secure than the state or federal courthouses in Las Vegas.  It was like a fortress.  We had to have our luggage x-rayed just to get through the front door.  There was another security check point with x-rays for the elevator to the more expensive rooms.  The hotel had the nicest work out room, spa, pool facilities I have ever seen at a hotel.  It is pretty amazing.  It was the most incredible hotel where I have ever stayed.  And yet, there I was, racked with insomnia.  Oh yeah, and while the hotel had super fast wireless (something I had all but forgotten existed), they had a problem property wide that left us without wireless service for several hours.  So, I could not get through to my father by phone and we were unable to rely on the internet (which came in and out, with limited access).  After I got through to Allison and finally got the official word about Mom, I felt much better.
We have grown accustomed to the pogi sign
when taking pictures in the Philippines (ha)

We had breakfast plans, but I knew there was no way we would be ready in time to sit down for breakfast before making our shuttle to the airport.  Jordan has not worn a suit jacket and slacks since departing the Mission Training Center.  His suit was hung up at the mission home upon his arrival and was handed to him on October 22nd, two years later.  It was pretty wrinkled, so we had it cleaned and pressed.  Jordan probably did not need to wear it to the airport (in the Manila humidity), but he did.  As we began towards the airport, Jordan said: “So, my mission is really over.  Wow.”  It is hard to believe.  
Waiting to board our flight to Seoul at the Manila airport
        We arrived at the airport three hours early, thinking it would be crowded for Filipino All Saints Day (November 1st holiday). However, the airport was relatively empty.  (The big rush was apparently yesterday.)  There was no line at Korean Air, and no line for security (there are two security areas - once when you enter the airport and another when you enter the terminate once you have received a boarding pass).  We grabbed something to eat at the airport, found some free WiFi and tried to get more updates about Mom, then exchanged our pesos.  It was nice to have American money again, since I had such a difficult time relating to (and understanding) the value of a peso vs. a dollar.  After arriving at the gate, Jordan called Pink (because he had some minutes left on the SIM card we bought upon arrival).  So, we got to speak with Pink one last time.  We also got through to Kelli, which was nice, as Jordan got to speak to her briefly.  
The flight home from Seoul was great!

The flight from Seoul to Las Vegas was only 10 hours in the air (we lost 16 hours in flight, however).  Not bad.  It was difficult to do much of anything other than watch really lousy airplane movies.  Sleeping upright is just not our thing, so there was little napping for any of us.  My goal changed from sleeping on the plane to staying awake so I could just go to bed at a normal hour upon our return to Las Vegas to bypass the whole jet lag thing.  As our plane arrived in the Las Vegas Valley and began to prepare for landing, I watched Jordan looking out the window from his center seat.  He stayed focus on the city below up until we landed. 
The Las Vegas from the air looks much different from the Philippines - here, Jordan soaks it all in as he
contemplates post mission life
Maralea and Jordan wait to collect our baggage at
McCarranAirport in Las Vegas
We went through customs, got our baggage, and then came out to meet most of the family.  David and Kambria were present both in spirit and by Face Time.  It was really fun.  Brad decided to reenact his coming home moment from September 2005 by running through the big Welcome Home sign (and actually breaking through it this time).  We took lots of pictures and then headed home to unpack and get some dinner.         
Bishop Flagg and Kathy were leading the Jordan
cheering section (Bishop Flagg is everyone's biggest cheerleader!)

Jordan holding my favorite sign (just cracked me up)

Three Royal missionaries: Brad, Jordan and David via Face Time
together at the airport
Jordan here sees nephew Beckham (far left) for the first time since Beckham was one month old, and meets nephew Royal (crying on Kelli's left shoulder) and Zoe (with Maralea) for the first time
The family back together (with Brad holding up David who here poses via Face Time)
Four of a kind!  (Four Royal aces in Las Vegas makes for a pretty
good hand.  Here Kelli, Brad and Jordan, with David via Face Time)
It was a long journey, but we finally are back home and together with the fam!
Jordan and Kelli share a hug
Jordan busts through the poster (a family RM tradition)
Returning & Reporting
        We accompanied Jordan to see President Peterson, who gave Jordan his official mission release.  As we have with all our sons, we had Jordan sign the plates he signed at the Young Men’s Encampments in 2004 and 2009 as a token of his commitment to serve a mission. They signed the same page with their mission call and date of departure, and then signed it upon their return.  It has been a great honor and joy to see all of our sons make and keep the commitments they made in their youth. That has traditionally been a kind of symbolic seal of the mission experience for our family. We are very grateful to the Warm Springs Stake for having such an inspired program for the young men (which began in 2002) to prepare for missions and to become worthy husbands and fathers.
Jordan signed the plates in 2004 and 2009.
His signature yesterday signified successful fulfillment of his commitment to the Lord
We have loved the tradition of signing the missionary
commitment plates for each of our sons
Jordan removed his name tag rather slowly and reluctantly when so directed by President Peterson.  He is no longer known Elder Royal, but is simply Jordan Royal again. However, the things Jordan learned, the skills he acquired, and the experiences he had as Elder Royal will never be removed, but will always remain with him.  For that, we will all be ever grateful.  Jordan reports to the Stake High Council Sunday morning, and will be speaking in our ward sacrament meeting on November 17th, when he will get to see many more members of the family and friends.      
Mom is smiling, talking, walking and
eating well.  She'll join us home soon!

        As for Mom, we were advised that she is being released from the hospital tomorrow and that she will rest at a hotel in the area near the hospital for a couple days before returning to Las Vegas.  Reports are that she has been eating, walking on her own power, and that the sight in her right eye is intact (even improving - as the tumor was putting pressure on her optic nerve, adversely impacting her vision).  We all acknowledge the great miracle of Mom’s surgery and recovery and are feeling exceptionally blessed as a family.  It will be nice for Mom and Dad to reunite with Jordan next week, along with other Las Vegas family members.  Jordan must now focus on the next chapter of his life, such as education, employment and marriage (and not necessarily in that order).  We express gratitude for President and Sister Martino for their loving service in the Philippines Angeles Mission, and for so loving our son (along with all the other missionaries who have served or are serving there).  It has been a great two years!
Brad signed the plates, too (first in 2002, then upon his return home from the Philippines Angeles Mission in September 2005).  We loved being able to display these great symbols of faith made possible by the Las Vegas Warm Springs Stake

Plates of faith.  Go forth to serve well.  Return with honor.  (Royal family cheer)

1 comment:

  1. It has been truly amazing to see all the photos and follow your family's journey. I absolutely loved seeing Elder Royal's perspective, especially since my son is in the same mission. Congrats on an amazing "mission accomplished!" I was wondering if you could email me privately to answer some questions about your trip? We are going to pick up our son also (not for 9 more months) and would love some of your input and advice. I figured we have a long time before it's our turn, but I would like to get your information while it's still fresh in your minds. Have a great time with your son! I'm sure your holidays will be amazing!!! Love, Megan Brockbank email: bunnabrock@sbcglobal.net