Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Happy/Sad Tears for John

Yesterday Steven worked from home. He doesn't do that very often, but he did yesterday. He worked until about 11:30 and then he, John and I climbed into the car and drove to the airport.

Usually when we take someone to the airport, we drop them off at the curb, unload their luggage, give them a quick hug, and drive off. Yesterday we parked in the parking lot and walked into the airport with John. We helped him find the American Airlines check-in counter and get his luggage tags and check his luggage. We walked him as far as the lines for the security check, made sure he had his boarding pass and had some idea of where his gate was, and then I gave him a last hug, Steven shook his hand (John doesn't particularly like hugs, but he'll suffer through his mom's.) and then we watched him walk away and disappear into the crowd. And then we turned around, walked back to the car and returned home. Where we only have two children remaining. Steven returned to his work and I finished packing up the stuff John left behind and clearing out his room.

I admit that I've cried. It's kind of a happy cry, that I can turn to a laugh if I think about it. I'm sad that he's gone. I'm happy that he's going. I'll miss him, but he is going to meet so many people and make new friends. He'll be gone for two long years, but the time will go by fast, and I'll hear from him every week. The next two years will be so hard as he struggles to learn a new language and suffers disappointments and frustrations with both companions and investigators. But he is going to grow and learn and do so much good for others and for himself.

I don't remember feeling quite this way when Hannah left on her mission. But I think that may be because she had already been away at college before that. This is the first time John has been away from home for longer than a week long scout camp. I looked up what I wrote about dropping Hannah off at college the first time. That comes closer to how I feel now, only I'm a little worse now because he's gone for two years, and not just for a semester or two.

And I worry about him. I realize I'm parentoid. (parent + paranoid) I was so relieved this morning when I received his email to say he had arrived at the MTC in São Paulo safely. Over the last several months I've watched him confidently take a city bus into downtown Denver on his own. He's gotten apostilles and yellow fever shots and taken care of everything by himself. I've watched him do so many things with total self confidence. Now he'll be navigating a foreign country where he'll struggle to be able to communicate with anyone for months. But he isn't worried. He'll do fine. Why am I worrying?

And so I laugh at myself as I dry my stinging eyes and wipe my runny nose. This is his adventure. And he will be wonderful.

For anyone who would like to write to him, his email address is His letters home will be posted at

More Letters to Hannah


Dear Hannah,

Welcome to this week's installment of "What's happening at home?"

This week, we finally managed to submit all the paperwork for John's visa. We are desperately hoping that everything was submitted properly and that he will get his visa in time to attend the Brazilian CTM.

On Wednesday, I helped a lady in the ward get rid of her stuff. She has abundant health problems that have disabled her. She can't work any more and decided to move back to where her family is in Hawaii. This means that she can only take with her what will fit in a few suitcases. So we gathered up furniture, clothes, electronics, lamps, etc. and loaded up a couple truck fulls to take to Goodwill, and took several more loads to a dumpster. She doesn't actually leave until this week, so we'll go back Monday afternoon to finish and clean the apartment.

On Thursday, John and I drove down to the Deseret Book so John could get his temple things, and then on Saturday, bright and early, we took John to the temple for his endowment!!! Dan Clarine was his guide and officiated the session we attended. John will serve in the temple on Tuesday mornings until he leaves for the next couple months.

On Friday, Josh had a D&D party, where he spent all day as Dungeon Master for some epic adventure. They didn't finish their adventures however, so he returned on Saturday for the epic conclusion in which zombies were slain by the dozens (I assume... I wasn't there.) John attended the Friday adventures, not as a player, but as a spectator as he gathered material for yet another play which he is writing.

I have begun another tissue box cover project. This one is patriotic themed, and has an American Flag on it. I've completed the top, but I'm still figuring out how to do the sides.

Anyway, that's our week. I love you!!!!!!!



Dear Hannah,

How are things going?

On Monday I got to help a lady in the ward move. I mentioned her last week - she is moving to Hawaii so couldn't take much with her. I think in the end she only took clothes and what papers and stuff could fit in her carry on luggage. So we made a few trips to the Goodwill. A lot of her furniture will go to a family that recently moved into the ward with absolutely nothing. They have been living in a hotel for the last few weeks, but they are getting their own apartment on the 15th. [The Elder's Quorum president] is storing the stuff until then. It's kind of nice the way that all worked out. Anyway, we emptied out her place and cleaned, and then she spent Tuesday night with a ward member since her place was empty, and she flew to Hawaii Wednesday morning.

About once a week I've been giving [a sister in the ward] rides to physical therapy. That is a service that I kind of enjoy. I pick her up, drive her to the physical therapy place on the corner of Federal and 112th, get to read for about an hour, then take her home again. Sometimes she has an errand she'll want to do afterwards, and that usually isn't a big deal.

On Tuesday, one of the sisters I minister to had knee replacement surgery. She was in the hospital for a couple days, but I brought over dinner for her and her daughter on Thursday. She wasn't home from the hospital yet, but she was due back later that evening. I'm grateful for opportunities to serve.

Yesterday we spent a chunk of the day cleaning house. I asked each of the boys to good clean their assigned rooms (You can probably guess which one threw a fit about it...). I also pulled up the green indoor/outdoor carpet on the front porch. The tear on the edge of the step keeps getting bigger and I was afraid someone was going to trip over it. Anyway, with some puling and yanking we managed to get it up, but it left an ugly mess of hardened yellow glue underneath it. I went to Lowe's later and got a big metal scraper to help us scrape it off. Then we worked on scraping it for an hour or so and got maybe a third of the porch scraped off. Finally I threw down a new doormat and called it quits. We'll work on it more on other days and maybe eventually we'll get it all off.

We had the missionaries here over for dinner last night. They shared a message from Moses about how Enoch was slow of speech, and yet the Lord was able to use him to spread the gospel. I thought that was appropriate for our future missionary (-ies).

Tonight, one of my friends from elementary school is coming to visit. I haven't seen her since 4th grade! Anyway, she and her family will have dinner with us. It sounds like she has 7 kids so we'll have a house full. I've got roasts in both the crock pot and the instant pot. I hope we have enough! We'll also make rolls and salad and a green vegetable to go with it. She isn't a member of the Church, but I know that she has always been very involved in the church that she does attend. I'm looking forward to being able to catch up with her.

Good luck with the missionary work!

I love you!!!


Dear Hannah,

Hello, how are things going? We missed talking with you last week, but I'm sure you were off doing fun and exciting things. :)

Last week Monday, your dad had his medical procedure (a colonoscopy, doesn't that sound exciting?). Also the boys went to the dentist. The dentist strongly recommended that the boys (Josh and Peter anyway) get a water-pic to help them keep their teeth clean while they have braces on. I got one, but I don't know how much they've actually used it. To quote Peter, "It's weird!"

Tuesday was Josh's birthday. We got him some cool steampunk goggles and a smart phone with protective case and stuff. (His last phone only lasted a few weeks before he stuck it in a pocket with rocks and the screen broke.) I made his birthday cake - a two layer, round chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. Nothing spectacular, but it did turn out well.

I don't remember if I told you last week, but on Saturday we pulled up the ugly green indoor/outdoor carpet on the front porch. It left behind a whole bunch of hardened glue that had to be scraped off. That has been my project this week - scraping glue. I got a big ugly blister on my finger which popped and then I think it tried to blister on top of that later even though I was wearing gloves. Anyway, on Friday I finally finished scraping and it looks great.

We're busy getting ready for our McClellan family reunion this week. Dad did most of the grocery shopping for it so today the living room is full of boxes of food and paper dishes and stuff. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone - except you know, my brothers who can't come... Lindy is still kind of iffy... But I think the rest of my sisters are coming.

I guess that's it. I love you. I'm so glad that you are serving and you are always in our prayers.



Dear Hannah,

So this week we had our incredible 2019 McClellan Family Reunion of fun. It really was a lot of fun. Your dad did most of the planning... He reserved the yurts at the YMCA of the Rockies. He sent out surveys asking for opinions and the like. He bought the food.

So Monday afternoon, around 1pm, the Dawes arrived at our house and we caravanned to the YMCA. I got to drive the van with John and Peter, while Josh went with Dad in Scottie. Both vehicles were full of food and supplies. We arrived safely and checked in, and the rest family began to trickle in. The Brysons, the Betts, the McClellans (my parents) with Jessica Kerby, the Browns, the Cardons, and then Lindy and Tyler Kerby finally arrived at like 11:30pm. None of my brothers were able to come, and Heidi wasn't able to come with her family. *sad face* Still, we ended up with about 42 people there so it was quite a crowd.

The first evening was just spent greeting each other and talking. We had dinner, and then at our campfire that evening we did a talent show. That night, it was really cold. Each yurt had a queen size bed and two sets of bunk beds - so six people could sleep comfortably. Each bed came with sheets, pillow and a blanket - but that one blanket was not sufficient to keep us warm. The next day, your dad went to the laundry and was able to requisition a bunch more blankets, so we were more comfortable for the next couple days.

Tuesday we went rollerskating, played volleyball, and went tubing. Some people did archery and went swimming. It was a lot of fun. That evening, my parents shared their testimonies and answered some questions asked of them (e.g. what are some of the things that their children got in trouble for? I think my parents have forgotten (and forgiven) most or all of our childish offenses.)

On Wednesday we went for a hike and played miniature golf (just our family, not the entire clan). To sum up, we had a lot of fun. We did some activities as a big group (tubing, meals, and the evening campfires) did some activities as smaller groups (hiking, swimming, miniature golf) and we still had some time to relax and rest. We had plenty of food (I wish we could send you hot dog buns... we have plenty).

The boys drove back home Wednesday night so they could get to school at 7am the next morning. The Betts and the Cardons also left that day. Everyone else stayed one more night and left Thursday morning. Your Dad and I were the last ones in the yurt village Thursday making sure everything was cleaned up properly. And then we came home and spent the rest of that day and the next unpacking and resting. It is amazing how three days of "vacation" can be so exhausting!!!

I took plenty of pictures, and then invited my siblings who also took pictures to add theirs to the album. You can see them here: (

Anyway, Josh and Peter are back in school and are enjoying it more or less. It still seems strange to think that Peter is in high school! I'm looking around for some things to do to keep myself busy for the next little while. Of course, I still have my calling, but it isn't a full time job, thank goodness! We do have a couple baptisms in the works. One 16 or 17 year old girl is getting baptized this Saturday, and another sister (RS aged) and her daughter will be baptized in the next week or so.

Also yesterday I took the boys to a real barbershop to get their hairs cut. Peter thought it was creepy. (pictures attached.)

I love you! I am so glad that you have chosen to serve the Lord.



Dear Hannah,

It's Sunday evening again. I'm trying to remember what happened this week. The younger boys are in school. John is keeping himself. We still need to do some shopping to get him the clothes and shoes and stuff he will need for his mission. I haven't done as much walking this week. My fitbit stopped working😣. I contacted customer service about it and they are sending me a new one... It should arrive on Tuesday.

I spent a good chunk of this past week helping [a sister in the ward] pack up all her stuff. On Friday she moved to Greeley to live with her daughter. I think that this will be a good change for her, but I will miss her. It's kind of funny, but as I have gotten to know her better, giving her rides to physical therapy and doctors appointments and the like, I have really come to like her and I will miss her.

Yesterday we did ministering interviews at the church. We had a fancy brunch set up in the Relief Society room with cream puffs (complete with pudding and chocolate sauce they could add), fruit salad, and tiny sandwiches. (Lisa Johnson helped plan and organize the brunch and wow!😲 The sandwiches had like four slices of bread with layers of tuna, cheese sauce, pimento and I don't know what else between them. The crusts were cut off and then they were sliced vertically into fourths. I got to garnish them by laying a quarter of a slice of cucumber on the top of each along with a tiny sprig of parsley. They were carefully arranged on serving platters, and I just looked at them and thought this was probably the fanciest thing I have ever been associated with.) Also they had a table where sisters could put together jars with a sugar scrub. The scrub smelled really good - kind of like lemon bars. So the point of the morning was that sisters could come do ministering interviews, but before or after meeting with a presidency member, they could eat and socialize and stuff. I think the sisters who came really appreciated it.

There was also a baptism in our ward on Saturday - right smack dab in the middle of our ministering interviews, but at the other building. [This girl is the grand daughter of one of the widows in the ward and sister of another girl] who was baptized a couple weeks ago. There will also be another baptism on Tuesday (same time as our other date for ministering interviews this quarter so once again I won't be able to go... but I will send a counselor who didn't have many people signed up that evening.) This baptism will be the wife and step daughter of a less-active member who is returning to the church. It is really exciting to see all the baptisms and reactivating happening in our ward.

I don't know if I'll have much opportunity to talk with you tomorrow. Josh and Peter have an orthodontist appointment in the morning at 11am, and I'm going to need to get them out of school for it. So just in case I don't get to talk with you, I love you so much!!! Keep up the good work!

Lots of love,


Dear Hannah,

How are things going? Did you enjoy the devotional with President Nelson? I know your Dad has been excited about that and is looking forward to hearing more about it.

Tomorrow is Labor Day and we are looking forward to a weekday off from school and work and the like. We were hoping that the boys would finish cleaning their rooms sufficiently yesterday that we could go hike or do something fun tomorrow, but they didn't quite finish so we'll see. My parents are coming on Wednesday to stay with us for a week, so it is important to me that the bedrooms get cleaned this weekend. I spent yesterday working on the rest of the house, including scrubbing the boys shower. *shudder* (That bathroom needs to be cleaned more often than it has been lately.)

This week I've had quite a bit of Relief Society stuff. We did another round of ministering interviews Tuesday evening. I missed the baptisms of a new member and her daughter that evening, but one of my counselors went to the baptism and I was able to visit with the newbie member the next morning. I also visited two sisters who recently moved into the ward within a few days of each other, and did some ministering visits of my own.

Josh and Peter went to the orthodontist on Monday. Josh got a thicker wire put in and Peter had a couple canines that have been hiding in the back connected to the wire so they can start moving forward into the spaces that have recently been created for them. As a result of all this, both boys spent the first couple days of the week in some discomfort. I tried to convince Peter to take some ibuprofen or something to ease the pain, but apparently taking a pill is worse than the pain from having his teeth rearranged.

I've taken John to do some more clothes shopping. I think we have all the clothing items he needs for his mission except for a few things we ordered online that should arrive in the next couple days. All that's left are odds and ends - like a first aid kit and moleskin. He only has a couple weeks left! We haven't received his travel plans yet, so I don't know if his visa has come.

I guess that is all the news from here. I love you!!!


Dear Hannah,

Hello! How are things going? I hope you have enjoyed your week.

Grandma and Grandpa came on Wednesday evening. I've loved having them here, playing games and just talking. Yesterday the boys and Grandma and Grandpa and I went to the park and had fun tossing a frisbee around, and then just sitting around in the shade enjoying the breeze. (I brought the camera, so here are a few pictures I took at the park.)

Last night they took all of us out to dinner at Applebees. That was a lot of fun, and then Grandma and I walked home to work off some of the delicious food we had eaten. I've liked having someone to walk with. 

Today John spoke in sacrament meeting. His topic was "Jesus Christ" (can you imagine a more generic topic?). He did a really good job, I thought. He took the scripture, "Learn of me and listen to my word, walk in the meekness of my spirit and you shall have peace in me." He broke it down and gave lots of scriptural examples. I think he is going to be a great teacher as a missionary... my biggest worries for him are more for communication with his companions. I think he has everything he needs for his mission now, except for his travel plans. We still don't know if he will be going to Provo or Sao Paulo on the 18th.

April and the kids came down and attended church with us to hear John speak. (Dean was on his way to Washington DC on a business trip.) They left Owen (their dog) at our house during church. Then we all had dinner together this evening (lasagna). It was kind of chaotic with everyone here (I'm sure you can imagine.) Mostly the dog stayed outside, carefully tied to a rope so he couldn't get at anything he shouldn't get to, but then it started to rain so they brought him inside and put him in a kennel, where he barked occasionally. Ishmael watched him from a wary distance, but Lala hid under my bed the whole time they were here.

I was hoping that Grandma and Grandpa would be around tomorrow to talk with you, but it sounds like they will be heading out early tomorrow morning. They are travelling to Missouri next to visit with the Browns and the Cardons.

I guess that's all the news from here. I love you! We always pray for you, but let us know if there are specific things that you would like us to pray for!


 Dear Hannah,

Happy,Happy Birthday!!! How does it feel to be 20? I hope your day is going well and that you have found some fun way to celebrate it!

So the big news here is that John got his visa, so he is heading to the Brazil CTM this week. His flight leaves here Tuesday around noon, but stops in Dallas, Texas for a couple hours before heading off to Brazil. I hope you get a chance to see him.

As far as other news... on Tuesday we had a RS activity. [A sister in the ward] answered questions about womens health. We talked about things like pregnancy and childbirth, how often certain health tests should be done, and ended up talking about mental health things like anxiety and depression. It was actually very interesting.

Peter talked to the Westminster City people again and has a definite plan for what his eagle project will be. Dad took him to Lowe's yesterday to start figuring out what all materials he will need and how much they would cost.

I'm not sure what else to tell you... I had a cold with a headache for a few days this week so basically sat around reading and not doing much else for the last half of the week.

I love you so much! I'm grateful that you have chosen to serve the Lord and I know that you are doing a great work! I'm so proud of you!!!