We awoke early, showered, threw the last things into our suitcases, ate a bowl of cereal, locked the door to our home for the past year and a half, and drove to Harborne Ward for the last time. We met Brother McMorn there and he drove us to the Moor Street Train Station. The train took us to Marlybone. From there we transferred to the underground and went to Paddington where we transferred again to a high speed train to Heathrow Terminal 5. We sent a lot of "stuff" home with our family, and even shipped one box in an attempt to keep our luggage down for the trip home. But we still had one checked bag, one carry-on, and one personal item each - all packed to the maximum. We were over the weight limit on both of our checked bags, but the agent took pity on us and didn't charge us anything for the over weight bags. He did advise us to lighten them up in Paris as the next agent might not be so generous. After a short hour plane ride, we were in Paris. Having no desire to manage all that luggage through the city bus/underground system (which would include transfers) we took a cab to our hotel - a 30 minute and €50.00 investment, but well worth it. The hotel was small, but very nice - clean room, friendly staff, nice continental breakfast, and a five minute walk to the underground station. I'll add a few pictures of the amazing places we saw in Paris
Paris in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower
Palace of Versallies
Arc de Triomphe
Thursday, June 7
Last night we did a luggage "repack" and left out a pair of shoes, all our toiletries and some clothes we really didn't need or want. This time at the airport check-in we were under the limit - but just barely. Our non-stop flight home was 10 1/2 hours - a half hour shorter than scheduled - and we touched down in SLC at 1:30 pm. Going through customs was fun - so many "welcome homes" from our fellow travelers and the employees at the airport.
What a thrill when we finally walked through the big doors to our waiting family! Such a grand reunion! We had seen our family often through Skype while we were gone, but were still surprised how much the grandkids have grown.
After hugs and pictures we drove down the freeway to Highland and marveled at the changes -especially to SR92 now known as Timpanogos Highway. Our family had prepared a traditional Tufts family favorite - Sloppy Joes! It couldn't have been better. We had a lovely afternoon and evening visiting. At 8:10 pm (3:10 am Birmingham time - yawn) we had a meeting with President Anderson and he officially released us from our calling as missionaries. We came come, had prayers, and fell into bed feeling completely amazed, blessed, and exhausted!
Final note: We are home. Thus ends one chapter and begins another - just like that! I am so grateful for the amazing experience we shared serving a mission in Birmingham England with the Young Single Adults. We made so many friendships that I hope will continue for a lifetime. I was told, but could never imagine, how much I would come to love these wonderful young people. It is hard to think or talk about them without a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes - a piece of me is missing. I am amazed and grateful for the love, encouragement, and support they freely gave us. I will never forget them or the wonderful experiences we had in the Lord's service in England. We have been blessed beyond words!