Elder David A. Bednar once taught us that, "...the tender mercies of the Lord are real and they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence... [they] are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ."
In the last 5 weeks I've learned that to be completely true. Being home has undoubtedly been one of the toughest trials I've passed through. But at the same time, I've experienced the very personal and individualized tender mercies that Elder Bednar speaks of. And that has made the experience a little less painful.
My little brother reported to the MTC on September 17th. He and my parents flew out to Utah to drop him off on the 15th, the very day after I got home. If I hadn't come back when I did, it would have been three years (almost to the day) since I saw him last. That kid means the world to me, and to be able to unexpectedly see him, even for just a few hours, was easy for me to recognize as a loving tender mercy from the Lord.
My favorite part about seeing him were the moments we spent in our stake president's office. Conner was set apart before I was released, and for just a little bit, we were both missionaries. There was an undeniable spirit in the room -- it was powerful, and bittersweet.
I'm so grateful for the time I was able to spend with my now missionary brother. And I'm grateful that the Lord knows me so perfectly to know that that was exactly what I needed upon coming home. Tender mercies are real, peeps. I can't wait to tell you more.