The drive down to Provo was uneventful, and before we knew it we had reached the MTC entrance. There were SO many cars and people - it was just amazing. We were met by our first "usher," who welcomed us and verified who we were dropping off and where his ultimate destination was - and we were sent on our way around the bend to the CURB. Car upon car were lined up along the curb, each with a departing missionary. We were signaled over to the curb by 3 smiling, waving Elders of Pacific Island descent, and as soon as Elder Campbell stepped out of the car each on of his "hosts" embraced him and welcomed him. With 3 strong young men, the luggage was quickly removed from the roof rack, and then it was time. I wasn't sure if I was ready for this, but I kept my composure, lowering the window and appropriately embarrassing my son with a, "I love you schmoopy poopy!" All the elders got a good laugh out of that and I got confirmation that, "He's going to do great." I already knew that though.
As Carly and I drove away from the curb we noticed all of the other families dropping off their missionaries. The new standard is that you don't get out of the car and say goodbyes at the curb, and there are several good reasons for this: 1. There are A LOT of missionaries checking in constantly, and there simply is not enough space for people to hang out at the curb. 2. Saying goodbye at the curb is harder on everyone! Get it done before you leave and it will hurt less - kind of like ripping off a band-aid. SO, of course as we drove away there had to be at least 1 family that did not heed by this new rule, with a father and his son embracing and the poor kid in tears. We made it around the bend, past the dreaded curb and out towards the exit. Cue tears. Both Carly and I kept our composure until that very moment, and then it was a free-for-all. Yes, there were some sad tears. Elder Campbell is such an important part of our lives it will be hard to not see his face or hear his voice for 2 whole years. But there were also tears of joy, knowing that he was where he was meant to be. I know without a shadow of a doubt that my son will be a tremendous missionary, and will be loved by the people of the Chicago West mission. But not as much as he is loved by his family.