On Sunday, October 9, 2016 she was officially set apart by President Ballard as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Early Monday evening we set off for the 12 hour drive down to Provo, staying the night in Dillon, Montana. Jeff and I took her down, now a tradition as it is the same thing we did with Kylie and William when they left on their missions. Kylie joined us on part of the drive since she was returning to school in Rexburg (she and William had come home for the weekend to see Erika off and to hear her speak in church on Sunday).
We reached Salt Lake City Tuesday afternoon and walked around Temple Square, and then continued the last hour to Provo. That night Erika got together with her cousins (Spencer, Stephanie, Greg and Justin Marks, and Christian Walker) for an hour and half to say good-bye (and for pizza and ice cream :). She was really excited to see them one last time, as well as get some advice from the three return missionaries in the group.
On Wednesday morning, we repeated what we had done with the other two kids. We went up Provo Canyon to Bridal Veil Falls. A beautiful place to spend a little time together before saying good-bye. Then we had lunch at The Olive Garden before taking her to the MTC. If you are not familiar with dropping a missionary off at the MTC, you literally do just drop them off. Pull over to the curb, unload their bags to some waiting missionaries who are there to greet you, give a quick hug, take a picture or two, and off your missionary walks all excited for the next chapter in their life. It is quick, but also perfect in so many ways. We were the first in a line of cars that pulled over to the curb, and when Erika opened the truck door, there was a group of about a dozen missionaries clapping and cheering her as she got out. She looked so happy and excited as she walked away. Another great thing about a quick drop-off is that there isn't much time for tears! (We pulled over on the side of the road a bit later for those :). We are so proud of Erika and how she is living her life. She is so full of life and such a go-getter, that we know she will do great in whatever she is asked to do as she serves the Lord for the next year and a half.