Our very own Russian

Last night was a very good night for our family. 
Elder Bradyn Ray returned from his full time mission in Yekaterinberg, Russia. 
And being one of his few cousins, I decided to support the young lad and see him walk out of an airport terminal. And let me tell you, it was a cool experience.

Most of our close family was there - the oldest being my grandma and the youngest being my 4 year old cousin who didn't remember him. There we were, holding some large sign in Russian that we couldn't understand, waiting at the end of the escalator hallway. Nobody wanted to talk to one another in fear of turning our head in answer and missing his entrance. We were all excited and on edge, but I was glad to be there. He's our first full time missionary in the fam and we couldn't be prouder. And as I was standing back in the midst of all the happy reunion, I reminisced on my brother, Kevin's return.....

If you don't know my brother Kevin's story, feel free to ask me sometime, but it's a little long for this post. All you need to know is he has health problems that almost stopped him from serving his mission, health problems that have almost cost him his life. Eventually he did get his mission call and left for Seattle, Washington a year and 3 months ago. He was told not to tract, but that didn't stop my determined brother from preaching the Lord's Gospel. However, that was to become his downfall and his health problems reoccurred, threatening his life and sending him yet again into the hospital. 

I remember the day very clearly. I got home from school. A normal day for me. Except the aura in my house wasn't the same. I know when something's up. My mom didn't ask me how school was. So I dropped my stuff off in the front room, ran up to my bedroom and sat down on my bed. My mom walked in. No smile was upon her face. 
"Nicole, Kevin's in the hospital again."
The world stopped again. My heart dropped. It does that a lot.
There are only a few things that make tears come out of my eyes, and Kevin in the hospital is an immediate one. Within two seconds I was up from my bed and in my sobbing mother's arms. I felt just as scared as I felt when this happened in 8th grade. 

Confusion. Fear. Anger. 
Sadness. Helplessness. Emptiness.
absolutely nothing.
those are just a few of the things that happen to your body.

The next day I was a zombie. I didn't know and still don't know how to react to these types of things. The only people that knew something was wrong were my best friends and they comforted me. I got home from school and again I was made command central. Information was ran through me and both my parents were constantly on the phone getting updates and whatnot. Kevin was to come home that night by airplane with an escort. I don't remember why, but I was told not to come to the airport. Maybe I didn't want to see him like that. Either way, I was given the job of making a makeshift welcome home poster with the materials we had within 2 hours. I did my job to try and make him feel happier. But the second he slowly staggered in with support from my dad and brother, suit and name tag still on, not able to talk, I lost it and went upstairs to bed. 

he wanted to serve a mission so freaking bad. He was out for 2 months total. and then was sent home. 
he was crushed. crushed. He wanted to be normal for once - do something everyone else does. And he only got a little taste of what it was like. It makes me cry even just writing about it. But that's Kevin and he's always been that way. The trooper who doesn't give up on anything and never asks "why me?". This was the only time I've seen his spirits crushed. But the next day he was already trying to make progress and improvements in his recovery. It was a long process though, shorter than last time, but still long. It was hard to adjust to him being at home again. 
but that's life
and we cherish every day we have with him.

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