Elder Colton Swapp
in June, my oldest son Colton received a mission call to serve for 2 years as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. we are members of the LDS church, and when young men are 18, or young women are 19 years old, they are eligible to serve.
both my husband Eric and i served missions (before we were married). i served in Porto, Portugal in 1993, and Eric served in Taipei, Taiwan in 1992 — so it was pretty cool that Colton wanted to go! he was called to the Fukuoka, Japan mission – and will report to the Missionary Training Center September 14th… just 3 weeks away
and yes… 2 years! the mission is unlike any other experience, and you have to be willing to separate yourself from your regular life for 24 months. that means: no girls, no phone/social media, no video games or movies or music. missionaries are allowed to write to their families (email) once a week, and the only time we can call/skype with him will be on Christmas and Mothers Day. it’s hard – it’s challenging; it’s life changing. currently there are about 74k LDS missionaries serving around the world; so he’s in good company! and basically, you will hear me talk about this awesome adventure for the next 2 years!
as you can imagine…a lot goes into the preparation for this experience, and it feels like my list is a mile long! one of the main check marks is a “Farewell” talk in church… it’s typical to invite your family and friends to come and hear you speak in church, during Sacrament meeting. afterwards, you usually have a party so that everyone can say their “see ya in 2!”. i wanted to share a few things that i did to make this special for Colton… you know… it’s what i do. maybe it was for me too!
a dear friend, Elizabeth Lawlor (she’s out of Mesa, Az) took missionary (and family) photos of us a couple of weeks ago. we went to the Salt Flats here about 60 miles west of SLC. Colton is always fun to photograph – he has fun with it! plenty of personality there!
i used one of my favorite photos for an invitation/announcement, and sent it out to close family and friends.
i also included a couple of recent photos (that he approved); one from his senior pics (also taken by Elizabeth Lawlor) and this one from when the High School Rugby Club won the state tournament. i made this using photoshop, and sent them out *late i might add. it’s like a card and a postcard all in one! i love how it turned out!
so next thing i had to do was figure out what we were going to eat! i’ll be honest, i am not a big food person. cooking isn’t really my thing – so i enlisted help. did some talking to a friend, got some ideas and settled on serving “slider” sized sandwiches: a French Dip Slider, BBQ Pork Slider (thanks Clark and Katie) and a Hot Ham & Cheese Slider. since our meeting was over at 4pm i wanted to have something more than just sweets.
we also prepared fruit kabobs, had bags of chips and for drinks, soda/water. no utensils necessary. it was a great solution for everything could be prepared beforehand. food stresses me out – but this ended up being a delicious, it totally fed the masses and everyone loved it!
i asked my SIL LaRane to make her amazing sugar cookies to look like the Japan flag; and my friends at The Sweet Tooth Fairy provided a bunch of cupcakes and delish goodies! it looked fantastic! i have amazing friends/family that were able to get it all set up as i was visiting and playing hostess!
once the food was worked out, i got to do what i like! (the decor).
in the entry of the house i set up a little display using some of the new mission photos, and a big Japan map.
i mounted the map to a piece of foam core, and then used large bulldog clips to attach the photos to the board. this is a super easy way to create a customized display!
i added this mini lightbox … it’s pure cuteness! (due out this fall!)
i also set up some photos and stuff that represented Colton’s “before”… i used the new long “shelf” lightbox (also coming later in the fall) to spell out “press pause”. i think that most people think it’s crazy to leave behind your LIFE for church & faith – it’s a very significant sacrifice! but really – it’s not leaving anything, or giving anything up… it’s more just “pressing pause” –
i made up a of couple banners… these are really quick and easy, especially if you have a Silhouette!
i made one to hang on the mantel, and then i also like to stretch them across the whole room… (i will leave this one up until he leaves!)
and once i had the Silhouette out, i also used the art from the invite to create a vinyl transfer to put on the sliding glass door.
i printed out some Japanese flags (just got the art on the internet), and added them to the banners and also made some little flags w/ skewers. – just really easy to punch holes, and place the stick through.
I placed them in the flower arrangements that i put on the tables outside.
i wanted to create a little letter writing station…
i thought it would be fun to have people write a letter to Colton that i could send to him as he was in the MTC for 9 weeks.
i also thought it would be fun to have people take their pics with the instax camera and include them in the letters. i created some personalized stationary and decorated some white envelopes with washi and stamps.
i was so happy that everyone was so willing to write a little note to him! all of the letters and envelopes were filled with letters and little instax photos! i am excited to start sending them! when you are a missionary… you LOVE getting mail!
i also wanted to be sure that everyone had access to Colton’s addresses – both at the MTC and in Japan. i took the art from the announcement and printed it front/back and laminated it. they turned out super cute. getting the card to line up front to back was tricky… i am sure i could have just glued them back to back and then laminated…
while Colton is serving in Japan, he will be living in different cities throughout his time there – but if someone sends a letter to this address, it will be forwarded to his current address.
the instax photos were a huge hit! it was so much fun watching everyone just so excited to see their photos come to life! after everyone left, and Colton had a huge stack of photos of him and his friends… my big plan is that as these letters come, he can add the photos we took into the instax photo album! also, i’m sending him with an instax camera and periodically with film! that way he can fill the album with awesome missionary memories! there’s nothing quite like printed photos, and the mini instax are just so fuN!
i have been wanting to create a board of some kind that i can keep track of all of the missionaries we know that are serving all over! i had a friend cut the world map out of vinyl and we added it to the magnet board, along with one of my own designs “called to serve” also cut from vinyl on the Silhouette.
i then typed up names and cities on my new We R Memory Keepers Typecast Typewriter! i love it! i just added a little adhesive to the ends of the flags.
i absolutely LOVED having so many family and friends here at my house! there is so much love and support and excitement for Colton, as well as the others there who have or are awaiting mission calls! it’s such an exciting time! such a beautiful day! best ever!
so we have about 3 more weeks before he leaves… still so much to do! i am so proud of Colton and this big decision! missions are super hard work… but it really is the BEST 2 years. i am going to miss him like crazy.