Monday, December 15, 2014

Tis the Season

Setting up the "He is the Gift" display at the City Hall Christmas Event
Pretty sure Elder Alley (and all the missionaries) are at the top
of Santa's Nice List this year. ;)
The stockings arrived!
Thanks to Grandma Alley and her mad sewing skillz!
(Hmmm. I'm sensing that whomever they rent the trailer from is a University of Kentucky fan. lol)
Elder Buttars got a missionary stocking, too. :)
(Yeah, definitely sensing a UK theme in the room decor. That's a lot of Wild Cat stuff.)
December 15, 2014

Dear Family,

How's it going everyone? Man, I don't know if there are any words that can describe how grateful I am to have been born into our wonderful family. I am so grateful for all of your love and support. The Christmas packages that you sent to me and Elder Buttars were awesome! I can't wait to see what I got for Christmas! But more importantly, I am grateful for all of your letters of support, wisdom, and comfort. They really do mean a lot to me.

Mom, I'm really sorry that I've only given you the surface details of my experience as a missionary. As you figured out, most of the time I just try to keep things to myself. I do it because I don't want other people to be burdened with my problems. I really enjoy helping other people.  I want to be the kind of person that people can rely on and have confidence in. But when I'm the one the one who needs help, it's hard. But I guess that since I'm only human, I need to start relying on others to help me.

So, how do I feel about being a missionary? To be honest, the feelings vary from day to day. There are days when I feel inspired to get out there and take on the world. This inspired feeling comes from many different sources: from what I read in the scriptures to counsel given in Zone Meetings. Even your letters have given me great spiritual boosts to keep going. Unfortunately, those inspired feelings tend to go away as Elder Buttars and I try to find people to teach. When our investigators don't progress because of either busy work schedules or they are just not home for some reason, I lose that go-getter attitude. And when I see people who are less active because they have been offended by some one or they just don't want to commit to anything or build their testimony, then deep down inside I just want to throw in the towel, go back to the trailer and just sit there for the rest of the day. Why? Because I feel like I'm just wasting gas, time and energy. I'm also struggling to be myself. I know that people said to be my best self but, for some reason, I feel like I need to be this disciplined missionary as soon as the suit and tie come on. I just hate that feeling. 

In my mind and heart I would ask: What do I need to do to get the work moving faster? What can I contribute to the mission? Why don't I have answers or solutions to all of their problems? Am I working hard enough or not? 

I promise, that my district and mission president have been giving great counsel and comfort to me as I express my concerns. Plus, I have seen the tender mercies of the Lord. The members of the ward are super nice and supportive of us missionaries. To the point that I am worried about being overfed (ha ha). I love doing service at this place called Elkhorn Park. I love working with the Winns (the senior couple). Elder Cluff (District Leader) and Elder Wheeler are hilarious and great to work with, and my companionship with Elder Buttars is good. The less actives that we get to talk to are super friendly to us and we get to have fun conversations with them. I'm even finding a love for choir practice at church. Who knew?

Please know that I've also been blessed by the Lord in ways that I can't describe. I believe, and still do, that the Lord will make me into the honorable man that He needs me to be. My definition of "honorable man": A man is who loves God and raises his family in the ways of the Gospel. Basically, like dad and grandpa. I hope that helps.

Well, I think that's everything. I love you all and miss you all. I can't wait to Skype/phone you on Christmas. I'm hoping to find out more about that soon, maybe in specialized training tomorrow. Anyway, take care everyone. Merry Christmas!

Elder Michael Alley

P.S. One set of pictures is of me and Elder Cluff at the Allen City Hall for a special Christmas event. We were on exchanges that day and we got to set up a booth to show the "He is the Gift" video there. It was awesome! I even got to take a picture with Santa Claus! #RelivingMyChildhood (ha ha). Merry Christmas everyone!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

December 8, 2014

Dear Family,

Merry Christmas everyone! Today is definitely a Christmas miracle because the Internet at the Floyd County Library, where we usually do our e-mails, got shut down for some reason. I am doing this e-mail from Sister Winn's iPad (the wife to Elder Winn). I will ask her to send you an e-mail so that you can thank her for this miracle. This letter will be short so that I don't hog this thing. Anyway, I did get those 4 packages. Thank you so much. Do I need to wait until Christmas to open those? Let me know in the next email. Well, just want to wish you all a merry Christmas and I will give more details in my next e-mail. I love you all!

Elder Michael Alley

P.S. I will find out more about the Skype thing as the time gets closer. Probably at the upcoming district meeting. Take care.

Note from Michael's Mom: Part of me is very glad that I have such a considerate son...and another part of me wishes he'd just hogged the iPad and wrote me a long letter AND sent pics. ;)

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Merry Christmas Ya'll!

At the Turkey Bowl with Elder Cluff, Elder Wheeler and Elder Buttars

So grateful for families who take care of my missionaries :)

Looks like they were well fed!

December 3, 2014

Dear Family,

Man, it's becoming harder and harder to summarize what has happened to me here in Martin, Kentucky. I just don't know where to begin. I guess I'll start with the Weekly Housekeeping:

1) Elder Buttars and I did not get transferred this week. The reason for this is because my training program with him is not done yet. We are now in Week 7 of the 12 Week Training Program. Therefore, there's a good chance that neither of us won't be transferred until sometime in January.

2) Yes, I did get some apple pie on Thanksgiving.

3) No, I do not have any info on my Christmas call yet. I promise, I will ask around and find out.

4) Yes, I did get the pajama bottoms that MomMom sent me.

Now for the real story. In case you guys were worried about me since I didn't send you an e-mail on Monday, I apologize for that. The reason for that is because on transfer weeks the transfer days take place on Thursdays. In order for the missionaries to prepare for their departures, Wednesdays become the new P-Days for that week. Even those who aren't being transferred are asked to hold off on the e-mails until Wednesday so as to avoid confusion for the Mission President who will receive e-mails from us. I'm sorry but that's the rule for this mission.

Anyway, Thanksgiving was awesome! We had a Turkey Bowl, had dinner with two member families who just spoil us (bless their hearts), and we are beginning a new missionary campaign to help people get into Christmas Spirit and hasten the work. It's called the "He is the Gift" campaign. If you haven't already, please go to to watch the video. It is amazing! The Church is really putting a lot of their resources into this campaign to help people realize that Jesus Christ is the gift sent to us by our loving Heavenly Father. Please watch the video and help us to #ShareTheGift. Christmas time is the best time to do so. The West Virginia Charleston is already seeing miracles because of this campaign.

I also want you to know that I'm really glad that things are going well at home. It's awesome that you had the missionaries over for Thanksgiving. I truly have been blessed to have a very supportive and loving family. I am truly grateful for everyone's letters and e-mails. Thank you so much.

I will admit, it's hard not to get homesick during this time of year. I love Christmas because of the wonderful traditions that our family has with it. As I read your letter about Dad's attempts to fix the Christmas lights and Mom and Aubrey setting up the Christmas tree, I couldn't shake the feeling of "I wish I was there for that." I'm not trying to make you guys sad, but please keep me in your prayers. I'm really going to need them for this time of year.

As for the work here in Martin, Kentucky hopefully, the "He is the Gift" campaign will help to hasten the work here.

Well, I guess that's everything. Always remember that I love you guys and you're always in my prayers. Merry Christmas!


Elder Michael Alley

P.S. Just a few things: 1) Elder Cluff (my district leader) says "Hi" (ha ha). 2) One of the pictures that I sent is a little blurry for some reason but it's me drinking a soda. I know that I promised to do the "No Soda Challenge" but since a lot of the members bring sodas for celebrations I decided that I'm going to make a few exceptions. Please, forgive me. Thank you. I love you all.  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving Ya'll

With Elder Cluff, Elder Wheeler, their investigator (who was recently baptized)
and Elder Buttars
With Elder and Sister Winn

November 24, 2014

Dear Family,

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I know it's not until Thursday, but this is the last chance I get to say it before it happens. Anyway, I'm always so grateful for the letters and e-mails that I get from everyone. Thank you all so much for keeping me updated and for your words of advice. 

*For the Weekly Housekeeping:

1) Thank you so much for the Thanksgiving package! I know you won't be happy to hear this but the package was delivered to the front porch of the trailer. Don't worry, the package was in great condition when I found it. 

2) No slippers please. They’ll just be one more thing to carry around.

3) No thermals either. The weather is weird here in Kentucky. One day it's cold then a few days later it's warm. Anyway, the missionary jacket has done a good job of keeping me warm so don't worry about sending thermals.

4) Yes, we have about four packs of Uno cards that were left behind by other missionaries. I'm sure that there are some games lying around somewhere. 

5) The next transfer will be December 4, 2014.

I'm really glad that things are going well at home. I think the kittens were right about removing the green lamp off the piano (ha ha). I was wondering when those trees will be removed. Now I know. I also can't believe how much older Aubrey looks without braces! She looks awesome!

As for my adventures here in Martin, Kentucky. This week has been both a slow and miraculous week. I got to witness a baptism of an investigator. He may not have been our investigator but it was still cool to see a baptism anyway. I pray that our investigators will progress. Hopefully, we'll have better luck either during the Christmas season or after New Years Day. 

The last thing that I want to request is that everyone would keep me and my fellow missionaries (Elder Max Alley, Sister Ashley Alley, & Elder Jacob Sok) in their prayers since this will be our first Christmas away from home. I admit that the homesickness has started to kick in a little bit. I don't mean to worry anyone, just please keep us in your prayers. Thank you so much. I love you all and miss you all.

Elder Michael Alley 

* Note from Elder Alley’s mom: The Weekly Housekeeping items are answers to questions we asked him in our weekly email to him.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Hey Ya'll!

North Half of the West Virginia Charleston Mission
(Elder Alley is just below the tree on the right hand side. Click on the pic to see it larger.)

November 17, 2014

Dear Family,

How's it going everyone? I got Mom's email and I agree that I'm really grateful for that old house of ours as well. It may not be the fanciest, but it has way too many good memories for me to complain about it. It really is true, there's no place like home. 

To start off this letter, I'll answer the weekly housekeeping questions:

1) Grandpa's suit fit me well when I wore it at the MTC. I haven't gained weight (as promised, I've kept up with my morning exercises) so it should still fit. I'm planning on wearing it during December so as to channel Grandpa's Christmas Spirit for this year. However, I might send it back home after that because I'm worried that it might get damaged out here in the field. Like I said, I might or might not do it, I'll think about it. My other suit fits very well. If I do send back Grandpa's suit back, then send me the other suit.

2) Yes, I did get to read all of my e-mails last week. Thank you so much.

3) I don't know where the printer is. It's not in the computer room that I'm in. But don't worry about it.

4) We'll be having Thanksgiving with a member family called the Bentleys. They are just an awesome family and so supportive to missionaries. I'm guessing that it might be a regular proselyting day but I'm not entirely sure. What I do know is that I'll be joining the Missionaries vs. McKinneys (member family) Turkey Bowl tradition. It'll be fun!

Now for my report this week. Don't worry about the trailer. The trailer has been very warm so we're okay. The only other missionaries that I see every so often are Elder Cluff (District Leader), his companion Elder Wheeler, and the Winns (Senior Missionary Couple). 

I've got to tell you, I just love the Winns. They are just so kind and hard-working. Elder Winn's willingness to help others, kindness, and humor remind me so much of Grandpa. In a way, it's like Grandpa is serving a mission with me. 

Well, I think that's everything. The work here in Martin, Kentucky is moving a little slow but we are doing alright. I love you all and I can't wait for Christmas 2016. Take care everyone. Please keep me in your prayers. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Elder Michael Alley

Monday, November 10, 2014

My Spiritual Growth

Michael with Sis. Salisbury & Pres. Salisbury
(His mission president & wife)

November 10, 2014

Dear Family,

I'm really sorry that this e-mail came in late. Apparently, the library that we're using is now requiring the missionaries to get library cards if we want to use their computers. There were some other weird things that happened, too,  but luckily we got them resolved.

Anyway, I'm glad that things are going well at home. I'm glad that Aubrey is making new friends. I'm also stoked that Aubrey really wants to try out for the dance team. She will be awesome in that. I'm also grateful for the miracles that are happening at home. I also want to thank everyone who's checking up on me and keeping tabs on me.

Man, how do I describe this week? I'd say that it was a spiritually powerful week. I got to give a talk during sacrament about "Patience". To be honest, I felt like I needed to hear that message more than the congregation. As I read a few verses from D&C 121-122 (not all of them, just a few), I felt overwhelmed by the Spirit as I read about Joseph Smith pleading to Heavenly Father while he was in Liberty Jail. As I read them, I felt like I was personally asking the question, "God, where art thou?" I admit I cried at the podium as I recited those words. But then I read D&C 122:8 where Heavenly Father asks Joseph Smith, "The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?" I then read Alma 7:11-12 to the congregation and testified to them that the Savior knows that it hurts to wait sometimes but He will help us through it.

I wish I could write more but I'm limited on time. Please know that I love you all and miss you all. You're all in my prayers.

Elder Michael Alley 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

What's Up Ya'll?

Pics of the inside of Michael's trailer
(It actually looks pretty nice and is impressively clean and tidy.
Way to go Elder Alley and Elder Buttars!)

Well, the trash does need to be

Helping at the ward Halloween Party

November 3, 2014

Dear Family,

How's it going everyone? How's life back in good ole Spokane, Washington? My homesickness may not be as bad as it was on my first day at the MTC, but I still miss you guys. It's definitely not going to be easy to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas without you. But that will just make Christmas 2016 even more enjoyable. 

Anyway, this week has been good. The missionary work here is a little slow, though. Then again I'm still trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing. We have some investigators but the Martin 1st ward also has a lot of less actives that they need help with. I'm not saying this to be negative, I'm just still trying to figure out what I, as a missionary, can do to help. Right now, I'm having enough trouble just trying to remember how to get from one place to another. 

On a more positive note, we had an awesome ward Halloween party. I even got to help with one of the games. You'll see it in the pictures. I'm really loving the Martin 1st ward. The members may be few in number, but they're just the nicest people you'll ever meet. They're also super supportive of missionaries so we get a good amount of dinner appointments.

As for grocery shopping and e-mailing: we're doing that in a nearby town called Prestonsburg where there's a library that has computers we can use and a nearby shopping area. I also have been using my iPod but mostly to listen your messages when I'm feeling down. Thanks guys.

As for the mailing: yes, packages are left on the porch but we always find them first thing in the morning.  

Well, I think that's everything. I hope you all continue to do well at home. Take care everyone.

Love you all,

Elder Michael Alley

Monday, October 27, 2014


Michael sent pictures this week. (A wonderful surprise for mom!) Some are from the MTC and some are from his first area. 

In front of the Provo Temple

With one of his roommates, Elder Kovac

MTC companion, Elder Higgins

Elder Burcl-Gonzales
His MTC District
(He said everyone in his district was awesome!)

With Bro. Chambers, a member of the MTC branch presidency
Being picked up at the Charleston Ariport
(You can see half of Michael's head in the back left of the photo. Lol)

The newest missionaries in the West Virginia Charleston Mission!

With is trainer, Elder Buttars

Home, Sweet, Home for the next 6+ weeks

Doing a service project at Elkhorn Park on his first P-day
He's with Elder Cluff, Elder Wheeler (the wheelbarrow lol) and Elder Buttars

Week 1: Adapting and Learning

October 27, 2014

Dear Family,

Hey, everyone! Thank you so much for the e-mails and letters. I'm really happy to hear that everyone is doing okay back in good old Spokane, Washington. I also want to thank you for keeping me in your prayers. I am definitely going to need them everyday while I'm here.

Speaking of which, as you all know, by now I'm with my trainer and in my first area. My first area is Martin, Kentucky. It's a really pretty town with great scenery. The population is small but the houses are spread far apart, so we have to drive around the town a lot.

As for sitting next to the Jensens on the flight, it was a miracle. Mom, I'm really glad that you said that prayer to Heavenly Father that I would sit next to someone who was kind. The Jensens were the nicest couple that I've met. We just happened to bump into each other while we were boarding the flight. I was the first one to get on so I wasn't expecting to see them again. But then, to my surprise, I saw them walking down the aisle and they sat next to me. It was amazing. They were just so nice and talked to me while also being patient while I was just trying to pull myself together. I'm so grateful for them and Heavenly Father. He truly was looking after me. Through the Jensens and everyone else who wished us good luck on our missions, the Lord was letting me know that He was watching over me and that everything was going to be okay.

Going back to my first area, I'm in Martin, Kentucky (Floyd County). I'm living in a trailer. The name of the ward is the Martin 1st Ward. They are a great ward. They're just so kind and down to earth. My trainer's name is Elder Buttars. He's from Vancouver, Washington. He's only been out for 4 1/2 months. Hopefully, we can get this area and mission stuff figured out soon. For now, just keep me in your prayers.

Well, that's it for now. I love you all and I'll keep you in my prayers. Take care everyone.

Elder Alley

Note from Michael's mom: 
I Googled it and Martin, KY has a population of 633.,_Kentucky 

They are also "famous" for their Red, White & Blue Days. :)

I Made It!

October 21, 2014

Dear Family,

I made it! I made it to West Virginia! Me and the other missionaries are currently at the Mission President's home and we are all given a chance to use his computer to send e-mails home. I got to say that it was a miracle that we even got here at all. One of the elders in my district took a while to get ready and I thought that we were going to miss the bus. However, for some reason the bus ran a little late, so it was a blessing. We made it to the airport on time, but then our second flight got delayed due to some maintenance issues. Luckily, we all made it here safely and were just a few minutes late. 

I have to admit that I'm still struggling with homesickness. I didn't mean to break down on the phone but it just felt so good to hear a familiar voice again, especially mom's voice. However, if the MTC has taught me anything is that as long as I stay focused on the journey as a missionary and think about nothing else but that which is happening now, the homesickness will not be overpowering. I also need to strengthen my faith in Jesus Christ and believe that He knows what I'm going through and that He also knows how the Atonement can help me overcome this homesickness.

I just want all of you to know that I love you all so much. I have a testimony that missionary work is the Lord's work and He knows how it should be done. Please keep me in your prayers. Take care everyone.


Elder Alley

A Tender Mercy

Elder Alley's "Miracle Seat-mates" 

October 21, 2014

(This entry is from Michael's mom.) I wanted to share this experience because it shows what a great love our Heavenly Father and Savior have for us. It's proof that they are mindful of each of our situations and stand ready to help and bless us.

I really didn't think I'd get a call from Michael at the airport. We'd sent him a phone card, but he'd let us know that he might not use it. He's been pretty homesick and he thought talking to us on the phone might make it worse. He said he would only call if he thought he could get a handle on his emotions. I was really sad that Michael might not call, but I understood. (If he didn't call, that was going to make my record 1 for 3 with missionary airport calls. NOT the record I wanted. ...still too soon to talk about Max's missed call...)

So I was overjoyed when the phone rang around 5am and I could see on the caller ID that it was from the SLC airport. Michael had a hard time composing himself when I first answered, but after I started asking him questions and got him talking about the MTC he was good. Sounds like he had a great experience at the MTC. After a bit I heard an announcement in the background and Michael said they were getting ready to board for the flight to Atlanta, so he had to go. He started getting really choked up again and so did I. (I tried to be strong for his sake, but I'm afraid I didn't do a very good job.) As soon as we hung up, I got on my knees and said a prayer. I asked Heavenly Father to comfort him and to please seat him next to someone who was kind. 

Later that day I came home to find a message from Grandma Alley on our answering machine. As soon as I listened to it, I started crying. (Gosh, I'm doing A LOT of that these days.) ;) This was such a tender mercy on the Lord's part. There were too many things that had to come into place for this to just be a "coincidence" or a "what a small world" kind of deal. This was a direct answer to prayer and I am so grateful. Here's part of the email that Grandma Alley sent out later about this:

When I got home from my TOPS meeting and physical therapy appointment today I found a message on the phone from some old friends....... the Jensens.  The Jensens were our very close friends in Enid. The message from Bro. Jensen was telling me that he was on a flight to Atlanta and was sitting next to my grandson!!!  He saw about a dozen missionaries walking through the SLC airport and noticed the ALLEY name tag  and asked him where he was from.....then if he was related to Mike & Caryn Alley and of course Michael said he was Michael Lewis Alley, III -- so they visited a bit and then after boarding, it just happened that Bro. Jensen was sitting next to Michael so they got to visit more. Isn't it amazing what a SMALL WORLD it is.  I'm happy Michael got to meet a couple that was so special to us so many years ago.  

I know the Lord watches over His missionaries. I know he gives each one of them what they need for success in the mission field, if they do their part. As they struggle with homesickness or a new language or cancelled appointments or tracting, etc. I know that the Lord is right there with them every step of the way. I can feel Him watching over all of my missionaries and I see evidence of Him answering prayers. 
---Michael's Mom

Monday, October 20, 2014

This is It!

October 20, 2014

Dear Mom, Dad, Aubrey, Max, Ashley, and whoever else that reads this,

Weekly Housekeeping (Note from Nikki: These are answers to questions I send him each week.):

1) My companion's name is Elder Higgins and my two other roommates/companions of my district are Elder Kovac and Elder Burcl-Gonzalez. We're all going to West Virginia. Elder Higgins is from Southern California, wants to be a computer programmer, and loves Japanese culture. Elder Kovac is from Switzerland (though born in America, might be Utah), loves to play chess, and is fluent in both German and English. Elder Burcl-Gonzalez is from Huntington, West Virginia (big surprise to all of us!) and is a really nice guy.

2) Yes, I am proud to say that I took a good amount of pictures here in the MTC. Most of them have me in it, I promise. (Note from Elder Alley's mom: The pics in this post were added after her returned home from his mission and I finally had access to all his pics!)

3) I'll do my best to call you guys before my flight leaves, if I can control myself. I reviewed my travel itinerary and my flight doesn't leave until 7:10 A.M. So I'll call you either before that time or during my layover. If for some reason you don't get my call, don't worry about it.

4) Yes, I am the Travel Leader for my group. I'm praying that I won't get any more leadership positions after this.

Man, this week has just felt like a whirlwind. One moment I'm sitting in class either taking notes, doing role plays, or talking to investigators who visit our classes and the next thing I know I'm getting to go on a morning flight to West Virginia. The best way to describe it is this: the days are long but the weeks are short.

Anyway, I'm really proud of Aubrey and mom for another victory in the chili cook-off. Go Team Alley!

I also hope that those two kittens feel better soon. Poor little guys.

I wish I could write more but I got a lot of stuff to get done before tomorrow. But don't ever forget that I love you all and I pray for you every day and every night. Take care everyone. I'll see you in two years.


Elder Alley 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Still Alive & Kicking! (First Email from the MTC)

Ran into Elder Hardy in the MTC :)

Dakota Moses was at the Provo Temple grounds when I was there

October 13, 2014

Dear Alley Clan,

Hey guys! How´s it going on your side of the world right now? I guess I should start off by answering mom´s housekeeping e-mail questions.

1) Thank you so much for letting me know about  the phone card, but please understand that if I don´t call home, it´s because I´m trying to overcome my homesickness. But never forget that I love you all with all my heart.

2) My flight plan is that I leave early in the morning on Tuesday, October 21, 2014. If I have enough control over myself, I´ll call home somewhere between 2:30 and 3:30.

3) Yes, I did get the Missionary Mall Sweater.

Now for my actual e-mail.

Thank you all so much for your letters and MTC Survival Kit. They were awesome. Mom, you just made yourself popular in the eyes of the elders of my district. These guys are awesome! My companion´s name is Elder Higgins and my other two roommates are Elder Kovac and Elder Burcl-Gonzalez. Great guys.

Aubrey, I cant believe that you got two kittens. I guess one just wasn´t enough. Ha ha. Still, they are cute. I hope they keep you company.

As for my overall experience here in the MTC. It´s definitely been an emotional roller coaster for me. Nevertheless, I´m doing fine and I really have felt the Spirit really strong here each time we got focused on studying the gospel and how to teach it. Oh, did I mention that I got called to be the new Zone Leader on my second day here? Man, talk about hastening the work. Anyway, I wish I could tell you everything that I learned but that would make this email longer than it already is.

I just want to let you guys know that I love you all and I´m doing alright. It´s definitely a new lifestyle that is going to take some getting used to, but I believe that the Lord will help me through it. Keep praying for Ashley, Max, Jacob, and me. 

Elder Alley

P.S. Hurrah for Israel! 

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

The bags are packed. Three suitcases and one missionary bag. His brother got away with two suitcases, but you don't need bulky winter gear in Vegas. ;)
Final moments on the Provo Temple grounds before we leave Elder Alley at the MTC
Her third sibling to leave on a mission in four months. Poor little Aubrey. 
She's been a trooper (and talk about a faithful letter writer! If you're a missionary, 
you want her to have your address.) :)
This is the picture where mom is chanting in her head: 
"Don't cry. Don't cry. Be strong for Michael." 
Aubrey couldn't hide how sad she was for Michael to be going.
Getting last hugs in
Elder Alley is ready to go. Give 'em heaven, Elder!
Hurrah for Israel!

Outside the MTC five hours after dropping Michael off. 
Aubrey gave her last goodbye before we headed to the airport.

From Elder Alley's Mom:
You’d think dropping off our third missionary in four months would be a piece of cake (been there, done that…twice already actually) but it was the hardest send off of the three. Michael is our homebody. He’s our sweet, always helpful, always positive, always there kid.  OK, he’s not actually a kid anymore, but it's hard for me to not think of him as my little boy…which is why I have to let him go on his mission because as his mom I’ve always tried to make his life a little easier, since it’s always been so hard. I’ve protected him (and OVERprotected at times, yes I am aware of that) his whole life. I know he's capable of doing hard things (he's proved that time and again) but it's hard as his mom to send him off to such a challenging venture.

The only reason I can do this is because I know this is what the Lord wants Michael to do and that He will provide a way for him to do it. I know that Michael has great faith and that he’ll use that faith to move mountains in West Virginia, if needed. (His mom just needs to work on getting that faith, too!)

I felt such peace after the blessing our stake president gave Michael at his setting apart. He was promised so many things. I wish I could remember them all, but I just got an overall feeling that the Lord is so mindful of Michael and that he’ll be there with him every step of the way.
When it came to drop off time, I wavered a bit when I saw Aubrey get sad and Michael tear up and I just about lost it completely when he turned around and shouted, “Hurrah for Israel!” (A few days earlier, we had talked about when Brigham Young and Heber C. Kimball were leaving for their mission to Great Britain and they were leaving sick wives and destitute families and they themselves were so sick they were laying down in a wagon to leave. Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young had the teamster stop so they could rise up and shout, “Hurrah, hurrah for Israel!” so their families would be left with a good image and some measure of comfort. Michael was struck by how those brethren were thinking about how their families felt instead of just worrying about themselves.) I know when he shouted, “Hurrah for Israel!” Michael was thinking about how we were feeling and letting us know he was going to be ok. That's so Michael. Always thinking about others first.

So now we anxiously wait for the first email from the MTC as the adventures of Elder Alley begin.

Hurrah for Israel!