Danny Ashworth could hardly sleep the night before his triplet sons came home from their missions.
“It felt like three Christmas Eves wrapped into one,” he said.
The Ashworth family had a joyous reunion on August 1, 2023, at the Salt Lake City airport as they welcomed home not one, but three missionaries. Elders Tanner, Brandon, and Cole Ashworth all landed within twenty minutes of each other: Tanner coming from the Arizona Tucson Mission, Brandon from the Michigan Detroit Mission, and Cole from the Oregon Portland Mission.
“The fact that the flights were all so close to each other, I tell people, ‘God is in the details,” says Denise Ashworth, the triplets’ mother.
The brothers found each other at their gates before exiting altogether to greet their family. All three young men embraced their mom and dad at the same time in a giant group hug. Tanner commented that it was “a glimpse of what heaven will be like.”
Earlier that day, on their way to the Salt Lake airport, Denise was overwhelmed with emotion thinking about another drive she and her husband had taken 20 years earlier to Salt Lake—the drive to LDS Hospital where their sons would be born.
“We wondered what it would be like to have triplets, adding three new boys to our family. And I just was feeling similar emotions as we were driving to the airport anticipating their arrival. Except this time, I was thinking I knew how great it was to have triplets in our family. I wasn’t worried about their arrival. I was just excited and couldn’t wait to hug them again. It was just wonderful,” Denise says.
While the triplets were serving, the Ashworths were missing nearly half of their family—three out of their five children. And that left a hole the family frequently felt during the triplet’s service. But now that hole has been filled.
“To have such a big part of our family coming home all at once was certainly special. When they’re out there for that two-year period, your prayers are constant that they’ll be protected. And for them to come home safely was a blessing to us,” Danny says.
While it was a challenge for the family to have all three sons away at the same, for the missionaries themselves it was also a blessing. The brothers were close growing up, and serving missions at the same time only brought them closer.
“Being able to serve the Lord and to experience those miracles and those hardships together unified us even more because we understood what one another was going through. More importantly, we better understood what our Savior Jesus Christ went through for us. So it was just incredible every week to be able to talk to one another and share those miracles and experiences to help grow our faith and testimony in Jesus Christ,” Brandon says.
In a private Instagram post soon after coming home, Brandon also shared Alma 17:2, perhaps relating his and his brothers’ experiences to Alma: “Therefore Alma did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord; yea, and they had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.”
Over the past few days, the family deeply appreciated being with each other, staying up late hours to keep talking and hearing about the triplets’ missionary experiences.
“We came to know on our missions that the gospel is true, that the Savior does live, and because He does, we can serve Him [through] missionary work. … God loves His children and wants them to come home,” Cole says.
All three boys will start school at Utah Valley University on August 22 where they have even planned to take some classes together. As they transition to the next phase of their life, they won’t soon forget their testimony-building experiences.
“Now we … remove the badge and be better disciples and look for the better things in life,” Tanner says. “I’m just excited to be with my family and spend some good quality time with them.”
Two years may have been a long time away from family, but Brandon says he encourages anyone considering a mission to take the leap.
“If there’s anybody out there who’s thinking of serving a mission, [I would say] to absolutely take that opportunity. … It’s a very unique opportunity for us to give of ourselves, and to come closer to our Savior, Jesus Christ. And they will never regret it; it will bless their lives and will bless the lives of others and for their future families to come.”