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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Picking Up a Missionary: The Church's Stance

Back in December, my husband and I flew out to the Philippines to pick our daughter up at the end of her missionary service. I've had a number of people ask about our trip--planning and other details, so I am finally sitting down to write down the specifics. I hope this will help others who plan to do similar things. I will share our experience in very small baby steps.

I recall hearing many years ago that Church leadership frowns on such things, and this is still the case. It is not easily found, but from what I learned (after all of our plans were made), specifics along these lines can be found in the Mission President's handbook:

The first step in planning to get your missionary is to seek out the Mission President's approval.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Wrapping It All Up: How #1's Mission Blessed My Life (A Mother's Perspective)

I originally started writing this post back on December 15, 2014. I'm feeling that before we send our next missionary out, this post needs to be published. It makes me wonder what lies ahead with #2 out and serving. What a SWEET experience having a child out in the world doing just what you'd hope he/she'd do…something to better the world around him/her.

Although it is a bit late, here is the wrap-up from a missionary mother's perspective:

Tomorrow we will be reunited with our daughter. She has been serving in the Philippines Olongapo Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for the past 18 months of her life. We have kept in touch during that time by once-a-week emails that came in each Sunday night (Monday morning for her) and two Skype calls--one on Christmas of 2013 and one on Mother's Day 2014.

Before she served, I would frequently hear moms of missionaries speak of the blessings they had received while their children served the Lord. I didn't understand this, and I guess there really is no way to fully comprehend it unless you've experienced it for yourself. Although I'd heard people speak of these blessings, I don't recall them specifically enumerating what those blessings might be.

I want to make sure, while they are still clear in my mind, that I don't overlook any of these blessings that I have received as a mother of a missionary. I also want to be sure that it is understood that each of these blessings was paid for with a price, and in some cases many prices (trials were thick during this time and possibly harder than they've been in the past when I haven't had a missionary serving), but the main price was the sacrifice made of allowing my daughter to give a year and a half of her life to the Lord--for the experience to learn to make her own sacrifices and to learn to serve as He would. When you look at it that way, it really seems like it was no sacrifice at all--the blessings far outweigh the prices paid.

Here are eighteen of the blessings that I, specifically, gained by sacrificing the presence of my daughter for the past 18 months of her life. They are in no particular order:

  • Spiritual fitness is more vitally important than any other kind of fitness
  • Generosity should be one of our highest values
  • Meekness is not a weakness
  • Trust
  • Strength
  • Confidence before the Lord
  • Love of missionaries
  • Love of missionary work 
  • Courage 
  • The value of each of my children 
  • The exquisiteness of missing someone
  • There are others out there who truly care
  • That there is NOTHING better than seeing a child grow up and do good things on her/his own
  • God loves us
  • No matter how weak you are, if you're trying, God will use you for His purposes. It will be sweeter than anything else, and you will be left more capable
  • Miracles haven't ceased
  • I need to count my blessings each and every day in order to have more
  • There is WAY more to each of us than meets the eye, and it is through stretching ourselves in good ways that each of us truly learns of our own potential.

I'm convinced that although these blessings and lessons may have come eventually, they were made more concentrated during this time while our daughter served the people of the Philippines. These blessings were a consequence of her service. Because of her, mine has been blessed.

#1's Weekly Missionary Questions

While #1 was on her mission, we would write to her on Sunday mornings and would receive her emails on Sunday evenings. I would share the group email she would send out each week here, but there were other, personal, emails that only passed between her and me. Her first few emails were a little lacking in the details I was hoping for.

One particular Sunday morning, I woke up with an idea….I pondered on what I would have wanted my mom to know while I was on my mission. These questions formed in my mind. From that week on, every time I wrote to her, I would include these questions first:

What has been your biggest challenge this week? 

What has been your biggest concern? 

What has been your biggest success?

Who has been your favorite person this week? Why? 

What has been your most significant tender mercy?

What are you looking forward to this coming week? 

Do you have a goal set for this coming week? Tell me about it. 

Which scripture has had the biggest impact on you this week?

I gave her instructions that, above all else, these questions needed to be answered. I didn't care if she wrote anything else. From that point on, she would answer the questions. They were always the first part of her weekly emails. I felt, from these, that I truly knew her heart. It was a great link between us.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Stars Aligning Quite Nicely

Okay, that's it! 
Gotta break the silence....

I woke up this morning with the thought that maybe it's time for me to ease up on Facebook even if it's only one day off a week. I decided that today, being Sunday, the Sabbath, I'd give it a rest. I'm thinking this will become a weekly sacrifice.

I don't know what it is in me, but I have this inner need to get the words out of my head. One phenomenon I've experienced in the past is that when I've bagged Facebook for awhile, I've turned to my blog. What can I say? We all have different needs. Mine includes this strong inner need to get my thoughts out of my brain.

I also learned recently that I'm not a good verbal person. I speak too fast. Then there's the problem that my brain seems to work faster than my mouth, so I leave out important facts when I tell stories. I have to go back and pick up pieces that I left out, and then things are completely out of order.

I learned that because I was invited to have an interview with a news reporter this past week. Ugh! After the fact, I felt so bad for the person who was going to transcribe that interview. I have decided that I'm a written word person. Somehow the act of writing slows and organizes the things in my brain.

Then....today while my friend was giving her first Relief Society lesson, she started to quote something that sounded so familiar to me. It was then that she turned to me and asked about a quote that lies at the bottom of my blog.

My immediate reaction was...."You read that?!" I didn't say it out loud, but I definitely thought it. I told her that I'd find it for her and came here. I realized how long it's been since I've even visited this blog. Then i found that the quote was located on the old blog--the annex. I went there, and I felt like I was visiting my old home.

 The quote she sought was by Edward Everett Hale:

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything , I will  not  refuse  to  do  the  something that I can do. What I can do, I should  do. And   what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do."   --Edward Everett Hale

All of these things come together--a rest from Facebook while still having the need to communicate in written form, having someone point back to an obvious place to meet this need, then being directed to an old spot of fond written memories, and a quote that encourages me to do any little thing that I can do, and what do you get?...A blog post.

I am a stubborn woman. Sometimes it takes a lot of "stars" aligning just right to make me do something I've been wanting to do for months anyway but just haven't.

Oh, man! I have SO MUCH I want to write. That's the only feeling needed to make me not write again for a very long time....What can I say?...I'm a rebel at heart.

Some more stars had better get moving together quickly if I'm going to do this again anytime soon.

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