Does anyone remember the story of Flat Stanley by Jeff Brown? A little boy goes to sleep and a bulletin board falls on him. When he wakes up, he is flat as a pancake. The children’s book goes through the many adventures befalling Stanley now that he is flat.
We decided to create a Flat Missionary of our missionary! First, I printed out an enlarged picture of his face, which we glued to a thick poster board.
Next, we took this Sunday afternoon to design a suit for our Flat Missionary out of scrapbook paper—it was a hilarious effort! Lots of laughter, mistakes, and glue stick later, we had a finished version of our very own Flat Missionary … only MUCH shorter than his usual 6’4”!
We covered our Flat Missionary with contact paper to protect him from the elements, and we headed out for our first adventure with our missionary in tow!
We took our Flat Missionary with us to the movie theatre. We left him in the car, so he wouldn’t be exposed to any worldly influences! Following the movie, we took a picture of him in front of the “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” movie poster hanging on the outside of the theatre.
In this week’s email, we will send this picture to our missionary to let him know we want him with us, to make him a bit jealous, and because it is hilarious to see the Flat Missionary out in public with us!
We received a lot of strange looks! As we go through this holiday season, we’re looking forward to the opportunities this will give us to share with others where our missing family member is and what he’s doing.
Why make a Flat Missionary?
Well, we miss our missionary. A LOT. This creation gives my youngest a chance to grab her brother’s mini-self to lug along on traditional family holiday outings. Then the focus is on what silly placements we can put the Flat Missionary into, rather than on our sadness during the family outing. We still miss him, but this is allowing us to include him as we think of strange poses to put the Flat Missionary into.
One of the most harmful things families do to their missionaries is to tell them how much they are missed. Despite the countdown app on my phone, we are making a conscientious effort to NOT include the number of weeks gone by or the months still remaining. (23 months, or 99 weeks, or 695 days left!)
We are not reminding our missionary of this in emails. He already knows. Instead, we are focusing on the positive difference he is making in the lives of those he is serving. My son is focused on becoming a man of God. He does not need to carry the additional burden of knowing that there are still lots of tears here at home.
The tears are less often. To be honest, the pain is still pretty raw, if I focus on it. Instead, when the tears will come, I follow our son’s example. He has admitted that he is homesick sometimes, but that the sadness is not as much as it could be. He is just too busy! He’s too busy serving. He is too busy sharing with others the lessons he has learned throughout his life by living the gospel.
So, I, too, am keeping busy. I am cleaning out nooks and crannies in our home that haven’t seen daylight in years. I’m dragging out projects that have been sitting around half-finished for too long and finishing them. I’m writing ‘To Do’ lists and doing them. I am staying engaged in good works and finding that the time is passing, slowly but surely.
I am making time to read the scriptures, so that when he writes about the incredible insights he is receiving during his mission experiences, his mother has insights of her own to add. I am reading good books.
As I read this last week, inspiration struck to send him a quote from President Gordon B. Hinckley’s “Way to Be” book. If I had not been reading this book, I might not have been in a position to receive that inspiration. Doing the right thing at the right time allows me to receive inspiration at the right time.
He will be returning to us a better man because of his mission experience. My goal is to have him return to a family that has also used this time apart to grow, to sacrifice, and to learn lessons of our own.
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.