Every week, missionaries get one day to take care of their personal needs for the week. This day is called their preparation day, or P-day. Mundane tasks like laundry, grocery shopping, haircuts, etc. are all taken care of once a week.
It is also the day when they get to send emails home to family and friends. For our missionary, his P-day is on Monday. This means that starting about 6pm on Sunday, I start getting jittery with excitement to hear about how my son is doing, what he’s been doing, and how much he’s learned.
Right now, he is in an apartment with free Wi-fi, so he can email us throughout the day, around his other activities and chores. Most of the areas in his mission will not have this benefit, so then we will only get one, maybe two, emails a day. Needless to say, I am enjoying this perk now as much as I can.
This freedom allows for a kind of texting via emails shot back and forth throughout the day, which has allowed for some ‘conversations’ about concerns he has and questions I have. Usually my questions revolve around, “Are you getting enough to eat?” … He’s dropped over 25 pounds since leaving on his mission 4 months ago!
This despite my efforts to fatten him up by mailing boxes of Girl Scout cookies to him! He polished off a sleeve of thin mints while sending his emails and still the boy loses more than 25 pounds … I LOOK at a thin mint and gain weight! However, since he is walking sometimes ten miles in a day, losing weight is to be expected.
In our conversation with him this past Monday, I asked him what advice he would pass along.
Big thing I’ve learned this transfer, that most missionaries need to learn: you can be a great, hardworking, and focused-on-God kind of missionary, and still be yourself. Have fun! Be obedient of course, and do your best, but you can still be you!
I love this! You see, my son has an incredible sense of humor. In his desire to be what he thought the Lord wanted him to be, he somewhat submerged that sense of humor beneath a veneer in his earliest months on his mission. He was still himself, only not. He was trying so hard to be what he thought of as a ‘perfect missionary’ that he was missing the opportunity to be the missionary the Lord needed specifically from him!
Do we do the same sometimes? Do we think that if we are more like someone else, then the Lord could better use us? If only I behaved more graciously, like So-and-So, instead of having a loud laugh that rings out during church meetings, then I would be a better follower of Christ?
I know that for myself, I spent too many years thinking, “If only I were more like So-and-So, then the Lord could better use me!” Years that I didn’t shine as brightly as only I can. I DO have a rather loud laugh, which my husband teases me mercilessly about, and which my kids love … and I will never be able to fit So-and-So’s cool, gracious, lady-like mold … it just isn’t in me! And that’s okay. So-and-so is touching lives in a way that is perfect for her. There are lives also waiting for a loud laugh and a chocoholic!
How wonderful for our son to learn this lesson now! To learn to embrace who he is and the marvelous complexities that make him, himself. To realize that there are individuals who need his quirky sense of humor and his unique insights into gospel truths. After all, if the Lord needed every missionary to be exactly the same, then there would be no specific calling as to where a missionary serve.
If missionaries were all expected to be alike, then anyone could serve anywhere. However, there is a specific need in my son’s mission for a violinist with a quirky sense of humor who loves the Lord!
The Lord needs each of us to stand a little taller as ourselves. Look within yourself. What are your passions? What are your quirks? Embrace them and own them. If you laugh a little too loudly, look around, there may be a chocoholic that is excited to get to know you a little better!
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.