52 weeks down, 52 weeks to go!
Our Elder is now halfway through his mission, and he has changed so much! Okay, not exactly changed, more like someone took the very best parts of him and boiled off all of the excesses. Our missionary is now a more concentrated version of his best self—not changed, yet changed.
In a recent email, our missionary shared his mantra, “Just keep going, even when it’s hard.” This last year, he has exemplified this mantra … all of our missionaries do! When I see them greeting everyone with smiles, despite the circles of exhaustion under their eyes, my mama’s heart wants to wrap them in a hug. Then, I feel inspired to lengthen my own stride because of their incredible examples! Missionaries, even when you are personally struggling and feel like your teaching calendar is empty, your example to us is inspiring. Thank you.
Our missionary sent home a package filled with the handful of letters he’s received on his mission—seriously, people! Write our missionaries more! He also included his mission journals and gave us permission to read them.
It is so humbling to read about his experiences! I laughed, cried, and prayed as I read about his experiences in the mission field.
As I read, I realized how very much he misses his family. Some weeks, it’s clear that p-day is the highlight of this week and our emails give him strength as he faces hardships beyond any he’s ever faced before.
Then there are the entries that make my mama tiger claws come out and I want to tear into someone! Mr. Self-Righteous Stake President who cut my son off in a meeting and chewed him out because his companion wasn’t contributing? You accused my son of not allowing his companion to participate.
Did you know that his companion was sleeping through teaching appointments, refusing to leave the house, screaming obscenities at my son, and throwing punches as well? Did you know that your lecture caused my son to feel like a failure during the hardest weeks of his mission? Did it occur to you to LOVE this precious son of mine, who is giving God his everything?!?
Those entries made me see red and cry tears of sorrow for our son’s struggles. But those tears soon became humble amazement as I read my son’s thoughts. His only desire was to love his companion and to learn how to love him better. He fasted, read his scriptures, and prayed to understand how to love someone acting so unloveable. He sought the Lord’s will, setting aside his own pain to seek to be more like the Savior. What an incredible example to me.
He learned to love. That companion ended up going home early, yet he is still someone my son loves and sees as a friend who was struggling, rather than as an enemy. In this experience alone, there is so much for me to learn to apply to my own life. There are individuals who have hurt me, and I do not view them with such a compassionate perspective. I can do better.
Our precious missionary has had a companion that I already love like a son because of his goodness to our son. He loves him like a brother. This young man’s example and counsel show up throughout the journals.
Has this year been worth it? The sacrifices, the trials, and the tears? My son’s response:
Heck yeah. No hesitation for that one. Seeing people’s lives change through Jesus Christ and His Atonement has been incredible. Plus, I’ve learned a lot about myself and about the Gospel.
Reading through his journals, I see that our missionary has learned to trust the Lord. He and his companions have been guided to leave certain streets alone. They don’t know why, but they trust God.
He has learned to follow whatever impressions he receives. He has been instrumental in answering more than one person’s prayers, simply by showing up on their doorstep when prompted.
We are truly nothing when compared to God, yet through each of these answers to someone’s prayers, our missionary has come to know that to God, we are everything. The Lord loves us, knows us, and is there for us.
Letting go of our son has been hard for me. Perhaps because he is the first of our children to leave the nest. Perhaps because he is so unreachable in this day and age when I can text/message/call/visit almost anyone at any time I want. But, I too, have learned lessons this last year.
I’ve learned I can do hard things. Looking back, I’m pretty sure that I struggled with mild depression the first few months of his mission! But, yet, I encouraged him through his loneliness and sent cheerful packages to support him … when I really wanted to tell him to come home.
Through letting our son grow and serve the Lord, I have seen how well the Lord knows my son and trusts him. My son headed out on his mission an inexperienced 18-year-old. Wait, I have to share this! LOL! One of his journal experiences captures my inexperienced son so perfectly.
A man called the missionaries to come over to his home. He and his live-in girlfriend were fighting and he wanted counsel from the missionaries. My son wrote afterward that they prayed together and listened to this man, which brought comfort and peace to a difficult situation. However, my son felt inadequate and unequal to the task the entire time:
How am I supposed to give you advice?!? Heck! I’ve never even had a girlfriend!
Yet, even without ever having had a girlfriend, our son knew that sincerely listening with love and then praying together was the solution. My husband and I have been married more than twenty years and we still use this method to solve our difficult times. The Lord is guiding and teaching my son how to do what needs to be done.
Through this last year, I have read edited versions of his difficult experiences with companions. Each time, our son has looked within and tried to change himself for the better. That’s the gospel in action! Not to point the finger at someone else, but to look within and to conquer our own weaknesses, while striving to be more like our Savior.
I am so proud of the man our son has CHOSEN to be this last year. Everyone says the second year flies by. Not sure that will be the case for this missionary mama. But I look forward to seeing the further refinement in store for our missionary.
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.