Six. Months. Left?!?
Today marks exactly eighteen months since my son entered the Provo, UT Missionary Training Center.
It has been eighteen months since I have hugged my son. Eighteen months since he’s been able to date, chat with friends, or just lay sprawled out on our couch! For eighteen months, he has been giving 110% to the Lord in teaching and serving.
This leaves only six short months before he gets to jump back into his ‘normal’ life … which, as he confided in a recent email home, “I’m not sure I want to come home.” In the beginning, he struggled with homesickness and loneliness. Now, he’s not sure he wants to come back home!
What happened in only eighteen short months?
Our Son Changed
In eighteen months, our missionary changed physically. He’s lost the teen-boy-eating-too-much-junk-food, 15 pounds around his waist. He’s gained a lot of muscle and looks like a man, no longer a youth. He’s also grown another inch in the last eighteen months, bringing him to an even higher height of 6’4”!
Our missionary has changed mentally. He’s learned to take charge of situations, where before he hung back and let others lead out. He’s learned to truly listen with 100% of his focus. He’s learned time management (somewhat!), how to shop/cook/clean all without parental reminders, and perhaps most importantly, he’s learned so much about life and people.
Life isn’t fair. There are people who, through no fault of their own, have impossibly hard trials. My son has learned to love them first rather than judge.
In only eighteen short months, our introverted son has learned the skills of friendship and reaching outside of himself to be a friend to others. He has gained lifelong and even eternal friendships with those he serves and those he serves with.
Our son has always been willing to work hard … when he wanted to. Now we’ve see him working hard and engaging with his everything day in and day out for eighteen months. Why? Because he truly loves what he is doing! He loves teaching people a message that, if they allow it, brings them peace and strength to face life’s hardships. He loves serving and helping those who cannot help themselves.
Our relationship has evolved as well. Partly because my son has matured. However, that’s not fully it. I think we’ve also been able to reach a closer relationship because we haven’t been able to talk. Excluding twice-a-year phone calls, shared with every other family member, we haven’t been able to just talk like we used to do before his mission.
Writing makes up the majority of our communication. Both of us have opened our hearts in more meaningful ways as we’ve struggled with questions and life. He was already one of my closest friends. Now, he’s also one of my most trusted. I can turn to him for sound counsel and insight—he’s learned wisdom through his mission experiences.
Through emails and letters, we’ve encouraged each other and shared experiences that have taught us how God works in our lives. He has given me strength so many times over the last eighteen months through thoughts that he’s shared.
Could You Repeat That, Please?
Would I go through the pain of a mission separation with each of my children? Absolutely, unequivocally—YES. The maturity gained through this experience for our son could not be gained in any other way. He needed to forget himself. Working hard for someone else’s welfare brings a perspective that is invaluable in today’s world.
I will here confess that just writing this article has made me sob. It’s hard to breathe when I think of the long six months I still have before I can again hug my son. Thinking of going through the pain of separation from my beloved daughters makes my heart squeeze with pain.
But I would do it again. I would repeat every tear if the promise of their growth is the same. A year and a half is not very long and the Lord has concentrated eternal lessons and growth into this time for our son. I am so excited to see what the final stretch of his mission holds for him!
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.