Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Letting Go - Day 157

Dear Mamas journal

Well, it's been 157 days since the boys have been gone. I can clearly remember writing the first leting go journal entry and I would love to say that I am healed!! but I can't ;-) I have figured that letting go is actually going to take as long as I thought and more......

Some of the things that have been 'let go':
  1. Anxiousness that something terrible is going to happen.
  2. The Deep bawling cry has gone
  3. The Need to count down.
  4. Painful Grief and
  5. Sense of loss.
The things that have been added unto me:
Where once was anxiousness, now stands peace and calmness. The kind of peace I have is hard to describe. It's a feeling that envelopes me and I am without fear that something is going to happen to my sons. I am grateful for the peace that resides in my life. 
Where once I was anxious and worried that the boys would get sick and I wasn't there to care for them has dissipated. in fact I remain calm. For example, both boys have both been struck by a mosquito borne disease that is hitting the Carribean and yet I am calm. My son has just written a letter home telling me that he lives next to where gangsters hang out and a church where the leader casts out devils at night time - and still this calmness is with me. Maybe I am in denial but I am grateful for it!
The gut-wrenching crying sessions have now been reduced to what I call "sprinkles" or little "leaks" .... I can't control them - my eyes just sprinkle and leak all the time! Having said that I have had big cries but so would you if you were looking at my beautiful baby boys happy and serving the Lord ;-) I don't mind sprinkling and little leaks because it reminds me that I am a missionary mama - and it is not easy but I am doing it ;-)
What has not gone away is the need to count. I no longer wait until the sun goes up before I can cross out another day (like I used to do!) .... instead after 157 days, I now have the control and can wait the whole seven days before crossing off a week and I have trained myself not to lament because I have so much more to go - but just tick or stick (I use stickers) away quietly, without fanfare and carry on. I can say watching the numbers come down are healing though..... that I cannot deny ;-)
In the place of painful grief I have prayer and what a revelation this has been.... I have prayed all of my life but I have found my prayers have changed. They are more meaningful and heartfelt. I feel like I am having an adult conversation with a loving Heavenly Father who is listening patiently ready to give me advice on what I need to do. More than once, I have been specific and detailed and what I asked for - technology to be clear so that communication between son and his parents is seamless in an area known for powercuts and poor technology - and it has been granted.

I have found prayer has united Mr and I. I find myself listening to a missionary father praying for his sons and I am touched by his sensitivity to our sons' service.

I also know that my sons are also praying which helps me to realise that all these reverent conversations are connecting my little family together while we are so far apart - see - there they goes - my eyes are sprinkling again ;-) I am grateful for prayer - and so happy to have a renewed my testimony in the power of prayer.
My sense of loss has not gone. The boys are still everything I have in this world - and they are not here with me. My life is empty without them and I am half of a partnership that sit at the top of a great big EMPTY nest ;-) but this deep sense of loss has been filled. I have recently been called to work in the temple. This amazing calling has brought me closer to my children than any single thing I have done before. It focusses me every week and I am grateful for yet another connection to my sons. The words that are spoken in the temple are some of the most beautiful that I have ever heard, and to learn those has been a privilege.... As I serve week after week my emptiness is being filled - with love that I have not experienced before and I am more grateful today than I was yesterday.
For me, on day 157, I have to say that the greatest healer for me have been my missionary boys!! They are my inspiration. Their positive attitudes, their healing words and love extended to their mother who they know struggles without them has been balm to my motherly wounds. Their strengthening testimonies have been beautiful to read and I am becoming grateful for the opportunity to be a missionary mama to the point where I can almost say it without wincing ;-)
This journey is not travelled alone and I continue to be grateful for the support of thousands of other missionary mommas through facebook and hundreds of others in my Missionary Mamas and Missionary Moms email groups... I would hate to think what my life would be like without these!!
So Day 157 is coming to a close - and life isn't too bad. The house is quiet. We haven't started Spanish lessons yet or the diet either for that matter - but it's all coming along....
Here's to another 43 -then it's my Second Hundred Party - WOOHOOO!!!

Sunday, 8 June 2014

101 Survival Tips for Missionary Mamas

Last week, a friend of mine, and a fellow missionary mama herself (for a 2nd time ;-)) handed me a book called 101 Surivial Tips for Missionary Moms by Mary Yoachum and illustrated by Cheri Cox Johnson. My friend handed it to me and said "You are already doing them". This was so comforting to hear - because 101 is a pretty big number :-) and I am the kind of person who needs to do all 101 ;-) 

Anyway, I came home that day and devoured every page and in my head I was quietly ticking off things that I was already doing - and grateful that I have had groups like Missionary Mommas, and Missionary Mamas, Dominican Republic Missionary Moms, and my Dominican Republic MM Email group who have helped me. If I didn't - this book would have been devastatingly new to me!

What I liked is that first of all the author dedicated this book to her three sons who had served or about to serve - so it was great that it was written by someone who "knew" what it was like to be a missionary mama. Secondly, since its publication, a lot of support systems are provided via facebook, email and Skype which I am sure would have been in the top 101 had we been using them a couple of decades ago.... Here are my top five (5):

TIP ONE: Say "Cheese"
Yoachum suggests that taking a variety of pictures of our missionaries before and after they leave and having them put around the house - brings us closer to them. I have seen pre-missionary shots that have been taken professionally and they are stunning - and something I wanted to do but ran out of time (and to be honest funds!)  to do this. As a result many of the photos that I have either have me or my husband missing because we would be taking he photo... So it something I wish I had done - and a lesson learnt! Now my boys have been out 5 months, I prefer to see their most recent photos dotted around the house - I feel closer to them by seeing their beautiful faces! This is one of my favourites because it was taken a few hours before he wrote home on his last PDay - just hours separated this photo and me!! It made my day!

TIP TWO: Priesthood Power
Yoachum encourages people to get a blessing after your missionary has left. I believe in the power of the priesthood and we took care of this before the boys left. The morning  the boys flew out, my husband (and Bishop) gave each son a father's blessing which were both individual and specific to that son. Our missionary sons then each their parents a missionary blessing. It was beautiful - and never a prouder mother was I in that moment.  All I can remember of mine was that my son blessed me that I would always know that I am loved and supported - and he said it two times - so in that moment I knew I was going to be okay....... eventually ;-)

TIP THREE: Gift Wrap
I have blogged about this - but thought it is still a great idea. I send packages to the boys at least once a fortnight if not weekly. It is costing an arm and a leg - but love to hear them talking about things that they have received, especially our letters, cards and other resources. Yoachum suggests that we decorate the outside of the envelops and packages, use stickers, notes, quotes, etc to brighten up their day. I have done this and loved it.... I also take a photo of Mr and I - and add that in so it is the first thing that the boys see. You can imagine how touched I was to see these same photos in prominent positions on their study desks some months later. I hope by seeing us they are strengthened and can feel the love we have for them in our faces. I also make cards with photos with family and friends on them - this last card had some friends holding notes to the boys - and for one son, I got a photo taken with his close friends and added those - anything to feel of our love and support for them.
TIP FOUR: Language Lesson
A tip that I am going to work on is learning Spanish. The boys are getting better at it every week - and the more they get better - the less Mr and I have a chance to speak with them.... so this is definitely a MUST for me!! A great tip. In the meantime, I am getting church magazines in Spanish sent to the boys while they are serving. I've sent the last conference talks to them in English, and marked a number of them with my thoughts from talks that I have taught from, spoken on, and listened to others speak and teach with. I have done this to give my sons a break from their language studies... especially as they didn't have a command of Spanish when during the last Conference.....but the rest will be in Spanish..... Added to this tip, Yoachum also suggests asking the boys to write a message in Spanish and when I got it - try and figure it out (without google translate) - and get them to reply - wish me luck :-)
TIP FIVE:  Tickle his funny bone
I am a wannabe amateur comedian, so my sons have been raised by a crazy person who finds humour in many things - so when I see something funny/quirky I send it to the boys. I was a bit scared to do this as first because I didn't to be the reason my sons were distracted - so I sent them something little  to try and make them smile. They commented on those things and one son has asked me to keep sending them... and it again it keeps us connected somehow... So I keep my eye open for funny PG rated pictures or stories - and they are more difficult that you would think to find or not that easy to come by - so I just end up telling them my own stories. Added to this, in the questions I send for them to answer on their PDay, I always ask them every week is to share with me a funny experience. I have loved hearing their funny experiences  - and they have, and I can tell you, some of their little stories have made this old lady laugh out loud ;-)
Well, that's five tips, and plenty more where those come from - but like my friend said - you are probably doing a lot of them - so keep going. Keep up your efforts. I have heard that missionaries get letters all the time in their first 6 months and then they don't get much, if let's keep it up missionary mams... I know that any mail will light up the world of that missionary for a time....
Well, I better get going - sending a package tomorrow and need some beauty sleep to get a great 'selfie' to add to his package.
What survival tips do you have?

Sunday, 1 June 2014

In sickness and health....

One of friends was reading her email from her missionary son and how shocked he was to see the conditions of his apartment, coming from the MTC, in the Phillipines. She spoke about how she would have loved to have flown over to his apartment, cleaned it, bought a new stove, purchased a 2nd hand washing machine, and fixed the air conditioning unit - and all before he got home! She then made her family have cold showers and eat canned food only - so that they could all share her son's experience which is sooo funny - because it is was exactly the thoughts I had when my first letter home from my sons -and their description about their new homeland - Republica Dominicana :-)

"What’s DR like? Well, it’s super hot super hot not really like death hot it’s just that we walk around and we’re all covered so it’s like hot haha uhm the power is never on besides night time around 9pm-3am so you iron shirts, wash clothes, enjoy the fan and light then because once it goes off its off haha. The streets are dirty real dirty! rubbish everywhere, we have to walk places, and it’s all rock and dirt, the houses are really like shacks that are falling apart it’s not very good but the people are lovely like you walk by say hello and they say hello you can talk and they talk to its hard for me cause they’re like sharks if they know you can’t speak spanish (which I can’t) they don’t hold back they go faster... the shower is pretty much a hose in the wall you have to keep your mouth closed cause if you drink it you’re gone (sick).

I had a bucket shower this morning cause the water ran out it was okay I’m getting used to it, beds are really really nice like my bed is so so good if I didn’t have that I’d probably die so that’s good. The kitchen, well its always dirty we use bleach to wash dishes cause water is dirty haha uhm. Washing is interesting - not the same, and yeah it’s a hard as mission but I love it that’s how you become a real man haha when you lose everything you have and realise you can live like this or that people do live like this there’s no other life. Last night we taught a lesson 8pm no lights so it was so so dark! We still taught and still felt the spirit. That’s what it’s about!"

Then the gem of the whole letter - "It’s all good though I love my mission I always remember the words of my mission president "Welcome to the best mission in the world and that’s what it is" haha! DR!"

I don't know about you - but when your kids are raised with working amenities and utilities - you are left practically stunned after reading these kinds of letters. It has taken a couple of months for me to come right with it and accept that this is just the way it is going to be for my sons and I am okay with it - only because my sons are okay with it....and have accepted the challenge and in his own words wrote:

My favourite quote: "you can destroy this body, but my spirit is indestructible" [So] my spirit will keep growing, I grow closer to God than ever before, I will learn more about His gospel, I will serve him more, I will testify of him more. I will become more like him. So I’m not stressing about what can happen to this body of mine here, because my spirit will keep growing forever and ever and ever."

From an earlier blog you will know that my son missed emailing me and I was frantic - thinking the worst and I got my missionary mamas network going and he was found and got the message to write home. Needless to say he was not impressed...

"If I don’t email one week then you need to pray and wait, you can’t just skip to the end and say I’m in hospital because truth is I probably will be teaching someone while your freaking out, so next time might be worth praying first and waiting to see what up because I told the zone leaders that I email you ever week and I have, and that I wouldn’t think my mum would ring that much. So you don’t need to move a mountain to try and get in touch with me because I will find time somewhere in my week to email you just need to trust me. Other than that know that I’m on a mission so I’m going to be busy, I’m going to get sick, I may get hurt, I already have got lost before and many other things you wouldn’t to happen to me but that’s a mission."

So recently - when he didn't email - I let it go - and even managed to keep positive hanging on to his little email. The day after his PDay I get an email and he had been in bed for 24 hours - wiped out, feverish, sleeping. He brushed it off and said he had sun stroke - so I leave it because he has taught me that "it is a mission mum". The week later on PDay I am casually informed by my baby boy that he has had a round of the newest disease to hit the Carribean - the Chikungunya disease!!

Of course I worry about him as he was out - sleeping, drinking water and taking pills to manage the pain and fever... His poor companion - and my poor baby!!

I talked to him about his attitude and how regardless of all of these things - he remains positive. He tells me it is something that he has to work on - that it doesn't come easily but after being worked on and practiced and he shared this with me:

"I realised no matter how bad the day goes you can walk for miles and teach no one everyone can fire and tell you to go away yet when you get home you’ll never hear a missionary say I wish I didn’t go out there today and that’s exactly how it is here.... you could have to walk hours a day in melting heat, teaching houses that feel like ovens, sweat while you eat your food for lunch, take bucket showers because the water in you apartment is out, walk in water up to your knees because the drains don’t work, lie in your bed and sweat because power is gone, not be able to flush your toilet paper and even then you can choose to smile and serve because that’s what it’s all about."

So in sickness and health - my son's attitude of gratitude comes shining through. He is an inspiration to his parents and brother and we love him for it. He reminds me everyday to be grateful for what I have - even if I have nothing - be grateful for that.....

What lessons are/is your missionary/s teaching you??


Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Mother's Day Call

The Mother's Day Call - what can I say??

This I will say - the build up and stress of getting the call sorted was more than I expected.

Let me start from the beginning. I am the mother of identical twins... basically this means that I have one person split into two  - this is my own theory - so don't quote it anywhere.... But for me, the only thing that they share is their face... although to their mother - they look totally different, sound different etc... but to anyone else they might as well be a mirror of each other - which is funny because they are what we call mirror twins... and I digress.
I tell you this so that you can understand one son is very controlled. He likes things just so. He doesn't like changes very much. He is disciplined, and likes to be planned and organised. My other son is easy going - I call him my cruiser - whatever happens will happen. Don't get me wrong he has driven, highly competitive and has ambition like his brother - but he is chilled ;-) We miss our sons!

So these two wonderful human beings are sorting out how they are going to get in contact with their mother (and father - but this is my blog so its all about me ;-)). They have never undergone a task like this before - navigating international calling, international times and zones - so I am not sure what to expect. I know it's been four months of serving a mission in a foreign country and they are no longer my teenagers that left home so I am quietly confident.

One son, comes back quickly to say what time he will be on and that he will be in touch beforehand by email to confirm. He is very clear on the details and his father and I know that he will make that time by hook or by crook. The other son, bless his heart - gives me a date for his Skype and tells me that he is going to call on the phone to confirm the details. He then says to be prepared for any event and says "so don't go to church on Sunday, or work on Monday or Tuesday".....Mr and I had a little giggle... because we know with his companion - he is going to stick to the first date and time he gave us.
The son who likes to be organised and prepared emails alittle distressed that he has not had any luck finding somewhere that has Skype capabilities, so we try and be supportive and tell him, that a phone call will be just as good... His response is that he will Skype no matter what! God loves a tryer our baby boy!
So our first skype calls come through - we get to meet his companion who we thank for being a diligent trainer..... our baby is nervous to start with and was moving quickly through what appeared to be an internal agenda with a time frame to it - we have 10 mins for this and that.... I don't think so my boy - so I stop him and said "Son" - "Yeh" - "Son"- "Yeh" - "Ssoonnn, I love you son" - and with that his father and I looked at him and we all cried. We were connecting for the first time in 4 months and it was good. He was skyping from his Bishop's office so it was peaceful, and technology was great. We had no issues.

He showed us his shoes, we laughed about his watch that I thought would be too big, we had a giggle about his diet and his precious '6 pack' he was so proud of before his mission and we then in one hour it was over! He was gone. Just like that!!

So with that over - we made adjustments to our set up and waited for our next son - who was having a time of it. All the places that had been scoped out either had computer issues or were closed. Him and his companion walked for a long time searching for a computer with skype capabilities. I tried to alleviate some of the stress by letting him know that he could call - and he was not having that. He wanted to see his parents...... and just like his personality, his perserverance paid off...

He skyped and it was soooo good to see him. His father was getting caught up on the picture we had which was so pixeted that for the majority of our time together, we hardly saw his face clearly - but we looked into our sons eyes as if we could see him clearly. We tried to make it relaxed for him by ignoring the issues that he was having with being in a noisey cafe, with people in the background, with music blaring outside and two power outages.... and concentrated on our boy - because he was the most important person to us... It was hard, but I could only imagine how much harder it was for him....

He showed us shoes and I have never seen a bigger split in a sole before ;-) He is in a tough area and we spent a lot of our time encouraging him to keep up the good work, and to remind him for all the time we had together that we were so proud of him, that we loved him and that his attitude was amazing! We got to wave out to his companion.... It was a bit harder for us to say goodbye this second time because of I felt he wanted to share more but given his environment...

So what have we learnt - 1) Being organised is critical. You don't want to be wasting time getting your camera and technology in place, 2) Have your questions ready - ask everything and anything you want, - we found that because we have questions ready for PDay - we are pretty much up-to-date 3) some of the best advice we were given was to let them talk - they have so much to say they need to be able to talk as well, 4) let them ask questions as well, one son wanted to see his room and the temple (we have a stellar view of the NZ temple) - so off we took the laptop, 5) It's okay to cry. We tried to be staunch but we shed some tears - but left the hearty tears for after - well I did... my mate was emotional throughout - so have tissues on hand. Keep the pace up so let the tears roll - but keep going.... The tip is not to dwell on how sad you are - because they are going to have some emotional reaction to seeing you.... so we need to keep them up them and not for one minute think they better come home because their parents have 'lost it!' 6) Be prepared for the ulimate downer after your skype/call.... or being on a high. After the first boy - I didn't want to be home alone, so we went to some friends and spent the evening with them and their children, laughter, even dancing filled me up and I was ready for the next day! 7) Thank Heavenly for technology that connects us with our children. For those of us with children thousands of miles away - skype is a Godsend!

So - there you have it - one hour, sixty little minutes (or even less for some missions) isn't long but it enough time to let your children know you miss them heaps and love them more, so no matter what happens to the power, the quality of the picture - they know!!


Wednesday, 23 April 2014

First 100 days

Dear Journal

Today my sons have been gone for 100 days. This exceeds the longest time we have been apart by 93 days ;-) I had planned to have a big extravagant party for my family and friends, first, to thank many of them for supporting me when I first started on this journey, and for caring for me along the way, and secondly, because I thought it would have been an awesome occasion to celebrate. Instead, I am probably going to spend the day in my pjs keeping a low profile and having a party for one.... which is fine because all day, nearly every day I think about my sons, and I feel close to them... somehow.

Anyway, I thought that I will put together what I have learnt in my first hundred days....

When I first started telling people (including a couple of my own immediate family) of this 100 day event - the reaction was surprising.... and one of the main reasons the party didn't go ahead.... The lesson I learnt from this is that not everyone is going to 'get' what it is like to be a missionary mama - UNTIL - the day they become one. I can't explain what it is like to be a mother, let alone a mother of children on the other side of the world... So it took me 100 days (I'm a slow learner ;-)) to realise that not even family 'get' it and that's okay. I have friends that do....

No one talks about it much - but having more than one missionary serving at a time is financially challenging. I currently work two jobs and yet it doesn't seem like enough. As a shopaholic by self-diagnosis - I don't go shopping at all anymore - not even for groceries unless absolutely necessary because I am afraid that there will be no money left for the boys. I was talking to Mr M the other day and said to him that I should have asked for clarification around my wedding vows for richer and for poorer - and asked - "poorer than what?" ;-) What I have learnt from this in 100 days is that - the blessings of being a missionary mama include money being available - always the exact amount from thin air - literally physically impossible - but always arriving exactly when it is needed - EVERY TIME - true story.
I am sure my life is littered with tender mercies - but I never knew.... well in these last 100 days - I know there are many that happen that I know about, and some I will never know learn of. Tender mercies include my previous example of money being given randomly that has just been enough to cover a shortfall, or the fact that our twin sons got to spend moments with each other at the MTC, or kind missionary mamas - closer to my sons, providing them with beanies, scarves - and much needed insect repellent. Tender mercies included his missionary mama, making contact with my son's companion's mother by fluke.... these things aren't coincidences - because this gospel is not one of co-incidences....“I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence. Often, the Lord’s timing of his tender mercies helps us to both discern and acknowledge them….The Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ….Faithfulness, obedience and humility invite tender mercies into our lives, and it is often the Lord’s timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings….I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us….Each of us can have eyes to see clearly and ears to hear distinctly the tender mercies of the Lord as they strengthen and assist us in these latter days"  Elder David A Bednar
When the children were born, there were complications which saw them being taken to intensive care without me seeing them. Instead when I came through general anaesthesia, I was shown two photos of my baby boys. Not knowing that I was having sons, when I was told, and the photos were brought to my eyes, I kissed each photo and vowed right then and there that I would do everything I could to raise stripling warriors.... and it turns out, and I have learnt in the last 100 days that I have raised wonderful good men - true stripling warriors. Their testimonies and experiences they are having and sharing are indescribable - they strengthen me, and I am blessed for it.
I have two favourite quotes from my missionary son serving in the Santo Domingo West Mission that have taught me so much - one of which is about what it is like to be a missionary... "know that I'm on a mission so I'm going to be busy, I'm going to get sick, I may get hurt, I already have got lost before and many other things you wouldn't [want] to happen to me, but that's a mission". Aren't our missionaries awesome!!
Another gem of a quote from my son has strengthened my own testimony - "I'm a little sick.. which sucks but I don't care. I always tell myself whenever I feel bad, I'm in the DR. I wanted to come here so may as well make the most of it, btw, [I finished] Jesus the Christ finally! That's right all of it. My favourite quote I think it was in there: "you can destroy this body, but my spirit is indestructible" My spirit will keep growing. I grow closer to God than ever before, I learn more about His gospel. I will serve Him more. I will testify of Him more. I will become more like Him. So I'm [not] stressing about what can happen to this body of mine here, because my spirit will keep growing forever and ever and ever" - I know that's my 18 year old son there!! ;-) I love my missionary sons!!
So as the close of day 100 approaches - it may not have been celebrated like the way I had wanted - it is another day for me to reflect on my sons and the lives they are leading.... and I look forward to the next 100 days and the lessons that I will learn from them.... and who knows - I may get my party one of these 100 days ;-)!!
Happy 100 days - and only 630 days, 90 weeks and 21 Fast Sundays until I wrap them in my arms for a time before they head off into the next part of their lives....

Monday, 14 April 2014

The 'H' word

Dear journal

I cannot go to bed tonight without sharing a wonderful experience with you.... but to start off - let me start from the beginning.

I have blogged about my involvement in a few groups that are shared with other women going through the same things that I am - regardless of where we live - we have one thing in common - our children are serving missions.... In fact, according to the latest church statistics - there are 83000+ missionaries currently serving in 405 missions!! Logic then dictates there are 83000 mothers out there that think a lot like I do.... isn't that amazing??
We aren't exactly the same - my own family will tell you that I am my own kind of crazy:-) But we love our children and we pray for them, and worry over them from day 1 through to finish day, from the day we drop them off - to the day we run into their arms at airports, and other meeting places at the end of their service.....
And in between that we have high highs, frustrations, hurts, heaps of tears, lows, joys, and every other conceivable emotions.... and even though these are shared emotions they are felt so differently as parents at home and as missionaries somewhere else completely.... The emotional connection and physical affection has to be expressed in other ways and it is hard.....
One of the things that I am finding as a mother, is trying to support my sons while they are so far away.... especially combatting the 'H' word - homesickness. I miss my sons, and sometimes forget that they actually miss home sometimes as well. My sons have both felt, on occasion and to different people said the same thing about home - and it makes me worry a little. It's not that I don't have faith - because that is just not true. If I didn't have faith that my sons are in the Lord's hands - distance would mean nothing and I would move heaven and heaps of overdraft accounts to get there ;-).... Instead, I have a shared mother's worry that her children are alright - thoughts and feelings that sit in the back of my head and occupies my thoughts and conversations now and then.... All of which are my prerogative as a mother ;-) well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it....
In these other MMs forums that I am in, homesickness is talked about often and every time someone brings up the "H" word - the responses come thick and fast, all educational, informative and inspirational. I observe and am learning as we go along.  this is one of my strongest weapons to understand and treat the 'H' word. Found in the words and experiences of other missionary mums -  I observe, I listen, and I learn.... love being a missionary mother!!
These mothers who I am sharing this journey with are amazing and are a force to be reckoned with. I have had mothers who I have never known or know very little - but love eternally - who have supported my sons while they were in the Provo MTC. I have had mothers in an email group I am apart of - tell me exactly what it is like in the areas where my sons serve, giving advice on the food, sickness, and mosquito nets!
What can I do as a mother sooooo far away? My biggest defence weapon against the 'H' word and others like it is Mr M. Mr reminds me about what it is like out there on a mission and then he supports the boys through emails and letters. He gives them practical advice and anecdotes that they use. They turn to him and ask him questions and it has been beautiful to watch - this bond between father and sons..... so I don't worry too much.
In addition to that, my sons are in every prayer that we offer up. It's very simple but every thing helps. Our prayers are specific to each missionary son, and we ponder what we are going to be saying and tailor our focus to their needs.... Going to the temple and putting their names on the prayer roll can never be underestimated. My son, wrote once, that he knew he received something positive in his week because his parents were praying for him....

One thing we have found, especially with the boys being in a foreign land - their want for more family photos have been a popular requests.... So I send photos of our family all the time, quirky and different and in every letter... Along with those are NZ memorabilia - the latest request -something with the Hobbit on it ;-)  I even sent them with a Vision Board so they can always see it....

Now, back to my story..... today a tender mercy was extended to me and one of my missionary boys today. My son is working hard and having some beautiful experiences, and loves the members.... Recently, he has been feeling a little down, after having lost some good friends during a transfer. He is going through this emotional time, on top of having no power and intermittent use of water for weeks, and finding little relief from the heat, trying hard to learn a language he so desperately wants to learn and with a training companion who is exact in all things. Is he worried? Definitely not - he ended his letter saying that things are hot and God is good!!..
Well, tonight a sweet MM, emailed me and let me know that she made contact with an old YSA friend in the Dominican Republic who happens to be in my son's ward.... and today at church - and she passed my only message to him - "your mother loves you!"
Little did my MM friend (we have never met!) know that the message was given to the very son who has been a bit sad to lose his friends in a transfer and feeling the H word a little.....I cried when she emailed me and I thanked her so much for the sweet message would have made my son's day. He would have gone to bed tonight knowing, hearing for himself that his mother all of 8,350 miles away from him - loves him dearly....
The MM force is one to be reckoned with, and I know it is only a matter of time that combined, like my son, all 83000+ missionaries will know they are loved by people at home because everyone is doing their bit where they can - in front of them, one step at a time and slowly the 'H' word can be treated quickly because we are all MMs!!
I love being a missionary mama...

Friday, 11 April 2014

Patience is a Virtue

Dear Journal

Recently, I wrote about my son missing his PDay email. It was a source of spiritual inspiration and I felt very blessed indeed, especially when, on the next day I received not one but three email responses from him after he had read all of my emails. I am not sure what he was feeling - but he did ask me to explain how his Zone Leaders were contacted and a message was conveyed instructing him to write home to his mother. This was his last set of instructions, and they repeated twice throughout the emails so I know he will be waiting to hear the answer.....

Now you see why I have called this blog Patience is a virtue, because I have been told on numerous occasions - especially by more experienced missionary mothers, and the ultimate return missionary incarnate - Mr M - that missionaries are busy and sometimes just can't get around to writing....

I was so amazed to see mothers in my own missionary mamas group who have suffered through weeks with no email and have demonstrated the fortitude of warriors, never flinching, and just waiting until they did. Every time, their missionary explained why they hadn't made contact and all is good amongst the people.....
I know this, I have the faith that they are safe. It is just I so desperately count on hearing from my missionaries - that this one slip was a problem for me....
It turned out that week I also got a letter in the mail! That made me feel even worse - that I didn't have the patience to wait for my son to make contact.... ;-( On top of that a missionary mother with a son serving in the same area as my son sent me photos - which were the first photos we had seen since he had left MTC! Heavenly Father answered my prayers - but I so caught up in starting this international search party, that I wasn't patient ENOUGH or for long ENOUGH.... and my son found out...
Bless my boy's heart, what has really strengthened my resolve to hold the line and practice patience if a PDay email was ever missed again was my email from my baby - I tell you it was another 'out of the mouths of babes' moments for this missionary mama.
"If I don’t email one week then you need to pray and wait, you can’t just skip to the end and say I’m in hospital because truth is I probably will be teaching someone... I will find time some where in my week to email -  you just need to [pray and] trust me. Other than that know that I’m on a mission so I’m going to be busy, I’m going to get sick, I may get hurt, I already have got lost before and many other things you wouldn’t want to happen to me but that’s a mission."
Got it son- and from this I will forever and practice patience, pray and wait some more!!
Well, I will try my hardest son & that is all I can do ;-)
Until the next time,

A repentant Missionary mama xx