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....
NOT EVERYONE 'GETS' IT
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....
WHERE'S THE MONEY AT?
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
WE HAVE RAISED GOOD MEN
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.
WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE A MISSIONARY
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!!
MY TESTIMONY IS STRENGTHENED
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....