When your children are little, the idea of them actually serving a mission seems so distant, yet when you are faced with the stark reality that is now knocking at your door, you open that door with a bit of apprehension, excitement and utmost uncertainty for what lies ahead.
For as long as I can remember, we’ve prayed about our boys going on missions, spoke in terms of “when you are on your mission” and sang the ever so infamous Primary song, “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” more times than I can recall. I keep telling myself, “this is what you want for your son”, yet my heart is telling me something completely different. So I put on my brave face, sit back and watch as our son prepares to receive his mission call.
I watch from afar as he fills out the online paperwork. I want to hold his hand through this process but know that he needs to do this on his own. He asks for my input on occasion. I jump at the opportunity. We review his current and past responsibilities and callings at church, achievements on and off the basketball court, awards at school and his personal business. What he’s achieved thus far humbles me. He’s prepared to serve the Lord and is ready to serve Him. We attend Dr’s appointments together followed by lunch dates after; I savor every moment that I have with him. I know that once he leaves, the boy I send off will come back an even more remarkable man.
He meets with our Bishop and then heads over to meet with our Stake President. He’s good to go and his papers are ready to submit……..We are now on the clock. When will the call come? Will Adam(my husband) be in town when it arrives? Will Matthew be able to wait to open it? Will his friends come and share this experience with him and us? Will he be happy with where he is called to serve? My mind is flooded with so many questions.
Check the mail.
We wait even longer.
Still no call. Matthew texts me every day. “Mom, is it there today?”
Adam has a business trip this week and is certain that the call won’t arrive till Thursday. He heads for Tulsa, OK Tuesday morning. It’s a four hour drive one way. I send him this picture around 2:00 that afternoon.
He immediately calls me. I knew it was coming today. I even told him that. He is shocked and ecstatic that the call has arrived. He shares with his team in Oklahoma that he has to return home today for his son just received his mission call. So he heads back to Texas that afternoon. He should be home by 7:30. Matthew still doesn’t know that his call has arrived. Just as the previous days, when he comes home and asks me if the mail has come, I tell him to check it. This time I know what he will find.
We call, text and shout the arrival of his mission call to any and all who will listen. Arrive at 8:45pm and the call will be opened at 9:00pm. It’s a school night. I hope that his friends, our family, his leaders and teammates come.
We wait again. And while we wait, he shaves off his beard.
As his friends, teammates, leaders and family start to arrive, I am overcome with emotion. The outpouring of love and support for our precious boy is immeasurable. They have come to our home to share this moment with Matthew. Each of them will forever hold a special place in this missionary mama’s heart. It is standing room only on the main floor and the upstairs bannister is lined with loved ones. One only hopes for love and support like this, yet on this 29th day of March, 2016, we witnessed it.
Before everyone arrived, we encouraged Matthew to explain what this was about because the vast majority of his friends are members of other faiths and this was their first time witnessing a mission call opening. He was nervous. You could tell by the tone in his voice, the speed of his words and his inability to gather his thoughts completely. Understandably so, he was holding the next 24 months of his life in his hands. And then it happened:
I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t thrilled that he was going foreign. It’s what most missionaries hope for. Matthew had dreamt that he was going somewhere in Asia. Not this go around, Elder Hendrix. You are hereby called to speak Spanish in Chile. As the night came to an end, I reflected on the many hugs that were shared, tears that were shed and well wishes extended to and on behalf of our little boy. God speed Elder Hendrix. May you remember to always “let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven”(Matthew 5:16)