Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Missionaries and Little Man.

We had the LDS missionaries over for dinner recently in our home. I asked the Elders in advance if they had ever had Delia's tamales (a local favorite) and they had not.

I thought it would be a great Mexican side dish to introduce them to while serving in this area of South Texas. The Hubby had to work late at the office, so Little Man and I ate outside with them in our backyard. The Hubby joined us later.

The missionaries LOVED the tamales. They also learned that the green sauce is really....really HOT!!

We had three different types of tamales:
1.) Pork
2.) Bean and cheese
3.) Cream-cheese and jalapeno (our favorite!!)

Little Man absolutely loved having the missionaries come to our home. He played ball with them in the backyard and showed them how to turn on the water sprinkler. He even sprayed them with it at one point...yikes! I felt bad about that, but they both just laughed and said that it actually felt good to get a little wet because it was so hot outside that day.

Many of you reading this may not be familiar with the LDS faith....let me explain missionary service in our faith. Young men and young women have the opportunity to serve full-time missions for our church. They serve voluntarily and do not receive a salary for the work they undertake; in fact, most are financially supported by themselves or their families. Missionaries for the LDS Church typically fall under one of these categories:

1.) Young men between the ages of 19 and 25 who meet standards of worthiness are strongly encouraged to consider a two-year, full-time proselytizing mission.

2.) Women who would like to serve a mission must meet the same standards of worthiness and be at least 21 years old; women generally serve shorter 18-month missions however, they are not actively encouraged to serve.

3.) Married retired couples--their length of service may vary from 6 to 36 months depending on their circumstances and means.

I must say that a regret I have is that I did not serve a full-time mission. I remember when I was 24 years old, I was asked by a family friend to consider serving a mission--quite frankly, it just wasn't something I had ever really considered while growing up. At the time, I had just recently graduated from college and had begun my first teaching job as an elementary teacher. I was a 3rd grade teacher in the Dallas area and living on my own for the first time. I traveled home one weekend to see my parents and while attending church with them that Sunday, a member of my home ward Bishopric (Bro. Tefteller) invited me to visit with him for a few minutes. His daughter, Jordan, was on her mission at the time. He told me what a wonderful experience she was having and how happy she was being a missionary. I will never forget that conversation and I remember being thankful that he took the time to meet with me and discuss it. But sadly, I was too overly concerned at the time about leaving the career I had just begun . I didn't feel the timing was right to serve a mission for 18-months. And honestly, I was concerned that I might miss out on finding "Mr. Right'. That at the ripe old age of 24, if I took 2 years to serve the Lord, I might miss out on the opportunity to get married. And well, the rest is history. I basically dismissed the idea and didn't think of it again. Oh my-- if I could only turn back time.... if so, I would have made a very different decision at that stage of my life. I would have chosen to serve--I had the time (24 is not too old). My family would have been more than supportive of this decision. But hindsight is always 20/20..we make decisions and we move on. I am happy to say though that my husband and I have made a commitment to one another that we will serve a mission together someday. I look forward to having that opportunity.

I have brothers who served full-time missions for our church and what a blessing this proved to be for them and our entire family. We grew closer together because of their missions and closer to the Lord. I will always be thankful for their service in the mission field.

Recently, I was going through some boxes in the garage and found old pictures and a letter that my brother Brian wrote to me while on his mission. Brian served for 2 years in the London, England South mission. I hope he doesn't mind if I share a portion of his letter. Here are a few snippets (I won't share all because it is too personal) but this portion still touches my heart to this day. It was written in March of 2000...

"What's happening G? (my nickname to my brothers)....I'm at our service project right now. We work in a charity shop, which is like a thrift store in the United States. Sorry to hear about your love life. Just look on the bright's a lot better than mine right now! You've got to come shopping here someday. I know I mention this in every letter, but I keep seeing cool clothes that you would love. You know I'm always trying to get you out of your school teacher style of clothes! :-) Just always look nice. We are praying to find more people to teach right now. The lady I found and was baptized in December, is still doing really well and is active in the church......

...I think when I get home, these 2 years will feel like they were only a dream; it already seems that way a bit. I just hope I've made a difference and accomplished what I came to do. I feel good about it so far but we missionaries feel a lot pressure and about people we may have missed or didn't teach them well enough. I want to come home knowing I made a difference. That is my goal...

...I can see the big picture much clearer now, as far as the Plan of Salvation. The main purpose for our being on the Earth is to become more like our Heavenly Father. Everything the church teaches is to help us do that and much of this is found through missionary discussions. We have to learn to live like God lives and do the things God wants us to.

...I guess I'll let ya go for now...tell everyone I love them. Take care..."

~ Love,

{Brian with his youngest daughter, Lola}
On Sundays, during Relief Society, when the notebook is passed around to sign up to feed the missionaries, my mind always seems to turn to my brothers and the gratitude I have for the families who cared and fed them while they were on their missions. We were always worried about their well-being those 2 years they were away and prayed that they were being taken care of wherever they were. When I think of these feelings, it is hard to turn down the opportunity to feed the missionaries in our area who are giving 2 years of their life to serve and live so far away from their own families.

After finishing our tamales with the missionaries the other night, they shared a spiritual message with us. I can tell you that prior to this, we had had a busy and stressful week leading up to their visit in our home. In fact, I was almost regretting scheduling the dinner appointment because we were so short on time that day and I knew the Hubby would have to arrive late due to work. I am embarrassed to admit it, but I was not very enthusiastic about their visit. But let me just say, when we all sat down together in the den and the Elders opened their scriptures and began teaching a lesson about the Savior and how he knows each of us by name, almost immediately--my stress level seemed to be tempered. One of the elders shared a few scriptures and shared with us how it is important to slow down and not let the stress of life weigh you down and take your mind off what is most important. We must rely on the Lord and know that He will never fail us. The Elder then shared how our Savior and Father in Heaven are mindful of the burdens we carry. They love us dearly and will always help us through the challenging times of life.

This sweet and tender spiritual message from the missionaries brought the peace we needed in our home that day. I saw that immense stress that my husband seemed to be carrying so heavily on his shoulders when he walked through the door slowly begin to dissipate. Whatever burdens we had felt before they arrived didn't seem to matter as much after their visit. In essence....these humble servants of the Lord had put things in perspective for us in a matter of 2o minutes. The Spirit was so strong in our home. The Hubby and I knew that the lesson they shared was inspired for you see, these Elders had no idea what we were struggling with at that time; however, the lesson they gave spoke clearly and directly to our situation.

I felt so loved at that moment by my Father in Heaven (as did my husband--we both had tears streaming down out cheeks) and I knew in my heart that He was more than aware of our trials and was loving on us at that moment through these young and valiant missionaries. What a tender mercy!

I want to remember this night with the missionaries and the tender mercy we felt (that is why I am recording it here). It never ceases to amaze me how our missionaries learn foreign languages so quickly. Both of these Elders are new to learning the Spanish language and already they have come to master the language in an impressive manner.

When I am asked about missionary service and why we send such young individuals out to do the work--these are my thoughts....There is no question that our missionaries serving around the world are young, they are often inexperienced when it comes to the more complicated "matters of life" and yes, more often than not --they are not the most eloquent of speakers. However-- it is always a humbling and faith building experience for me when they open their mouths to share the gospel. There is a divine spirit felt in the words they speak and the gospel messages they share resonate within my soul. I know they are sharing truths that, if followed, will lead me and my family to greater happiness and safety in this life and the life to come.

It is mine and my Hubby's sincere prayer {and wish } that our son will someday choose to serve a full-time mission for the Lord. I know if he does, it will be an experience he will never regret and one that will bless his life eternally.

{don't forget to pause the music playing at the bottom of this blog before watching the video}


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