I have been thinking about missions lately. We have a nephew serving in Florida. He hasn't been out that long. We have written him as a family. Then we recently had a Young Women's Sunday lesson on supporting missionaries through letter writing. I wrote several missionaries back in the day. All but one of them were purely platonic. I enjoyed writing them then and have enjoyed supporting our nephew now.
The first weekend on this month we had lots of family events as Jon's youngest brother Stephen got married. At the rehearsal dinner each family was introduced by one of the parents. Jon's family went in order of age with his oldest two sisters introducing their families. Jon is the fourth kid of nine. He was in the house trying to put Noble down as this was happening.
My heart began racing as I realized he would likely not be back in time to introduce our family. I have no fear of public speaking but introducing my family... at a wedding... in front of a lot of people who don't all KNOW me... well that presents new challenges for me these days. And my mind was racing and my heart thumping and my fingers shaking. How do I introduce my family? It is still one of the hardest parts of this for me. Do I include Camille? How can I not? She is so much a part of our family? She is one of my children. How can I include her without bringing the whole party down or putting pity focus on me and without opening myself up for questions later about where that 5th kid is? Man, where is Jon when I need him?
Jon's first sister finished pointing out each of her kids by name and his second sister - the one with the son on a mission started. I thought I would see whether she included her absent son. She did. She said she had a son on a mission. Before I knew it she was done and Jon's older brother had introduced his wife and two kids. Our turn. Jon is no where to be found and the family looks to me to do the introductions.
I stand and mumble something about not having had to introduce my family in a few years. It is true. At least in front of a large gathering this is the first time I have had to do this. I introduce myself and Jon and then search for Sabrina. I find her and point her out and introduce her following the pattern others have set. Ann Marie is off playing so I just say her name and age. I introduce Lauren as well. Here is the moment of truth. In a blur the words fall out of my mouth. "I have a daughter named Camille who is on a mission in Heaven and my youngest is Noble who is a year and is being put down to bed by his father I hope." I pass the mike and let my nerves settle. Ten minutes later my heart beat finally is back to normal. I feel good about how I introduced her. I told the truth and I was upbeat and positive and quick so as not to dwell on it.
Then this weekend we went to visit my friend Britt in Arizona. Her youngest brother is leaving on a mission and all her family was in town for his farewell. On Sunday we went to a ward in Mesa where an older couple talked about their recent mission to Uruguay. Missionaries typically serve 2 year missions.
So on this two year mark of my separation from my daughter I have thought about earthly missions vs. heavenly missions. If Camille were on an earthly mission she would be home or coming home by now. She would have stories of unfamiliar people she helped and new customs she learned in strange lands. Her life for the past two years would be full of experiences and people I had never known. She would be a different girl from the one who left. I would have to get to know her again. I would listen to her stories but never really feel what she did for those she served because I was not with her. I would not know them.
But she isn't on an earthly mission. There is no coming back from her current assignment. But when I am reunited with her again I do not think there will be the unfamiliar getting to know you again stage there is with newly returned missionaries here. I believe there will be an immediate sense of reunited love and I will get to listen to her tell me of all the ways she served and helped all of us in her family through our trials and difficulties. It will be wonderful and fascinating and at the end of it I believe I will see one thing -- she was closer to her family on her heavenly mission than she ever could have been on any earthly mission.
What do I do in honor of her 2 year mark? Burn my funeral dress or something? If it weren't so cute I would. Thanks to all of you have been thinking of me and praying for me and who have sent me texts, cards or emails. I am holding in there and I feel of your moral support. Love you all! Stephanie