Friday, March 29, 2019

Abe's Mission Call

Tuesday, March 19, at 11:09 am, just as I pulled into a grocery store parking lot (Summer, Mette and Hans all buckled in the backseat of the white truck we’ve been driving for nearly 15 years), I received one of the most exciting texts I’ve ever had. It was from Abe. To me and Mike. And simply said: “My mission call is here”

That was it! No further explanations or exclamations. He just sent the text and went into his next class.

Meanwhile, my mind and heart were shooting fireworks. And it felt rather ridiculous to be walking down a store isle — tossing Saltines and sandwich meat into my cart — when something so big was about to be unveiled! 

We knew the call for Abe’s two year proselyting mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was coming of course. He’d begun the process of filling out papers, getting doctors visits, and interviewing with our bishop and stake president months earlier. But somehow the end pieces had fallen together so suddenly! And we’d anticipated possibly waiting a month after his final interview. So this text from Abe — two short weeks after that interview — felt completely unexpected! 

(Mission calls now come electronically, but Abe had Mike — the only one who could be fully trusted not to look — print it off for him to open in front of friends and family.)

And when he opened it late that evening (an eternity of waiting — those hours!), I was as surprised as I’ve ever been by anything to hear where he would be going! 

In July he will be leaving us for two whole years to live, teach, and serve in the El Salvador San Salvador East mission. 

El Salvador! 

For a minute, as he started to read the name, I thought he was talking about some place in Texas! Haha! But truly, I’d never heard a thing about El Salvador! I wasn’t even sure where it was! Interestingly, Daisy had been assigned a small report on El Salvador in her Spanish class just the week before. So it was fun to have her immediately tell us a few details: right next to Honduras! (where Abe has a cousin serving), full of volcanoes! a tiny place with lots of people (it’s a tenth the size of UT with twice as many people as UT)! a beautiful coastline! often rated the murder capital of the world (I feel like we are suddenly back in Book of Mormon times — sending our son off to the Gadianton Robbers)!

Since then we’ve learned a good deal more of course. There are three separate missions in that small country (Abe’s takes in an area bigger than the other two combined so we hope that means he might get to serve in a few of the more rural areas). He’ll likely (as one former missionary told him) eat his weight in pupusas every day). Fireworks at Christmas. Tin-sided outdoor showers. Etc.

But nothing that we’ve learned actually makes it feel REAL yet. And nothing has yet allowed me to pull out and make sense of the complex emotions associated with this business! Despite it being, initially, so far off my radar, I believe this is where the Lord has been carving Abe’s path for his entire life. Well, actually, since before his mortal life. And I love reading things like this from President Eyring:

“I have had [many] experiences feeling of the Holy Ghost…But I’ve never felt what I have felt as I have…participated in the assigning of missionaries…Because of technology, it is possible for us to have your picture and the information about you displayed. And then quickly, on that same screen, all the missions of the Church with all of their needs are displayed. Within minutes, and sometimes less than a minute, the impression comes so powerfully that it would be, if it were a single instance, something that you would never forget. Can you imagine sitting there for hours at a time, having that happen time after time without interruption? I testify to you that it is real…[The Lord] somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.” (Pres. Henry B. Eyring, “Called of God,” address delivered at the Missionary Training Center, Aug. 26, 1997).

But no matter how much this has been planned for eternities, or how much we might have been aware of before coming to earth, we are only just barely seeing it unfold here. And it’s a strange thing to me to I consider that the bits of the journey I do get to experience through Abe’s eyes as this two-year adventure plays out . . . will still only be the smallest part of what it will mean for the rest of his life, and for future generations, and the trajectories of countless other lives.

Here is what I wrote about it shortly after he opened his call:

Tuesday I received one of the most exciting texts of my life. It was from Abe. To me and Mike. It simply said: “My mission call is here” And that was it. Not even any punctuation (though a million exclamation marks were going off in my mind). And now? He’s LEAVING us! Which, of course, I don’t really quite believe. Just a few days ago he and a friend were up North Ogden Divide trying to gather enough snow to make a snowman (as part of a clever answer to an upcoming high school dance he’d been asked to). Wednesday he was off running hurdles in a track meet. Saturday he’ll be scooping ice cream at Farr’s. We are, in this moment, living every single routine and normal thing. He’s HERE — woven into the familiar and reliable of our everyday just like he has always been. And the thought of life without him? Only static. And yet, for the 18-plus years leading up to yesterday’s text, without any of us even knowing it, Abe’s path was winding towards . . . El Salvador. (A country whose name has never had any reason to cross my lips — much less my consciousness.) And even now — while he’s busy running hurdles, and studying for AP tests with eight younger siblings distracting him, and doing after-dinner dishes — actual people are going about lives that will soon intersect and intertwine significantly with his in ways we will only be able to shrug and admit can’t be defined as chance; and completely unknown streets and cities (that will become the backdrop to his days, and fill his future dreams, and strike chords of homesickness once he has left them) are existing. And all I have so far is a photo in my mind — one that doesn’t yet actually exist but somehow formed as clearly in my head (during a restless night after he’d opened his call) as if I were holding it in my hands. It’s an image of Abe. He’s wearing one of those white short-sleeve shirts and a tie. He’s clearly hot and a little sunburnt; and just about in need of another missionary haircut. And he looks . . . well, he looks . . . happy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Plodding Along Towards Week 39

Between writing my last post at 37 weeks of pregnancy (when I felt, matter-of-factly, that having a baby was still a million miles away) and week 38 of pregnancy, I experienced, quite suddenly, pretty nearly all of the catalogued pre-labor symptoms that suggest labor might be coming. (Well, if you google them [which trust me, I did . . . a ridiculously unnecessary amount of times] what they actually suggest is this: "labor might be hours or several weeks away".) 

Which of course I already knew. I've had one hundred babies after all. But I kept on googling . . . hoping that somehow I might suddenly read something new that would narrow the window between hours and weeks to . . . "precisely this time on this day".

I didn't find it.

But all at once, despite my former inability to believe anything, it was real! This baby! Coming! Labor! And delivery! And our entire lives changing! It could all suddenly happen in HOURS . . . or weeks.

Hours or . . . weeks.


Nothing in my life has ever driven me quite so mad as the ten times that I have lived through something this enormous coming in hours or weeks.

I went from having done nothing to prepare (because no need to act rashly . . . we still had all the time in the world and I? a picture of calm) to packing a hospital bag, and pulling out the baby cradle, and washing baby sheets, and analyzing a thousand emotions and physical symptoms, and alternating days between cleaning like a mad woman because baby might be here any minute and . . . dejectedly doing absolutely nothing at all because what was the use when it would just get undone and no baby was ever really coming anyway.

But! I've calmed a bit. I've quit looking anything up on the internet (I may have read it all at this point anyway), and I have quit panicking about having things done (or panicking about them not being done). And I've allowed that this baby most likely will follow the pattern of all of my other babies (saving Mette -- that two-week-early curve thrower) who arrived within about four days (one side or the other) of their due dates. And I've determined to spend at least a little chunk of time every day this week doing something creative. Life is so full of so many demands that I often tend to feel guilty if I am doing anything other than what needs to be done, but I read something from Elder Scott the other day where he talked about his love for painting and how using our creative abilities adds depth and meaning to the monotony of life's demands, etc. With that approval, I dropped my guilt and . . . I'm writing a blog post! And determining to pull out my camera this week! And I even played the piano yesterday and today! (Which is a slow and painful process as I have to pause and think about every note beyond the keys between middle C and the Cs on either side of it. As I was slowly working out an arrangement of Nearer My God to Thee today, Summer came in and asked, "Why are you playing the piano?" When I told her I just wanted to, she called, "Mette! Come on! Let's dance!" Mette excitedly joined her. After about 30 seconds Summer leaned over to her and whispered hopefully, "Don't worry. In a minute it will get exciting.") 

In other news, and speaking of Summer and Mette, they have become the best little playmates! Summer is four and Mette three, so it isn't as if they haven't been interacting with one another for a long time, but something has just clicked between them the last month or two and they are able to play and entertain each other for hours. It's a very satisfying development and makes me incredibly grateful that I had those two girls so closely spaced. 

Notwithstanding all of that, there are still a few glitches: They tend to make a tremendous amount of mess in their adventures together. Poor Hansie is perpetually left out (as they don't want his curious little hands anywhere near their Calico Critter arrangements or Little Pet set ups). And, . . . I overheard this matter-of-fact portion of a conversation coming from the kitchen the other day:

Summer: "But Mette, sometimes it's hard to be your best friend. Because you just scream at me all day." 

Anyway, that's all for now. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

37 Weeks

I'm 37 weeks pregnant.

37 weeks!

It is unquestionably the most surprised I have ever been to reach this point.

I don't know why 37 weeks is such a big deal exactly, but it is! I mean this whole pregnancy is counted in terms of weeks, and, even 36 weeks still sounds like . . . a month . . . and earlier than a baby should safely come. But 37 weeks is just . . . not even a month! And suddenly it seems nobody worries it might be too early for a baby's arrival. (Not that I expect a baby to come right away. [In fact, it's the furthest thing from what I expect at the moment!] True I had one out of nine babies come at 38 weeks, but my other eight all came within days [before or after -- mostly after] of my official due date.) But it's just three weeks is such a small space of time! Why, just three weeks ago, on this very day, Goldie was busy breaking her leg. And that was only . . . one second ago it seems. It just happened! There are still gifted flowers on the counter and Mylar "Get Well Soon" balloons floating above the fireplace mantel. So 37 weeks? Three weeks to go? It just feels like: we are at the end!

Only I don't feel at the end at all! It seems actually impossible that in a few weeks I might suddenly go into labor or that within a month there will be an actual new person here, in our family! I can't wrap my mind around it at all. I can't make it a reality!

I haven't pulled out the car seat or bought a little pack of baby diapers to have ready. I haven't packed a hospital bag and other than the pack of plain white, side-snap onesies I purchased months ago I haven't bought a single cute new snuggly outfit or swaddling blanket. (Though admittedly that's partly due to my inability to see anything as "gender neutral". Had we known if a boy or girl was coming this time around, I probably would have purchased a thing or two.) But I keep thinking of earlier pregnancies when I had big project lists and chores all lined up to be accomplished by this point. "Forced nesting" I called it in my anxiousness to get everything ready and in control before baby arrived. I long for that same type of productivity and feeling of preparedness, but I can't seem to force anything! (Particularly when present life circumstances make doing anything above and beyond the minimum necessary to maintain order . . . almost impossible. With a family this big, that alone is truly work without pause.) And I feel unsettled knowing that there is so little time left . . . and I haven't done any major cleaning or readying. Only . . . I still can't make myself believe in this business of: not much time left.

Mike did pick up an umbrella stroller last weekend (our others having long since broken all their wheels or had the fabric of their seats ripped out). And, because he is amazing at noting anything I ever mention possibly wanting, he also brought a DockATot home to me. (I'd seen these trendy little portable baby sleepers/beds popping up everywhere recently, but looked them up only to be shocked at the ridiculous price tag that clearly showcased their trendiness more than their actual value. But when Mike saw one, oddly placed in the middle of all the other random things at this deeply-discounted BDO Outlet near us, he knew it would be a fun surprise for me.)

Anyway, I don't know what any of that has to do with anything really. I just suddenly see this big thing . . . suddenly almost real . . . and it doesn't feel real. And I feel this anxiousness like I am running out of time to understand what any of this is all about. It really was just so recently that I was still almost certain our family was complete. At this time last year I was truly 99.9% certain our family was truly complete. A baby wasn't on my radar at all. What a lot of unexpected wildness God can present in your life in just a small year's time! 

I don't have much more to say, but I'll copy here what I shared on Instagram early this week:

3.5 weeks. Which kind of makes it sound like this is really going to happen. Someone should buy some baby diapers. Or pack a hospital bag. Or check the car seat. Or do some "nesting". But I can't make it seem real. Just last May -- only ten measly months ago -- I was still 99.9% certain I'd brought all my babies here. And I still haven't really wrapped my mind around any of this. (Who on earth has ten babies anyway? Most of the time I don't even believe I have nine.) All I know is God presented me with an opportunity. He showed me something beautiful. Just this sliver. A glimpse. And then He stood back and let me decide. And I cried for three weeks straight. Because I wanted to choose it -- this huge thing that I'd only understood . . . almost nothing about. But I was too scared. Much much too scared. And then . . . somehow I wasn't. And I chose it. But even in the choosing, it hardly occurred to me that it would ever really be only 3.5 weeks away from becoming something far more than a brave idea. 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...