Wednesday, April 3, 2013

a missionary

After months and months-- even years and years of anticipation-- this day that we've been waiting for and preparing for, has finally come.
It's been so long ago, way back in October when this whole process started and her departure date seemed so far away.But this day of April 3rd has finally, finally come, and now she's gone. Just like that.
And we're left sober, tender, and teary.
Not a word spoken in the car all the way home from any of us after dropping her off at the curb of the Missionary Training Center (20 minutes away from our home.) where she will be residing for nine weeks "learning to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively, and developing excellent communication skills. When missionaries are called to serve in foreign lands, their training also includes learning a new language." (In her case, more study of Mandarin Chinese.) A little more about this training center here when I wrote about Gary's missionary departure a year ago last April.

So today, as you can probably imagine, this mother-heart of mine is aching. A real, tangible, physical pain in my chest. A warm, heavy lump in my throat that won't go away. Tears on the verge of spilling over.
Yes, sending a twenty year old daughter across the globe to a very foreign country for eighteen months (without seeing her once during all this time) is a difficult thing to do.
 I must admit that I'm forcing myself, sitting here. Looking at these photographs and trying to express so many feelings that can't possibly be expressed. But it must be done. And I know writing and capturing the day is something that I need to do and desire to do.

 The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity just as it was the last go around with Gary. Since her big send-off and all the preparation that was involved on Easter Sunday, the days have been filled with packing and organizing all her supplies-- including the recommended 18 month supply of deodorant (!!!)-- medicines, first aid and essential oil kits, toiletries, office supplies, clothing, etc. Frantically remembering last minute errands to run and other essential items that needed to be checked off the list.

It made me so happy seeing her take so much time this week and last, writing thank you notes to so many friends, family, and neighbors who were so generous in their support, as well as contributing to her mission fund. Writing long letters to the people she loves, letting them know how much they mean to her.

Last night I told her I'd fix anything she wanted for her last meal at home. I gladly granted her request of a chickpea and spinach curry with a special fruit and chocolate frozen dessert. We were so happy that her beloved roommates came and joined us at the dinner table, and then we all (along with some of our extended family) headed off to the church where hands were layed upon her head to lovingly "set her apart" to ordain or devote the next year and a half of her life to full-time, voluntary missionary service.
Again, more tender expressions and tears were shed at that sacred occasion.
This morning I came down to her sitting on the couch with Isaac reading poems to him and laughing together. That was so sweet of her to take this special time with him, to make a memory they'll both cherish.

Then the time approached to load up the car.
To pull away from the blue house.
For last goodbyes.
For long, lingering hugs.
For softly escaping sobbings.
For red, puffy, tear-stained eyes and cheeks.
For last I love yous.

How I will miss you, dear Jane.

Those times when you lay your head on my lap and I stroke your long hair, your arm outstretched for me to rub.

Missing the beautiful music you make on your beloved violin.

For your thoughtful and considerate offering to make dinner on the nights when I just need a break.

Not being able to pick up the phone and hear the sound of your voice. The daily sharing of your world, your feelings, your fears, your hopes, your joys, your victories.

For those drives in the car, to and from your apartment or the university talking, listening to the music turned up loud, or the silence that just is.

For the times when we'd snuggle under the covers of my bed, mid-day, and watch movies together.

Missing the times when I lend you my running shoes on a weekend visit home.

For the joy and camaraderie in having someone in this house who eats the same way I do.

Missing our shopping outings and lunch dates.

For not having you be there to give me tips on style, fashion, and music tastes.

For the closeness, the trust and confiding, and the sweetest friendship I have with you.

May God bless and keep you, my dear. You will always, always be in my heart. In all of our hearts. In our prayers, too. I am so happy for you. For this grand adventure you will now embark on. For the growth and understanding you will achieve. For the life-lessons of love, service, hard work, sacrifice, diligence, and understanding. For this gift and opportunity to know you what faith, hope, and charity truly mean. I'm so proud of your commitment, your decision, your enthusiasm, your light. Your willingness and determination to do what you feel is right. Your love of God and His Son.

Until I hold you again in my arms...


  1. you've done a beautiful thing Emily.
    your Jane sounds like one fabulous young lady.

  2. Oh I'm sobbing. She is beautiful...and God is going to use her in mighty ways. Be proud that you are not holding her back but rather giving her wings to do what God created her to do. It's not easy for a mom...xoxoxo

  3. Oh, I had to stop reading for a bit so I didn't burst into tears. This breaks my heart, I can only imagine how you are feeling. What an experience for Emily, and to know how much love is just a phone call away. Are you allowed to Skype?

  4. Grace, peace in these days after the goodbye. This is a beautiful post...thank you for sharing.