Monday, December 2, 2013
missionary kids: an update
For the last few days, I've been gathering, wrapping, and making special treats to send off in Christmas packages to my two missionary kids. My oldest son Gary (22) is serving in Finland, and my daughter Jane (20) has been in Taiwan.
They are both growing and learning so much. They love the people they are serving and teaching. They love each of the cultures they are immersed in. They've both been so successful learning these challenging languages- conversing, interpreting, reading, and writing- throughout the short time they've lived and studied there; some of the most difficult languages in the world. It's really a miracle and boggles my mind.
God has truly blessed them both. They are the happiest they've ever been.
Just a little bit of an update on each of them:
Jane began her mission in April of this year. During the first few months of her mission until she left for Taiwan in June, she studied Mandarin Chinese intensely (prior to that she was studying this language at university), as well as learning all that she would need to know to become a missionary. From that time until a few weeks ago, she was assigned to live and work in the south-eastern part of the country, a rural town surrounded by mountain jungles and rice paddies, bordered by the sea. She told us that this place that she learned to love so much is what one might picture when they think of Asia.
She developed many cherished relationships; especially to some very sweet women that she taught and befriended. She loved teaching English to her little class that met on Wednesday nights.
She had many adventures, too. Many of them involve her bike. She rode her bike day after day to distant mountain villages to visit and teach. She fended off packs of wild dogs (she said dogs outnumbered people, 3 to 1) many, many times, escaping as fast as her legs could pump. She rode her bike in typhoon weather. She survived being almost hit by a truck while on that bike. (And another altercation just this past Friday with a motorbike. She was thrown off, hurting her arm enough for a visit to the E.R., road rash all over her legs.) She broke her big toe on another bike ride. Thankfully, she made it through and survived a few earthquakes. One day while eating at one of the restaurants in town, she found a cockroach in her soup.
To say that she's a trooper would be an understatement, don't you think?
A few weeks ago, she was given the assignment to move to and open a new area (very different from her previous location-- big city urban.) that had never had missionaries there before, (and all very foreign to our girl) in addition to training a brand new Taiwanese companion who is just now beginning her own mission. Given the fact that Jane is fairly new herself as a missionary, I think this speaks very highly of how capable she is. She is a wonder.
And now a bit about Gary.
He left on his mission in April of 2011. (He'll come home sometime this coming April.) He, like Jane, had an intense preparation time before he arrived in Helsinki where he lived and worked for the first six months or so of his mission. He loved that time, and had many opportunities to teach and form relationships with not only Finns, but with many people from all over the world who have immigrated there. After that time, he was transferred to a city in the northern part of the country; spending the winter in the Arctic Circle and maintaining a great attitude when no end in sight cold and snow... are not his favorite thing.
Now, he has moved back to a suburb of Helsinki. He's been blessed to have an opportunity to offer help, support, and leadership to other missionaries. He is working so hard. He loves sharing his understanding and love of Christ; grateful and joyful for the many opportunities he's been given to impart his own personal insights, experiences, and feelings with others.
He and his companion (who hails from Sweden) were recently the focus and front page story of one of the most popular newspapers in all of Finland. The writer and photographer following and chronicling a typical day of a Mormon (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) missionary.
He sent us home a copy this week with his own translation.
This mother-heart bursting with love for these two. Even as this heart longs and aches for them, I couldn't be happier for them than I am right now.
For the fine people they are.
For the good hearts they both have.
For the ways they are growing.
For the opportunities they've been blessed with to learn and to understand what it means to love God and their fellow-men.
For their examples to me and so many others of what it means to sacrifice.
For the faith, hope, and charity they are developing in their souls.
I just had to share these two with you tonight. It's what's on my mind...