I like starting sentences with "So" because
it feels like I'm just continuing on with a
conversation that started in 2007.
Diana, my sweet missionary girl, has been gone
since August 3rd--
first to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah
for a month,
and then on September 3rd,
she flew to her Mission in Rochester, New York
where she'll be until February 2014.
The days leading up to her departure were busy, busy, busy.
Even the day she popped out of the car
and onto the curb at the MTC,
was a busy day,
We smiled, we hugged, we yelled out the car windows
as we drove away,
"WE LOVE YOU, SISTER JOHNSON!"
And then we were outta there,
leaving our girl to begin her own Adventure.
I captialized "Adventure"
because a mission of this sorts
deserves an "A".
We got weekly letters from Nana while she was in the MTC.
We wrote several letters--
she reported that out of all the missionaries in her "zone"
she received more letter than anyone else.
Well, you know, we have an enormous family
and this ain't the first time we've sent out a missionary,
so we know how important contact from home is to new missionaries.
it helps us to not miss her so much.
While she was at the Salt Lake City Airport,
she got to call home.
I didn't sleep the night before...
well, I finally went to bed at 2am
but was lying awake by 5am
waiting for the phone to ring.
So was Mr. Wonderful.
We whispered our excitement
in those early morning hours to one another.
RING!! I sprung up like a jack-in-the-box
to grab the phone--
"Nana?! Is that you?"
"Mom?" she answered.
And then, because our throats closed up with emotion,
and eyes filled with tears...
and we forced words to come out.
"You sound so good!"
"I have missed you do much!"
"Are ya doin' okay?"
"Do ya need anything?"
"I love you so much."
And the ugliest, most awful thing:
"I only have a few minutes, Mom. There's a long line of missionaries right here
waiting to call home too."
I replied laughing and selfishly, "I don't care."
Nana said, "Their moms are waiting too. I'll call you on the layover in Detroit, ok?"
So she spent a couple more minutes talking to Joseph and Ari and Dad--she couldn't even wait for us to wake Daisie up, but promised she'd talk to us longer in Detroit.
And that was it.
Over in just minutes.
She did call back about 4-5 hours later
when we got another 20 minutes
It was so short. Too short.
We are the biggest boobs on the planet.
I'm sharing that now,
just in case anyone thinks we're this awesomely brave family.
We. Are. Not.
We are sad saps to the nth-degree.
Hearing our girls' voice went right to the soft spots of our hearts.
I was equally teary-eyed and miserable,
and elated and grateful
for the rest of the day.
Later that evening,
the phone rang and it was Sister Christianson,
the Mission President's wife.
She said they'd picked up our girl
and she was "lovely and delightful"
and they're so glad to have her.
N' that Diana was already asleep for the night
after a very long day that began at 4am, Utah-time.
I honestly don't recall anything else she said.
My heart was just relieved to know our girl had arrived safely.
We've been getting emails and letters home every week;
beautiful scripts filled with love and gratitude
and witnesses of faith and growth.
Diana is the happiest I've ever known her to be;
she is serving with a Sister Clark from Texas
as her companion,
whom she loves and adores.
And also a Sister Thomas and another sister from Italy
who is learning to speak english.
Diana is serving at the Church's historic sites
giving tours during the day,
and teaching the gospel in the evening.
She met a small family of three,
that are very humble.
The mother is in a wheelchair,
and has a deteriorating brain.
The first time the sisters went over,
they noticed that the home had just one room--
wherein there is a bed on the floor,
and one small table.
The mother apologized that the only place to sit
was the floor,
but she herself, had bleached it in anticipation of the sisters visit.
Diana was so touched,
she asked if she and her companion might return over the weekend
to offer service.
Here is a portion of the recent email Diana sent home this week:
Anyways last week we asked if we could serve them...they have NOTHING. So saturday
morning sister clark (who I now love and adore) spent 2 hours on our
hands and knees cleaning their apartment. Mom it was so bad....so so so
bad. It was also so so so humbling. We have so much. By the time we
left the house was white again. I have bruises on my knees still from
scrubbing the floors just how you taught me to.
I loved this because it is easy to see that my girl is truly serving,
in the most sincere ways,
people in need.
That's what we as parents, hope missions teach our children.
To see beyond the end of their own noses,
and act on their own accord
to do what they can do to help.
She is becoming a Disciple of Christ.
That's how it's been with her gone.
She's busy doing and being
I'm at home doing what I always do--
running a household the best I can,
and trying not to miss her so much.
It has been six weeks since we drove over the Rocky Mountains
to drop her off at the "trailhead" of her Adventure...
and until yesterday,
I had not even once,
gone down to the basement to her bedroom.
But yesterday, I was already in the basement putting away
some home staging accessories on a bookcase,
when I looked over at her door.
"It's time", I thought.
I poked my head inside and walked over to her bed
looked around at her photo frames,
and desk all tidied-up.
Nothing out of place.
And then the biggest wall of emotions hit me
O I cried.
I miss her.
This sacrifice of sending our kids out into the world
and not being able to talk to them but twice a year
is not easy.
I wouldn't have her doing anything else,
It is SO good for her--
for now and for later.
It is a hard thing.
The other night at the dinner table,
I had had a particularly sappy few moments of missing Nana,
and I turned to my 11 year old, Arianna,
"YOU do not need to plan on going on a mission. I simply cannot bear the idea of sending you away."
To which my fiesty girl responded: "OH, I'm GOIN'! That's how we escape! You only THINK we're on a Mission! Nana's actually on a vacation."
Yeah. I'm definitely gonna miss this one in 10 more years.
when you see our sweet missionaries in your town,
or if they happen to come to your door,
will you be kind to them?
They have a mother at home
who would give anything to see their smile today
and who is on her knees praying
for their safety and well-being.
You can be the answer to her prayer.