Well, week three is actually almost touching week four! We will get another email from Elder Muller on Wednesday this week, and I have failed to get his letter from last week posted until today, as well as post some of my thoughts and feelings from this week.
This has been an emotional time for me because, as many of you know, Elder Muller was in the Missionary Choir that performed at our October General Conference meetings. The choir performed in the Saturday night, Priesthood Session. If you have not had a chance to see this session, or to hear this magnificent choir perform, please go to this link: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/sessions/2014/10?cid=HPTH100914477&lang=eng . You will find links to the two days of fantastic talks, and if you look for the Saturday Night Priesthood Session, click on the icon that says music, you will be able to see the choir sing. (If my link doesn't work, please go to LDS.org and click on General Conference.)
Just for clarity sake, Bryan is in the middle section of the choir loft, on the very end chair on the right side as you face the screen. He is the eighth seat up from the bottom! You can catch glimpses of him in just about every song!
The special part of this performance is that it was the first time that Primary songs were sung in a General Conference. Primary songs are the songs our children from 18 months to 12 years old learn in our Primary Sunday School lessons. They are beautiful, and the choir put an amazing medley together. The other special part of the performance was the closing song. It starts out with Elder Hunter singing a solo. Also never been done before. This required the permission of the First Presidency! Elder Hunter is Bryan's bunk mate, so Bryan was pretty psyched! And he is Scottish...which is really cool to Bryan! You will also take note that these missionaries performed all these songs sans folders with music in them! Another pretty awesome testimony of how the Spirit can help you in all things!
Hearing this choir perform was incredibly moving. Circumstances just happened that I was alone at home during the broadcast. Jeremy hooked up the laptop to our TV so that I could stream the session while he and Patrick went to the Church building. I thought I was prepared for it, but once it started and I realized Bryan was somewhere there in the sea of missionaries, I guess I just lost it. The crying turned into painful sobbing and I just wanted to reach out and hug him. So when I actually saw him on the screen, then the wailing really started! So glad I was by myself. If I were technically savvy, I would be able to put some screen shots in this post so that you could see what I was able to captured as I sat snapping Bryan's phone constantly hoping to catch a glimpse of him! Okay, so I was able to figure out how to turn the camera function on, how to snap a picture, but had no idea what to do with them then. So my sweet Jeremy uploaded them to Facebook for me. So I hope most of you have had a chance to see them there!
I am sure there were so many happy/emotional missionary moms watching that choir that night. What a thrill for Bryan to be part of it. I asked him how he got chosen for the choir, and he simply replied "I was lucky". I know that it was an amazing experience for him. To be sitting in the same choir loft that the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sits in has to be just amazing!
So know that I've told you my sob story about this last week, I want to share some tender mercies that have been bestowed upon me during this time of preparation and then sending Bryan off to the Missionary Training Center.
Clothes Shopping Tender Mercy: Imagine trying to buy clothes for your son for two years?! It was a daunting task, because it has to also fit in two suitcases - including a winter coat! So we started our search at Men's Warehouse in the Avenue of Viera shopping center. We met a wonderful salesman, Fred, who took us under his wing. He outfitted Bryan with three, sharp looking missionary suits, ten long sleeved white shirts, socks two belts, and two amazing pair of shoes. I had already loaded Bryan up on ties and extra dress pants from my days of working at Kohl's. But Fred went above and beyond helping us get Bryan ready. He also contributed a winter coat to Bryan for his mission from his personal collection of men's clothing he had from the time he used to run clothing stores up north. This tender mercy saved us several hundred dollars. These coats have to be suitable to wear over suits and for wear in the elements for 24 months. So it is water proof and has a removable wool lining. It is a long trench coat. It is an awesome coat, not a current style or model, but we felt blessed to have met this man with such a generous heart. He also gave Bryan an awesome looking pair of leather gloves! One sharp 19 year old!
Airport Tender Mercy: Bryan had a 07.15 flight out of Orlando direct to Salt Lake City on September 17th. He had to report to the Missionary Training Center by 12.30. We got to the airport with plenty of time in case that the security lines were backed up. As we walked up to the Delta counter to check in, we encountered a very friendly Delta agent, who must have sized us up immediately. A worn out looking mom, a Dad in charge of luggage, a sixteen year old looking pensive, and two little girls looking sleep deprived and anxious, and then one tall, handsome young man in a white suit and tie giving him his flight information. The agent glanced at the ticket and commented it was a direct flight to Salt Lake City. Bryan replied in the affirmative, and then the worn out mother, as always, had to put her two cents in. "Yes, he is flying to Salt Lake City because he is reporting to the Missionary Training Center in Provo to begin his two year Church mission." The agent smiled, took Bryan's bag and said, "So where will you be serving your mission, Elder?" Worn out mother's mouth drops open in amazement! "You called him Elder!" "Do you know our Church?". Agent replies, "Yes, What Stake are you in?" Tuns out he is from the Orlando Stake! He then does something that can only be a blessing from above. He asks me "How many of you would like to accompany Elder Muller to the gate?" It took me awhile to understand what he was saying, and I immediately said "All of us!" So he wrote out five passes to get us by security to walk with Bryan to his gate! The TSA agent who checked our tickets commented "Wow, somebody must be in a good mood at Delta today - they never give out this many passes!" Thank you Heavenly Father. I know you were looking out for us. We didn't have to painfully watch Bryan wind through Security. We got to wind through with him and sit with him for nearly an hour before he boarded. This was good for Bryan, because he had been set apart the night before as a Missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ. That meant from the moment on he had to follow missionary rules...no TV, radio, internet, phone, and should have someone with him at all times. Obviously, if we had't been able to accompany him to the gate, he would have been fine. But it gave this super emotional Mama more precious time with her son.
Watching him board that plan was hard, but I knew in my heart he was doing what he needed to be doing. What he had been preparing to do since we joined the church when he was 3-1/2 years old. I know he will be a blessing to many people in his mission, just like scores of young men and women who left their families to come and serve in Belgium/Netherlands had blessed my life, and all the missionaries we have known state-side that have blessed my life. It still is so incredibly hard, but I know he will come back home in 24 months an even stronger disciple of Christ. What more could a mother ask?
Missionary Choir Tender Mercy: What an amazing gift this is to me, to be able to watch over and over again the video's of the Missionary Choir singing at the Saturday Priesthood Session. I know there are many mothers who didn't get to see their missionaries do that, so I do treasure that. I know that was yet another tender mercy from my Heavenly Father trying to help me transition into this new season of my life. I have served in the Primary organization of our Church almost exclusively since we joined the Church, so singing those Primary Children's Songs has been a normal occurrence with me and the children. So to hear Bryan singing "I hope they call me on a mission, when I have grown a foot or two. I hope by then I will be ready, to teach and preach and work as missionaries do."...as a 6'5" three week old missionary, was pretty tender for me.
I cannot close this post without including some explanation of Mormon terminology that might be unfamiliar to most of you! So when Bryan refers to pre P-day activities, he is talking about the night before Preparation Day. Preparation Day is the one day per week that all missionaries get "time off"! But this is what this "time off" includes! They still get up at 6.30 to do their studies, but during this day this also have to get their laundry done, do their grocery shopping, clean their apartments, email home to their friends and family, write letters to their friends and family...and try and find something fun and relaxing to do...and maybe, just maybe even catch a little nap! And be back in proselyting clothes by 17.00. So the night before P-day has become a night of excitement for Bryan and his friends at the MTC! His P-day in the MTC is Wednesday. That will mostly likely become Monday when he enters the mission field overseas. It is the day all moms (okay, and the rest of the family!) waits with baited breath for an email to come! It is our only connection with our missionary son or daughter-a weekly email/letter and a phone call on Mother's Day and on Christmas.
So again, I will put my plea out there to all of you....when you see these young men and women walking or biking, or if they are lucky enough and are in a car, please smile and wave to them! Offer them a friendly handshake. Don't be rude to them or ignore them! Thank them for their service. Remember they have left friends and family to come out into the mission field to serve you, your family and your friends. They love to serve - if you need help with anything - yard work, painting, moving, cleaning, - anything you can think of - call the missionaries! They will come and do service for you - and ask nothing in return. I would ask that you give them a drink and maybe a sandwich, but that's because I love them and want them to be taken care of! :) And icing on the cake would be if you let them share a message with you - it will brighten your day and theirs!