Hello Family and Friends,
I haven't posted any of my "musings" here for awhile. I guess I just haven't had the strength to bare my soul for awhile! Because that is what it feels like. Sometimes I think maybe I wasn't meant to be a missionary mama! I keep waiting for it to get easier! Sure, outwardly to the world I can talk about it now without crying, but that doesn't mean my heart still isn't weeping from missing my son, or that I don't hide in a closet to let the tears flow! And I can't stop looking at the clock to figure out what he might be doing at that exact time in Belgium. I am sure this is what every mother of a missionary does! I don't seem to get anything else done. I wonder when that stops!
I was so thrilled when I heard where Bryan would be serving his first few months in the mission. Brugge is a beautiful city in Belgium. My second favorite Belgian city next to Antwerpen. We have several European tapestries hanging in our home, and two of my favorite are of the cities of Brugge and Antwerpen! Brugge is a major tourist area and so beautiful. It is on the North Sea Coast. They call it the Venice of the North because of all the canals that run through it. Brother Muller used to take many of our visitors there and give tours around the city....and we used to always find tourists following us around listening to his tours in English! It was quite funny. So Elder Muller has been there many times. The city will be spectacular during the Christmas season with the Christmas markets being set up, and the lights and music...and smells of food! Oh, if only I could be there!
Here is a map of Belgium so that you can get an idea of where Elder Muller is, and just how big his proselyting area is:
He is in Brugge and his area covers all of Brugge, Oostende and everything else north and west of Kortrijk. Crazy big! To get to Oostende takes an hour by bus!
His District Leaders live in Ghent. The District Leaders are the two Elders who oversee several companionships of Elders and Sisters in a given area. They then report to Zone Leaders who live in Angwerpen.
For Preparation Days, Elder Muller and Elder Childs travel to Ghent to be with the missionaries in their District. It gives them a chance to be with other missionaries and have some fun. It gets lonely being with only one companion 24/7!
Hopefully this helps to give a visual as to the area that Elder Muller is working in.
For whatever reason, the last week has been difficult. I think it started with my son, Jeremy, playing some of Bryan's old Christmas arrangements....just brought back the memory of Bryan sitting at our piano practicing this piece to perform in Sacrament for Christmas. Silly, right? Jeremy performs it beautifully, so that is another tender mercy from Heavenly Father...I can still listen to beautiful piano being played in my home! All five of my children play beautifully.
I realize in my post about tender mercies I have had with Elder Muller's mission, I neglected to mention the first and most amazing one! The fact that Elder Muller was called home to the Belgian/Netherlands mission is an amazing tender mercy. The Lord is responsible for this call to serve, not Bryan! Our missionaries do not request to be sent some where in the world. It is a spiritual experience for our leaders of the Church to place these young men and woman in their missions. It is done with much prayer and promptings for the Holy Ghost to tell them where the missionary should serve. So for Bryan to be sent to his homeland of Belgium, was indeed a great tender mercy for our family. He is going back to the land where he was born, where his family and ancestors are from, and most importantly, where our family found the gospel! It is in Brussels, Belgium where we were baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on December 12, 1998. We were taught by Elders and Sisters from the same mission! Amazing!! It has changed our lives so much...for the better!
The other tender mercy of this mission call is that I know where my son is! I know the streets he is walking. I know the language he is speaking. I know the food he is eating! That is an amazing blessing to me. Heavenly Father understood how hard this would be for me, and he gave me these comforts for the next two years.
Let me share another reason that my son is serving, along with 88,000 other young men and women of our Church...did you ever stop to think why so many young people would put their lives on hold for 18 to 24 months....when I say on hold, I mean on hold. They leave their families, they leave their friends, they leave their studies at universities, or they leave jobs that they have had, they leave their phones, their computers, they leave any connection to the life they had been living. They and their families sacrifice financially to send these young stalwart adults into the mission field. There must be something important that they want to share with the world, or why else would they sacrifice so much?
It starts with the belief that God is YOUR loving Heavenly Father. He is your Father in Heaven. He knows you personally and loves you more than you can possibly comprehend. He wants you to be happy in this life and in eternity. To accomplish this purpose, He provided a plan called the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Son of God; His life and teachings are the guide to peace in this life and joy in eternity. The gospel is Heavenly Father's plan to help us have peace in this life and joy in eternity. The gospel is centered on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and requires us to have faith in Him, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.
The Atonement is the event that enables us to be reconciled to God. To atone is to suffer the penalty for sin, thereby removing the effects of sin from repentant sinners. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of making a perfect Atonement for all mankind. His Atonement included His suffering for our sins, the shedding of His blood, and His death and Resurrection. Because of the Atonement, everyone who has lived will be resurrected. The Atonement also provides us with a way to be forgiven of our sins and to live forever with God.
The gospel of Jesus Christ blesses all who accept and live it. One of the best places to teach and apply the gospel in in our families. God has established families to bring happiness to His children, to allow us to learn correct principles in a loving atmosphere, and to prepare us to return to Him after we die. Although family relationships can be challenging at times, our Heavenly Father blesses us as we strive to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. These teachings help us strengthen our families. *
*From the Church pamphlet "The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ"
This is a part of the message these young people want to share with people around the world.
One other question to answer....why am I a missionary mama and not a missionary mom?! This is a cute question I have been asked. It is simply because my first three children were born in Belgium and started their young lives there. We lived the traditions of that country...including me maintaining my maiden name, and our children calling us Mama and Papa instead of Mom and Dad! We kept that tradition going once we moved back to America! As my kids explain - I am their Mom but my name is Mama!!
Until the next time....and if you have any questions you would like me to answer, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org !