We’ve spent a great day together. He had a ton of stories to tell us, and a pack of stinky clothes that needed to be washed – immediately. A month living on a mountain wearing the same clothing every day is something I don’t think I’d be interested in, but he thrived. He also lost 35 pounds.
I think I’ll ask him to write a post here to record some of his memories. First and foremost, this blog is our family history. I love that friends and family can catch up with us too, but really I’m recording our life for my grandchildren to read about their parents and grandparents.
He didn’t arrive home until 3am, tired and happy to be here. This morning I went into his room at the crack of noon and started a conversation with a comatose Jacob. His arm was hanging off the side of the bed and he was completely unresponsive. Alive, but exhausted. I opened the blinds, letting the sun stream in and continued to converse. I’m fairly certain I was his favorite person at that moment. He grunted a few responses and I kept talking.
See – I woke up this morning and clicked on a link on a fellow LDS friend’s Facebook page. It took me to a funny Mormon culture video on YouTube. I chuckled and proceeded to watch related youtube videos featuring young LDS men and women opening their mission calls.
If you aren’t familiar with LDS culture, when young men are 18 and when young women are 19, they have the opportunity to serve as full-time missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Young men typically serve for 24 months and young women typically serve for 18 months. The service is voluntary and paid for by the missionary – not the church. They leave their homes, families, and friends to teach others about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in an area foreign to them and often in a foreign tongue. It is a significant sacrifice but one that they make willingly and enthusiastically.
Getting your mission call is a BIG DEAL! You don’t choose where you serve your mission, a call is extended to you. There are 405 missions all over the world and currently over 60,000 full time missionaries are serving. Every missionary looks forward to receiving their call in the mail and learning where they will spend the next 18-24 months!
So this morning, there I was, watching dozens of videos of young missionaries receiving their call. I cried and laughed and enjoyed every minute of it. I couldn’t help but think about Jacob getting his call soon. Which led me to think about him leaving for two years. Which led me to sit in his room, eager for him to wake up so I could spend some time with him.
Jacob can turn his paperwork for his mission in as early as September 1st and should receive his call within 3-4 weeks afterwards. He turns 18 in January and will probably be leaving shortly thereafter. I can’t believe it’s almost time for Jacob to serve a mission. He has prepared for serving a mission his whole life. A favorite primary song is “I Hope They Call Me On A Mission”.
When he was just a little boy, 4 years old maybe, I bought a children’s book called, “Mommy, Do I have to serve a Mission?”. If you have ever read this book, than you understand when I say that I cried buckets of tears every time I read it to him. It’s a short picture book about a mother and son and his transition from boy to man as he prepares to serve a mission. And at the end of the book, her little boy returns from his mission a grown man. I can’t help get emotional thinking about it.
Finally Jacob got up, showered and met me downstairs. As he unpacked his duffel, he shared stories from his time away. I was overwhelmed by the significance of what he did out there. I truly had no understanding of what it was going to be like for him. When he said he’d like to do a mountaineering course in Wyoming for a month we said, “Sounds like fun, but you need to earn the money for it.” And that was that. I suppose signing a ridiculously long waiver form and paying $300 for insurance that would cover the expense of carrying his remains off the mountain should have been a clue.
In retrospect I’m glad I didn’t understand the gravity of his expedition. I’m not sure I could have handled a month of that kind of worry. But he has returned safe and sound, and changed. It’s more than a physical change. He’s always been mature, but he seems older, wiser perhaps. And more sure of himself.
Later in the afternoon, I approached the subject of the big blue bus tour and asked him what he wanted to do. At the time he left for NOLS, we were still focused on traveling Europe and when discussing it back then, I had suggested that he go with us rather than go to college. When else would he get the chance to travel Europe like that?
But when we changed our minds from Europe to big blue bus – I was fairly certain that Jacob would choose to go to school. He’s road tripped with us. He’s seen the sights we’re going to see. Why would he want to go with us?
In response to my inquiry this afternoon, he replied, “I want to stay with the family.” I could not have been more surprised, and perhaps a bit skeptical. Was he sure? Or was he just reacting to returning from a month away? I asked him if he had prayed about it.
“Did I pray about the bus tour? No.” was his reply. But he went on to explain that he had spent a lot of time praying while he was out there on the mountain. He knew that when he returned he would have a choice – go to college (at BYU-Hawaii) or spend the time with us – before his mission. He prayed to know what he should do. Should he seek that formal education? Or should he stay with us?
He told me that it wasn’t about Europe, or biking, or the big blue bus. It was about being with the family. This is the last time he will have this kind of time with his family. He had his own experiences this summer: Elevation, Yosemite, and NOLS. Now he wants to spend the next few months with us before he leaves.
And I’m so happy! Jumping little jumps of joy, actually. We get to do this big blue bus thing together – all of us! Things will be different when he returns from his mission. His focus will shift to his education, his mission in life, and toward getting married and starting a family. That’s how it works. They grow up and they start their own life. But for the next five months I get to hold my family close (really close) and I could not be happier.