It's not easy to send a son on a mission. I could pen an entire book about the extreme emotions I have experienced within the past four and a half months. I actually might do that some day...A self-help guide (or at least an "I-know-exactly-what-you-are-going-through-you're-not-alone book), for very inadequately prepared missionary mommas.
Today I understand that the negative emotions make the positive ones positively extraordinary. So I have come to the conclusion that I am thankful for them all.
Iver's journey so far has not gone exactly according to plan. To know me is to know that I do not do well with spontaneity. I like a step-by-step agenda. No surprises. When a set plan is not in place, I panic, and not just a little bit.
In March, while still under my roof and nestled safely in my arms, Iver received his mission call. As he read the call out loud to all of the loved ones gathered to hear, he paused before he read the location, scanning ahead to know for himself before announcing it. I searched his face, in agonizing impatience, longing to be reading over his shoulder. As he saw the location a "huh, well that makes sense" look came upon his face and tears filled his eyes. Filled with emotion, he read aloud, "Elder Johnson, you are called to labor in the Mexico, Mexico City Mission." The first thought that came to me was, "DANGER! MEXICO!" and extreme fear for his life. But very quickly, while feeling the incredible spirit in the room, and seeing the gratitude and excitement that enveloped my son, that fear was soothed, and I felt peace.
On June 9th we traveled to Provo, Utah to drop Iver off at the Mission Training Center. It was a strange, very tender day for our family. I almost cannot speak of it. Our curbside goodbye was probably the most difficult experience of my life. I can still feel his beautiful body embracing mine as it did twice in that few minutes. I had a very difficult time stepping back into the car after I watched Iver walk down the sidewalk and into the doors of the MTC, not looking back. He was ready to be there! But is a mother ever ready to see her precious child leave her side for two years? In the car, I instantly began to sob. I have never sobbed as I did that day. At one point, sweet Shakira reached her arms around me from the back seat and said, "Momma, you have to breathe." I cried all the way to Glenwood Springs. At that point, my sadness began to change...I began to feel trust, anticipation, submission. Oh, the sadness did not go away, and it remains to this day, but I was, and continue to be comforted.
As Iver's time in the MTC came to an end, his work visa had not arrived. He was discouraged and hurting, and this mother feels her childrens' pain tenfold. Iver was ready to serve! He was temporarily assigned to serve in the Washington, Spokane Mission which was helpful and relieving of his discouragement. Iver has served for nearly 10 weeks in Washington...with every letter he sounds stronger and stronger. He has developed a wonderful relationship with his Heavenly Father, has turned himself over completely, and is much stronger for the detour. My hurt and discouragement is turning to thankfulness, as I see this growth in my son. I now feel confident that this is part of God's plan for His precious servant, and I feel strengthened. I might be able to make it through this mission yet!
Today I learned that the visa has gone through, and Iver will be in Mexico City by the end of next week. As I reflect on the experiences I have mentioned and MANY more that I haven't, I feel WOW. Not sure how else to describe it. So today I am grateful for the uncertainness, the surprises, the panic, the fear, the sadness, the discouragement, the hurting. I am thankful for these emotions that have been so difficult because today I feel exquisite, hard-earned JOY. Crazy-thankful.