I know that every day is a gift but today was like CHRISTMAS in JULY! Our family got 4 hours with our missionary today and it was awesome!
Justin suddenly lost most of the hearing in right ear and was fitted with a hearing aid about 6 weeks before he entered the MTC. That’s the sad part. And it got wet. Another sad part. So, on Thursday the MTC called. Never a good thing right? I answered the phone and the Sister told me that she was calling from the MTC about Elder Mansell….is this his mother?? My heart stopped for just a second. In my minds eye I could see a broken arm or leg. Luckily no blood or stitches were involved! She told me that Justin’s hearing aid wasn’t working and that they did not have any transportation for him to get to his Audiologist and asked if we would be able to help them out with a ride for Justin to and from the Dr. YES! YES YES YES!!!
There were several rules involved with leaving the MTC but the one I thought was the funniest was: missionaries can’t take laundry home to wash. Really?!? I haven’t done his laundry since he was 10 years old! But it must have become enough of a problem that now laundry is on the list of forbidden activities when missionaries need to go off campus. Among other things he couldn’t visit with friends or go sit down to eat in a restaurant. Not a problem because I’m not sharing him with friends and his favorite restaurant has a drive-thru!
Darren & I met him at the front door of the MTC and had a chance to meet his companion, Elder Wilson and 2 other missionaries from their district: Elder Sanford and Elder Montierth. We visited with them for a few minutes and took a picture to send to their parents. They might have thought that we were a little weird but that’s ok. I’m not sure that the missionaries truly understand what we go through as parents. Every letter, every picture, every tidbit of information is a treasure. Several people have sent photos from the MTC and every time I get one I jump up and run to show Darren or the boys or anyone who happens to be near me what just showed up on my phone!
Two of our other children met us at the Dr.’s office and spent the rest of the afternoon with us. We couldn’t go sit in a restaurant but we could drive thru and get him something to eat so of course we headed straight to In-and-Out Burger. Justin likes most of the food in the cafeteria but not the hamburgers- he wanted a REAL burger! We felt bad that we couldn’t take burgers to his companions but that’s another rule: you can’t bring food back into the MTC for yourself or other missionaries. Dang.
The greatest part of the day was getting all of the details that are hard to put into an email. How was the first night? What are the dynamics of the district? What’s the best part/worst part. What do you want us to send to you each week? He bore his testimony and prayed for us in Chinese. WOW! It was amazing to hear him speak a language that bears no resemblance to English. We pray every day for him to receive the gift of tongues and it’s working! He’s getting it!
Taking him back wasn’t hard. That is where he belongs right now. When he checked back in, his companions were paged and came to pick him up. They walked in with big smiles on their faces and were truly happy to see him. Justin was only gone for 4 hours but the elders talked about how strange it was while he was gone. Every once in a while one of them would look around for him and think- Where is Elder Mansell (but said his name in Chinese which I cannot remember!). I think it was Elder Montierth that said, “Now we are back to normal.” These boys may not be a flesh-and-blood family but they are the next closest thing… they are companions.
On the way home, we emailed photos and called the parents of these young men to share the time we had with them. And I expect in Arizona and Nevada and St. George there were 3 mothers who jumped up and ran to anyone to show anyone who would look what just showed up on their phone.
May God bless and keep you-