November 27, 2008

PARENTS OF MISSIONARIES

One of the wonderful things I have enjoyed about having this blog is communicating with the parents of missionaries. As I have read the comments and e-mails, usually from the mothers of misssionaries I have felt their love for their sons and daughters. This is what I want to write about. The incredible love of a parent. The intense bond that forms between parent and child. Lying just under the surface of the joy that is expressed in their words I sense something else.........
sometimes it is a longing..........................or simply an anticipation of what is to come.
It reminds me of the feeling I had during the 9 months of pregnancy. Some days I couldn't hold back the excitement of the anticipation of the joy we would finally feel when we brought this new little bundle home.
The incredible wonder of what and who this child would become.
That is a little of what I feel when I read the letters from the parents of missionaries.
The deep love they have for their child
The anticipation of who they will be when they return home a newer version of their previous self
They know, just as I knew those 9 months I was carrying my babies that
Something incredible is taking place in their child's lives,
something wonderfully Divine
And here is what I wanted to express.......
This process can be hard for parents
This watching our children transform into a newer version of their previous self.
I shouldn't speak for all of us. I know, maybe it isn't hard for all of you, it is hard for me and I sense it is hard for some of the parents who read my blog.
It's not that we don't want them to grow up, or to leave our homes, it is just a process of adjustment that is sometimes difficult.........
I loved having children in my home (that's for another post)
The truth is as our children grow we have to adjust, to learn how to parent a now grown adult. Change is hard. Many times we want to hold on to what we know. We fear the letting go process because we don't really know what will follow. When I read the letters and comments from parents that is what I sense, parents in that process....
"There are two lasting bequeaths we give our children one is roots, the other is wings."
We use to have this quote on the wall in our home
It helped me remember that someday these two sweet spirits that I had come to love and completely adore would someday leave my side and that although it was important for them to feel loved at home they needed to have the confidence and skills necessary to lead their own lives separate from ours.
A few days ago I got a note from a mother of a young man on a mission here in Ukraine.
She said that she loves to read the blog and that she loves to "catch a glimpse" (anticipation?......) of her son when I post his picture. Another time a woman posted that it "brought tears to her eyes" to see the faces of the missionaries. (joy....... longing?)
This mom had a son serving a mission in another part of the world.
Women I know who have sons on missions in other places write and tell me how they wish that "someone in their sons mission had a blog". This is what got me thinking. What do they get from reading the blog? Why do they like to come and sit?
Most of the young missionaries I speak to don't really understand why their parents,
"love to read my blog so much."
I just don't think they understand why it means so much to their parents to see a picture of them or read a story about their life here in Ukraine.
I don't think they understand how incredibly hard it is to be away from our children and how just a "glimpse" into their lives brings us so much joy. My daughter's two oldest children recently started preschool and she mentioned on her blog,
"I feel like I am missing a chunk of their lives."
and that is what is really hard about parenting. You spend the first several years of a child's life consumed with being sure your children are safe and well taken care of. I remember the first time I brought my first child home from the hospital I was so afraid we would have a car accident. Later I remember sitting in my bedroom alone with my sweet little baby daughter and just being completely overwhelmed with the awesome responsibility of caring for her. I couldn't imagine my life without her. I felt this attachment that was so tangible. I just knew from that day on that it was my job to take care of her. I spent the next 18 plus years of her life
"taking care" of her.
The first few years it was fairly easy, making sure she was fed when she was hungry that her diaper was changed when it was wet, that she was bathed and had clean, warm clothes to wear, that she went to the Pediatrician for regular check-ups and got her scheduled shots on time. When her brother came along I worried that I would never love another child as much as I loved her. I worried if I did, maybe it would be hard on her. So I was extra careful to be sure I spent enough time with her too when our beautiful son was born. I was amazed at how quickly all the same feelings of attachment formed between us. I learned to know what each of his cries meant and cherished every moment with him. I knew he would be my last and I did not want to miss one second of his development. When our children got a little older I remember how it felt when our daughter went to kindergarten. I could really relate to how my daughter felt when her children started preschool. It just didn't feel right that their lives were going on without me. I remember when they came home I had lots of questions,
"did you have fun?"........................."what did you do?"..............................
"do you like your teacher"..................." "who did you play with?.....................
Their answers never contained enough information.................
in fact they were usually just one word answers.
I hated that. I wanted details.........................................
My point here is ...........I think that is how it is for the parents who read the blog.
A letter home that is written during their one hour of Internet time is probably a lot like those answers I got when my children came home from school. Moms and dads want the details. It is hard to have our children off having these incredible life changing experiences and we not only are not a part of them but we know very little about them.
Parents have told me that they like to read the details that I include in my blog about Life in Ukraine. They like to know more about the food, the shopping, the people, the landscape and the missionary work. The mother in me also knows that they like to know that there is another mom and dad, or in our case, several moms and dads whose doors are always open who their child could go to if they ever needed anything, They like to know that their child is loved and feels safe in a new land.
I don't think our children really understand how difficult it is to allow them to have wings. This may just be one of those things that they will never truly understand until they are parents.
We love them. We love that they are a part of our lives. When my children walk through the door of my home it brings a smile to my face. It makes me happy. I love to hear them talk and laugh together. I love it when they come in and can't wait to tell us some interesting thing that happened in their lives. I love having a house filled with family and the warm sweet noises that they bring into my home.
As they grow into adults that changes and sometimes that adjustment is a bit difficult.
So on this THANKSGIVING DAY I give thanks for the wonderful children and great husband that my Heavenly Father blessed me with.
and if I can bless a mom or dad with a glimpse of their son or daughters life on a mission I am more than happy to do that. In fact, I am honored to do that.
Happy Thanksgiving dear friends,
we love you,
Elder and Sister Kinghorn
I would love to hear your comments on this especially parents of missionaries or those who have had sons or daughters on missions.

4 messages from friends and family:

dixiewhitehead said...

Sister Kinghorn,
You express yourself so well. What you say is true. I enjoy seeing my son on your blog, not because I worry about him... because I know with all my heart that he is being watched over by the one to whom I pray to every day and who is in charge. But I think it's because, like you said, I want to share in the joy of his transformation into the man who will not only reach the potential that his parents see for him, but the eternal and divine potential that his Father in Heaven has for him.

At first I almost felt guilty, like I shouldn't be allowed to peek in the cocoon. (I couldn't look at my other sons on their missions). But I got over that guilt quickly enough.

As mothers, we love our children so much that we want to share in as much of their lives as we can. But it has been a real blessing to me to be able to see the faces of the beautiful Ukrainian people as they get baptized on this blog and the Fry's blog. If I never saw my son's picture again while he is in Ukraine, I would feel so happy and satisfied seeing their shining faces and knowing that he is an instrument in God's hands with the potential to change lives for eternity.

Thanks again for the peep hole into life in Ukraine. I love it.

Bruce and Jeri said...

I, too am grateful for the peep hole into life where my daughter is serving. I can read her letter and then I open up your blog and it's like a visual aid. Thank you and Happy Holidays. Jeri

Jan Williams said...

Hello Brother and Sister Kinghorn,
Elder Spencer Williams is our son. He let us know on his email today that you had asked if we were reading your blog and why we hadn't posted a message. To be honest, I didn't really know how and that I should (I'm new to this blog thing). So, because we enjoy very much looking at and reading your blog, I think I have figured it out :) Anyway, we want to thank you for including pictures and little blurbs about Spencer and for the insightful information about Ukraine. You nailed it on the head...the way you expressed what a parent feels having them out there. We miss him terribly, but love that he is serving the Lord. Thank you - Thank you!!
Love,
Jan & Todd Williams

Jane Anne said...

Hello Sister Kinghorn,

I don't know how I missed this post but I just found it tonight as I was perusing!

My husband says he wishes he could be a fly on the wall...observe without being noticed! Your blog is a little like that...we can observe the mission life a little more closely then from what we get in the letters! It really is wonderful and I think you are right, we want to share in the experience of growth and learning because of the love we have for our children.

I have found now that Elder Woodhead has been in Ukraine almost a year, I don't really worry about him. I worried when he first arrived about how he would make the adjustment to language, culture, mission life and companions. Honestly, your blog helped ease some of those concerns. He left for his mission just a few months after graduation from High School, so mission life was really his first experience in the adult world. I think the adjustment was quite a drastic one for both son and family:) But now that we've survived those first few months (Yeah!!) I find myself really able to replace that worry with faith. Once that happens, then we are allowed to feel and see the wonderful moments of growth in our son. Then we hunger for more! When we "hunger and thirst" to hear more of these wonderful experiences, we want to get as much of it as possible. You help provide some of that satisfying and soul filling nourishement we, as parents of missionaries, yearn for.

We're grateful to you and the Fry's for your blogs. Keep up the good work!

Saints in Ukraine (put music on pause)

My music


click on the photo to see the captions

Armenia Trip

Our last Zone Conference

Some of the faces we will miss

Our trip to Mariupol

March Zone Conference in Donetsk(click on photo to view a larger version)

Missionaries helping the International Relief Development unload a container from America

Health Fair click on the photo to see what is coming up

To listen to this talk you will need to put the music on pause first

Sometimes we forget what divine gifts we have been given. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Thanksgiving

Look at the fun equipment we got to deliver to this internat for Special Needs children

Europe East Area District Meeting

I LOVE THESE MISSIONARIES

OUR APARTMENT (this is not an average missionary apartment)

THIS IS WHAT MISSIONARY APARTMENTS LOOK LIKE ON INSPECTION DAY

CLICK ON THE PICTURE TO SEE A MORE COMPLETE VIEW

LEADERSHIP TRAINING IN THE KALINSKY BUILDING

Click on photo to see more photos of the Open House at the Kalininsky blg