One of my favorite scripture stories is of Hannah and Samuel. The faithfulness, gratitude and honesty she showed the Lord by giving her son to him is astounding, especially when you consider the story that brought them to that point. Imagine the emotions she must have felt when she took her sweet boy, just weaned, to the priest, Eli, to be raised unto the Lord. Her sacrifice is among some of the greatest. I've come to really love Hannah over the past two years. Although the magnitude of our sacrifices is different I've drawn relation and comfort from her experience and her spirit.
I always knew my son, Kalten, would serve a mission. From the time he was small it was his chief goal. He never could decide “what he wanted to be when he grew up” as long as he was a missionary first. When he was in junior high he made two goals. The first was to serve a mission. The second was to not kiss a girl to ensure he went on a mission. I had nineteen years to enjoy him and prepare myself to send him off for two years. Hannah only had a few years, probably 2-3 before sending him off for the rest of his life.
I remember the day we dropped him off at the Missionary Training Center. Many tears were shed and I just kept wanting one more hug. In case you’re wondering, you can’t get enough hugs to last two years. It just doesn't work. I’m sure there were many tears shed by Hannah the day she dropped her son off at his training center (the temple). When I dropped off my missionary I felt many conflicting emotions. I was depressed and excited and sad and happy all at the same time. I've had periods of mourning and depression-feelings I’d never thought I’d experience in regard to sending him on a mission. I've cried because I miss my boy. I've longed for the sight of his face, the sound of his voice, even the embarrassment he was so flawless at providing me. But the greatest, most prevalent feeling I've had because of his missionary service has been pure joy. It’s in these moments of such joy that it’s all been worth it.
I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that in the scriptural account right after Hannah leaves Samuel with Eli, she sings praises to the Lord. She too, felt that eternal joy of knowing her child is a servant of the Lord. Hannah’s psalm is beautiful. In it she recognizes the power, strength and goodness of the God her son will serve. 1 Samuel 2:1-10 starts with these words, “And Hannah prayed and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.” Hannah uses a term that I love. “…I have lent him to the Lord.” You might think this is opposite what we've been taught, that our children are on loan from our Heavenly Father, to us, to raise in righteousness so that they can return to Him. I agree with that too, in fact both are correct and they don’t contradict but stand together. I believe Hannah understood very well the concept that we could be together again as families and that this was part of the road that she needed to travel to ensure she could be with her son again. In a sense, God loaned Samuel to her, she loaned him back to the Lord, and therefore they will both get him in the next life. What an example of giving all that we have for the Lord’s purposes.
Because of Hannah’s great sacrifice she received blessings. One of the obvious is that her son was raised up to be a prophet. Another is the children she was blessed with-another three sons and two daughters. I have no doubt that this was one of her favorite blessings. Hannah had wanted to be a mother more than anything. Principally, it was her pleading for a child that set this story in motion.
The blessings we've received have been tremendous. Hannah’s story is one of them as you can see but there are others, many others. Let me share a few.
Kalten’s safety was a huge concern of this worrywart mom. President Gabrielson shared a scripture with me the night Kalten was set apart as a missionary. D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left and my spirit shall be on your hearts, and mine angels round about you to bear you up. – Now that’s a blessing! For me and my son.
We’ve been blessed financially. Even though we've had hours and benefits cut we've made it through and no one has starved to death. In fact, we've been overwhelmed at the generosity by some very sweet “helpers” who've contributed to Kalten’s mission. One amazing donation from an anonymous person has been overwhelming and such a blessing when we really needed it. I’ll never forget that.
Kalten has become quite tidy from what I understand. He loves to clean and he expects a certain level of tidiness from his companions. He’s asked for cleaning tips even! Something I never expected from one of my sons! Moms, tell me you wouldn't love that!
Elder Browning is so much closer to the Lord, it’s evident in the emails he sends as well as the calls we get from people in Ohio who come in contact with him and want to just tell us what an awesome son we have. What rewarding calls and what a reward for this mom to know that her son has a personal relationship with God. Mosiah 5:13 says, “For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?” Serving a mission has truly helped him to get to know the Lord. He is about the Lord’s business. It’s been his only focus for almost two years. He depends on the Lord for, well, everything. He knows the Lord!
He LOVES to learn and study. He often tells us a new way he’s studying. Most recently he’s copying down the Book of Mormon, word for word and writing down his thoughts and related scriptures as he does. He has developed a great work ethic and wonderful habits that he’ll carry into the next chapters of his life.
We are so much better at FHE. We aren't perfect but we do better than we ever have before. It’s easier than it used to be. And we have more lessons instead of just family activities. There’s a greater balance and our family is better for it.
Our girls are also developing better relationships with God. They are each so much more focused on Him and what he wants. Two of them have decided to also serve missions and our third daughter is considering it. Whatever is decided, each of our girls is developing into wonderful young daughters of God which thrills this mom.
I feel like a successful mom. This is a real blessing for me. I went through a frustrating time where I felt I haven’t been what I should be as a mom. I’m realizing that I've done a great job. The Lord has helped me feel peace that I didn’t have until Kalten was into his mission. Peace of mind is a godsend.
Each contact is a blessing. I feel so blessed to have access to technology that keeps us in touch. It’s a rule that each missionary writes home. Kalten has not only been great at this but perfect. A few times I didn't receive anything then later found it in my spam folder. I LOVE to live in a time when communication like this is possible. I feel for those who served 100 years ago, who’d go months or even years without hearing from their loved ones. Hannah saw her son one time each year when she and her family went to the temple to make their sacrifice. We've had the privilege of 5 calls from our missionary. The first was the day he flew from the MTC to Ohio. We also received calls on Christmas and Mother’s Day each year. Each of these is truly a blessing from the Lord!
Lessons learned aren't only for the missionary. For instance, I learned something from these calls. I've thought about how much I love my boy, how bad I want to hear his voice, his thoughts, what’s happening etc. I realized it’s much the way our Father must feel about us. I've become much more aware of my prayers. He too, looks forward to hearing from us. When I’m half asleep and falling into bed, I try to remember how much I want to hear from my son and realize my Heavenly Father loves me even more than that and wants to hear from me too. The lessons I've learned and the insights I've gained are invaluable.
Each of these blessings has brought joy. I don’t know a better way to say it. I’m happy, content, elated, satisfied, at peace, hopeful, and the list goes on. I had a taste of these feelings before I “lent my son to the Lord”, and they grow more dominant each day. I am grateful to a Heavenly Father and his perfect son who are not just willing but desirous to grant us blessings and peace and joy. I’m also grateful for a son that has given all for two years to honor them. Oh how blessed I am. “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord...I rejoice in thy salvation!”