I know, I know. Last week I wrote about taking our daughter, Tammy, to the LDS Missionary Training Center in Provo. Well, we went there again this week and took our son, Brian, now Elder Barlow, where he began his training for the Taiwan Taipei mission.
Having a son and a daughter leave home within seven days is a mixed blessing of both joy and sadness. Things are so quiet right now in our home I think I am partially deaf. I've probably been that way for the past three years but have not known it because of all the noise and commotion in our home when Brian and Tammy were there.People have asked us what it is like sending two LDS missionaries off within one week? Susan and I understand in the early days that missionaries went out "two by two." We decided it is time to get back to basics in religion. My wife and I also note with interest that when missionaries went out "two by two" in the olden times it was without purse or scrip. We now know why. It was probably at the request and/or condition of the parents who sent them.
We are also asked how we are going to support two LDS missionaries? It will be through a combination of faith and works. (Three of our children . . . and much of our money has gone to college.) But we will manage. Like most other families, we have had our financial ups and downs. And Susan and I have learned one important financial lesson in life: "It is always the darkest . . . right before the storm really hits."
Just like the week previous, I became a bit misty eyed and nostalgic before we took soon-to-be Elder Brian Barlow to the MTC. I recalled some of the moments as he was growing up. At first we worried that he wouldn't go on a mission. Midway through his teens we worried that he would. I recalled one occasion when he skipped Sunday School and went to worship at Winchell's Donut House with two of his friends.
I also remembered the night when Brian and I were home alone and I called on the intercom and invited him to come up from his room in the basement and join me in prayer. He responded (half-asleep) that he didn't want to get out of bed and wondered if I could say the prayer over the intercom so he wouldn't have to get up. I was annoyed with his lack of religious fervor and asked him over the intercom if I should also try and get a little FM music for background effect while I prayed? Brian finally gave in, crawled up the stairs and joined me in prayer.
I recalled sitting with him on our back porch the day of his high school graduation at Orem High. I was feeling philosophical and asked him what was the most important thing he had learned thus far in life. He paused only momentarily and said he had learned at Scout camp how to revive dead flies with salt. I was truly amazed. He asked if I wanted a demonstration, but I said there really wasn't time before his commencement program began. After high school graduation, Brian spent a semester at the BYU-Hawaii campus and returned in January to prepare for his mission.
The time arrived for us to leave for the MTC on that Wednesday morning. What do you say to a son during your last hour when you know you won't see him again for two years? We told him we loved him, were honored to be his parents and respected his decision to serve an LDS mission in Taiwan.
Then we made the six-mile trip, again, to the MTC . . . what I call the Miracle Training Center . . . where modern miracles occur in the lives of young men and women. In just eight weeks, Elder Brian Barlow will emerge as a full-time representative for his church with a beginner's knowledge of Mandarin Chinese. It truly is a modern miracle.
"DZAI JYAN," Elder Barlow. "TYAN SHANG DE FU AI NI."
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