This is a mom blog.
“Good Morning! This is Elder Shull. I’m a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I have a message for you if you have a moment…”
That is how I got to wake up this morning! Spencer called us from the Salt Lake airport on his way to Boston. He sounded so happy and excited. And he sounded so “grown up”! It is amazing to hear the difference in his voice and conversation. He sounds so much more sure of himself, just so…sure.
I asked him about his experience at the Missionary Training Center. True to himself, he was very honest. He said that it was a great learning experience and he is very glad to be leaving! He is anxious to go out and serve the Lord, but also anxious for some more, let’s say, flexibility? Freedom perhaps? I told him that when we got his email requesting his U of U blanket because “the blankets here are kind of thin and it is really cold,” the girls remarked that it sounded like he was in prison! He said it kind of felt that way, but they like to call it spirit prison, because it is undoubtedly a spiritual experience.
If you are looking to this blog for a picture-perfect missionary experience, I only have one question: Do you know us? I believe that the greatest gift that Spencer has to share — in fact our whole family has to share — is that we are not perfect. We struggle. Life can be messy and hard and sad. We strive to be obedient. We strive to please the Lord. But we know that alone we can never be perfect.
I am certainly not perfect! I know that Spencer is in the right place at the right time, but my willful heart rebels. This last week, when his email came late in the day on Tuesday, I must admit that I wondered what in the world I had gotten myself into! What kind of church would ask that someone volunteer — and even pay for — an experience that would severely restrict communication with family and friends. I desperately wanted to just call him up on the phone and hear his voice and know that he was all right. I pulled over my car and prayed for patience and faith. And mercifully, I remembered the story of Christ calling His apostles. “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” Matthew Chapter 4:18-22
I was very humbled. It is not the Church that called my son to be a fisher of men, it is Christ himself. He was called to put his books on the shelf, set aside his studies, lay down his trumpet and turn off his phone. And he straightway left his mother and father, his sisters, and all of his friends, and followed Him.
I have struggled to know how to explain this mission to my friends who are not Mormon. Many times I have wrongly concluded that they wouldn’t understand. But I believe for the most part, they do. It is faith. Faith in Jesus Christ and a desire to share the love that Spencer has felt in his own life. At a very young age, Spencer has found simplicity, beauty and safety in the Plan of Salvation — the Great Plan of Happiness. He has a strong desire to share the Good News of the Gospel.
I know that Spencer has a deep abiding knowledge that as hard as he tries, he will fall short. And that is the way it is supposed to be, in fact, it is essential for us all to realize! Spencer knows that if he will allow it, the Lord will take what Spencer can give and magnify it! He knows that Jesus Christ can make up for his deficits in this life, as well as at the end of it. Not only can he do it, he must!
Thank you for supporting and loving my son, Carrie