"You will be an official representative of the Church. . . . Your purpose will be to invite others to come unto Christ . . . Greater blessings and more happiness than you have yet experienced await you as you humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in this labor of love among His children. We place our confidence in you." Thomas S. Monson

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Hump day

MTC drop off 05/29/13
Pardon a few moments of nostalgia from mom:  One year ago today we put this handsome boy on a plane headed for SLC.  How could one feel so much joy at the same time as having one's heart ripped out?  His sister picked him up in SLC, took him to brunch and then dropped him off at the MTC for the two weeks before the much anticipated journey in Africa began.  My only request was a photo of him waving goodbye to me.  This photo warms my heart every morning.  Over the last year this handsome boy has become a kind, compassionate man who is full of faith, love for God and his fellowman.  His testimony has become stronger and he has increased in wisdom and knowledge.  I am excited to see what the next year holds for him.   

The half way point of a mission is often referred to as "hump day" and camels are used to signify it.  

Elder Jenkins with his camel friend just before his hump day

His camel friend is trying to give him a kiss for me!  

Wanting to remember him at his halfway mark, but also remind him that the best is yet to come.  I found the following analogy online that I personalized and sent him as it summed up my thoughts as we marked this big milestone, along with a pillowcase I made him out of camel fabric.  

As you come to the one-year mark of your mission, I am sending you this camel pillowcase to remind you how far you have come, and where you are going. There are many similar characteristics of a great missionary and a camel. 

The first is the "hump". Yes, you have crossed the mark and now are over the hump of the first year. But remember the hump of a camel is used to store food for the long journey. Camels can go for long periods of time without food, but he must store his food in his hump. A Missionary has learned from so many experiences, but a wise Missionary will store the knowledge he has gained, and put it to greater use the second half of his mission. 

Another important symbol, is what the camel does to be prepared to carry his load for his Master. A camel sometimes protests his heavy load, but he drops to knees for his Master, and once started, he patiently carries his load. Asa missionary sometimes the load seems heavy and difficult to carry. But when you drop to your knees and succumb to the Master's will, he will carefully lead you and you can bear the load patiently, and do your Father in Heaven's work as he would have you do. This is why the camel's knees are heavily padded, as a Missionary, your knees are calloused from the many hours of kneeling in prayer. 

The camel has high set eyes, that enable him to see long distances. A Missionary has his eyes set on higher things, he follows the Spirit that enables him to see the Children of God, those who are seeking answers, and he teaches them the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

The camel has broad, two-toed feet, that keep it from sinking in desert sand. A missionary has a broad knowledge and a firm testimony of the Gospel. This enables him to teach with boldness and stand firm in his testimony. The people you teach do not yet have the blessing of such a sure-foot, but as you teach with love and the Spirit, you will help them gain their own testimony that will help them walk on firmer ground. One that will lead them back to their Father in Heaven. 

So you see, a Missionary has a lot in common with a camel. Each night as you rest your head on your camel pillow think about the things a Missionary and a camel have in common and remember that I love you!  Each morning as you make your bed, dedicate yourself to do as the camel does. Serve your Master well and patiently over the long journey. You have come a long way, there is still much ground to cover. Continue to move forward, serving with love, until your mission is complete and your Father in Heaven will say, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant.   

I love you, my handsome boy! 

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