Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Giving My Son to the Lord

I wanted to record some memories of our last few days with Kalten before he entered the MTC.  This isn't my typical blog-entertaining and writing aren't my purpose.  Recording some memories during an important time of our lives is-but I don't mind sharing with you...if you can hang out for a while.  These memories are precious and from experience I know they won't last as long as I'd like if they aren't written down.

Kalten was made a missionary by President Gabrielson the Friday before he entered the MTC.  He would spend the next 4 days as a missionary, having family members be his companions until he entered the mission training center in Provo where he'd receive his "real" companion.  That Friday was emotional for me.  I think it's the day I realized how close his mission was.  It was also very real in my mind what an amazing young man I have, that was not only willing but excited to serve the next two years of his life for the Lord.  No video games, facebook, college, girls etc.  Just him giving himself to the Lord.

I'd been able to choke back tears all day.  Then President Gabrielson asked me how I was doing?  Of course, cry-baby-mom had to let loose.  That day I was just thinking about how Kevin and I won't be there to protect him...I know, he's big enough to do this on his own but something about having him so far away, and remembering stories although few and far between about elders who've died on their missions was plaguing my mind, although I didn't say it out loud.  Pres. Gabrielson read a scripture to me, he was already armed with it.  I'm guessing he's listened to other moms with similar feelings.  He read:
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.

Can I really provide him with that here?  Not necessarily.  I am totally okay with angels and the Lord there to protect my son.  President G. said statistically these young men are safer on their missions than at home.  Interestingly enough, this came on the heels of Kalten showing a video recorded of him being drug behind a tractor driven by our nephew Logan.  Kevin said, "Get that boy on his mission quick before he kills himself."

In the car on the way home Kalten kept singing the song by the Eurythmics, Don't Mess With the Missionary Man:  My mother told me good, my mother told me strong 
She said, "Be true to yourself and you can't go wrong 
But there's just one thing that you must understand" 
You can fool with your brother but don't mess with a missionary man"  
Oh the missionary man, he's got god on his side 
He's got the saints and apostles backin' up from behind 
Black eyed looks from those bible books, he's a man with a mission, got a serious mind 
There was a woman in the jungle and a monkey on a tree 
The missionary man he was followin' me 
He said "Stop what you're doing 
Get down upon your knees 
I've got a message for you that you better believe".

When Kevin asked him if he was supposed to listen to that kind of music as a missionary Kalten replied that he was singing it not listening to it.  Turkey.  He also made sure I knew he loves that I'm an emotional basket case.

The next morning we left for Pocatello for the baptism of my niece Becca.  Kalten was able to stand in on the confirmation which was cool for him.  After the baptism we went to the park where Neicia was running around with the younger cousins and twisted her ankle.  She was clearly in pain-our tough Neicia, so I took her in and found she'd torn 3 ligaments.  Icing and elevating is not exactly convenient away from home...just sayin'.

Later that day on our way to my sister Kim's, going through some mountains Kalten said, "When I get back I'm going to be able to move a mountain."  Assuming he was talking about faith we told him that would be cool to see.  And then he requested we have a pick and shovel ready for him when he gets back and asked, "Can you imagine how buff I'd be if I moved a mountain by hand?"  Cracked us up.

We had a lot of fun playing games, badmitton, volleyball and going down a water slide.  Earlier that day Kalten was able to see my grandmother Anderson, very possibly the last time they'll see each other since she's 97.  I was grateful for that visit.  I'm sure my grandma and Kalten were grateful for it too.

The next day was Sunday.  We went to church with Kim's family.  In her ward 2 missionaries had just returned during the week.  Kalten was able to talk to them.  I could tell he was starting to wish he was already in the MTC.  He made the comment, "I bet they wouldn't turn me away if you just dropped me off tomorrow."  We got together for a family picture.  That was awesome.  We are rarely all in the same place to do that and this was pretty close to everyone there.  We were just missing Trevin.  Later that evening we went to the train tracks and placed coins on them then we watched as my brother Shane drove by on the train waving out the window.  It brought back memories of my grandpa who was also an engineer on the railroad.  He used to lean out waving at us the same way Shane did.  He used to tell me that when I heard the trains honking it was him sending me the message that he loved me. That's one of my favorite childhood memories.  I would lay in bed and hear the trains and know it was my grandpa sending me messages.  I loved seeing my brother following in his footsteps.  I loved that my kids got to experience a little of my own childhood.

The next morning we went to Lagoon, sort-of.  Kalten and I dropped off Kevin and the girls.  Then we took Tim and checked into our hotel in SLC and then hung out with my dear friend Linda and her daughter Lindsey.  Poor Kalten wasn't able to go to Lagoon as a set apart missionary.  We'd told the kids months ago that we'd hit Lagoon on the way to the MTC.  This was before we found out they don't set apart in the MTC any longer.  I know it was hard on Kalten to not go, to have to be companions with his mom.  To tag along with me and my friend at the new City Creek mall- Kalten hates shopping!  We ended up on temple square later that evening.

While we were waiting for Linda to get there Kalten was VERY bored.  We heard commotion outside our window and looked out to see a big group of young women.  Kalten let me know that if he wasn't already a missionary he'd be there instead of inside our room.  Lol.  During this time he told me not to worry about not coming home.  He said he can't die until he's kissed a girl.  He's had 2 goals since middle school.  1.  Go on a mission.  2.  Don't kiss a girl so he could ensure he'd complete goal number one.  He also said since hope comes from our heart or brain he can tell people, "your face doesn't have hope."  Kalten started to get very antsy.  He asked me to call and see how far out Linda was.  I told him he could call but I didn't feel the need to rush her.  He called and said, "My mom is getting really impatient and wants to know where you are." Lol.  He has always tried to do what he can to embarrass me.  Later they said they didn't catch that.  That was one of those moments I realized I shouldn't have said anything, they'd never have known, lol.  At one point they called us and Kalten answered in Spanish.  The poor kid was dying for entertainment.  A few hours with me and Tim knowing he could have been in Lagoon was tough on him.

We had another experience that I won't share all the details.  It would be a TMI moment.  Let me just say that I ended up with Tim in the bathroom right as Linda got there and it was not pretty.  It was one of those timing moments that are shocking.  There was no way I could let Linda and Lindsey in our room.  I decided I trusted my dearest friend and her amazing daughter and my son and told Kalten to go sit with them outside without me (his companion).  He threw me his bottle of cologne and said, "Please use as much of this as you need and chuckled as he went out."  As it was, I decided it was a cry or laugh moment.  I laughed hysterically, did what I needed to do in a bathroom the size of a postage stamp and then threw away a pair of Tim's shoes, used half a bottle of cologne and rushed out to recompanion (Like that word?) him and see my friend.

After our visit we had a few hours before picking up Kevin and the girls from Lagoon.  Kalten was not able to do much.  His creative juices were working though so he edited his Superhero picture to hold a Book of Mormon and wear a name tag and I posted it on his facebook profile.  Not the typical 'I'm going on a two year mission' photo but it's very Kalten.

The next day we all went to temple square and the mall (again for me and Kalten though we saw much more the 2nd day).  Kevin, Kalten and I had wanted to do a session at the SLC temple but it was closed for renovations.  Kalten got a lot of comments because he was in a suit.  Evidently, many families end up on temple square on Tuesdays before dropping off their young men to the MTC.  One sister told us that she can always tell which young men are prepared and excited to serve because they're in their suits and ties instead of civilian attire even though they don't have the name tag yet.  Neicia was more supportive than the rest of us.  She wore a skirt so Kalten wasn't the only one dressed up.  She wore the tie-skirt she made.  She also got a lot of compliments.  The two of them had a contest to see who could score more comments.  I believe it was Neicia. Lol.

That night the girls went swimming at the hotel pool and Kalten and I vegged.  We were both very caught up in our thoughts of him going to the MTC the next day.  I had found a chapter in Alma 38 where he talks to his son, Shiblon while serving a mission.  The words were so much of what I was feeling as a mom that I knew I'd want to use it in a "going away" letter to Kalten.  I wrote him a letter as we sat there, using much of that chapter, substituting his name for Shiblon's.  I especially loved how the chapter ended:  "And may the Lord bless your soul and receive you at the last day into his kingdom to sit down in peace.  Now go my son and teach the word unto this people.  Be sober, my son, farewell."  I think sitting there, writing that letter, it hit me hard.  No longer would I have him like he is.  This was really it.  The apron string, what was left of it, was going to be completely severed within a few hours. I wouldn't see him for 2 years.  It was the first I'd felt sadness.  Not a feeling I'd expected.  I knew I'd miss him, I knew my paranoid self would fear for him, I definitely was thrilled for him.  In fact my joy was on overload.  What a mixed set of emotions.  Another feeling that would catch me off guard was depression.  That didn't hit until after we dropped him off.  I'm still feeling waves of it.  I don't know if that's normal.  Part of me is filled with happiness and joy yet, I'm depressed.  I'm not sure how to make sense of it.  Hopefully it's normal.

Anyway, after our thoughts and letter(s) Kevin and I took him to the Olive Garden.  We walked about 5 city blocks to get there.  I loved that time with him.  Kevin and I were able to just enjoy him.  He was more somber than usual.  The reality of things was definitely settling over us.  Kalten told us how ready he was.  He said he had no fears or anxieties, just anxiousness.  He also talked (this had come up a few times) about being sick of all the advice he was getting.  Mainly because there was so much of it, it was all different, and it seemed to come from everyone.  We left the restaurant with our food.  None of us ate as much as we usually would.  Kalten filled up on breadsticks and salad and didn't even touch his entree.  As we were walking back to our hotel we passed a man with a sign that read, "homeless, hungry, please help."  Kalten walked up to him and offered the food.  The mad laughed at him and said, "I need money for clothes, not food!"  I realized that Kalten would soon be faced with things he's unfamiliar with, things he's been sheltered from.  I know on a mission there is still some sheltering but there is also a realization of how other people live, a different reality than our own is a good way of saying it I guess.

In another block or so we met up with some missionaries.  One was from back east.  I want to say West Virginia but I may be wrong.  He told Kalten he'd like to give him a piece of advice.  We chuckled.  He said that from here on out he'd be a Buckeye fan.  Kalten laughed and said finally some advice he'd be ignoring.  He said he brought a BSU t-shirt and blanket and he'd always be true to BSU, lol.  He tried to give his food to the elders and they wouldn't take it either.  They recommended strongly that he eat it before going into the MTC- we wondered what that meant?  Eeks.  In case anyone is wondering, that food was accidentally left in the hotel room.

The next morning we left in time to see more family.  We made a quick visit to my Grandma Jenks, Kalten's other great-grandma.  We very rarely get to see her so it was a real treat.  She let the kids ride "Jazzy," her hoveround.  She told them to go in the hallway (that all the entrances open to) and see how fast it could go.  Did I mention Kevin considered himself a kid as well?  I'm the only one that didn't take a spin on it.  Those babies can move.  Another older lady came out and got a bit crotchety with them.  The kids loved that their grandma was the cool one, lol.

After grandma we had a very short visit with our niece Tosha.  It would have been nice to spend a little more time with her.  Luckily, we'd seen her just a couple weeks before at her sister, Kaitlyn's wedding.

We arrived at the MTC with about 10 minutes to spare.  We parked at a park across from the MTC- as did a TON of other families, to say our goodbyes.  As I got out of the car I broke down.  The family all laughed at me.  Kalten gave me a hug and the girls scrambled to film me making a fool out of myself.  We took a couple quick pictures - Someone remind me to get the girls into some photography lessons please.  Kalten, Kevin and I were looking at different cameras, had terrible expressions etc.  I forgot to mention earlier that I had forgotten my camera, so no decent pictures of the entire trip.  We have pictures taken with the tablet and a phone.  Kalten's camera had the battery in a separate/ packed place for most of the trip.
Kevin and Trina

Not pretty but these are all we have.
After our sufficient but quick goodbye we got in the car while I continued to cry.  I told Kalten how proud of him I was, that my tears weren't only out of sadness but out of joy because of his choices and how he is living his life, as the Savior would want.  We were guided through the parkinglot buy some overly zealous but very funny elders guiding traffic.  The next thing I knew we pulled up to a sidewalk, an elder approached when Kalten and the girls jumped out of the car.  Kalten gave us all hugs again while Kevin grabbed his bags then he hugged his dad and smiled big.  I think by this time Kalten was ready to RUN inside.  After one last quick hug for me he was off.  I watched him as far as I could- those darn square pillar things robbed me of a good 10 seconds of the back of his head!

Then it was over.  The whole MTC scene lasted about 3 minutes. Our world will be forever changed.  We drove off and I cried.  Trevin texted just a few minutes too late, "Tell Kalten I love him".  We put it in a letter the next morning.  I wanted to cry harder but I knew my family was watching and had probably had enough of my boobing over the past few days.  As we drove through Provo McKenna handed me an envelope.  I opened it to find a locket that said, "Missionary Mom" and a letter, that told me he loved me and appreciated me but it was mostly about how he knew I'd be bawling like a baby.  A couple years ago I was quite emotional one day and he made a joke that I'd cry at the word zebra.  At that point I started crying and it's become a personal joke with him.  The PS. in the letter at the MTC simply said, "Zebra."

We all put letters to him in a box with soda, an air freshener (we thought that might be a good idea with all those boys on a new diet) some soda, Twinkies, a bunch of other stuff and shipped it to him.  We wanted him to get his first care package within the first couple days.

If you made it through this I'm impressed!  If so please do comment below.  Let me know if you actually found it interesting or you were desperate to kill time.


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. I made it to the end... it was very touching. Reminded me a little of my reaction to the navy picking west up and having to say goodbye. I was very emotional too

    1. Stacie,

      I bet you were! I think in some ways that may be scarier.

  3. Of course I made it to the end! It brought tears to my eyes. I am so grateful that I got to be a small part of the experience, and that I got a chance to wish Kalten well (and give him some advice! LOL) Love you all!

    1. I too, am grateful you got to be a part of it. You are like family to me, it's only right you participate in something so big...not to mention I need to see my greatest friend once in a while.

  4. Thank you for sharing this! It made me realize a bit of what my mom went through when I left. For her, it was a totally different situation. I said goodbye (in person) about a month before I went to the MTC. (Friends who also financed my mission dropped me off.) She was not supportive of me being a member of the church and really wasn't supportive of the limited contact aspect of serving a mission but she let me go.

    1. I bet it was quite difficult for your mom. The part that gives me so much peace and joy in my own son is that I know what he's doing is right and I have such a strong testimony of what he's teaching. I think "letting you go" must have been a very scary yet brave thing she did. Kudos to her for that, and kudos to you for following what you knew to be right even though it had to have been absolutely difficult.

  5. How could I not read until the end. And just so you know, you're not crying along! I so look forward to, and hope my son is as excited about going on a Mission as yours is (my son is 6, I have some time).. but I can totally relate to you and how you feel. I would be a wreck as well. But your son sounds absolutely lovely and he obviously loves his mother. So I hope the time goes by quickly for you and I look forward to reading about some of his experiences!!

    1. My son was 6 just yesterday! Okay it's obviously been a little longer than that but it sure seems like it. I too hope our time goes quickly. I hope your time with your son goes slowly and that you teach him, like the mothers of the Stripling warriors. I'm sure, like you, he'll grow up to be a remarkable young man.

  6. Found your blog tonight and am excited to follow! Having sent seven sons on missions, I felt again the mix of emotions you described so well. So thankful my youngest has already served and returned! Will send up some prayers for you, your son, and family.

  7. Thank you Bonnie! I'm excited to have you on board! I hope you return often.

    It's a great compliment if you were able to feel that emotion again. Very impressive-sending out so many sons. Great job mom!


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