Last week we got out the atlas. We pointed at countries and states as we talked with the boys:
“Uncle Will went to Argentina. Way down at the bottom. He lived here, on Tierra del Fuego. There are penguins there. Aunt Summer served in Argentina, too.”
“Uncle Jon went to Japan. He was there the same time as Dad.”
“Uncle Isaac served in France, just like Grandpa Blackhurst.”
“Aunt Becca went to the Philippines. And do you know what? So did her Jon! Funny, huh? But they weren’t there at the same time.”
We went through both of our families, pointed out each country or state where a family member served their mission for our church. The list is surprisingly diverse: Utah, New Zealand, England, Japan, Argentina, France, Washington state, the Philippines, Ukraine, Brazil, Armenia, New Jersey, and Africa (Uganda, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Rwanda, Djibouti).
Our siblings (and their spouses) have been to every inhabitable continent. They’ve learned languages common and obscure. They’ve spent 1 1/2-2 years living among the people, serving them, and teaching them about our church.
But the last one to serve, my brother Chris, returned to the states when Manchild was just over a year old. Our kids haven’t been around for much of this gospel-sharing, globe-trotting, language-learning done by their aunts and uncles (and father).
Until now. On Friday night we let the boys stay up late. At 9:30, when we got a text from my Little Brother Nate, we logged on to Google and joined a hangout with most of my family. Then we hardly breathed as Nate opened a big, white envelope and read:
“Dear Elder Blackhurst,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Belgium/Netherlands Mission . . . . It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months. . . . You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Dutch language.”
And then we all lost it in a flurry of congratulations and exclamations of excitement.
We’re so proud. So amazed. A little nervous. A little jealous. And very grateful. For Nate, for his example, for the opportunity our kids have to watch andlearn from him.