You can find the earlier post in this series here.
2) The Mother’s Day Lesson
My last companion was relatively new to her mission. The child of a recently widowed mother with several teenagers at home, one of her biggest worries as a missionary was that her mom would need her back home and she would be powerless to help.
One day, shortly before Mother’s Day, she received a letter from home filled with good news after a long interval of anxiety-inducing silence. Her mom and family were doing remarkably well. Things were as smooth and happy as they had been since her father passed away. After reading the letter she brightened visibly, and remained noticeably relieved and relaxed for some time afterward. And, since she had been asked to give the lesson at District Meeting that week, she chose to speak on mothers. It was a simple, brief lesson, consisting mostly of her expressions of gratitude for the sacrifices her mother had made for her. Neither then nor ever did she tell the other missionaries in our district that her father had died.
As she spoke, the feeling of the room shifted. I feel a little sheepish to admit this, but I didn’t realize it was happening. I loved my companion – she was and is a really mellow, chilled out woman, savvy and street smart (she’s the one I lived with for three years after the mission). But at that moment I didn’t have a sense of the effect of her words on the other missionaries in the room.
I looked up and noticed that none of the Elders had dry eyes. One Elder – a smart, sweet guy from rural Wyoming known for his exhaustive knowledge of agricultural equipment – had to excuse himself to the restroom because he was overcome to the point of sobbing. When she finished her lesson, the room was quiet for an extended period of time as the rest of the district collected themselves.
The one Elder returned from the bathroom, and opened the post-lesson testimony meeting in a broken, wobbly voice. He thanked my companion profusely for her words, and then said that while she spoke it hit him for the very first time that his mom probably had dreams of her own. The woman who got up to make a hot breakfast for him every morning before school probably had wanted other things for her life, too. It washed over him all in a single moment that she had sacrificed her own ambition in order to be his mom. He choked up mid-sentence and had to sit quietly for a minute. The other Elders were silent, wiping their eyes.
Up until I left to go home – and even at some mission reunions afterward – Elders who had been there would come and thank my companion for that Mother’s Day lesson.