Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Fairytale Life

Once upon a time there was a young lady (or so she deemed herself) who had ten children, eight of whom were still at home, including four four years old and younger. She lived in a home her husband had built for her in a tiny farm town in Mexico, in a community of Mexican and American Mormons and Mexican Catholics.

Her children were fun, obedient, smart and cute and her husband was hard-working, brilliant, kind and handsome. He planted gardens all around their home, flower gardens, vegetable gardens, herb gardens and small orchards. Her kids went to church schools, sang in the chorus, played in the band and tackled on the football field.

But though she lived a happy life, it was often a stressful, grueling, lonely life because her husband had to work out of town most weeknights. After cleaning house and doing laundry and driving kids and cooking dinner and helping with homework and bathing kids and putting them to bed and cleaning up again, she would fill her lonely nights with anything she could think of, anything to put off going to bed alone, for she had never liked being alone. She blogged and she read and she watched movies and she talked on the phone to her sister and sometimes she Facebooked.

Then one day something wonderful happened. While attending a pack meeting with her son, she caught sight of two people she had never met. She knew everyone in town, so it was obvious this couple were newcomers. She leaned over and said to her friend, "Who are they?" and her friend thought for a moment, then offered that they were probably the new missionaries who had been expected to move into their community. The young lady looked closer and saw that they had name tags and realized that this, indeed, must be the new missionary couple. When the meeting ended she introduced herself and noticed that the wife had a big, beautiful smile and that the husband was tall and interested in talking to her baby, which was on her hip.

That night she went home and called her husband to see if he thought they should offer their mother-in-law apartment to the new missionary couple as a place to live during their time in their small Mexican farm town. Without hesitation, her husband agreed, because that was the kind of man he was.

The next day the young lady ran the block down to the street to where they were staying and, panting, she said, "We have a place you can stay if you're looking." They immediately came and instantly accepted. The young lady tried to warn them that her house echoed and her kids were little and loud and that there would be almost no instances of peace and quiet until after 9:00 at night... if they were lucky. This didn't phase the missionary couple and they made preparations to move in the next week.

That night the young lady gathered her children 'round her and told them the news. She told them that they would all have to sacrifice and not play in the adjoining playroom when the missionaries were home, and that they would need to go to bed at a more regular time and that they would have to stop yelling at each other as a means to solve their problems. She was speaking mostly to herself. She told them that their sacrifices would be worth it and that they would be blessed for serving some of The Lord's servants.

So Elder and Sister, for those were their names, moved in and the young lady's adventure began.

The young lady knew immediately that she and Sister would be great friends and the more she got to know her, the more she knew she had been right. Sister was intelligent, interesting, giving, kind and liked to talk about relationships, just like the young lady did. She used natural healing and loved to cook healthy meals, just like the young lady did. She was always interested in what the young lady's children had to say and taught them and encouraged them and kept her promises to them.

Sometimes the young lady would feel bad about all the noise her children made, try as she may to keep them quiet, but when she tried to apologize to Elder and Sister for all the incessant crying and screaming and block-throwing and carrying on, Sister said, "Oh no, we LOVE it!" Even though this is a fairy tale, she did, in reality, say that.

Elder was a different story, however. He was large and looming and never smiled and the kids were scared of him. That is until he opened his mouth to talk. He began to tell one of the young lady's small daughters about his life in Canada and began by saying, "When I was a little girl....". They all burst out laughing, more out of shock than anything, and she replied that she thought he was never a little girl, and no one was scared of him anymore after that. He also opened doors very dramatically, thus making anyone who went to visit them began laughing even before they went in.

And thus began a friendship to last the ages. The young lady no longer had only her books and laptop to look forward to in the evening after the children went to bed, but instead, stimulating conversation about child-rearing, marriage, the atonement, prayer, revelation, stories from the scriptures, and showing love to fellow men. During the days, when Elder and Sister weren't studying, or out working, or attending the temple, she and Sister baked together, learned about natural healing when family members were sick, and played each others mentor through varying challenges.

Elder taught her that thinking about problem-solving from way outside the box can have hugely beneficial results. He shared myriad ways he and his wife had helped their children through the trials of life and showed such love and concern for the young lady and especially all of her children. He taught her baby to trust someone outside the family circle, he made the twins laugh, complimented the girls, teased the boys and even helped the young lady's teenage daughter decide she wanted to be the best she could be, because of his and Sister's example.

Elder and Sister experienced joy and heartache with the young lady and her family. They watched as her baby, who was about the size of a baby hippo, and sometimes even referred to as such, learned to walk and talk and wave good-bye. And they cried and brought food as the young lady's husband went through the grieving process after suddenly losing his mother.

The young lady watched Elder and Sister serve and learn and study and love and learned from their example. And every day, when they taught her something new, she wrote it down, so she wouldn't forget it. In the evening after things settled she looked for the light on down the hall to their adjoining apartment and sometimes took down a pastry or confection or sometimes went empty-handed, but was pleasantly surprised when there was a pie or rolls made especially for her and her family. She would share her day with Elder and Sister and they would share theirs with her, and edified her every evening. She always had that to look forward to. She knew that they would be transferred to another location one day, but she tried to push that eventuality very far to the back of her mind.

One day the young lady was asked to take a trip with the high school chorus, as she was their pianist and because Elder and Sister often traveled to the same city, she asked if they would go with her. She and Sister traveled together and never grew weary of talking about life and the gospel and anecdotes from each other's past. But after breakfast one day, Elder received a call from the mission president asking them to meet him in his office. After he hung up the phone, they all stared at each other and they all knew what it meant.

The young lady went home from the trip with butterflies in her stomach, then, after waiting many hours, received a call that Elder and Sister were being transferred.... in four days.

The young lady tried to put on a cheerful face, for why be despondent during her last days together with Elder and Sister, but too soon the day finally came for good-byes. Pictures were taken, and sentiments and hugs were exchanged, but just as the young lady was about to start weeping as she stood at the driver's side of the van, saying her last good-bye, one of her twins threw a cow bone at the puppy she was holding, so she had to put him in time out as she waved good-bye as Elder and Sister drove away.

She went back inside with a sinking feeling knowing that she would not see Elder and Sister for a long, long time, but as she walked through their empty apartment, she smiled. She thought of what her father had taught her, that it is better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all. She thought of all the wonderful memories she would always have, of all the things Elder and Sister had taught her, of the fact that she hardly ever yelled at her kids anymore, and she wept tears of gratitude that she had had them in her life.

She went outside with her three babies and watched them pick the sweet peas her husband had planted, then bring them inside and enjoy their goodness and she knew that even though her friends were gone and that she would have an adjustment to make, she had a happy, fulfilling life, one that was better from knowing them and she thanked God for her many blessings.


And the young lady and her husband and her ten children lived happily ever after.


P.S. My sister and I are finally getting skinnier!
See how we're doing it HERE! :)


Emily in Wonderland said...

Oh, I don't know what to say. Except, perhaps... that was a lovely story Jen. <3. I hope you see your lovely friends someday.

Karen said...

What a wonderful experience you all shared. I hope you meet them again.

Salsa Mama said...

Aw! What a WONDERFUL story! I know I shall probably read it again, several times. I hardly knew them, but they were something, weren't they? I know how much you loved having them there. Thank you for teaching me many lessons through your story. Love ya!

Ashley said...

I LOVE this blog.. i love love love President Uchtdorfs message you share at the bottom. I hope you dont mind but i want to share it on my blog as well. it is great for the creating world of blog-land. its so great to see LDS woman in said blog-land. always makes me smile.
thanks for sharing and being so great.

Kami said...

I can quite honestly say that you just shared one of my new favorite stories. Life is absolutely supposed to be like that! We are supposed to help in every way we can, love abundantly, teach the young and walk side-by-side with others. These people truly are an example of God's love in action, and you are as well for so openly welcoming them into your home. I'm glad that you had such a wonderful experience with them and I pray that your nights will be less lonely (because I do know how hard that can be)!


Trisha said...

Did they leave? I was just at a Zone Conference with them yesterday and they said nothing about leaving. I knew they were making a mission tour and helping with a project I learned about, but never mnetioned they were being transfered. Yes, we have ALL been blessed by having them in our little town. So sorry for your loss (and ours too).

Kelly L said...

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Laurie said...

I love fairy tales, and now I have a new favorite! Thank you for sharing such a wonderful story.

Luvmy9 said...

I'm so sorry they moved, Jen and so glad that you got to know them. I felt like that when you left, just so you know. Love you and miss you.

Unknown said...

That is beautiful. I too have people that have profoundly effected my life but passed through it far too quickly for my liking. True friendship is something that is hard to find, and harder to keep. I hope you guys can keep in touch and may God bring them back to you on day.

Brian + Cheryl B. said...

Hi Jen :-)

Well written my friend!! I do believe this is your best writing to date! :-D

Christina said...

I LOVE couple missionaries! I'm sorry that we're transferred- that's sad. Which part of Canada were they from?

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

Lovely story!