It’s been six short weeks since our missionary son boarded an international airplane bound for Central America.
Since his arrival, he’s spent many lengthy hours in classrooms studying Latino customs, sampling Latino cuisine, and soaking in rich Latino culture. He feverishly analyzed the Spanish language taught in the Guatemala Missionary Training Center and became fairly fluent in its intricacies.
He’s already battled some “jungle fever,” as he described it, with around 40 fellow MTC missionaries who succumbed to the sickness simultaneously.
Our son worked hard, studied hard, prayed hard, and had embraced the missionary lifestyle with genuine dedication, even celebrating his birthday in the MTC Latino style, with Elders encircling him about in a playful round of missionary tie spankings.
He was now ready to enter the mission field, thrust in his sickle, and get to work harvesting.
A few days ago, we received his first email from the field. He’d arrived safely and was excited to commence the work, but his new mission surroundings weren’t quite what he expected…
He mentioned his new home was located in a tiny village far from modern cities, describing it as a “jungle hut,” complete with cement floors, which he was extremely grateful for because most of the homes in the remote settlement had dirt flooring. The walls of his shelter were fabricated with jungle trees, he could actually see out numerous holes to the outdoors.
His hut had a tin roof and thick mosquito netting surrounded each bed, as the flying insects and scorpions are particularly troublesome, as are the diseases of Malaria and Chikungunya. There’s no running water, nor air conditioning in his humid abode, with only a hole in the ground for a commode.
Humble furnishings included one lightbulb and one outlet for electricity. He also showered with cold buckets of water.
According to his email, most of the native’s homes were made with tarps and jungle planks nailed together. There’s also much sickness in the area, but he’d already been part of miraculous healing blessings. He added that we needn’t worry, he would be just fine.
My stomach twisted into knots, my mind swirling with shocking visions of our missionary being swarmed by infectious mosquitoes in the humidity of his one light-bulbed shanty with no running water, while scorpions lay in wait to attack this pale-skinned mission newbie. Mothers, especially this mother, are champions in the art of worrying and conjuring up worse-case scenarios.
In contrast, my husband was intrigued and optimistic about our son’s new situation, me, not so much. Yes, our missionary will learn to be grateful for the myriads of blessings he’s experienced over the past 19 years. True, he will be humbled and will be able to teach the people with a genuine honesty and intent and yeah, I bet he will have some amazing tales to tell about his mission jungle adventures.
Notwithstanding, I placed my son in the worthy hands of faith and trust weeks ago as he embarked upon his two-year mission. Nothing at all has really changed, except my perspective.
But, my stomach churns and my heart yearns with worry. And yet, as the days slip by, the more I think about his new circumstance, the more I’m at peace and humbled by it, jungle fever included.
I’ll admit, I’m anxious to read his next email. I can live vicariously through him as he happily braves whatever future mission scenarios may come, knowing that he’s where he’s supposed to to be. A healthy dose of fresh perspective can travel far, even into the remote jungles of Central America.