By Kristie Young Fairbanks
“Sampson.” We call him “Sampson.”
Our second eldest son is tall, strong, muscular, and full of faith. He also sports flowing curly locks of thick, auburn hair that he has grown out for several months, thus matching his nickname, giving him a sense of identity. He is stubborn in his obedience, fierce in his honesty, and unyielding in his loyalty, further comparable to his beloved Bible-hero from whence his nickname originated.
My husband dubbed our son with his fitting “Sampson” moniker after he graduated from high school and moved out of our home and into the college dorms to complete a year of school before serving his two-year church mission.
During that time of growth and transition, he matured dramatically, both physically and spiritually. He gained quite a few inches in height and added tens of pounds of bulky muscle mass to his once lean runner’s physique due to his weightlifting techniques. He also decided to grow out his flowing locks of hair, at least until the requisite missionary haircut looms, hopefully, just a few months from now.
“Sampson” started completing his mission papers last semester. We made the fateful trek to visit the dentist together and learned that he would have to get four wisdom teeth extracted. We also completed his required health check-up, where he was poked and prodded, weighed and measured.
Since then, he has successfully completed all mission interviews and his service application has been submitted. Now we wait, nervously wait, for his eagerly anticipated mission call to magically appear in our mailbox, hopefully sooner, rather than later.
Each afternoon, my heart skips a beat when I hear the mail carrier drive down our street, it’s a bittersweet moment for the mother of a future missionary. I wonder to myself how I can do this all over again.
I had recently successfully navigated supporting a son in the mission field, our oldest child, just seven short months ago. He served his mission faithfully and quite productively. His mission experiences are some of his life’s greatest moments and neither he, nor I, regret one day of his missionary service. But, I’m not quite ready to put my full faith and trust to the ultimate mommy test again so soon with another missionary.
Nevertheless, missionary service has been a goal of our four sons since birth. I’ve envisioned “Sampson’s” perfect scenario for 19 years now. I’d watch him anxiously tear open his mission call and announce to the family where his life-altering mission moments would take place over the next two years. It never mattered to me where in the world my sons would be called to serve, it just mattered that they were ready, willing, and worthy.
Any day now, this scenario will unfold in our family room yet again. I need to prepare myself once more to take on the role of missionary mom, an honorary distinction I’ll gladly bear twice.
But, I’m not quite ready to bid adieu to another son for two years, not yet. He still needs a booster shot and a haircut.
I reassured my son that unlike the Sampson of old, he’ll still posses his physical strength, even after his curly locks are severed. I then reassured myself that a mother’s ties to her missionary can never be severed, only strengthened.
“Sampson” will never be the same after unsealing his mission call, and neither will I. Nevertheless, we can embark upon this mission journey together, both splendidly transforming in miraculous ways. It’s a blessed adventure I’m now ready to take.
So, where’s that mail carrier?