In The Mommy Zone Column

The Dreaded Phone Call

The dreaded phone call has finally come.

I have never received a phone call like this in all my life. It was from our Stake President and I knew immediately it concerned our missionary son.

Our oldest son served faithfully as a missionary for two years and we were blessed to never have received such a phone call on his behalf. However, our second son, having served only for four months as a current missionary, was the subject. I knew it before a word was spoken. A mother’s intuition about her children is usually correct.

That alarming phone call was one of the most difficult moments I have ever endured as a mother.

The Stake President stated our son had been involved in a bicycle accident as a missionary in Guatemala. He had seriously broken his left forearm in three places. Furthermore, the breaks were so severe that he was sent to a faraway hospital for immediate surgery.

Wait. What?

My missionary was gravely hurt, somewhere in a foreign land, and required major surgery. My heart fluttered, literally aching, and my emotions surged.

Then reality hit me. There was absolutely nothing I could do. I couldn’t race to the hospital to be with him. I couldn’t pick up the phone to even speak to him. The Mission Home had no current information. I had no idea where he was going or what was happening. All I knew was that my beloved son was thousands of miles away in a third world country, suffering. I was at a loss.

My mind swirled with doubts. Where was this emergency surgery taking place? Who would be operating on my son? Are the doctors licensed? What about the anesthesiologist? Was he in excessive pain? What about infection? He isn’t even fully fluent in Spanish…

My psyche reeled with what-if scenarios. I thought my soul would burst with worry and fear.

I felt utterly helpless and heartsick. I wanted to fly there straightaway and take charge, but I knew I shouldn’t. I knew I wouldn’t. My hands were tied and I was frozen in a dazed stupor, stuck in slow motion, as time passed me by.

I had but one recourse and dropped to my knees in fervent prayer. It’s all I could do.

I anxiously worried for 24 excruciatingly lengthy hours, hearing nothing, fervidly hoping and praying for good news.

In a strange twist of fate, I happened to be randomly checking my emails and a message from my missionary promptly appeared. He said he’d received permission to call home in five minutes and hoped that I would be there.

The blaring shrill of the phone ringing woke me from my nervous trance. I raced to pick it up and heard a familiar, yet weakened, post-surgery voice on the other end. It was my missionary son.

He only spoke for a few minutes and recounted his tale of his frightening injury and subsequent operation. Guatemalan doctors had surgically placed two metal plates into his forearm to hold together his broken bones, inserting about 40 staples altogether on either side. He said his faith, trust, and optimism had helped him through this difficult mission trial.

I listened intently, reveling in the voice I had not heard for four months, basking in my relief.

The phone call ended and he was gone much too soon. I pondered our brief, but profound conversation. This was a harsh test of both of our faiths.

“Don’t worry, Mom. I’m OK,” he had whispered. “I’m a missionary and I will be blessed.”

That’s all I needed to hear.


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