Christmas was small and lovely this year. The highlight for us had to have been the telephone call from Ian. He was allowed an hour to speak to us. The first twenty minutes was filled with anxiousness on all our parts to make sure we had the best connection. There were four of us who wanted to be in on the call on this end. At first we tried a speaker phone which did not work well for Ian to hear us. We then scrambled to different phones which caused confusion. Ultimately we settled on two phones to share with a third phone hooked up to an iPod speaker. After that got worked out and we could all hear each other well, we were able to settle back and enjoy the conversation.
Ian told us it was 110 degrees where he was and he was so hot. He said that sometimes in the summer there it can get up to 122 degrees. He said he never could have imagined that such a thing was possible and that people could still survive. He seemed so amazed by the heat.
It was interesting to me that the longer the conversation went on, the more and more assured he seemed in his role as a missionary. He obviously misses his family but as the time went on it was evident that he was focused on his work and in doing the best he can to serve the Lord. He talked about how kind the people are to him in his ward there and how much the ward members take care of the missionaries. He talked about how really, really good the food is and how plentiful it is. He talked about having to get used to the physical accomodations of his missionary apartment and that they are moving to a new house this week because they have electrical problems with the house they are living in now. He said that in order to to turn one of the lights on in one of the rooms they have to turn on the shower. They are somehow related. That was pretty funny.
He let me know that his e-mails will always leave a little bit to be desired because of his limited time to e-mail on P-days. He said to just send him an e-mail of the five questions I needed or wanted answered and he would try to answer those but not to expect too much. Knowing that helps.
He tenderly talked to Jim about how much he appreciated his example and influence in his life. He said many times he stops and asks himself, "What would Dad do?" He said Jim's very calm nature is having an effect on him there and how much he appreciates his influence in his life.
It was clearly evident that he has matured a good deal already on his mission. He seems very self sufficient and not focused on himself. Rather, he seems focused on those he is serving and as his role as a missionary. That was nice for me to glean from the conversation. By the time we all said our good-byes and hung up, both Jim and I had a sense of the fact that he really doesn't need us anymore. We have done what we could to raise him and teach him and love him and he is now his own person. That was a bitter-sweet, gratifying moment. It is what we hoped for, yet still tender. I always told Ian I was raising him to be a productive member of society who would serve others. I think it's working.
Sweetly, he told us of a woman who was being baptized today who they have been teaching. This is his first baptism. He said he never did get the Christmas box we sent him but that her baptism was his Christmas present. I too had a "white Christmas" on my mission...a dear woman who was baptized on Christmas Day. It is a day after all to contemplate the meaning of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and His mission which is to do the will of His father. This scripture best sums up what God's work is..."For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. " Moses 1:39 (Pearl of Great Price)