Thursday, June 18, 2009

Two by Two

They are everywhere, those white shirted 19 - 21 year olds. At least, they have been ever-present in my life. I even raised 2 of them - hey, "two by two" again!

Two has significance. In religion, two witnesses. In philosophy, two opposites: good and evil. In science (physics, to be exact), two is the first magic number. In relationships, partners, husband and wife - we aren't supposed to be alone. Two by two. In math, it's the first and smallest prime number, AND the only even one. It's often referred to as "the oddest prime".

Odd = Peculiar; Prime = 19 - 21 (for a young man!)

Those two white shirted young men could be considered an oddest prime. Not only because of the loose logic shown above, but because they are they proud to be peculiar, and because it might be considered odd by some that these young men in their prime are called Elders. And they are primed and ready to go!

The Elders. Two by two.

White shirts. Bikes. Young. Determined. These are the Mormon missionaries, representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. And they are "on a mission" for two years.

Two by Two for Two.

I saw them tonight on my walk. They were biking home at precisely 9 PM.

I found them in the shared waiting room of my OB/GYN when I discovered that my 2nd baby was unborn at term, but without a heartbeat.

They found me in San Bernardino, CA, after months of waiting; I was their "golden referral", my name found on a crumpled piece of paper at the bottom of a waste basket when they transferred into a new apartment - the former missionaries leaving it only partially cleaned.

I learned from them as I curled up in my bean bag chair in my little apartment in San Bernardino with my children's father, long before we were married.

I watched them leave from my home as I sent one of my sons to spanish-speaking Honduras and the other to Florida on an ASL mission.

My daughter found them in Brazil while she was on Rotary Exchange, and now one has found her again in Utah.

We saw them in Guatemala, Honduras, Roatan, El Salvador, Mexico; we saw them in Tahiti, and Hawaii. We have seen them in New York, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Arizona, Nevada, Washington DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Utah, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Texas, Louisiana, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and now in New Mexico.

They are everywhere. They really are! It's not just coincidence or happenstance.

There are over 53,000 LDS missionaries serving in 348 missions throughout the world. That's a lot of young men who could be playing ball, dating, going to college, working on the farm...but they are not. They are serving missions all over the world.

They ARE everywhere!

I love these young men. I will stop what I am doing to say hello. I will flag them down when I see them walking by. I will honk a tinny hello when I drive by a pair on bikes. They are great. They are humble. They are sincere. They are tireless. They are fearless. They are selfless. They are working their tails off. They are homesick. They are green or they are trunky. They are missionaries.

And they are hungry. Almost always.

I have had a magnet cartoon on my refrigerator for over 30 years, it has a picture of two elders in a huge pot: "Have the missionaries for dinner."

I have always loved to feed the missionaries. There is nothing better than inviting a young man who is far from home and far from home-cooking to sit at your table in your home and share a meal.

Two by two. Young men with a purpose. Two by two (or four). Lumber with a purpose.

The light touch. The heavy touch. In my life, they have each had their time and their season.
I love missionaries and will continue to smile when I see a pair wandering the streets looking for their "Golden Contact". I love them for their serendipitous presence in the past 35 years of my life, for the transformation I saw in my sons when they returned from their missions and because of an expected future army of missionary grandchildren. These elders (and sisters) are discovering themselves and seeing the reality of the human experience in ways many of us never will. There is no question that this time of service changes them forever; how it changes them is a personal experience for each individual missionary and I respect that miracle of growth and maturity and self-discovery - wherever it takes them, just as I expect and hope for their respect in my evolution as a person of faith and principle and authenticity. "For everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heavens." (Bible: Eccl. 3:1)

And now, in the fall of my life, I think it's just about my time....and I am savoring every minute of getting to know me, I am laughing more, learning daily and finally beginning to understand where I fit in the huge crazy puzzle of this life on earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment