Oct 28, 2012

Postcards From Peru {a mother's account of a missionary son}

As some of you know, I've had a son serving a full-time LDS mission in Peru for the past two years.
We have not seen him in person at all for TWO.  WHOLE.  YEARS.
If you're a mom, you know how crazy and hard that is!
We've only gotten to talk to John on the phone TWICE.....the past two Mother's Days.
We got to Skype him ONCE, last Christmas.
Those were cherished moments like you can't even imagine, 
where we were all huddled around the speaker phone or 
smashed together in front of the computer so we could all fit into one Skype screen.  
I didn't want to miss one single word he had to say!
{he talks with a Spanish accent now, which is truly hilarious!}

We've exchanged an email every Monday, where he tells us about the good,
 and sometimes the not-so-good things that are happening.
We tell him what's going on with everyone at home, which honestly, compared to what he's doing and sacrificing, usually sounds so superficial and unimportant.

At times he's had awful health issues, 
beginning with being sick in the MTC {Missionary Training Center} in Provo, Utah, where he learned Spanish, plus how to teach the people of Peru about Jesus Christ and the restoration of the gospel.
Then imagine adjusting to a whole new diet in a third-world country.  
Yeah, that came with a whole lovely set of challenges!
{in his emails he talks about American food incessantly!  He misses it!!}
{see the food list he sent me AFTER this was posted!}
{I don't think he'll eat chicken, beans and rice again for months!  
He just wants IHOP, my homemade Gumbo, and a whole list of other things!  lol}
He's suffered greatly for months from ingrown toenails that required surgery, only for them to quickly return on the other side of the toes.
I know, gross.  But he's the first missionary that offered a Book of Mormon to the foot doctor! lol

He's walked up and down mountainsides so much that he's worn out his shoes and pants.
So what do you do when you're 6'3", tall and slender, you need a new pair of pants, but you live in a country where the population is very short?
Yeah, even new PANTS have been an issue!

After serving the Lord honorably and selflessly for 24 months,
after spending every dime he's ever saved in his whole life {for this purpose},
after giving up everything he's ever known and loved to go off to a country and a people and a language that he knew nothing about,
He's coming home!

We will soon be at the Phoenix airport celebrating, hugging and crying!
I can't wait!!!

Serving a mission has helped him to grow into a man, more mature and wise than the boy who left two years ago,
but he's never stopped being John!
Check out these pictures from Peru!
He's a character!!

                                                                              He LOVES him some Peruvian Inca Kola 
                                                                                           {anyone know where I can get more?}


Do you know anything about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?
Would you like to know more?
{talking to warriors is always good practice!}

 Completely serious about the Inca Kola thing!  He's IV'ing it right to his veins!  lol

Forcing down one more bite of chicken.
The goal is to not throw up while eating it.

About to teach a local how to make French toast.  

Peruvians don't know anything about tacos either.  
                   Believe it!

                       Oh look, Elder!  More chicken!

                                   Thank Heavens Peru has a Dominoes.  Sometimes.

Hey young single ladies, you know you want in on this!

These goofy faces are nothing new to me.  
He looks like this in every family picture and group shot.
It drove me crazy at the time, but now I love it!  haha
{I hope he never stops!}

Lest you think he never had a serious moment on his mission,
let me share an excerpt from his last letter home.
It's amazing!

 Yes, I´m two weeks away from home, and I´m kind of freaking out a little. Everything seems to be working together to make me the happiest person alive, I´m finishing the mission with an excellent companion, I¨m in a great area, we had two baptisms this week, we have another one this week, and we just got a temple announced here, absolutely everything is awesome. Yesterday was stake conference here, the first for this stake. 

Out of the 23 missions in this area, Arequipa was number 21 when I got to the field (referring to the number of baptisms and retention, the only reason it wasn't 23 was because the other two had just barely been formed haha). We've totally changed the history of Arequipa, we shot up from 21 to like 10 or so really fast, then slowly we kept getting better and better, and last week we just got the news from the assistants that we´re now number 1.  I can´t even tell everyone how much I love this city, this mission, and this Church.  I just couldn't even imagine anything being any better.......

 I testify that God knows what we´re going through and He is ALWAYS aware of our needs, I've come to understand that in a very real and deep way and I don´t think I could ever forget it. I love you guys and I know that we will be together forever.

Could a letter to home be any better than that?
Ohmygosh I love and miss my boy!!!

He has been HUGELY blessed by the church and the people of Peru!
I thank every woman who cooked every meal for him while he was there!
.......even if it was chicken, rice and beans!!!
I thank every good companion he's had that has either been a good teacher and example to my son
or who has been teachable and a good student of my son!
I am thankful for every sweet moment he's had!
I am thankful for the abundance of blessings we've had while he's been away....the blessings that are promised to those who are left to keep the home fires burning.
I am thankful that he's coming home a man...............kinder, more thoughtful, and with a deeper spirituality and greater understanding of what the most important things in this life truly are!

FYI: The first temple for Arequipa, Peru was just announced a few weeks ago.  {here's a little info on that HERE.}
John was watching General Conference via satellite at the stake center with several other people when it was announced.  Here's his account:
I don´t think I´ve communicated this very well throughout my letters these past two years but the first thing they told us in the mission home my first day in the field was how much they wanted a temple and how that was our goal. We've thought about, worked towards, prayed for, fasted for, and cried for a temple. My companion and I have fasted every week for almost two months and on Friday and Saturday our whole zone fasted together, I've wanted this temple more deeply and for longer than I've ever wanted anything in my entire life, and my words can´t do my feelings justice. I've been disappointed in every General Conference because it hadn't happened yet but now, barely a month before finishing my full time mission service, my prayers and those of thousands of others have been answered. In the first session there weren't very many people in attendance in the Church, I think the majority was watching online, but those who were there were so happy. We all jumped up and down and hugged each other and lots of people started crying (including several missionaries). It was one of the most spiritual moments I've had on my mission. Oh yeah I was happy about the one in Arizona too=)

I am grateful for the many sweet people and families that he's had the privilege of teaching and baptizing!!!  What an amazing experience that will make him better for the rest of his life!

Two years.

This week I have heard like a gajillion times,
"What? He's already coming home?  It seems like he just left!"

Not to me it doesn't.
It feels like it's been two whole years!

Last week he sent me this audio clip.
You MUST listen to it!  You won't regret it!
It's so perfect!
I couldn't stop crying, and it still makes me cry every time I listen to it {like now}.
It's the most beautiful thing!


In the quiet misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed,
When the sparrows stop their singing
And the sky is clear and red,
When the summer's ceased it's gleaming
When the corn is past it's prime,
When adventure's lost it's meaning -
I'll be homeward bound in time.
Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow
If you find it's me you're missing
If you're hoping I'll return,
To your thoughts I'll soon be listening,
And in the road I'll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing
As my journey nears it's end
And the path I'll be retracing
When I'm homeward bound again
Bind me not to the pasture
Chain me not to the plow
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow.

I let him go.
And now he's soon returning...........

{we still have a beautiful daughter serving a full-time mission in Honduras!  how blessed can one family be???  I'm overwhelmed with gratitude!}


  1. So excited for you!! I bet he has some great stories to tell. Inca Kola can't be that hard to find here, is it? I'll ask BSB if he's ever seen it at the Latin American grocery stores he has found.

  2. Oh my goodness - I have a lump in my throat. SO happy for you & so proud of Elder Jenkins. How wonderful that he is coming home. And I loved the food list. A whole gallon of milk to himself - ha ha! You have such happy times coming. Here's where I wrote about my son coming home from England {it still brings a tear to my eye}: http://www.michellelunt.com/2010/11/oh-happy-day-jeff-is-home.html

    Warmly, Michelle

  3. Inca Cola is so good. My brother in law is from Peru and has a Peruvian restaurant here in SLC...they sell it there. Maybe find a Peruvian Restaurant in AZ somewhere that carries it?

  4. Cried. Yes I did. Wow Cindy you have a way with words. And please save John for me. I want to marry him. For realz. :)


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