Dear Elder Hulon,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Taiwan Taipei Mission.
These were the words I read aloud on a cold Christmas Eve, as my family anxiously watched. This day started like any other day…. At the gym with a good friend. Afterwards, I received a picture from my mother of my call in the mail. That’s when the anxiety kicked in.
I waited until the evening to open it. My family went to temple square in Salt Lake City for our Christmas Eve. It was beautiful beyond measure, but the only thing that was on my mind was that envelope that had my future written inside. That envelope would inform me where I will be spending the next two years. The other thing on my mind was the fear that that envelope could say Idaho (no offense), but alas, it did not.
The next day was the best Christmas I have ever had in my whole life. I couldn’t believe how perfect it was. WE HAD A WHITE CHRISTMAS!!!! We had soooo much snow all day. I was extremely tired because I couldn’t sleep for obvious reasons. But there was so much love in our little family. We also had four dogs roaming about the house… crawling over everyone… and giving us endless cuddles.
You see, I come from a very broken family. I come from a family that comes from very little, but we make due with what we have. We love our lives, and we strive every day to become better. That’s why I love them. We come from a very difficult past, but here we are. We made it. For a moment during the day I was frustrated with some of my brothers playing video games, instead of visiting with us. This was especially frustrating because the next time I will spend Christmas with them will be three years from today. THREE YEARS. However, I started to realize something. Each member in my family is very unique. They all went off and did what they enjoyed doing, and believe it or not… That’s what I truly enjoy about my family. I loved seeing them just be themselves for one last Christmas. I loved just being a family again. All of us, just being ourselves. It was like we were kids again. The joy that filled my heart this Christmas was unlike any other I had experienced. My dear family, leaving them will be the hardest thing of all. Leaving all of their weirdness. But the joy of it all is that I know they will still be those weirdos I love when I get back. My brother’s, my mother, my brand new sisters, my precious nephews that are the bravest two kids I have ever met… And let’snot forget the dogs, Rocky (Brown Lab), Daisy (Pit Bull), Halo (Min Pin/Chihuahua), and Kuma (Australian Shepherd).
I received a gift that I will have to say was my favorite gift. It was from my brother Spencer, and his wife Valerie. I slowly unwrapped a little wad of tissue paper. Inside it was my brother’s suit tag from his mission in Orlando Florida. I tried extremely hard to keep the tears from coming. Now, one may look at it and just see a piece of plastic that just represents a distant memory. That’s not what I saw. I saw proof of hard work. I saw countless numbers of times being turned down. I saw immense hardship and grief. I saw sacrifice. I saw kindness. I saw a legend being passed down. I saw immovable faith. I saw countless times of doubt. I saw tears. I saw love. I saw my turn.
It’s my turn now. I must go forth with more faith than I have ever previously practiced before, and carry this torch that has been given to me. I must bring the light of love to those in a distant land. I have to go to the other side of the world for two years, and leave everything I have ever known. It has become all too real to me. I didn’t think this would be happening, but it is. Leaving my family this Christmas night was one of the hardest things I have had to do, knowing it will be the last for a very very long time. I had to fight the tears constantly as I took my things out to my car, but that’s okay. I must do what I need to do. There’s a reason why I am leaving, and I intend to find it. There is someone out there… Someone out there that needs me. They speak another language than I do. They look different than I do… But they have a heart, just like I do. So here it comes. March 18th I will enter the MTC to begin learning Mandarin Chinese. A challenge? Yes. Impossible? No. I hope you all have an amazing Christmas. Thank you for being with me on this ride. My time is coming, and I’m glad I have you all by my side. My own army. Or should I say God’s army.
He who gives his money, gives much. He who gives his time, gives a lot. He who gives himself, gives everything.
See you soon Taiwan.
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