by Betsy Love
I just got a letter from my missionary son and marveled at his words. This is my miracle child, the one whom Heavenly Father came so close, on several occasions, to taking him home, but left him here to continually bless our lives.
Let me back up a few years, about twenty years. When I got pregnant with Andrew, our family was convinced that I was finally going to have another girl, especially the only daughter who had to deal with three brothers on a daily basis. When an ultrasound revealed that this baby was indeed another boy, my daughter wept tears of bitterness at being added upon by more masculinity in our home. I had prayed for a girl as well and tried to hide my disappointment. When things went from bad to worse with this pregnancy, I changed how I regarded this new precious child. I gave birth to a 2lb 15 oz, 3 months premature son. The doctors told us that we should not expect much from him. He would most likely be brain damaged and suffer a multitude of disabilities. It didn’t matter to us. When I took one look at that tiny person, I loved him with all my heart. He did not do well during the first month of life outside the womb. We kept asking Heavenly Father to please make him better. He had to undergo a scary surgical procedure and we prayed fervently to preserve him. The Lord did, but Andrew still did not get better.
One day as my husband and I were praying over our tiny son, we both realized that perhaps this was our Abrahamic test. Maybe we were praying for the wrong thing. With a lump in our throats and tears in our eyes we went to the hospital and said to him, “Andrew, we love you so very much, and we want you to stay here on earth with us, but if Heavenly Father needs you home, then you have our permission to go home to Him." Within days, if not hours, after our “talk” with Andrew, he began to recover. The amazing thing about this child is that most babies born at his gestation had a medical condition that makes them extremely colicky and cranky. Not our Andrew! He was the perfect baby. I often marveled at how amazing he was. Little did I know just how amazing Andrew would grow to be.
I won’t go into the many other times Andrew came close to dying, for there were many, but suffice it to say that Andrew grew to be a great example for his brothers and sisters. His three older brothers had fallen away from the gospel and had not been worthy to serve missions. I grieved much over the choices of my older sons and worried about the impact that they would have on the rest of the family. I didn’t even ask Andrew if he wanted to serve a mission, why would he, no one else in the family had? I didn’t even encourage him to save for a mission. In spite of this, Andrew never wavered from the gospel. He attended all his meetings, went to seminary and did all the things a young man of God should do. Then one day, during his senior year the subject of a mission came up and he surprised me, “I’m going on a mission.”
“Really?” I asked. But I just knew that something would happen to keep him from going. He attended missionary preparation classes, got ordained to the office of Elder, and he even put in his mission papers. Shortly after doing so, he totaled our car. My heart sank when I got the news, not for the car, but for our son. Yet another miracle took place that day, no one was hurt. Even though the car was a complete loss, the insurance company completely took care of the bill, leaving us with an “extra” bit of money per month to help sustain our son because his mother hadn’t the foresight or faith to encourage him to save. Another miracle happened just before Andrew got ready to leave on his mission. His grandfather took him to dinner and told him that when Andrew was a baby, he promised the Lord, that if Andrew’s life were to be spared, my father would help pay for his mission.
Which brings me back to Andrew’s halfway mark coming up in March. As a family we walked the temple grounds after church one Sunday and marveled that the last time we had done that as a family, Andrew had been with us. We missed his presence that day, but as we stood gazing up at the temple, we knew that Andrew is about his Father’s business, bringing souls unto Christ. I feel blessed everyday for a son like that. We call him “our family Nephi.”