This is Sister Cluff's Mom. I just wanted to share a little about our phone call on Christmas day. Besides weekly email, a missionary gets to call home only twice a year, on Mothers' Day and on Christmas. Both the missionary and the family at home anticipate the phone calls for weeks ahead. The actual phone call flies by and it is over before you know it.
This year, we talked to her on Christmas morning. We called her from our hotel room in Texarkana, Arkansas. Our phone call was a little shorter than we would have liked for two reasons. One, we were on a road trip to Arizona (for a wedding) with a full day of driving ahead and worrying about possible bad weather. Secondly, Sister Cluff wanted to save some of her limited phone call time to talk to her brother (in Utah) and her sister (in Texas).
She sounded good. She was surprised to hear from us early in the morning as we had told her we would call later in the day. (Our early call turned out to be wise as the road conditions were terrible for most of the day.) She was up and had opened her gifts. She said it was a good thing the box didn't get there until the day before or she would have had a hard time not opening her presents. She said it was great to get a box from home - even if it was mostly clothes!
We asked her what had been the most fun part of her mission so far. She said "playing dodge ball." We were a little surprised, so she explained a little more. The missionaries would place a line of balls down the middle of the gym and line up around the edge. When someone shouted "go" everyone would run, grab a ball, and start trying to get the other missionaries "out" of the game. To add even more difficulty, they played it as companionships - so they had to watch out for their companion too. If their companion got out, they were out too. President Y asked them to stop playing dodge ball and find another way to get their morning exercise. Now, Sister Cluff and her companion go to a exercise center located in a mobile home park in their area. Not as much fun for my petite and competitive daughter, but much safer!
We also asked her what had been the hardest part of her mission. I was expecting her to say "being away from home" or "eating fish." Instead what she said shows her growth as a missionary. She said the hardest thing for her was "when people tell you they don't want to meet with you anymore." She went on to say that she could see how the gospel of Jesus Christ could bless their lives and strengthen their family in so many ways. It was heartbreaking to walk away.
It was bittersweet to end our phone conversation. Knowing that she is in a good place and working hard to teach people about Jesus Christ is sweet. Missing her, even if it is only a few more months, is a little sad. How glad we are that she isn't thinking about herself and feeling melancholy, but instead looking ahead to all the new missionaries that will be coming in January.
Our family has been blessed by her service and dedication as a missionary.