This week I kept seeing a link on Facebook being shared about a newlywed couple, who was separated upon entering the country after their honeymoon in Mexico. Although the bride is now married to an American and had a current visitor visa, she was immediately deported back to Russia. Due to misunderstandings, the groom had acted on incorrect information, which is how they ended up in this sad situation. Seriously, it’s like my past nightmare came true for them. So unfortunate.
While on this page and reading about what had happened, I saw a post about how they met. Being married to a foreigner, things like this always interest me. There was something else that really caught my attention though. A comment from a complete stranger. Not a nice one either. And apparently it wasn’t the first mean comment received because the admin of the page (I assume the groom) had to make an announcement that all negative comments would be deleted. Unfortunately, I had to see this woman’s ignorant thoughts before he disposed of them. My reaction:
Her words hit too close to home. The groom was an LDS missionary when he met his future wife (just like Denys and I were missionaries when we met). The two of them wrote to each other and after he was done serving his mission, they found better ways of communicating, long distance dating, real dating, and then eventually got married. I can’t exactly quote the woman’s statement (it has since been deleted, along with my reply), but it was something along the lines of, “He was on a mission where he should have locked his heart and served the Lord, but instead he chose to use this time to get to know a young girl, merely a child. This is so disturbing. He could have been doing great things! The poor girl got dragged into this way too young (she is 18).” Etc. Etc. Etc. [Wondering what an LDS mission is? —> click here or feel free to ask questions in the comments section.]
For real, do people (members of the church) really think like this? I was more disturbed by her comment than anything else. An awful thing just happened to a couple who truly love each other. So what if she is young. So what if he was a missionary when they met. The girl was sent all the way back to her country, far away from her husband, just days after making sacred marriage covenants in the temple and you’re worried about what kind of missionary he was? I really do believe that the majority of people are smarter, kinder, and more openhearted than this.
BUT JUST INCASE, let me explain how it can happen. Because it happens. I know.
1. Elder to Sister ratio. In my mission there was never more than 6 sisters serving at a time. Sometimes, only 4. The mission had over 80 elders and so our districts (groups of missionaries in an area) was always mixed with sisters and elders. I was very surprised to later learn that my friend’s mission in Washington D.C. had a sisters only district. I can’t even imagine! The closest sister companionship to me was no less than 4-8 hours away from me at times, maybe even more. Because of this, our President had given us permission to call the other sisters when we needed someone to talk to, but either way, it was impossible to avoid conversations with elders.
2. The highs and lows of missionary life. I wish I could lie and tell you all that the entire 18 months, or 2 years for elders, is just peachy and grand, but no. Just like there are highs and lows in real life, missionaries have to deal with it too. Whether you’re home sick, burned out, serving with a difficult person, or have little support from home (like my husband did), tough times do come. Sometimes, tough times make people do stupid things. Mistakes happen. Plus, some people naturally deal with these tough moments better than others. This doesn’t make someone a better missionary though, just different. Everyone I was ever around was always trying to do THEIR best, even in the lowest of times. I feel really lucky that I can say I enjoyed almost my entire mission. I know for Den, it was MUCH harder, yet he constantly tried and made effort.
3. Missionaries are human too. When I had to serve in a district with Elder Fedotov, I didn’t think it would be a big deal. Only after a couple of weeks though, I was praying multiple times a week to not have any feelings for him. I actually believed that I could just shut them off, or that God could, as if there really was some kind of switch. Oh if it were that easy (then maybe break ups would be easier too, eh?). If it were only that easy to completely “lock” your heart. Also, it doesn’t help that I have the world’s largest conscience that just loves to torture me. I NEVER had the thought that I would meet my husband on my mission, I never was seeking out a relationship, but I am human and we humans feel. I knew my feelings for Elder Fedotov were real and strong, but it was not the appropriate time to do anything about it. So we waited until after our missions to really see what was or could be.
4. Some things are just meant to be. I don’t really believe in “destiny” or “fate”, yet at the same time, I believe that Denys and I were supposed to meet and eventually start a family together. I feel so strongly that we were meant to be. We fit each other so perfectly that it is hard to imagine my life with anybody else. I rarely even think of us anymore as missionaries, it seems like a completely different life, but how else would we have ever met?? никак. Me in America. He in Ukraine. Our mission was the only way for us to have met, like it or not.
Hopefully nobody thinks that neither Denys nor I were serious about our missions. We were. Neither one of us went with the intentions of finding a husband/wife. Same goes for that poor newlywed couple that is unfortunately separated right now. I am not sure why that woman felt like she had any reason to belittle him. Maybe she was bored and having a bad day? Whatever the reason, I know a lot of couples that met on their missions and I wouldn’t doubt for one minute that any of them were great missionaries.
I have come to realize that while a mission is a big deal, our eternal marriage is an even bigger deal. We are eternally happy together and that is all that matters.