Elder Spencer Dyal was assigned to labor in the Quito, Ecuador North mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He entered the Mexico City Training Center on July 30, 2014. He will spend the next five weeks there learning different proselytizing methods, how to teach church doctrine, and will be educated in the Spanish language and Ecuadorian culture. On September 9, 2014, he will take what he learned there and fly to Ecuador to begin teaching others about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know he will continue learning and growing as he proselytes amongst the people of Ecuador. He will not be fluent in Spanish at first, but eventually through his faith and a lot of practice, he will be blessed with the gift to speak the language. His mission will be exciting and rewarding, but it will also be challenging and hard. It will most likely try his faith on many occasions. As hard as it is to know your children will go through hardships and trials, I really hope he has many faith-trying experiences that will help him become a better, stronger, and a more spiritual person. I know he will overcome his trials, and I'm certain his faith and spirituality will strengthen and grow. All this will be for his good and help him become the man he is supposed to be! (Learn more about the Church's Mission Training Experience here: http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/topic/missionary-training-centers)
For those of you who don't know Spencer very well, I will tell you a little about him. Spencer loves music! He started playing piano when he was 8 years old... So he's been playing for the last 10 years. He was the priesthood pianist every Sunday and he played whenever a pianist was needed at most of our youth functions at church. In some of the paperwork that we received about his mission in Ecuador, there was a comment eluding to a desperate need for pianists in his mission. He assumes now that he'll probably be playing a lot while in Ecuador! He also loved to sing in our ward choir. He played the baritone in the orchestra, concert band, jazz band and marching band in school. And it was a rare occasion where we didn't see him with earphones at home listening to his collection of songs. Spencer is a hard worker, too. He always made the honor roll every year and graduated "Cum Laude" this year in high school. He is an Eagle scout, served as the president in every quorum presidency, and was the seminary president during his senior year. He was trained to be a lifeguard and worked a part-time job at our local community recreation facility. He will be able to pay for the majority of his mission with the money he earned the last two years. He was accepted at BYU-Idaho but deferred to serve his full-time mission. He hopes to attend the fall semester of 2016 after he returns.
One of the things I have always admired about Spencer is that he has always possessed a strong desire for righteousness. Even at a very young age. Spencer has ALWAYS stood up for his faith and values. I have watched him as he has been tested and had to overcome many trials over the years, specifically with his non-member peers in school. And he has always been very humble. He was never one to boast about himself. In fact, he was always the first to point out his imperfections and constantly worked to better himself every day. He has always been receptive to the counsel of his parents and church leaders, and I was so very grateful when he came to me, practically on a daily basis, when he needed guidance and counsel on the challenges in his life, or just on life in general. (I will definitely miss those discussions these next two years!). He's been a wonderful big brother and example to his younger siblings, and to everyone around him, including myself. I know he was meant to be the first child in my family for this purpose. He is truly an amazing young man! Of course, I am his mom so that makes me incredibly biased, except for the fact that literally dozens and dozens of people throughout his lifetime (and possibly more) have noticed the same thing as I have. I feel very humbled by those who have noticed his kind, thoughtful, generous, humble and spiritual nature and shared their findings and experiences with me.
When Spencer was born over 18 years ago, I felt a very strong and instant connection to him. It was more than just a motherly instinct. I felt as if I had always known him! That he was hand-picked and chosen to come live with me. From that day on, I have always carried the weight of that knowledge and knew how important it was to raise him the right way. A few days ago, after Spencer left for Mexico, I looked for my journal from when I was a brand-new mother. I wanted to remember what I written about him when he was a baby. This is what I wrote shortly after he was born:
"This last Sunday (May 5, 1996), Spencer was blessed in church. Joshua said in the blessing that it was very important for him to stay strong in the gospel because the world will be so much more wicked when he gets older. I know he was a strong, righteous spirit in heaven. And, of all the mothers in the world, he came to me! While in the hospital holding my sweet baby, I had a very spiritual experience. I can say without a doubt that I knew him in the pre-existence. I'm supposed to be his mother! What a tremendous responsibility! My patriarchal blessing says that Heavenly Father would send choice spirits into my home. I have a lot I need to do to prepare myself to be the right kind of mother for him."
Last week I was reminded and had confirmation of my knowledge that Heavenly Father chose me to be Spencer's mother and how important I always knew it was. Last Tuesday (July 29, 2014), we had just left our stake president's home after Spencer was set apart as a missionary for the church. Joshua, Spencer and I were driving in the car and talking about the wonderful blessings and promises that our stake president had given to Spencer that night. This was also the night before Spencer boarded the plane to Mexico. I was feeling so proud of Spencer, but also very sad that he would be leaving me for two years. I couldn't shake the melancholy feeling that I had about him leaving and how it would change my life as a mother. I was very sad that my role in his life would be completely different from this point on. Time had gone by way too quickly since he was my tiny, sweet baby! As we were driving home, I got a call from my Dad with an interesting story. He was at a Business Conference in Minneapolis, MN that day when he ran into my old stake president, Richard Shumway, from when we lived in College Station, TX and when Spencer was a baby. He asked my Dad about his children and family, and my dad mentioned that his oldest grandson was leaving on a mission to Ecuador the very next day. With tears in his eyes, he told my father that he had a chance to hold baby Spencer many years ago and had a spiritual experience while holding him. He felt a very strong personal manifestation that Spencer had been called of the Lord for a special purpose and had been given parents who would raise him to fulfill that mission. He told my father what a special experience that was for him and that he had never forgotten it. I sincerely believe that my father running into him that day wasn't a coincidence! It was the day before Spencer left on his mission! I was feeling anxious to let my son go, and Spencer was very nervous about what lay ahead of him. My old stake president's spiritual account was truly a comfort to both Spencer and I as we braced ourselves for him leaving the following day. I broke down and bawled for an hour after hearing this story. It's what we needed right then... that very day! Very, very grateful to my Heavenly Father for this tender mercy!
Spencer gave an amazing farewell talk the Sunday before he left (July 27, 2014). The topic was on Sacrifice and Obedience. Let me give you an except in Spencer's own words:
"Ever since I was little I always knew I would serve a mission. And when President Monson announced the change of the missionary ages from 19 yrs old to 18 yrs, it was just more of a revelation to me that I would definitely go on a mission someday, and that I would go sooner rather than later. Being a missionary is definitely an act of sacrifice and obedience. But sacrificing 2 years of my life to the Lord is very little compared to what Christ did for us. I consider it an honor that the Lord thinks I'm up to the task. But knowing these things hasn't really made it easier for me though, especially this last year. There has been a few changes in my life that tested my faith and obedience and I'll just name a few -
We want all our family and friends to know that we are grateful for your love, support and prayers on Spencer's behalf. Thanks for all you do for him and all that you do our family as well.