SOUTH JORDAN — This August, an entire family will enter the LDS Missionary Training Center just weeks apart from one another.
It was just last week that single mom Teresa Wang, 45; her daughter, Jill, 20; and twin sons Christian and Cole, 18, each opened their own mission calls. Although this is something that Teresa Wang had been hoping for for the past few years, after President Thomas S. Monson's missionary age-changing announcement last October, their time frame quickly sped up.
"This occurred to me a couple years ago, this idea," Wang said. "So I've been thinking about this because I realized that all my kids are going to be gone on missions — Jill's always wanted to go, so I knew that she would go if things worked out — so when I really started thinking about it I realized, 'I'll be alone!’ ”
Having already served a mission to Japan, Wang knew the importance of her children serving, as well. That's why she started the preparation process long before the announcement last October.
"Of course the money was an issue," Wang said. "I'd been saving for my twins for years, stashing a pile away, and they did, too — all my kids had been saving, too. I just felt like I needed to start preparing more, so I got their wisdom teeth out in July, and I just thought, 'OK, just do what you can early.’ ”
Wang then decided to speak with her bishop in South Jordan to see if her ideas were even possible.
"I scheduled an interview around July or August, and he thought it was a great idea — but he didn't know either because he'd never sent a whole family. But he said, 'I say we just go for it and see how far we can get.’ ”
Since missionary service was on her mind, Wang said that after President Monson's announcement, she was overwhelmed with joy.
"I just started bawling and bawling because I just knew this was significant for us. It still makes me want to bawl right now just remembering," Wang said.
Once the Wang family realized that their missionary plans could happen much sooner than planned, they all began to discuss their feelings. While there were fears and feelings of not being ready, overall they decided to begin preparing for their missions and would stop if any concerns came along.
Because Teresa Wang was also planning on a mission, concerns arose about who could be a contact for her children, but Wang's parents have already been a part of the home base for years.
"We live with my mom and dad and have ever since I got divorced, which was when the twins were about 3 months old," Wang said. "... They're kind of the home base in case there are any issues or if they need anything."
After these concerns were resolved, the paperwork for all four missionaries was submitted on March 3.
"We have seen miracles galore, I mean with finances and everything — it's just what Heavenly Father wants us to do," Wang said. "The way has been open."
So on April 1, each member of the family took their turn finding out the location of their mission, which KUTV broadcast live.
"We had kind of discussed what to do and in what order and whether we would do it all together or individually," Wang said.
Wang was first to open her letter, which announced her assignment to the Polynesian Culture Center in Honolulu for 18 months.
"I heard that the center in Palmyra, N.Y., had a need for Japanese speakers, so I thought maybe I would go there," Wang said. "But as soon as I saw it I was so excited because I just thought, 'I can use Japanese and Chinese and I'm studying Korean. So all three languages I will have access to using.' I was just so excited."
Teresa Wang wasn't the only one who had thought an Asian mission might be possible. With a father from Taiwan and having studied Japanese and Chinese, Jill Wang also thought she might be called where her ancestors were from and where she could use her language skills. That's what happened, but in somewhat of a different way. She was called to serve in the San Diego California Mission at the Mormon Battalion Historic Center, Mandarin-speaking.
"When she opened it up, it was a shock, but she was so excited," her mother said. "She was so overjoyed because it was Chinese-speaking. But what's more incredible for her is that it fits such a niche since she has always been fascinated with history and she's always wanted to work at a living historical center."
Not only will Jill Wang be speaking a familiar language, but she will also be connected to her ancestors since her great-great-grandfather was a part of the Mormon Battalion.
"What's amazing to me is that all of these calls were almost tailor-made for where we are meant to be, even more than we knew about ourselves," Teresa Wang said.
Christian Wang opened his call next and found that he would serve his two-year mission in the Canada Vancouver Mission, English-speaking.
"We had requested, if possible, that we could go to Asia," Teresa Wang said. "But Christian, of all of them, didn't want to learn another language, and he was getting kind of nervous towards the end that he didn't really want to learn a language. But this was perfect for him. He was so excited; he was absolutely thrilled."
The last call to be opened came for Cole Wang, who is assigned to serve in the Mexico City Southeast Mission, Spanish-speaking.
"He was so excited, too, because he wants to learn a language," his mother said. "He's really excited, I just think that that's a wonderful place for him to go."
Both young men will enter the Provo MTC on Aug. 7. Teresa Wang will enter on Aug. 19 and Jill Wang will report Aug. 21.
Sending off four missionaries at once may seem overwhelming to many, but it's something that Teresa Wang has already been accustomed to.
"I come from a family of a lot of missionaries," she said. "When I was out, there were four of us out at the same time. So to me this was like, 'Oh, duh, this could work. We always go in fours.’ ”8 comments on this story
But because of the financial commitment four missionaries bring, Teresa Wang said that even with her savings, she came to a point where she didn't think it would be possible. But while watching general conference, one story about a woman crossing the Plains stuck out to her.
"There was a talk given about a woman ... with her family of eight and she just had two biscuits," Wang said. "That's all she had to feed her family, so she just put them in the pot and she prayed to Heavenly Father to please fill the pot and she opened the lid and it was full. That just touched me so much — it hit me hard.
"So one day when I was trying to figure out the finances, I knew that I had a reserve, but there came a point when I realized that I didn't have the reserve that I thought I had and it hit me for the first time that maybe this won't work. I said a prayer and said, 'Show me what I've got.' And within one hour I had the full amount in place. I had no idea I had money. Some I didn't have yet, but it was coming like taxes and 401(k)s that I didn't know about. I was just so amazed ... It's a miracle; he filled the pot just like the biscuits."