Editor’s note: Missioner Anna Klonowski celebrates her mother on Bolivian Mother’s Day by acknowledging some of the life lessons that her mom taught her.

Although Mother’s Day in the United States is always the second Sunday of May, in Bolivia the date never changes—mothers are celebrated every year on the 27th of May. Though I am further away from my mother this year than I have ever been on Mother’s Day, I am comforted knowing that I have her unconditional love and full support. Truthfully, although she wishes I were closer, it’s actually her fault I’m here in the first place.

My mom taught me so many things that directly relate to my decision to come to Bolivia. Here are just a few of the lessons she taught me that prepared me for mission.

Try new things.

At a very young age, my mom forced me to eat things I didn’t like, such as barley soup and asparagus. As it turns out, I grew to love a lot of the foods I used to call “gross.”  My mom’s insistence on trying new things extended to after-school activities, clothing styles, and ice cream flavors (her favorite is licorice chip). “Just try it!” is her anthem.

Beyond the vegetables, the activities, and the clothes, my mom also taught me to be open to new perspectives and learn from those around me. Taking a step back from judgment has allowed me to experience so many amazing moments that have occurred outside of my comfort zone.

Have confidence.

My mom has always believed in me. Even when I have been unsure of my abilities, my mom has had no doubt that I can accomplish what I set my mind to. She believed that I would be successful when I switched my major, when I gave my thesis presentation, and when I came here to Bolivia. I may have inherited her perfectionism, but I also inherited her dedication to everything she does. I can have confidence in that.

Be love.

If you want an example of a life lived in love, look no further than my mom. She consistently puts others’ needs above her own.Every day, she shows me an example of how to live out your faith through service to others—within the family, the community, and the world. She is not perfect, but she is authentic in her desire to accompany others through all of life’s joys and struggles. How could I not want to live like that?  

Laugh.

Among all these important lessons in my life has been this constant: even when circumstances are tough, laughter is precious. My mom lights up a room with her laughter and joy—she taught me to treasure beautiful moments in the company of family, friends, and new acquaintances.  Life on mission is a reflection of that precious joy and laughter, even amidst trials and uncertainty.

My life choices have been shaped by my mother, and I believe I am much better off for it. A warning to all mothers (and all parents): if you are teaching your children any of these lessons, be prepared—they may grow up and decide to become any number of scary things like: a missioner, a risk-taker, or a conscientious, caring adult. Know that you’re the reason why.

Reflection Question: So much of who we are is shaped by and gifted us by our parents and family. How can you show your gratitude to them today?