Washington Mother of the Year: No Borders to Love of a Family
Contributed By Kara McMurray, Church News staff writer
“The borders of our family extend beyond us. There are no borders to the love of a family.” —Celeste Humphreys Mergens, Washington Mother of the Year
Celeste Humphreys Mergens’s six children are not the only ones who call her “Mama.”
“I am ‘Mama Mergens’ in many languages,” the Washington State representative for Mother of the Year said.
Sister Mergens, along with her husband, Don Mergens, raised six children, hosted six foreign exchange students, opened her home to six foster children, and, in 2008, started a nonprofit organization, Days for Girls International, which provides feminine hygiene kits to women in more than 60 countries.
“The borders of our family extend beyond us,” said Sister Mergens. “There are no borders to the love of a family.”
Speaking in reference to the foster children she and her husband have brought into their home, Sister Mergens said, “Maybe, just maybe, you’ve given them a spark of the love of family and the Savior that will stay with them.”
For Sister Mergens, “motherhood has been not so much shaped but an adventure in service.” She often brought her children alongside her to serve and strived to teach them all to “be happy and be productive and to build their own lives.”
Brother and Sister Mergens serve as the CTR 4 teachers in the Lynden Branch of the Bellingham Washington Stake, as family history representatives in their branch, and as cleaning coordinators in the Vancouver British Columbia Temple in addition to traveling the world working for Days for Girls International. In all she does, though, her favorite calling is being a mother.
“We don’t get a manual. The blessing of being a mother is such a privilege. … It is the most transformative experience of love and growth with my husband, with my children, and, most important, with the Lord,” said Sister Mergens. “I’ve had many honors given to me. … For me, there is no greater privilege or honor than being a mother.”
Sister Mergens finds herself busy most of the time, often pulling 19-hour days, even with all her children now out of the house. She is quick to acknowledge where her strength lies: Heavenly Father. “What I do is not possible, so we know where that strength comes from. Every day is more than you can possibly do. Prayerfully serve one step at a time.”
As surprised as she was to be named the Mother of the Year for her state, she recognizes it as an opportunity to honor mothers everywhere. “This isn’t about me; it’s about moms being honored. This is a chance to remind the world that mothers deserve our utmost respect and appreciation and mothers are sacred. It’s such a privilege to remind the world moms matter.”