Updated: Mar 26, 2019
Since my son was a very young toddler, he looked forward to serving a mission. Now, looking back, it seems the Lord was directing and preparing all of us for his service.
The year before his departure, several financial, medical, and other unexpected trials arose. Then, the day we dropped him off at the MTC in Provo and said goodbye for two long years was one of the toughest and heart-wrenching days of my life. Closing our Skype call this Christmas was even harder.
I had worked hard to help him prepare for a mission. I was so grateful that he made the best choices, but I wasn’t prepared for the experience when he actually left. The inability to communicate with him frequently, the constant reminder of his empty room, and worrying about him were often crushing, and I believe sending off an LDS missionary is really hard for all LDS moms – and dads too, of course.
However, the blessings of seeing a young man set aside the things of the world and sacrifice his life for the Lord, including his personal relationships, interests, and schooling, are just the beginning of the blessings I have received throughout these months he’s been in the field:
1. Our faith is stronger than ever. We are learning and are being tested to put our trust in the Lord that a mission is His work and whatever mission policies, living situations for our missionary, and dangerous places he serves are inspired as our son furthers His work.
2. We are more grateful for sweet, tender blessings like technological advances in communication - such as emails every week, occasional pictures of our missionary from the mission president and his wife, and also members in his area, and Skype calls on Christmas and Mother’s Day. Our readily available communication with him through emails and letters helps us to pour out our feelings and even learn a different side of each other.
3. We look forward to and love Mondays (email day), and each email provides a chapter of our son’s experiences. We learn through inspirational, funny, constructive, and personal stories about ways our missionary has placed his trust in the Lord.
4. We experience many emotions and moments of gratitude when we see his plaque hanging in the church next to the bishop’s office. It’s reassuring to see his face there among all the other missionaries from our ward.
5. We pray for him even in our smallest prayers throughout the day, and this has brought us closer together. We are also humbled to know that other family members and friends are praying sincerely for his protection.
6. We read his stories of how he has helped reactivate more than twenty families so far, performed baptisms and priesthood blessings, and come to love the many members in his area. We are so grateful to those members for all the dinners and other service they provide for our missionary.
7. I have gained a new perspective of the power of the priesthood when he also speaks positively – perhaps to ease my worries – about negative experiences with a companion who doesn’t follow the rules, being chased by a group of drunk guys who threw broken bottles at them, being yelled and sworn at by people who have been offended, and dealing with unmarried couples uninterested in follow God’s commandments, or even drug lords that enslave young people. Knowing that he literally cries for these people, prays for them, and loves them despite their actions teaches me more about humility and submitting to the Lord’s will than anything else.
8. I feel the veil very thin lately. I know we have ancestors beyond the veil who are helping him in this work. I feel inspired and have also restarted searching for a branch of our family that has been really hard to reach.
9. He has so much joy in the work. On our Skype call for Christmas, I asked him if he had developed a testimony that the Lord called him to the right place. He broke into a big smile and shouted “Absolutely!” He continued, “It’s been the best experience of my life. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and His atonement, the scriptures, our prophet and general leaders, and I’m already dreading the day I will be released. I want to do this forever.”
10. The biggest blessing of all is seeing our son change. He is becoming an admirable man, strengthening his relationship with Heavenly Father, and discovering His power, and the miracles the companionship of the Spirit can perform in the lives of others. Seeing him remaining upbeat in the face of trials and spreading the joy of the Gospel is a real miracle in all of our lives.
11. Even if we already knew it, we are learning that if we focus on the difficulties of the experience, we will miss the blessings, and much depends on our attitude. It’s time to test our faith, knowledge and everything wonderful that we know about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and seal our testimony of Him and His work.
I’m grateful for the honesty we share, for my son’s willingness to serve the Lord, for the compassion I have toward other parents of missionaries under any circumstances, and especially for the love Heavenly Father has for all of us, even for my dear son, in allowing him to have these experiences.