“Missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) are volunteer representatives for the church who engage variously in proselytizing, church service, humanitarian aid and community service.”- Wikipedia
As I looked at these photos of Wesley C. , who is very shortly off to Berlin, Germany to serve an LDS mission for two years, I began to think about my own sons, specifically Noah, who (if he chooses), will be leaving on his own mission in as little as five years. This thought makes my heart skip a beat. Not out of joy but out of fear and anxiety.
I worry, like any parent of course, but having sons who will likely be preparing to serve a mission after high school is an added burden (or blessing depending upon how you see it).
I love these photos and I know many of you may look at them and roll your eyes so I wanted to share with you (in my own Rachael way) a few thoughts in my heart when it comes to how others view and treat our boys (and girls) in ties and name tags.
First of all, it might be helpful to remember that our children not only save money for cars, clothing, college and other things but also save their own money to serve their Heavenly Father and others for two years. TWO YEARS!!!
Our children do not get paid, they do not receive gifts, college credit or any other material benefit. They do not watch TV, play video games or check social media. They do not participate in sports or attend events (although they can exercise, run etc.) What they do get is a companion that they have to spend ALL of their time with, meals (sometimes not very good ones) provided by members of the church and community, early morning scripture study, LONG hours of walking/biking, ridicule and door after door after door either slammed in their faces or never opened.
Why, why do we send our lambs off to be slaughtered then? Besides, the fact that serving a mission is HARD and often times tedious and draining, there are so many blessings that come of it and lessons learned. Although, the ultimate goal of a missionary is to spread our gospel, most parent’s goals are simply to have their child return a better human being with a strong foundation in Christ and a positive outlook on the future.
Understand that a mission is more for our child than it is for you. Our missionaries learn patience, humility and trust, they become self-reliant and independent. Did you know that other than two phone calls a year (Christmas and Mother’s Day) and a weekly e-mail or hand written letters, there is no contact with any members of their families?! These missionaries learn to serve others and have compassion for many less fortunate than they. Many of our kids serve in third world countries, learning foreign languages and literally living in poverty themselves. They learn to form relationships with others and to get along with certain people that may otherwise, never happen. They learn to study and think which helps when they return to college much more mature and ready to succeed. Our children experience bitter disappointments as well as the great joy of bringing Christ into someone’s life. They get to witness, first hand, repentance and see the blessings that come from spiritual change.
So, I guess what I am trying to say is, take a minute and consider what our children are giving up, by choice, to come knock on your door. They don’t expect many to listen to their message or even acknowledge them. They are geared up for dismissal and disappointment so don’t be so inclined to pretend you are the busiest person on the planet when they knock or send them packing with a frown.
These kids are just that, kids and they are probably missing home and their families and good food. They are missing the latest in sports news and playoffs, they are missing their cars and movies and everything else that a typical 18-21 year old would most likely be doing.
You don’t have to discuss religion and God, but you can open the door and say hello. Chat about sports, their lives, the world or anything else really. It’s possible to be polite and offer them a drink (keep it N/A folks) and still say “no” to their message. You all know that you don’t have to read The Book of Mormon to play nice. So simply put, just be kind when you see two cute kids dressed in their Sunday best, heading your way and ease a little burden from a mother worrying far away.
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.” John 13:34