“Missionary work is rigorous. It is demanding. It is difficult. It has never been easy and it never will be. It requires strength of body, strength of mind, strength of spirit.” Gordon B. Hinckley
One of the reasons we moved to the country was to allow our kids to learn a work ethic. We wanted to allow them the opportunity to be responsible for animals and the work it takes to care for animals on a daily basis.
My oldest son wanted to raise pigs. Since I’m a city girl, I really had no idea what it meant to raise pigs and my husband’s family had raised cattle. We built a pen and then bought four piglets. A neighbor donated an 800 lb. sow. We were set, or so we thought.
Those pigs were all Houdinis. They could get out of their pen in the blink of an eye. Of course, they only chose to do so when my husband was out of town. And, pigs are not like cows, horses, sheep, or goats—they don’t herd, they don’t come when you call, and you can’t “talk” them into their pen. In fact, when you get close to pigs, they usually scatter in all different directions.
Late one night, while my husband was away on business, I heard a noise out in the side yard. Sure enough, the pigs were out. I dressed and then asked my son (I still say I asked in a very nice way, though my son will argue that point) to come help since, after all, they were his pigs.
We spent the next hour or two chasing pigs up and down our driveway, through our yard, around the sheds, and into the fields. To say we weren’t pleased would be a mild description. Both my son and I were ready to make them all into bacon on the spot. The sow was the worst because anything that weighs 800 lbs. can really do whatever it pleases.
My son stuck it out, though, and we finally succeeded in putting them all back in the pen and then fixing the fence so they couldn’t get out again (or so we told ourselves). I think my son learned a valuable lesson that night—don’t give up, even when something seems impossible.
We worked our son hard during his teenage years with building fences, caring for animals, and working around our property (when you have almost 40 acres there’s always plenty to do). Even when he didn’t want to work, we made him get up and work anyway, all the while telling him it was preparation for his mission. I’m pretty sure there were times he didn’t believe us. I think he figured his mission would be easy compared to what we asked of him.
I think he now believes us. He’s been in the mission field for over 21 months and a constant theme when he writes is how hard it is to be a missionary. He says he’s never worked so hard in his life and never loved it so much.
Return to the neighborhood.