Several years ago, I heard a knock at my front door. I opened it to two older gentleman who wanted to teach me about their religion. They shared several scriptures, interpreting them much differently than what I was used to. I listened politely. At the conclusion of their remarks, they said, "We go out and preach the gospel regularly because we believe in what we're doing. Do you know of any other religion that sends out missionaries?"
I'm sure they didn't expect my response, "As a matter of fact, I do." I then went on to explain how the LDS Church has a missionary force of tens of thousands. Though I found it hard to believe they weren't aware of our missionaries, I didn't want to assume they were deliberately trying to be deceptive. After all, they believed enough in their religion that they were willing to give up their time to share their message.
Our missionaries serve missions at great sacrifice. Some give up college for 2 years, others sacrifice scholarships, and still others put relationships on hold or miss out on events of their children's and grandchildren's lives simply to serve the Lord.
While I have always been aware that the missionary would make sacrifices, it wasn't until my son left for his mission that I realized how great my own sacrifice would be. I assumed I would miss him, of course, but I didn't know what a hole he'd leave while he was gone. I was so used to seeing him and talking with him and when he entered the MTC that all changed overnight. Suddenly, I could only communicate through letters and then through e-mail. While e-mail is more timely than snail mail, it's certainly not the same as having a live conversation.
After he left, I also realized how much I depended on him. He was a great help with the kids and around the house.
Why do people choose to serve a mission and leave family and friends for up to two years? Why do the families encourage them to do so? Though it is a huge sacrifice, we've learned that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. Having my son halfway across the world is definitely a sacrifice, but it is also such a blessing. He has learned so much about himself and about his own testimony. He has struggled and prayed and worked harder than he ever has. And, he's loved it. He's learned to love a foreign culture and the people of that land.
I've had to learn to trust the Lord, that He will take care of my son. I wouldn't have my son doing anything else. I know he is where he should be, doing what he should be doing, and touching the lives of people only he could touch.
Return to the neighborhood.