As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, all young men, when they turn 19 years of age, or in the case of those living in Mexico, 18 years of age, are asked to serve two-year proselyting missions to share the gospel with their fellow human beings, whether it be two states away, or two continents apart. As you may know from previous reading here on my blog, the 18-year-old boy was assigned his mission in the Eugene, Oregon district.
A few months before my father died we were discussing this. My father does not share our faith. He called himself catholic, but I've never seen him attend mass or pray the Rosary, so I'm not so sure. What we do know is that he was definitely not Mormon. My father, however, was supportive of young Mormon men spending two years of their youth in service, but he did say that it would be the saddest day of my life when I had to say goodbye, knowing that I wouldn't see my son for two full years. I vehemently disagreed, saying that I had always prayed for the day my son would choose to go on a mission. Not all boys decide to go, and I knew that the 18-year-old boy, too, had his free agency. I had always hoped he would choose to go, but was never sure what was in his heart.
Obviously he did choose to go, and explained to our congregation the Sunday before he left that he had a testimony of Jesus Christ and that The Holy Spirit will confirm truth to us. I actually hope to be able to post his talk here on my blog with his permission, so as soon as he sends approval via email, I will do so. Suffice it to say, he cried when he bore testimony. Not huge tears or sobs, but his voice cracked and his chin quivered and I knew The Spirit of God was working in him. That was the third time I had seen him cry since he was nine years old, and the fourth was thirty minutes later when he was hugging his friends for the last time for two years. Words cannot say how touched I was.
As we approached the MTC to drop him off, I knew we wouldn't have much time for goodbyes, so I patted him on the knee and said, "Okay, Son, I am going to start saying good bye right now. I then proceeded to quote the two hilarious comments my grandma had made two weeks before (HERE), which lightened the mood considerably. As our van pulled up to the curb, we were greeted by several "host" missionaries and an older woman who helped the 18-year-old boy get his bags out of the van. I slung my camera strap around my neck, hugged him goodbye, didn't cry, and began taking pictures...
I never did cry. (That's my mom in the above photo, who did cry considerably.) See dad, I was right, you were wrong. When I told my sister that I hadn't cried, the 15-year-old girl said, "So, Mom, you're proud of that?" Then my brother-in-law added with a smile, "Yeah, you're proud that you don't love your son enough to be sad that you won't see him for two years?"
I laughed along with them, then tried to explain that it's just that watching him walk away as he embarks on a two-year adventure serving The Lord was one of the happiest days of my life. Yes, my stomach turns every time I think of the fact that I won't see him for two long years, that he will do so much growing outside of my influence, which isn't a bad thing, but it's a strange thing to accept. However, my prayers of many years have been heard and I know he will be blessed for serving and the lives of those to whom he takes the gospel will be blessed as well.
18-year-old boy, we miss you, love you, and will continue to pray for your success every single day....
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