Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Images from the last time we will see the 18-year-old boy for two years.....

It's hard to explain how this feels. For those of you who don't know why I will not have visual contact with the 18-year-old boy for two years, let me explain.

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...

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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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31 comments:

Salsa Mama said...

Wow. Congratulations, you're a missionary mama! He will be one awesome elder out there!!

Melinda said...

Jen, He looks awesome. I am so glad you are getting to experience this and hope one day I will too. If you look on my blog a few posts ago we sent a close family friend off who is like a son to me. His mom didnt cry but I did. I miss him so much. When I get a letter or email from him I ball. I wonder if he is eating enough and has the things he needs. I know its funny but I am so emotional lately.

I am proud of the example he is to my boys and Your missionary is being just that to his little brothers. The void felt will be filled with blessings. I am sure of that. You have done a great job Jen. Will keep him in my prayers.

bex said...

That is where I am from! I will tell my parents and sister to watch out for him and feed him if they get the chance!

Lynn said...

I couldn't have said it any better than you. I didn't cry either. I was SO happy that he had met HIS goal. Truly. I do miss my son, but look forward to his weekly e-mails.

By the way....I was touched by the HUGE hugs that your son gave to each family member. You all are so blessed to have been there to see him off.

alessandra said...

You do love him so much, 'cos the real love isn't need, it's wanting the best for the other, wanting him to fulfill his life.
You're a great mama, proud of you ;)

singlemormonchick said...

ok-so you didnt cry, but i think i bawled enough reading this post to make up for any tears you didnt shed!
i dont know why seeing those young men in their white shirts and ties walking towards the mtc with such purpose just melts my heart and brings me to tears, but it does. i know you already know this, but your son will be an amazing missionary. you prepared him well and he will make you so proud.

Dixie Mom said...

Thank you for sending your son.
I love these pictures. What a great moment for your family. I'm so proud of his decision to go. He will do a great job!

Life Happens said...

I cried for you as I read your post. What a proud moment for you. To raise a son who chose to go and serve the Lord. What more could you ask for?!

translation service said...

Look to be proud of the example it is my boys and your mission is more than just his little brothers. The void will be filled with blessings felt

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Okay, SMC, why did I get teared up reading your comment? Thank you. :)

The Farmer's Wife said...

Oh Jen...don't you worry...I think we all cried enough for you and then some;) In fact...I find myself in tears right now. I wrote a little something about Connor on my blog a few days ago. He is a wonderful young man and will be a very successful missionary!

Brian + Cheryl B. said...

When my sons headed off on short term mission trips for our church, I always cried tears of happiness. My heart was so thrilled they had chose to participate. I knew the Lord would be working both through and in them. And the tears came.

Stephanie said...

Why is the age different in Mexico? Just wondering.

NatureGirl said...

I have a nephew who recently returned from that mission. It was tough there, but he loved every minute of it. Way to go Elder 18 year old boy! God speed...

BarbaraJo said...

What a sweet moment. He is being such a great example for his younger siblings. You should be very proud!

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Aimee Kieffer, aka "Momzoo" said...

I am curious too, why 18?

Congratulations, Mama, on the fine young man you raised!

Janelle said...

I cried for you as I read this post and I don't even know him. I have four little boys and I will be a mess when they leave. But I will be excited for them for sure. Thanks for your fun blog.

Anonymous said...

What's wrong with this picture?
Step Dad sheds a few tears & Mom doesn't.............
He'll do great because you taught him well!

Anonymous said...

I've been following your blog for a while now and I'm so proud of your son. And I know how you feel (especially your Mom). My grandson is serving right now, he'll be home in Feb. What a wonderful way our Father in Heaven has prepared for his rightous sons to grow into manhood...by serving a mission. You're sending away an 18 yr old boy, you'll welcome home a 21 yr old man. We'll remember him in our prayers nightly as we pray for my grandson. Oh my heart is full right now!
Diane

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Stephanie and Aimee, to answer your question, as far as I understand it, here in Mexico, if you start university, you can't stop then start up again. You have to continue to go for the full degree plan. What was happening was that a lot of boys were getting "lost" during that year after graduation, so the general authority over this area was able to get the rules changed. I LOVE it! Although my son is going a year earlier than he would of had we lived in the states, I feel that he is mature enough and ready to make this step. Having tons of younger siblings has certainly helped him learn the basics of cooking, cleaning, laundering, etc.

Hope that explains it, and I hope I got it right!

vaxhacker said...

At least he'll be serving up here in God's Own part of the country :)

Best of luck to him.

Christine said...

I am trying to decide whether to start a blog of my own, and in my research stumbled upon your blog. It is my favorite so far!

We have 6 children, so I enjoyed seeing your schedule. It's amazing how much time a nursing baby takes, isn't it?

My family is Catholic, but my brother joined the Mormon faith when he was 17. He went on his mission to Belgium at 19. It was a lot for our family to absorb, as we knew nothing of LDS before this. It was hard to have him away for those two years, especially since I gave birth to his first nephew while he was away. But as hard as it was, it was a wonderful experience for him. He grew up in many ways during those two years.
I will be attending his son's baptism this weekend.
I'll surely visit your site again.

Mom2my10 @ 11th Heaven said...

Christine, that was a super-nice compliment! Thank you!

It's cool that you're brother is Mormon and served a mission. I think you'll enjoy the baptism!

Thank you again for visiting my blog. You should start one, too, and let me know when you do, so I can come for a visit!

bribri320 said...
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bribri320 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bribri320 said...

This is Brianne Burraston. I SAW CONOR AT THE MTC TODAY!! =D =D I went to volunteer and be an investigator for the Spanish missionaries, and then when I walked in, I heard "Brianne!!" And I turned around and saw Elder Cox! It was awesome. :) We talked for a few minutes in the lobby while he was waiting for his companion. He is so happy and looks so good and so official and so grown up. :) He will be such an awesome missionary!! Please post his address when you get it so I can write him. :)

Toronto Apartments for Rent said...

A picture is expressing a feeling of relationship with our family. After watching this blog I am remembering my childhood when I am my dad doing fun with each other.

Arielle (Oregon) said...

I'm so glad to have been able to speak to you, to see these pictures, to see the love your family shares for one another, and to read about your experience sending your son to us up here in Oregon... it really is an amazing thing.
Speaking to you and reading through your blogs has helped me to understand who your missionary son is as a person and where he came from. My appreciation for the work he's doing has grown so much in the last few minutes... and not only for him but every Elder I know, have known, or will know.
It's helped me to understand even more that the full-time missionaries of our church are not just boys in suits. They're people, children and warriors of God who have left their friends, families, and lives to serve the Lord with all their might, mind, and heart. They are loved and missed by those they left behind and we are blessed to have them here.
Thank you so much for sharing a small amount of time with me this evening. I'm so appreciative of it and I feel I've learned so much by talking with you. Your son is doing such amazing work and we really are so blessed and grateful to have him here! =)
~Arielle

Mantek Australia said...

I am proud of the example he is for my boys and your mission is to be just that for her little brothers. Felt the void will be filled with blessings. I am sure.

coupon code said...

I know you already know, but your son will be a great missionary. You have him well prepared and it will make you so proud.