She says she knows people in her ward who've sent sons and daughters off around the world. When she sees them in church on Sunday she asks how everyone's doing. She says a lot of them still start sniffling even after months have gone by. One friend's son was returning soon from Chile and Kim asked her when it got easier. The sister wiped a tear away and replied bravely, "Not yet."
I only had that experience once. Sending a missionary off to serve.
It was our shy, quiet, child. The one who always had trouble being comfortable around strangers. The one who got a stomach ache if she was ever too long gone from home. She went clear across the country to live with strangers, speak only Spanish, and try to find people looking for the truth. She didn't speak Spanish before she left.
Now, our son Dane and his wife Lisa have sent our granddaughter, born and raised in the desert, off to serve in the land of blizzards and twenty-below zero wind chills.
They speak Portuguese in Brazil.
They won't see her again for a year and a half.
Kim wants to know if it will get easier.
First, before I answer, I want to thank some people I've never thanked before.
Thank you to the mothers and fathers of all those young missionaries who came to our house so many long years ago. We knew nothing of the truth until a bunch of goofy teenagers brought it to us. You see, we went through about eight sets of missionaries before we were finally baptized. Most of them were teenagers. One mom and dad sent their son all the way from Samoa to talk to us. He could eat 17 tacos for supper I recall. This kid was huge, well over six feet tall, who'd helped his dad on the family pig farm in Samoa before his mission. That boy could eat. And he liked my tacos.
He left his family by the ocean and came halfway around the world to live in a desert for two years just to talk to us about the most important thing there is. Well, and to talk to a few others too. And along the way he learned that he liked tacos. He and his mom and dad had been saving for years for his mission. Now he was flipping a chart over, explaining eternal truths and wiping hot sauce off his fingers.
Well, that young man changed our lives.
I'm reminded about eternity when my daughter, a child of raggedy old converts, tells me that she's had some of our ancestor's work done in the temple. Seems that eternity goes back in time as well as forward. Missionary work goes backwards too, I guess.
So, I'd like to thank that young man from Samoa's mom and dad.
In fact, I'd like to thank all the mom's and dads of missionaries.
You loved them. You taught them the truth. You saved and sacrificed for missions. Once, many years ago, one couple sent their boy off halfway around the world. You knew you wouldn't see him for two long years. You worried about his safety and happiness. You wondered how he could possibly survive in a desert. You missed him every single day.
I want you to know that he changed our lives forever. A whole lot of lives changed it seems. Forward and back.
He brought our family the truth. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
And now, in part because of that young man and his parents from Samoa, we have two granddaughters off on missions. One to blizzards and one to Brazil.
And Kim wants to know if it gets any easier, having one gone on a mission. Will that wrench and worry ease up?
All I can say is that I'm eternally grateful to the parents of the ones that were sent to knock on our door, so many years ago. And I'm grateful to those goofy teenagers who came. They changed everything for our family. Changed it for us, our ancestors and our posterity. Forever.
I hope that makes it a little easier.
I think it was Jeffrey Holland who once said something like, "The gospel of Jesus Christ is rolling forth to fill the entire earth on the shoulders of an army of teenagers." And some just barely older than that, I might add.
May Heavenly Father bless and keep that beautiful army safe and well. May he inspire them to work hard and lead them to those seeking truth. May he bless them all the rest of their lives for their missions.
And may he bless and comfort their parents too.