Called to leave: How to parent missionaries

My grandmother, mother and I all served missions, so I was delighted when my firstborn announced her intent to serve, submitted her papers and received her call.

Little did I know.

Nobody told me about that wrenching scene at the Missionary Training Center where they cheerfully announce, “Parents and families go this way; missionaries go that way.” As if we were going to two different Disneyland rides instead of two different lives. (This send-off has since changed.)

Or the millennial wait for the first letter from the field assuring me my child is not, in fact, dying of starvation, stuck with Cruella de Vil for a companion or the victim of a terrorist plot.

Or the nightmares — how can they just skip over the nightmares? — about her getting dengue fever or disappearing like they do in the opening scenes of "Without a Trace."

OK, so I’m a little paranoid. But really, whose idea was this anyway?

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