In the past 25 months, I’ve taken three children to the Missionary Training Center in Provo where they trained to be full-time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Each time I’ve returned, as I did on a recent Wednesday, friends and neighbors have said, “Did you cry all the way home?” or “Oh, you must be so heavy-hearted” or “What a sad day.”
I’m baffled by these comments. Those three visits to the MTC have been great days. And here’s why:
1. I knew this day was coming.
In the case of our two sons, my husband Dave and I knew when they were just blips on the ultrasound that we wanted them to serve Mormon missions. Dave also made sure to refer to their future missions not in terms of “If you choose …” but “When you go …” We’ve been anticipating this day for literally our sons’ entire lives, and we have three more boys who we hope will follow their brothers’ examples.
Nor has the day of their missions arrived suddenly; it’s not like we’re living 150 years ago when calls were extended by Brigham Young at the pulpit telling the congregation which men needed to be on their way in the next week. Missionaries today even get to choose their availability date. There’s no surprise. We’ve been filling out papers and shopping and packing for months.
Our daughter serving a mission, however, was a surprise to both us and her. She decided she was going about one hour after the age change was announced in October 2012. Still, we had weeks and months to plan for that day, and we eagerly anticipated it.
2. Serving a mission is an awesome adventure.