Yesterday my nephew Alex went into the Missionary Training Center (MTC) where he will learn how to teach the gospel and speak Russian. After a few months there he will be sent to St. Petersburg where he will live for two years. In those two years, he'll be able to write and email his family, and call home four times (Mother's Day and Christmas).
Alex was due to enter in the MTC at 12:45pm. Because they live three hours south of us, the family decided to come up, sleep-over at our house and say their good byes in our living room. (We live minutes away from the MTC.) Good byes have to be done prior to dropping off your missionary, there is no park and hug. You just pull up, your missionary jumps out, MTC helpers take his luggage and they're gone for two years.
(Sisters are gone for 18 months.)
(My parents, who oversee all the missionaries like Alex in one designated area, are gone for 3 years.)
We know Alex is so excited to be a missionary, but we also know that he is a lifelong Mama's boy. All morning long Suze was picking the lint off his suit and urging him to take Tylenol if his sore tooth was acting up later that evening (when she wouldn't be there to remind him).
Then she looked at me and said, "You will go to sleep tonight and wake up in the morning to find that it's
The Chief's day to go into the MTC. That is how fast it happens."
I didn't like that thought much.
(But then my son started screaming at me from the den and I briefly reconsidered...)
I remember when my oldest brother Steve, Alex's dad, went on his mission to Peru. We bawled for months. We faithfully wrote him every week, sent him tapes of us talking and packages with pictures and candy.
It had a huge impact on my family. After Steve, four other brothers went on missions (Chile, Finland, Spain and Puerto Rico), and Lucy and I also served (England and Canada). (Chup went to Japan.)
After a lazy morning of jokes, visitors and donuts it was the appointed time to load up the luggage and take Alex to his mission. That is when the good byes started.
It was sad. Sad and exciting, but mostly lots of crying.
Us Mormons, we get called crazy a lot. Crazy, weird, strange. And when I think about this day in my future, me sending my nineteen year-old son out into the world to experience all sorts of emotions--dejection to jubilee--without so much as a daily phone call I think, They're right. We are crazy.
But, it's two years of service, two years of growth, two years of learning, compassion, and experience--for the missionary and the family back home. Many would say the sacrifice is worth the blessings in return.
Until we meet again, God be with you Alex. We love you!
You can read more about missions here.