As mums and dads, most of us are prepared for the day our sons and daughters will leave us. But it is still not easy. Can we imagine how hard it was for our Heavenly Father to bid each of us farewell from his presence?
He knows what it is like.
But he also knows that it is for our good. Most certainly that it is necessary for our progression, and our ability to return to Him again one day.
As we prepare for the day our child/children leave on their mission/s, it is important for us to reflect on the scripture Moses 1:39, “For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”
There is so much more to this scripture than just a personal application. When we consider it in terms of all mankind, then the work of a missionary does not only involve a personal journey, but it brings with it an extension of salvation to all mankind. This is a truth that the Lord would have each of us understand as we prepare our children to serve Him.
As hard as it is to usher our children out the door as independent souls, if we can maintain just such a focus, then we are more equipped to anticipate the great blessings that can be theirs, ours, and all mankinds.
What parents can do to prepare themselves for their missionary’s departure:
I had to put this one in, as I have noticed that for many families it is harder for the parents to let go of their child than it is for the missionary to leave.
- Make sure you have a plan in place for after your missionary leaves. That may be as simple as deciding to not think about your missionary too much each day, or as complex as writing down a daily routine of things to do that will help you focus more on your life rather than theirs.
- Step back from your child’s life a little bit more each day leading up to their departure, and allow them to make more decisions on their own – even if it means they make some mistakes. Allow them to face those mistakes and work out for themselves how to correct them. This can be very hard when you have protected them all their lives, but it is critical to their independence and success as a missionary.
- Learn to nurture a positive attitude within your life. As you speak positive words, your missionary will feel that positive energy and feel that they are being supported in the choice they have made.
- Join a Missionary Moms email group for the area your missionary will be serving in. Connect with other mums out there. You will make some great friendships along the way as well as to talk to like-minded people. Many times also you will connect with MMs who are in the area your child will be serving, and you can have some unique contact experiences along the way.
- Focus on the work they will be doing, not on the date they will be returning home.
- Remember, in raising your child your aim has always been to prepare them for independence. This is the first big step towards that. Allow them to experience this, as it will set them up for success for the rest of their lives and into the eternities.
What parents can do to support their missionary in the field:
- Email to your missionary once a week. Any more than that and it takes up their precious limited free time. Sending an occasional DearElder letter is a good thing too, as they love to get real mail in their hands. Try not to write more than once a week (unless you have been advised by the Mission President).
- Be uplifting, encouraging and inspiring in your words to them.
- Don’t give them details of problems at home. Don’t be secretive, but the missionary has no control over such issues, so keep it to a minimum, and focus on the positives/blessings of such things.
- Have a note pad handy that you can jot thoughts down every day – this could include things that you and your family have done through the week, or spiritual thoughts, scriptures or principles you have learnt in the week. Taking this note pad to church each week will allow you to record spiritual promptings you have had during class and meetings. Share these things with your missionary in your weekly email – or share them in a separate DearElder letter.
- Spend time with your local ward missionaries – prepare meals for them, assist in joint teaching opportunities etc – so you can feel of the spirit your son/daughter will be carrying with them in their service.
- Tell your missionary regularly how proud you are of them, for the sacrifice and commitment they are making.
- Send them photos of family regularly.
Some strong DONT’S:
- DO send care packages, but DON’T send frivilous toys or gadgets. Limit it to just food, spiritual material and letters of encouragement.
- Don’t cause them to break mission rules. This may be done in innocence, but the first law in heaven is obedience, and if they are forced to break mission rules just because you want to see them while they are in the MTC (or whatever else), then that is stopping them from being the best missionary they can be.
- Don’t send music or MP3 player, iPad, iPods etc to your missionary. These are items that are not approved for missionaries. Each mission decides what music is appropriate for missionaries to listen to, so abide by those rules, just as your missionary is expected to abide by them.
- Don’t make them feel that all you are interested in is when they will be coming home. The time they have in the mission field is so small compared to the time you have them in your care, so allow them to make the most of it.
- Don’t stress if they miss sending an email one week. It usually means they are extremely busy. If there is a problem you will be notified by the mission office.
I may have missed some other important points, so please share with us some of your thoughts.