My Role as a Missionary Mom
I love being a Missionary Mom and you can tell. I have (and proudly wear) a T-shirt with the logo of the North Adriatic mission and one for the Romanian mission—and one that proclaims in large letters “Missionary Mom”. For Christmas I ordered ornament replicas of my two missionaries for the tree, complete with their name tags on. I have two pictures on my nightstand, one with my missionary son with his arms around me, and one with my arms around my missionary daughter, right where I can see them first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I even have two country stickers on the bag of my car, RO for Romania, SLO for Slovenia. I belong to two on-line Missionary Mom support groups, and frequently contribute to both. I spend long hours updating and editing our missionary blog. I spend most of each Monday reading my kids’ letters over and over, followed by checking a number of other missionary blogs. I believe I can say I am taking my role as a Missionary Mom very seriously. Even so, I keep asking myself what I could do to be more helpful. I wonder if my letters to them are meaningful and spiritual enough? I ask myself if we could possibly afford to send more frequent packages? Should I contact the mission office if I worry about their health or their relationship with their companion?
As I was studying the experience of the sons of Mosiah for a seminary lesson this week, reading about the anxiety of their father and the Lord’s reassurance to him, I was suddenly struck by a pattern I had not thought of before: Our Heavenly Father sends us out into the world to struggle, to use our agency, to learn and grow. I’m sure He hurts when he sees us suffer; He wishes he could interfere when we get offended and insulted by others. But while He is always with us, and always there for us when we turn to Him, He doesn’t remove all trials, because to do so would not allow us to reach our true potential. In somewhat the same way, we sent our sons and daughters on missions in His service, far away from us. We need to love and support them when they turn to us. We pray for them and for their success. But we also need to be content to watch them struggle and grow. We cannot take away the difficult times from them, and we shouldn’t wish to. This is when they need to stand on their own, to learn to rely on the Lord, to learn to appreciate things formerly taken for granted, to become humble through having less than what they are accustomed to, to strengthen their testimony. So I am content for the most part to stand back and allow them to work out their trials, and share with us the wonderful lessons they are learning. I am beginning to realize that serving a mission certainly brings the missionary closer to their Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, but in a different and no less powerful way, being a missionary parent also brings us closer to an understanding of our Heavenly Father. If only yet in a limited and imperfect way, knowing God and his Son, Jesus Christ, is eternal life (see John 17:3).
So if hovering over our missionaries is not helpful, what can we do? There has to be something we can devote our energies to (if only to distract us from missing our missionaries and worrying about them?) My son and daughter have expressed how much they enjoy working with the local members where they serve, and how much they wished they had done better sharing their testimony with their friends before their mission. So I have decided to serve the missionaries assigned to our ward. We try to have them in our home frequently to feed them and cheer them up. We made a plate of cookies for all 21 missionaries serving in our stake for Christmas. We offer to help them by attending their lessons and fellowshipping the people they teach. We try to be less fearful and more open when talking to our friends about the gospel. If my children can speak to strangers in a foreign tongue, I can certainly share the testimony that has changed my life with those I know in English or German, my “native tongue”. In this way, I hope to grow in testimony and service along with the growth they are experiencing, so they can be proud of their Mom like I am proud of my missionaries. It’s great to be a Missionary Mom!