Monday, June 23, 2014
This past week we have been savoring some special family time. Our older son, Forest, came out from Michigan for a visit with his son, knowing we won't be seeing each other for a long time with the mission coming up. It was great to watch our two sons interacting - they are so very different from each other. As kids they used to fight like crazy and I often wondered if they would ever learn to be friends. Fortunately, as adults, they have built a greater appreciation for one another.
We took all the grandkids and the dogs for a hike out to Jump Creek and had a blast climbing over the rocks and playing in the water there. There were family dinners, games, and lots of reminiscing. It was a very special time for all of us.
Leaving family is one of the biggest obstacles for many seniors who consider serving a full time mission. When I worry about leaving my family behind, I remember the words of our church leaders who have given key promises and wise council for mature couples who serve:
In an April 2001 Conference Talk titled "Couple Missionaries, A Time To Serve", Robert Hale stated "As we serve in the mission field, our children and grandchildren will be blessed in ways that would not have been possible had we stayed at home. Talk to couples who have served missions and they will tell you of blessings poured out: inactive children activated, family members baptized, and testimonies strengthened because of their service."
In his October 2004 General Conference talk "Senior Missionaries and the Gospel", Elder Russell M. Nelson said: "No senior missionary finds it convenient to leave. Neither did Joseph or Brigham or John or Wilford. They had children and grandchildren too. They loved their families not one whit less, but they also loved the Lord and wanted to serve Him. Someday we may meet these stalwarts who helped to establish this dispensation. Then will we rejoice that we did not seek the shadows when a call to missionary service came from the prophet, even in the autumn years of our lives."
Then in his October 2011 talk "We are All Enlisted", Elder Jeffrey R. Holland addressed the concerns grandparents felt about leaving family behind by saying "Those little darlings will be just fine, and I promise you will do things for them in the service of the Lord that, worlds without end, you could never do if you stayed home to hover over them. What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word, “In this family we serve missions!”
I have wept at the thought of all I will miss in these key years of our grandchildrens' lives. My heart is heavy as I recognize the huge gulf of time when I will not be there to share in family traditions or to build key memories.
I have a deep and abiding faith that my family WILL be blessed in our absence. That doesn't make it easier to leave them. But it it does make it bearable.