Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sending My Daughter on a Mormon Mission

I got married when I was twenty.  Twenty years old seemed so mature.  So wise.  So ready for independence.  So ready to start my own life and choose my own way.  It seemed that way when I was the one who was twenty.

But now my daughter is twenty.  And today we took her to the MTC (Missionary Training Center).  And today twenty seems so very young.

Today, as I watched her walking away, I saw a five-year old girl.  The little girl she was walking into kindergarten.  Head tucked a little.  Shy smile.  Eager.  Anxious.  Trusting.  Quietly walking away to start something new.  Something so important for her growth.

But that day she came home to me.  This time I won't see her again for eighteen months.

One day soon my son will go on a mission.  He will leave for two years, to serve wherever the Lord calls him.  I've been preparing for this his whole life.  I wasn't prepared for my daughter to leave.

In the Mormon church, we are taught that every worthy young man should serve a mission.  And every young man should spend his life working toward this goal, making himself ready.  Young women are able to serve a mission if they feel so directed, but it isn't pushed the same way for them.

And none of my daughters ever expressed any interest in serving a mission.  Until last November.  My second daughter came to me and my husband, crying, saying she needed to go on a mission.  It had not been in her plans either.  She never had any intention of going.  Until God asked her to.

And being the person she is, she said yes.

She is my most shy child.  She is my most anxious child.  My least independent child.  But when God asked her to serve, she said yes.

I admire her.  I am so proud of her.  But, even though we dropped her off only five hours ago, I miss her terribly already.

Her mission will be eighteen months (for young men it's two years).  In that eighteen months we will not see her.  We will only talk to her on the phone (or Skype) on Mother's Day and Christmas.  The rest of the time we will exchange letters the old fashioned way.  And she will get to email one day a week.

We are giving her up for a year and a half.  She is giving a year and a half of her life to leave her world behind and serve God exclusively.

She will teach others about the gospel and about God and Jesus Christ.  She will tell them that they are loved and valuable.  That they matter.  That there is so much more to life than what the world has to offer.  That there is so much more to each of us than just this life.  She will perform many acts and hours of service.  She will give and give and give.

And she will grow.  She will learn to believe in herself and in her ability to do hard things.  She will learn to reach out to God when things are difficult (partly because we won't be there for her).  She will learn to lose herself in service.  She will experience miracles.  She will learn and grow in ways I can't yet imagine.

Our family will grow, too.  We will be blessed through her service.  We will learn from her letters and her experiences.  We will grow in some ways just because she isn't here.

And, as a mother, I will learn a little more about God.  He gave His Son.  In a way I cannot ever understand, He offered His child for me.  And for you.  And for all mankind.  This experience will give me a glimpse.  As I offer my child to Him, I will gain a tiny bit of understanding.  Like when I became a mother and learned a little about how He loves us.  I will learn more about God as our Heavenly Father.

There will be so many wonderful things that happen in our lives because of her willingness to serve a mission.  And it will get easier.

But right now, I just want to hold her in my arms.  It hurts so much.  Because a piece of my heart is gone and won't be back for eighteen months.


MaggieJo said...

My heart is heavy for you today. I've shed a tear or two. But I am so excited for those who will get to see His light radiate from her. Because it does and I think her quiet nature makes it easier to see.

Bonnie said...

It is such a bittersweet thing. Just moving away is different from serving a mission. You can go visit them. With the encouragement to leave them be and let them focus on serving, you really aren't going to see them for 18-24 months, which makes it different from any other kind of moving on.

The night after dropping Elias off I found Hyrum sitting against the wall in an empty bedroom (the kids came home and moved bedrooms around). He was not crying yet, but we were crying as we sat there together. We were fine the next morning, but that night we cried.

I have a lot of mixed feelings when I share others' joy. 98% of it is joy for them, because missionary and family are so blessed. There is a small bit of wistfulness for the life of a missionary mom, which ended for me when he came home. It's quickly eclipsed by my feelings that that was exactly what needed to happen, or what did, anyway. I'm happy for you to have that beautiful life of sharing the uplifting that goes two ways between families and missionaries.

Sam is such a wonderful girl. So are your other girls who have other directions they're headed. We all have our different ways of serving. Love you one and all.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine what it must be like to send your girl off. :( You are in my prayers, Robin! She is in perfect hands. You will see that over and over again. :). Love you both!!

Leilani said...

I'm so touched by this account of you sending your daughter off! I will tell you that I live in Kentucky and we have a tiny little branch. We have two sister serving here and they are both 20. And they are amazing. They have made such a difference in our little branch and my husband and I were just talking about how it seems like they are having a greater effect on the people in this area than the elders ever have. The Lord knows what he's doing and who he is calling. Congrats to you and your family! You will all be so blessed. said...

Wow! I can't imagine how tough that would be or how proud you must be of your daughter.

Rachel said...

Oh, I'm sure all of you will miss her terribly. That must be quite the difficult experience as a parent--I'm sure you will eagerly await those letters!

Julie @ Girl on the Move said...

Stopping my from the SITS sharefest and I truly appreciate your honesty in this post. I will be praying for your daughter on her mission!