Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Before the Call

I found out today that my youngest brother had his mission papers sent in last night. I'm so very excited for him, the experiences he'll have, and the lives he'll touch. I know he'll be amazing. I'm grateful to call him my brother and for him to be an example for my kids, especially my little boy.

My son is only a toddler, but it is important for me (and my husband) not to forget that he's two going on 19. As his parents, we have a divine responsibility to teach him NOW to have the DESIRE to love the Lord and serve Him. Not if he'll serve a mission, but when. Elder Bednar, in {Becoming a Missionary}, said:

My dear young brethren {and sisters}, the single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission. Please notice that in my answer I emphasized becoming rather than going. Let me explain what I mean.

In our customary Church vocabulary, we often speak of going to church, going to the temple, and going on a mission. Let me be so bold as to suggest that our rather routine emphasis on going misses the mark.

The issue is not going to church; rather, the issue is worshipping and renewing covenants as we attend church. The issue is not going to or through the temple; rather, the issue is having in our hearts the spirit, the covenants, and the ordinances of the Lord’s house. The issue is not going on a mission; rather, the issue is becoming a missionary and serving throughout our entire life with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength. It is possible for a young man to go on a mission and not become a missionary, and this is not what the Lord requires or what the Church needs.

My earnest hope for each of you young men is that you will not simply go on a mission—but that you will become missionaries long before you submit your mission papers, long before you receive a call to serve, long before you are set apart by your stake president, and long before you enter the MTC.

A future missionary needs to have good examples set before him. I'm so grateful for my husband, father, and brothers---who have set an example for my little boy. Because of their examples I'll be able to have teaching moments with my children. We can write to their Uncle, learn about what he's teaching to others, and become more like Jesus.

Even though I didn't serve a mission I hope I can be the example they need. I hope I'm up to the challenge, to show my children just how amazing this gospel is. I hope they see the light in my eyes when I talk about my Savior, the temple, and having the chance to be with our family forever.

Like everything in this life worth having, it will not be easy. In December 1979, a man working for the Ensign related what parents can do before a mission call. He talked about sitting at the dinner table with his parents while he refused to eat his cauliflower. At one point in the dinner, his mom mentioned this, "missionaries eat everything on their plate whether they like it or not because that’s the polite thing to do. When you’re a missionary, somebody will eventually serve you something you won’t like. If you don’t eat it, you’ll hurt their feelings. So you might as well get into the habit now of eating everything on your plate.” Eventually, he ate his food, and it wasn't that bad.

I want to be that kind of Mom. I want to have the ability to teach gospel principles of kindness and sacrifice---then allow my children to make the choice for themselves. Further in the article, he gives suggestions on how parents can help children prepare for missions. Frankly, there's a lot and it's all good, so go read it! He ends with this:
If preparing sons for missions sounds like a big job, it’s because it is. But the challenge is not beyond reach—and the blessings are truly great, both in the home and in the lives of those involved. Rewards don’t come without effort, though, so parents should start preparing their sons now, no matter how young they are. My present concern is teaching my two-year-old son to like cauliflower. The next step will be the scriptures!
It's a noble work to spread the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our children were, and will be, born in the church for a reason; they are MEANT to become missionaries. They are meant to gain a testimony and proclaim its truths to the world. We are here to show them the first step and be their examples.

FYI:The New Era had {a special issue} all about missions a few years back and I went looking through it today and found lots of amazing gems. Take some time this week and glance over this issue. I recommend: Missionary Mail, The Five M's of Missionary Work, and Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field. It's a wonderful issue full of insights for anyone---I'm really excited to use the Missionary Mail one! :)

1 comment:

  1. That was a great quote! Often times I look at my little infant son in my arms and think of what he will grow into. We have to work hard to mold their lives each day, don't we?

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