Going into this weekend I feel just like a little kid on Christmas morning! I have waited 18 months for my daughter Ashley to finish serving her LDS Mission so she could come back home to me…and next week she is finally coming home!!! YAYYYYYYY!!!
I literally cannot describe how excited I am. It’s impossible to describe the joy that comes when you watch your kid coming down the escalator at the airport after not seeing them for so long. It’s exactly the feeling I imagine we will have in heaven someday when we have waited for someone to join us on the other side and we finally get to see them again…sheer joy….
At the age of 18, when my daughter first told me she wanted to go on a mission for our church as soon as she was 19 years old and able to I did everything in my power to talk her out of it. Not because I didn’t love the thought of her doing missionary service work for 18 months, but because at the time my son Dalton had returned home after having served a two year mission himself and the thought of having another child gone, especially my baby girl, was more than my heart could take. But despite my attempts to discourage her from going, she stood strong in her resolve and in she left on her mission in January of 2014, a few weeks before her 19th birthday.
The reality is that sending a missionary out into the field is brutal. That feeling of seeing your child walking away knowing you won’t get to see them again for 18 months or two years is like having the air sucked out of your lungs. You literally feel like you can’t breathe for a moment…a piece of your soul has been ripped away from you and there isn’t anything you can do about it…that day you see them off is one of the toughest days of your life…
But then something amazing happens….you get your very first weekly email and everything in your family changes.
First, your teenager is communicating with you…and it’s not just one word grunts or flippant remarks…its actual words and stories and feelings they are sharing…and even better, your child no longer treats you like you’re this restrictive parent they want to butt heads with… they suddenly start treating you like you are their magical unicorn….they tell you they love you.. and appreciate you…they open up to you about their hopes and fears…they even ask for your advice and they are actually happy to have you give it! …and a few months into their mission they even go so far as to tell you they are sorry for all the times they were hard on you…it’s as if the heavens part and you can hear choirs of angels singing….for real… Despite the physical distance between you and your missionary the truth is that you will feel closer than ever to your child…
Second, your child is learning things that, despite your best efforts as parents, it would be impossible for you to teach them. Because the lessons they are learning can only be taught by their Heavenly Parents — Which brings me to the second and one of the biggest blessing of having a missionary out serving, which is receiving those weekly emails and being able to learn by proxy from your missionary’s experiences.
During Ashley’s mission I received 78 weekly emails from her. It has been the biggest blessing to learn from, and be inspired by, the life experiences and lessons Ashley shares in her weekly emails. And as excited as I am to see my daughter Tuesday (…and I am EXCITED!!), I have to admit I will desperately miss receiving reading her weekly emails and be uplifted by their messages.
Once upon a time I may have discouraged my daughter from leaving on a mission, but I can stand here today and testify to all of you that the greatest blessing in my daughter’s life to date has been the experience and wisdom she has gained from serving a mission. I am proud of her for serving and I am proud of the woman she has become.
HAVE THE HAPPIEST DAY!!! I’M GOING TO 🙂 !!!!!
~Amy Rees Anderson