Sunday, August 9, 2009
Sacrament Meeting today was one of those that really got me thinking. And crying. We had an unusual meeting for our small ward because we had one missionary leaving and one that just returned home and they both got to speak. Listening to these two young men speak really got the wheels a turnin' in my mind.
I felt sentimental on so many levels. As the first young man spoke about why he was excited to serve, I was reminded of the feelings I had myself 17(!!) years ago as I was about to embark on my own mission. The excitement of a new adventure mingled with fear of the unknown. Then hearing the returning missionary, I was again taken back to the end of my time as a missionary. The sadness of leaving behind so many people I had grown to love and the strange feeling of loss (or maybe more accurately 'lost') when I was released. It was such a great time of life and I loved revisiting those feelings about my own life.
I saw the father of the missionary about to leave almost unable to conduct the meeting because he was so emotional. This member of our bishopric was going to miss his boy. I could feel his pain as he thought of him being gone, and also his pride in his son's good decision. I then saw the mother of the Missionary Returned speak of the indescribable joy of having her son return. I could sympathize as she said how her empty arms ached for two years and how wonderful it was to hug her son once again. She likened her feeling to our Heavenly Parents and how they must yearn to hold us again. I felt that this was true.
I thought of my own parents who are currently on a mission. We miss them! We are also so grateful they are gone serving the Lord. There is a real power that comes into the lives of those that Missionaries leave behind. The diversity of feelings inspired by missions is really quite remarkable.
Now that I am a mother- one with 5 children, 4 of whom are boys- I couldn't help feeling a great longing. It was a longing and a hope that all of my boys will choose to serve the Lord on a mission. I want so much for them to have that experience and I have offered so many prayers over the years that the desire to serve will be something they each feel. The maturity and depth that young men gain on a mission was so obvious as we listened in our meeting. I want that so much for my boys! The lessons of a mission include real life experience in sacrifice, obedience, love, struggle, hope, service, prayer, leadership, and innumerable others. I also long for my boys to learn to rely on the Lord and to experience the profound and transforming power of the Atonement. I also want them to be knit to our Mormon heritage and culture and a mission really does that. OK, I will stop. :) Obviously, I really want my boys (and girl if she chooses) to be Called to Serve!
Another fun part of the meeting was the rest hymn which happened to be a musical number by the Primary. As Jebb walked up he was waving and throwing us thumbs up. He hasn't learned reverence in walking to the front of the chapel yet. The kids sang 'I Hope They Call Me on a Mission'-always a crowd pleaser. I was grinning from ear to ear! :)
I like meetings that get you thinking and I love meetings that get you feeling. Today's was both. The sweet spirit of missionary work settled on the whole congregation and I am not sure any of us wanted it to end. It was the kind of meeting that we talked about in the halls. I met with other sisters in groups of 3 or 4 and we all confessed what moments made us cry. I loved it! I hope it was the kind of meeting that left an impression with the younger crowd too.
I have not ceased to be amazed at the wisdom, brilliance, and sheer audacity the church has to send out 19 year old punks to spread the Good News. I love how those two years convert not only seekers of the Gospel out in the field, but I also love how missions have the power to make Men of God out of those punks. I hope my own punks decide to serve someday!