As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, much like other Christian faiths, we believe in missionary work. Most of our missionaries are young men between 19-21 years old, but many young women and empty nester couples also serve anywhere from one to two years as missionaries. My parents served several years ago in Minnesota, and in the last year we’ve had two nephews return from two year stints in Missouri and Mexico, leaving one nephew out in the “field” who is currently serving in Brazil.
My nephew, Marshal, just got home last month from Mexico. With one sister living in New York, a brother in Los Angeles, and two nephews of his own that had been born during his absence, the entire family gathered at my brother’s home in Utah to be there when he came home. It was a momentous occasion that they all took very seriously, which is to say my sister-in-law got online and set about ordering sombreros and fake mustaches for everyone to wear in the airport as they waited to greet him. That is how I know my SIL is completely integrated into my family because I come from a LONG line of airport shenanigans. Like when we made a big banner out of butcher paper to wish my sister a happy 40th birthday as she exited the terminal (she was still in her 30’s) or the time my family wore red, white and blue and my Dad played “I’m A Yankee Doodle Dandy” on his ukulele as they welcomed me back from basketball camp. So yeah, sorry Michelle, but YOU ARE ONE OF US NOW. (I’ve known for some time. I hope you don’t take it too hard.)
So there they were, this large crowd of sombrero toting, mustache donning hooligans in the Salt Lake City airport waiting for their son/brother/uncle to round the corner so they could put their arms around him for the first time in two years.
He came around the corner alright.
Wearing a sombrero. AND A FAKE MUSTACHE.
You guys, seriously. This wasn't planned, which makes it only one of the 8,001 reasons I am stoked to share a last name with these people.
(photos courtesy of Kinsey)
I won’t lie, I want my son to go on a mission. He is almost 12, which means he would be eligible in about 7 more years. I’m not anxious to get rid of him, and I know it would be hard to let him go, knowing that I would only hear his voice twice a year on Mother’s Day and Christmas, but I want him to go. I want him to sit in living rooms or grass huts or dirt floors and tell people that Jesus lives. I want him to write emails about seeing people get the light back in their eyes when they hear the gospel. I want him to learn what it really means to rely on God.
I just read a book that I’m going to give Drew for Christmas called, “When I Grow Up, I’ll Go On A Mission”. I love it because it illustrates with real pictures of real missionaries all over the world doing the same work. Unless you have served a mission before (Cory did, I didn’t), all you really know about missionary work is that it’s hard, that you secretly hope you don’t get called to serve in Utah, and that you come back and say it was the best experience of your life. I like the fact that this book gives a peek into the whole missionary experience, from sharing the gospel to helping a neighbor or from eating shave ice to tossing back a coconut, (let’s be honest, the shave ice really sold me) what you really get is a glimpse of love, the way God intended. You see that Heavenly Father knows his children, He loves his children, and He’s using the ones who already know that to make sure the word gets out to the rest of them.
So yes, I’m giving Drew a copy of this book for Christmas. I will also be giving a copy to one of YOU, because the author, Valine Vikari (who, when she’s not writing fun books is probably spelling her name for people on the phone), has donated a book to give away! You can enter by doing two things: 1) Leave a comment and, 2) “Like” the book on facebook, and leave me a comment to that end. You have until midnight Sunday, December 4 to enter after which I will have Drew randomly pick a winner. Seems fitting, don’t you think? If you don't win, you can still order the book from the website. I think it's going to be good for Drew AND you. But if not, we’re still preparing in other ways: