Wednesday, October 30, 2013

"How can you go two years without seeing your son?"

That moment you wait for forever. A moment of forever.  A moment of peace, power, bliss and the essence of what this life is all about: love.

A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of witnessing such a moment when a local young man returned home honorably from his mission. After two years of service, his family eagerly waited in the terminal of the airport here in College Station. I can count on just one hand the moments where I have literally felt the anticipation of the moment coursing through my soul and I can honestly say this was one of those moments.

The Hinckley family stood around the terminal doors as the passengers started filing past. Everyone we could see walking up the passageway was too short or casually dressed to be an LDS missionary. The anticipation was building… where was he? It had been two years and those final 60 seconds were excruciating for the family.

Finally, they spotted him walking up from behind. Elder Hinckley made his way from the terminal door to the lobby grinning from ear to ear. And without missing a beat, he went straight to his mother and swept her up in the biggest hug possible.

As I stood back watching this sweet moment between mother and son, a family friend, who isn't a member of the church, leaned over and said to me, “How can you go two years without seeing your son? I don’t understand how they can go two whole years.”

He caught me off guard. I wasn't prepared to explain why missionaries leave for two years because I honestly didn't know. I missed the missionary opportunity and mumbled in agreement: I don't know, I know, it would be so hard!

But I've reflected on that question for the last few weeks.

Why? Why would someone go on a mission for two years? Why would someone leave their family, the comforts of home, put off an education, career, and relationships? I think there are many answers on the surface: Because of duty. Because it was expected of them by their family. Because that’s what 19-year-old's in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do.

I listened closely the following Sunday when Elder Hinckley spoke in church and reported on his mission. I suddenly had my answer. There is really only one reason to stay out in the mission field for two years without any real contact with your family, and that reason is love.

Elder Hinckley loves the Lord, more than his family, more than his friends, more than his education, career, home cooked meals, and yes, even A&M football games.

Elder Hinckley may have gone out on his mission because of duty, but he stayed out in California for two years because of love.  He went and taught, often without success, but many times with it. He knows that this Church is true. He knows that Jesus Christ died for his sins. He knows that because of Christ, he can return to live with his Father in Heaven and be with his family forever.

And because of love, Elder Hinckley went door-to-door for two years to preach the gospel to the people in southern California because he wanted them to know of God’s love too. He wants them to be able to be with their families forever, too.

Missions aren't always easy. You don't always know why you're out there. You don't always meet the nicest people. It can be discouraging. But it can also be joyful. You can have the Spirit to guide you. You are not with your parents, but you know they love you and are out there waiting with anticipation until you return home to them again.

I think the same applies to us. Life is hard. We don't always know why we are here on this earth. It can be discouraging. It can be sad. But it can also be joyful. And our Heavenly Father loves us. He is watching and waiting with anticipation of when He can see His children again, and that moment will be more incredible than we can possibly imagine.

Life is too short and death is inevitable. Death comes for many too early and it is devastating. But it is not the end — it is only temporary. There is hope because of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. There is hope because we have the knowledge that because of Jesus Christ, we can be with our families for all eternity. 

On that Tuesday night in October, the Hinckley family felt a small part of the pure joy, of what it will be like to be reunited with our families for all of eternity. That’s what I witnessed a few weeks ago: a small moment of forever.

If you would like to know more about how you can be with your family forever, please visit us this Sunday at 11 a.m. at 2815 Welsh Ave, College Station, TX 77845

*All photos Copyright Tracie Snowder 2013


Tracie Snowder is a professional writer, editor, mother to two sweet girls and wife to an awesome, handsome and hard-working A&M grad student. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in broadcast journalism. She loves to bake treats, run, swim, and has a passion for photography. She is a sometimes-blogger at Snowders.com. You can follow her on Twitter here.

19 comments:

  1. The pictures are great. Thanks for sharing your reunion, Hinckley family.

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  2. I am LDS and having a difficult time being okay with sending my son in a few years. :(

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    1. @irbuanosraL and anyone who might be struggling to send your missionary off for two whole years: I had a hard time letting go too. It is tough, no doubt. But I see it as a way of thanking the Savior for all He did for me. I have often thought of the actual, miraculous, incredulous, horrific PAIN it must have been not only physically but also mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to suffer so much that my sins alone would cause Him to literally bleed from every pore. And then He topped it off with allowing the world around Him to ridicule Him, spit upon Him, call Him horrific names, torture and abuse Him in so many ways, and then finally "crown" His head with thorns, pierce his hands, wrists, and even slash His side with a sword. And what for? For ME. So that I could make all the idiotic and stupid and sometimes ignorant mistakes and bad choices I make. So that I could have that freedom to choose for myself. How do I saw "Thank you" for something like that? Words do not suffice. I figure the best way possible way to 'say' thank you, is to do as He has asked. He has asked that we follow Him. He served a 3-year mission. He asks that our sons serve 2 years. I am willing to sacrifice my son for 2 years for what the Savior has done for me. And that's not taking into consideration the tremendous blessings that our family is already receiving by simply making that sacrifice. Also, I have often thought to myself in my moments of "missing him" pain, that this is the price I pay for increasing the probability that my son will become *anchored* in the Savior and learn how to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I don't think there is a sacrifice too big for me, if it means that my children will end up anchored in the Savior. The pride and joy you will feel in your son serving, coupled with the gratitude and joy of seeing him learn and grow in ways that can only happen on a mission, overshadows the pain you will feel at missing him, if you choose to willingly make that sacrifice. It is a sacrifice. But it is for the Savior and for your son (or daughter). I know that any one of us mothers would sacrifice anything for our children. Then why not this, when it means the best thing for *them*? :) Hugs to all who might be struggling with this issue. You are not alone. And there are Facebook groups/pages, and email groups that we can join where other missionary moms are of great strength, comfort, and support! Good luck to all of us. :)

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    2. I've had 4 children serve missions, 3 sons and our daughter (our baby). My happiest day with each child was when they went to the temple to be endowed. That event (making covenants with the Lord) will prepare you, both emotionally and in understanding, for their long absence while the serve their missions. The temple experience was one of the happiest time I've had with each of my children, next to the day they returned from their missions!

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    3. My sweet son just came home October 8th from serving his two year mission. What a wonderful blessing to our family. My happiest day was the day he left and the day he came home. The emotions were high on both occasions. The sacrifice was so worth the wait! He has grown up and has such a great outlook on life and service! We have three daughters and only one son and the thought of sending him off for two years was just not even a possibility the day he was born but as he grew into adulthood and desired to serve, my heart burst with pride and joy! He is now home and plans to wed in the Mesa Temple in just two months to the sweet girl that wrote to him the entire two years. He will be traveling back to his mission in Idaho in the beginning of January with his wife. You can let your child serve, it is the most important time of their lives.

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  3. I've been missing my own boy today more than usual. Haven't been able to stop the tears all day. This brought even more tears, but it renewed their purpose. Thank you for this great post. It is true. We do it all because of Love. He loves us first, and we wish to show our love back. We wish to be with our families forever, so we sacrifice our sons for two years so that other families can also be together forever. What a beautiful plan our Father in Heaven prepared for all of us. It's never too late.

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  4. Thank you for this post. My son is currently serving in Southern California and, honestly, it's been a rough 6 months for us here at home. He's doing great and loving his time there, but we sure do miss him. I'm so glad he has chosen to serve the Lord and help bring others to the gospel of Christ!

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  5. Thanks so much for this post! I'm missing my daughter a lot of late; she left in late July of this year for her 18-month mission, in the Colorado Denver South Mission. Some days I just miss her smile SO much. Luckily I have a sweet lady in her ward who sends me pictures via text message every so often. That helps, but hurts, too. Love is truly what's getting us through this whole experience!!

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  6. The Spirit sustains the missionaries and the families. Missions are wonderful and also difficult, sometimes very difficult, but so worth it and so amazing to have that kind of sustenance from the Lord. In my experience, when I let the guidance of the Lord take over and I followed, it was easy. When I got in my own way, it was hard. The growth is incredible.

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  7. My daughter just returned from Arcadia, CA mission on Oct 29 2013. It was hard sending her off but when I would get sad and miss her I would try to think of the people she was teaching and saying a prayer for them. I would much rather her be teaching others about Christ and eternal families at this time in her life, even if I miss her!! There is no way to explain it until you experience it!!

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  8. I couldn't believe how hard it was to drop of my son at the MTC! I knew it was the right thing for him and for us, but it was SO hard! Yes, it's about love. Thank you for putting into words what I couldn't.

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  9. My son has been gone for 15 months now, and it is long and hard, and wonderful and amazing and he LOVES the gospel of Jesus Christ. He loves those people he serves in a far away country and his family more than any of us thought he could. How can we send our boys out to return as young men? By faith, prayers and the knowledge that our Heavenly Father will take care of them, he has much to teach them that we cannot and when they return they will have spent 2 years learning how important EVERY soul is to our Father in Heaven, they will learn compassion, they will appreciate their parents and family and they will help others come to the knowledge that Families are eternal. How can we go without seeing our sons/daughters for such a long time? How can we NOT?

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  10. Any idea what the story is behind the t-shirts? I was curious if the spiderman theme was an inside joke or stood for something or what. I'm sending my son off in January, and I'm terrified. I did it and my brothers all did it, but it's different when you're the mom and it's your little boy (even if he hasn't been "little" in many years). It's called FAITH. That's the only way you can do it.

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  11. Such a great article ! You do miss them terribly but it is so worth it when the letters come and you see the spiritual progression over the months that they are out. Missions are as much for the missionary as they are for the people they serve. What a great foundation it gives them as they head into the realities of life. When my son returned it was amazing to see what a great man he had become and nothing else he would have done during that time would have given him as much growth. I am so looking forward to my daughter retuning in 4 months from her mission in Bakersfield California and seeing what a great woman she had become while she has been gone. What a great thing they do, to so unselfishly give others the opportunity to have what we know to be true. Missionaries are the best !!

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  12. I have a son (our first missionary) serving currently. Can I share your article on my blog? I will write a little about it as it pertains to the spiritual message I want to write, quote a couple of paragraphs and share the link.

    W/a Smile, Tiana
    seagullsinthemountains.blogspot.com

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    1. Yes, feel free to share the post and link it back to our site. Thanks!

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  13. Thank you for this article and all the great responses. My heart had been heavy tonight thinking about my son ( who hasn't left yet, but does leave in less than a month). I truly am excited for him, but it is hard to send them into an unknown place and know they are going to be okay. As a parent, I want to make sure he is cared for and loved at all times. I want to make sure he is provided for as well. I know this is where prayers and faith on my behalf come in to play.
    I just wanted to thank you, once again, for your article and putting it into perspective. I also loved how all the comments expanded in what was talked about. This has helped lift the heaviness my heart was feeling tonight.

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    1. Heidi, Thank you so much for your sweet words. I was truly touched by what you wrote. I hope that your heart has been lighter this past week. You are an amazing mom for sending your son out on a mission!

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  14. Awesome! Three of our sons served foreign missions and you wrote this so well that I will share it for all of our nonmember relatives to read!:)

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