I love my sons. For the most part, they have brought me nothing but pleasure and joy. Recieving their mission calls in October was such a wonderful occassion that we shared with our friends and family and were so happy. For the first month we were all walking around on clouds, so happy that an assignment had been made and for the anticipation of the greatest adventure ever to be had just around the corner... and it was great.
However, from my last blog until now (there have been none - have you noticed, it's okay if you haven't ;-)) until just the other day - it has been a hard slog and a battle of the wills. Of course - as my sons are now in the MTC, we made it - but it was mentally and emotionally draining getting there. I only share this with you because the pre-missionary stage of being called to serve needs to be talked about more. If it had, I may have been better prepared, even if my situation was totally different to another - I would have been able to learn something!
You see, my boys were never into the party scene - so have not had any interest in and engaged in word of wisdom attractions. To my knowledge, they have never tasted of alcohol, smoke, or drugs. Thankfully, again the boys have not been immoral and weighed down by the trappings of sexual transgression. They have been good boys who have chosen their path resolutely and from an early age. So how was Satan going to penetrate the hearts and minds of these strong faithful young men?
I wasn't surprised at how clever and creative Satan is - but what I was surprised with is how he did it - through the breaking down of critical relationships. The relationships between mother and son, father and son, mother and father and brother and brother were tested, and almost stretched to breaking point.
There were arguments, and stand-offs and words yelled out that were hurtful and damaging to no one else but the family members. Satan creeped into my family through a mobile phone and the attachments and distractions that were communicated through facebook, instagram, skype and so on.... It was slowly luring my missionary son away from his family until his parents made the decision to cut off all internet and phone connections.
This should have helped, and in some ways it did, but then the pressure and pestering to reconnect, to go out of the home to connect with people was continually put to me. It was tiring and worrying. We wanted our son to go on his mission free of any trappings, distractions and ties to any one person. We didn't want him to worry about anyone that promised if not verbally, emotionally to wait for him!
Our son was asked to go to party on New Year's Eve in another town. I could not believe my ears - 1ess than a fortnight from his setting apart. He kept pestering me over and over to attend that party, and unhappy with my reply - shared some hurtful words and stormed off. I was so hurt and in disbelief that I called his father home and sat and cried. He later ran off to meet someone for a short time that night. Does he know that his brother, mother and father looked for him that night? Does he know that his mother spent the breaking of a new year, sitting in a car, with his father bawling her eyes out?
You see, I love my sons. I know that they are good boys at heart but they do have feelings and hormones!. I raised them to know right from wrong - but I don't know how others have been raised. I can't control how someone seeks a reaction from my son, or manipulates him to think bad about his own parents, cousins, and friends that he has had for years. I can only know my sons, and to be locked in a battle of wills with them was hard work!! Although he could only see the immediate future, we, as his parents, as all parents can see into the eternities...
I will never forget my husband saying to me - "We only have two weeks to go - are you strong enough to get through this - and get our son on the plane to the MTC - can you do this?" It was tough, I tell ya - and this battle of the wills is not for the weak !! But if your answer like mine was - "yes, I can do this!" - then good for you!! You can do this!!
Here are my top 5 tips on what worked for me (take them or leave them):
1) Plan the days leading up to your missionary leaving. We had family meetings every other day to track where we were with those missionary handbooks they get sent with their mission call as a guide.
2) Fill the days with shopping, planning, visiting friends and family. Keep your missionary busy. We went to see movies, we ate out, we ate in (their favourite meals), went swimming at the beach.3) Become an electronic-free family - your missionary has to get used to it - so why not start earlier.
4) When they go through the temple for their own endowments - go often and get them to experience all parts of temple service. The most beautiful moments I had with my sons was when we had been to the temple.
5) Pray often and talk to each other more. I spent more time with my sons in the last two weeks than I had in the past and it was some of the loveliest times that I had remembered....
And for you mum and dad of pre-missionaries - just keep breathing. When I look back, I don't know how I did it, but we did - and you can too!!