will be settling in at the Provo Missionary Training Center where he will spend 9 weeks learning
Mandarin, preparing to be a missionary, and begin the process of turning from young man to man.
It's incredible. It's crazy and...it's time.
With each big milestone in this kid's life, we have been ready. When he started Kindergarten, I didn't shed any tears, nor did he. He was ready to conquer that challenge, so I was ready to conquer that challenge. When he started middle school, again, he was ready, so I was ready. High school...you get the picture.
Now he is ready to dedicate two years of his life to serving His Savior and the people of Taiwan. If he is ready to do that, then I am ready to let him do that. We have all been preparing for this day from the time he was little, and I have thought a lot about it. As I have been thinking, I have felt like I should share some of my thoughts and answer some questions that have been posed about missionary work.
But, he's so young!
I have heard this a lot, and I couldn't agree more. He is young. Barely 18 years old. How can I let him live in a foreign country so far away? Well, for one thing, he's an adult now. Yes, 18 is young, but if it wasn't serving a mission, he would be headed off to college, or...joining the military, or...backpacking across Europe. He would be doing whatever his brand new adult mind and heart wanted him to do. Serving a mission just happens to be the path his 18-year old heart and mind have chosen. And I can honestly say that I would be proud of him whatever he chose to do (except for maybe joining the circus or dedicating his life to the XBox...)
Isn't it true that he is going because the church is forcing him to go?
Good question. There are a lot of misconceptions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this is one of them. While it is true that every young man is encouraged to serve a mission because it is part of their priesthood duty, there is no forcing and no coercion. It is still the choice of each young man (or young woman). Our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, said this in the October 2012 General Conference...
But, doesn't the church make young men feel guilty if they choose not to serve a mission?
No. Now, having said that, here's another question...Do people who are members of the Church say dumb things to young men who have chosen not to serve a mission? The answer to that is, yes. Unfortunately that does happen sometimes because people are dumb and people make mistakes...all people. No matter what religion they are a part of or not a part of. But, our Apostles, our Prophet, and other church leaders do not condone making young men or women feel guilty if they choose a path other than serving a mission. And I am 1000% percent sure that the Savior, Himself, does not condone that kind of behavior either.
My heart hurts when I hear of young men or women who have had people say dumb things to them and made them feel like less of a person, or less of a disciple of Christ. The only thing I can say about these unfortunate situations is, don't let our dear brother, Satan, take control of the situation. You have a choice to be offended or not. Satan wants you to choose to be offended. The Savior wants you to turn to Him and allow Him to take the burden of guilt, sadness, and hurt away from you.
Aren't you scared for your son to be so far away?
Truthfully? There are times when I feel a little anxious, but those times are far and few between. I mostly feel joy and excitement. Yes, he will be far away from me in a country across the world, but He will be in the hands of his Father in Heaven who knows Him and loves Him so much more than me. He will be just fine. I believe that. I know that.
How will you communicate with him while he is gone?
Mostly by email, but I am sure that there will be a lot of letters/packages sent as well. We will definitely have to increase our postage budget. I will only be able to talk to him on Christmas Day and Mother's Day. I'm not going to lie...that is going to be tough. REALLY tough. If he were just headed to college, I could call him any time I wanted to, but as a missionary who is dedicating two years of his life to serving the Savior, I cannot call him whenever I want to. But, it will be okay. We can all do hard things.
So why? Why am I excited to be a missionary mom?
Because my son is going to tell people about Jesus Christ.
My son is going to tell people how their families can live together forever.
My son is going to tell people that they are children of a God who loves them and has a plan for them.
My son is going to serve the people of Taiwan.
How can I not be excited when he is going to be doing all of these things?
Yes, he is going to have hard times. Yes, there will be tears shed, mine and his. But there is a much bigger picture to look at here. All of the hard times will be worth it. All of the tears? Yep, you guessed it. Worth it. Every single one.
Our family has a favorite scripture that helps us through hard times. It is because of this scripture that I know everything will be okay.
I don't need to be fearful. I don't need to doubt in the goodness of my Savior and Father in Heaven. They will watch over my son when I cannot, while he is on his mission, at college, or wherever else life takes him.
Once the young missionary has that envelope in his/her hands, the real fun begins. Family is rounded up and the moment of anticipation comes to a head with the tearing open of the thick white envelope.
We are so stinkin' excited we can hardly contain ourselves. Part of that excitement stems from the fact that my husband also served his mission in Taiwan. He was in a different area than Josh will be serving in, but he learned Mandarin Chinese so they will be able to share that language with each other. (My hope is that the girls and I can also learn some Mandarin over the next two years. Fingers crossed that it will actually happen.)
All of this leads me to my song choice for today because ultimately, it did not matter where Josh was called to serve. We knew that he would go wherever the Lord needs him most. I am grateful that he will have this opportunity to share the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the Taiwanese people. It makes my heart do a little happy dance every time I think about it.
I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go- Rob Gardner
I am loving my second chance at life.
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