for missionary moms and sisters and aunts and friends

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Have I covered everyone? Because these days, I think we all know someone going on a mission this Spring or Summer. Families in my neighborhood who didn’t think they’d send out any missionaries are sending three at once and I’ve tearfully, joyfully watched many of my Young Women open mission calls.

Tomorrow, TOMORROW!!!! my oldest son will arrive home from Milan, Italy after a 737 day absence. As you can imagine, I’m so excited I can hardly think straight. But I thought today would be a good time to share mom/friend/aunt/brother/father etc. of missionary tips. I only have a few, so I hope the Segullah community will all contribute to the list. As with all advice: take what you like, discard what you don’t and do what is best for you.

1. Begin with a habit of every sibling writing every week. We did this because I didn’t consider any other way, but I learned it’s unusual for siblings to write their missionary brother or sister weekly. This habit kept my children close and created a good journal for each one of them. Because they all wrote from my email account, I was able to read their thoughts (with permission) and learn more about their hearts.

2. Email is awesome, but use snailmail too. Not every missionary has time to read email from multiple people, and even if they do, we all know the beauty of receiving real letters by post. Each time my son was transferred, I printed up several envelopes with his new address and placed a stamp on them. My children wrote quick little notes, drew sketches and often included recent photos. My second son will be leaving for Russia next month and since mail can only go to his mission office, I’ll just print up 100 envelopes at the beginning of his mission.

3. Photos and letters are better than gifts. Most missionaries either a. can find everything they need in their mission or b. will have their package stolen before it ever arrives.

4. Tell your missionary you miss them. Not in a ‘I’m going to die if you don’t come home right away” but my son appreciated hearing he was missed at home– that we felt his absence.

5. Pray for them at every meal, every family prayer. Perhaps this sounds obvious, and it’s probably intuitive for most, but those prayers lend missionaries strength and mentioning a loved one is likely to make all our prayers more sincere.

6. Create a missionary blog. I was iffy about this one, but a blog can be set up quite simply and you may be amazed at the traffic it receives. One blog reader (whom we have yet to meet) is getting baptized in April; her first real introduction to our faith was from Ben’s mission blog. You will of course, need to edit out details that would hurt or embarrass anyone.

OK, now it’s your turn. What are your missionary tips? What are your tips for helping missionaries acclimate after coming home?

And just indulge me, here are a few paragraph’s from Ben’s last missionary letter yesterday morning

Hello family-

I’m almost done being a missionary, but not quite. Tonight I’m going to teach the grandma of one of the sister missionaries at temple square. She was planning on getting baptized when her granddaughter got home in September, but in church on Sunday she came up to me and said, “You’re the first person I’m telling but I want to get baptized on my birthday- May 19.” Tonight will be the last lesson I teach as a missionary and then tomorrow I’ll go to Milano and have dinner with the Wolfgramm’s and then the next day I’ll be home.

… (editing out all the personal stuff you won’t find interesting)

Well this is it- the end. I have a solid feeling of peace. I feel satisfied. I feel like I’m in a holy place. I don’t just say it because I’m a missionary but I feel like I’ve done something of worth, something significant that not even I completely understand yet. I’m glad I came on a mission and I’m glad I stayed being a missionary despite all the times it would have been easier not to. I love you guys and I love the Lord.

Love, Ben

About Michelle L.

(Blog Team) never folds laundry and her car is a mess. She runs through the streets of Salt Lake City, UT, takes lots of photos, plays Uno with her five fabulous boys and buys way too many dresses for the little princess. Her husband is the most romantic man in the world because he does all the Costco shopping AND hauls it into the house (sorry to make you jealous girls). She writes at Scenes from the Wild.

17 thoughts on “for missionary moms and sisters and aunts and friends

  1. along the same lines as the blog tip, assign one person from the family to update their Facebook page. My sister assigned one of our other sisters to update it and so it gets updated about 2x/month with info about how the missionary is doing and how people can write to her. It’s a great place to add links to mormon.org (to explain terminology like Elder and Sister along with stuff related to what the missionary writes). My sister had a ton of friends and coworkers who have question just generally about what she is doing so this is a great way to get those answered

  2. At family events I would pass around a notepad and get everyone to write a quick note. Some of those people (aunts, uncles, cousins) wouldn’t be writing to my brother, so it was nice for him.

  3. My dad timed it so I had a letter waiting for me at the mission office on my last day. In the letter he talked about how proud he was if me. The end of your mission is so emotional and it was so awesome to have that unexpected letter. I treasure it still.

  4. I love your ideas Melissa, especially #1.
    Here’s 4 more:

    1. Don’t leave their bedroom the way they left it with rock posters, etc. They are not coming home a teenager, and they don’t need to be encouraged to go back to acting like one.

    2. Occasionally take a clipboard with paper to church and in the foyer ask a few members of the ward to jot down a little note to your missionary. My sons loved knowing the members were still thinking of them, and praying for them.

    3. Have your ward missionaries over for dinner often. You can’t feed your own son or daughter on a mission, but somehow they reap the blessings of your service.

    4. As your son or daughter mention members from their mission who have particularly helped them, somehow get their address if you can, and write them a thank you note for helping your child. This helps bond these special angels to your family. I received many wonderful notes in return.

  5. Also Michelle – I just wanted to say that I stalk your family blog and I am so happy for you for your son coming home. You have a beautiful family and the way you and your husband parent your children is so inspiring. I love reading about your life and hearing your perspective on things. Thank you!

  6. This is great advice. My little brother has been on a mission and a mission blog has been a really helpful way to keep everyone updated on how he’s doing. He’s coming home very soon too, and my family is starting the countdown! I hope today doesn’t seem TOO long for you… ;)

  7. I don’t have much to add now, but just wanted you to know you made me cry, Michelle. I’ve sent out and welcomed home three kids on missions. I love missionaries! Enjoy tomorrow!!

  8. the moment i gave birth to my second child and they told me “it’s a boy” (i didn’t find out gender for my kids til they were born), i had this feeling of joy AND sadness, because i knew that there would come a day when i would have to say goodbye to him for 2 years…and for realz, in that very moment of life, my heart began to ache at that prospect.

    so i have no doubt your mommy heart has been wrung out this past 737 days (too bad they couldn’t fly by as fast as a boeing 737!) ;-)

    so happy that your wait for ben’s return is at an end. ♥

  9. I’m so seriously snail mail challenged that I just love the idea of having pre-printed envelopes ready to go.

    Thinking of you and hope tomorrow is all you dreamed it would be and more.

    P.s. I loved that last paragraph of his.

  10. I’ll give some perspective as a former missionary.

    Returning to real life was really hard. My husband who served in Italy thought it was hard too. I think the families excitement is so great that the minute the missionary walks in the door they want to flood them with real life. For example, my family wanted me to watch a funny new movie “Mrs. Doubtfire” (yes, this was a long time ago). I about had a heart attack at all the bad stuff in the movie that my family thought was funny.

    They also wanted to tell me all the (normal) things going on in our family, that they hadn’t told me in letters. It was all really overwhelming to take in, cause I had been out of the loop for so long. Although you may not have this problem since communication is so much easier now than it was twenty years ago to Ecuador.

    I spent my first couple of weeks on the verge of tears just trying to adjust, but eventually it came.

    I guess my advice is, take it slow. Smother him with love, but slowly reintroduce normal life. He’ll get there.

    So happy for you!

  11. My oldest goes to college in a few months. I am fine if I don’t think about it. So I made note of all of these suggestions for when he goes on a mission. Again, I’m fine if I don’t think about it too much. As one of my friends (whose youngest is out on a mission now)put it, “The only thing worse than having them gone on a mission is NOT having them gone on a mission.”

  12. A tiny bit off your subject, Michelle, but I LOVE to get snail mail. I wait for the mailman every day in case I get something special. A few months ago, I got a note from a woman I’d written to who’d been in 6th grade with me. She had always inspired me and I’d sent HER a note thanking her.

    Email and texts and other resources are easy and also fun, but I don’t think anything can beat a hand-written letter in the mail.

    Go U.S. Post office!

  13. I laughed at your advice that packages will get stolen. One relative on a mission (a long time ago) needed a pair of shoes. So, the mom sent one shoe. When she heard that the shoe had arrived safely, she sent the second shoe. Voila…he received his pair of shoes! It tooks weeks and weeks.

    There is nothing like snail mail. It shows that you went to a great deal of effort because it requires several steps. Plus, you held that paper in your hands, wrote on it, and then folded and put it into the envelope. They can read and re-read it and get your love through the words and through the paper. It’s all there.

  14. Can’t believe your Ben is home! So wonderful! My oldest has been out almost 8 months. I’m glad to hear they like being told they’re missed as I did that last week.

    One thing I do is snap photos with my phone all week of the kids and such and then email them to him. I don’t want him to miss seeing his 3 year old sister and 6 yo sister grwing up. Also the 16 yo brother and 12 yo sister (but they won’t change as much)!

    I love your suggestions. We do most of them! I have always fed the misionares as much as possible since I was fed every day on my mission by the humble people of Peru. It was also a way to get my kids to know what missions wre like.

    It has been a blessing to share my son’s letters on a blog each week. I always post a link to facebook after I update the blog.

  15. My son has been out for about 15 months. One thing I have found helpful was the Missionary Mom email group. They have a group for every mission regionally. It is great to unit with other MM ‘s. I have also joined one for my home mission so I can support my ward missionaries. I take pictures of them and often my pictures are some of the first their moms get. I would love it if someone did that for me.
    I have been thinking of my son coming home in less than a year and appreciate the reminder to acclimate him slowly back into our world. Thanks for this post, I have seen pictures of my son ‘s trainer coming home and it brings tears of joy to see those tight hugs like you will never let go.

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