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
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.