When my brother Casey left on an LDS mission 11 years ago, it greatly affected the way I viewed missionary work. As a young mother of two young children, Megan was 3 and Luke was 5 months old, I felt a great desire to instill in my children a love for missionary service. (We believe that as a missionary, an individual takes on the full-time responsibility to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, and share His message.)
Though Megan at age 3 could sing word-for-word the verses of the well-loved hymn, Called to Serve, and we wrote Casey faithfully, and of course remembered him in every prayer, as we did with my brother James who served a mission 2 years later, real life crept in, and our family emphasis on missionary work isn't as focused as I wish it to be.
One of my most personal and spiritual experiences as a young mother, contemplating bringing more children into our home, has reference to missionary work.Although my experience is too personal to share publicly, I feel a great responsibility to raise my children, especially my boys to have a desire to serve full-time missions.
That is probably one of the reasons, I was soooooo excited to have been invited to attend a Sacrament Meeting (Sunday church meeting) at the MTC in Provo, UT. (The Missionary Training Center, where missionaries preparing to serve a mission come to be trained in language and teaching.) Mike's dad is a member of a branch presidency there, and he and Mike's mom, serve there faithfully every Sunday and Tuesday.
Maybe it didn't end up being quite the huge spiritual experience for them I had originally hoped for, but it was a very positive one for them nonetheless.
Later on Sunday evening, I overheard Luke say to Ellie, Joshua and Drew, "The MTC was really cool. I wish you guys could have gone." And then I peeked at his journal entry from Sunday night, "I went to the MTC today. I felt the spirit." (Punctuation added, Luke doesn't use punctuation.)
We left Megan in Provo that night (more on that later), and so I didn't really have the chance to discuss her detailed thoughts and feelings about the experience. Besides her eye rolls and questions of, "Mom! You're getting teary-eyed again?"
I was touched by the spirit of missionary service, and these young people willing to give up time from their lives to serve the Lord. There is no spirit that quite compares to the spirit of being in a building with thousands of individuals who are willing to devote their lives to be full-time disciples of Jesus Christ. Plus my mother-heart wanted to hug every young missionary there and tell them how much their mother loves them!
I love that Grandma and Grandpa Sowby are setting a great example and doing their best to instill a love of missionary work for their grandchildren. Besides providing the opportunity for older grandchildren to attend the MTC with them, last week they offered a 24 hour Mini-MTC experience for all 14 grandchildren living in Utah! They spent 24 hours with children aged 4-17, teaching them all sorts of life skills. Sorting laundry, sewing on a button, correct handshakes (such a pet peeve of mine), giving talks on gospel subjects, leading music, writing letters, etc.
One day, I hope Luke will have the opportunity to be a missionary at the Provo MTC. I told him, that if so, he will need to take a photo of himself by this statue and think of his dear mother. Which of course made me get all choked up, and feel pure relief that he is only 11.