My friend is suddenly an "empty nester" now. I'm sure she never expected it would happen so fast and with such an impact. She is braver than I am and I admire her courage. Her son just graduated high school this past June and this morning she said goodbye to him for two years. I suspect he was on the same flight to Atlanta as 38 other missionaries headed for my own son's mission before he connects to his flight to Spain. My heart is with her today and her amazing son. My heart will ache with hers at this tender time.
As I drove home, I saw another friend of mine, Diana. She was walking with her son as he walked to school. She's always out walking somewhere. I think he's in 8th grade this year. She is a wonderful mother and a very good woman. I thought about the sacrifices she makes daily preparing her son to serve the Lord in a few short years when it's time for his own mission. Before she knows it, it will be her turn to say goodbye to him when he leaves to serve somewhere in the world. She served herself in Korea many years ago.
I also thought about Nels' Mom. From the first time I met her years ago, she has always struck me as a very good mother. She is not a member of our church yet she supports her son's decision to serve the Lord as a missionary in Alaska. She also willingly, albeit hesitatingly, said goodbye to him knowing she wouldn't see him for two years. What courage and love she exhibited.
The missionary that left this morning is #7 of 8 who left from our ward since April. My good friend and neighbor who lives across the street from me is the mother of our last missionary (#8) to leave until next summer. He leaves a week from tomorrow to serve an Armenian speaking mission in California. She and I spoke last evening contemplating the mixed feelings of joy and sorrow of sending our sons off to be a part of the Lord's ever growing missionary force.
There are many other mothers who have said goodbye to their sons and daughters this summer or who are about to do that very soon. Our missionary numbers have swelled recently from about 58,000 to almost 75,000. We are mothers of a marked generation. We have been blessed with the privilege of raising an army of righteous sons and daughters who willingly volunteer their time and give their hearts to serve Christ and preach His gospel. I am humbled to be one of many. Perhaps we shed tears together as we say goodbye but mostly we share the simple common bond of loving motherhood.
I think of Hannah from the Old Testament. She has always been an amazing example to me of faithful sacrifice. She willingly gave her son to the Lord when he was just a child. She said, "Therefore also I have lent him to the Lord..." 1 Samuel 1:28. I also am reminded today of the scripture from Alma 53:20-21 "And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him." In Alma 56: 47-48 we learn that this band of "stripling warriors" as they were called, "had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them." They said, We do not doubt our mothers knew it." Mothers play such a crucial role in teaching and rearing their children.
Today is a tender day. I am reminded of God's graciousness in blessing me with two wonderful missionary sons. I also feel tremendous gratitude to Him that I had a daughter serve as a missionary. I am part of a growing cadre of mothers who serve the Lord by sacrificing in our own ways by "lending" our sons and daughters to the Lord to serve Him and His children. may God bless us all.