Because every other minute it seems Max’s friends are working on their mission papers, anticipating where they will get called, receiving their mission calls and heading out all over the world.
You see, when boys in our church turn 18 they have the option of serving a proselyting mission for two years. (The age used to be 19 but they recently adjusted it so that boys can leave as early as 18 if they feel like they’re ready.) Girls can go when they turn 19 (used to be 21) and only leave for 18 months. When you are ready to go, you fill out a whole slew of information (health forms, availability dates, etc.), turn them in to the church headquarters in Salt Lake City, and within a week or two you receive a packet in the mail “calling” you to the place where you will work and serve for the duration of your mission. Oh, and one important thing to note, you pay for you mission yourself (often times with help from family and friends). Many missionaries work their whole lives to save up for that life-changing adventure. Once they’re gone, the communicate through emails once a week, but other than that, they concentrate fully on serving and working and dedicating that mission to God.
As I write this I’m thinking to myself that this all surely must sound awfully weird to someone who didn’t grow up in the church. I mean, sending a young kid out to tim-buc-two all on their lonesome, often times speaking a foreign language and living in a foreign culture? Yeah, kind of crazy. But in my mind it is one of the best things kids can be doing at that age. Focusing their minds on service in a very time of life that they are most self-absorbed, learning how to communicate better on so many levels, learning how to manage time and to be independent and most of all strengthening their faith in God in such a unique and wonderful way.
I know from my own experience how life-changing a mission can be since when I was twenty I decided to serve one myself. I’ll have to tell the whole story at some point but for now I found a video clip from when I opened my own mission call. I drove to my family’s house with a bunch of my girlfriends from college and with great anticipation, we opened that thing together:
(I was so goofy 🙂
Those 18 months were some of the toughest, most glorious and most defining months of my life.
Romania took a piece of my heart. The people, the culture, the language, I love them all. I can’t speak the language any more after 20 years and no one to practice with, but I still try to read parts of my Romanian Book of Mormon and am determined to return some day.
Every one of my siblings served missions as well. In order from oldest to youngest here is where we went: Saren went to Bulgaria, I went to Romania, Josh went to England, Saydi went to Spain, Jonah went to England (yes, another one), Tal went to Brazil, Noah went to Chile, Eli went to Japan, and Charity went to England (yes, another England!).
Every one of us had life-changing experiences and would never change that time of learning and tremendous growth for the world.
So, back to the “season” of mission calls…we are smack-dab in the middle of a whole bunch of mission hoopla. Max has decided to get a semester of school under his belt before he leaves which feels like perfect timing for him, but so many kids are getting their mission calls left and right and it’s stirring up my heart like nobody’s business.
Friends will invite other friends over as they open their “calls” to share in the beginning phases of such an adventure.
Of Max’s five closest friends, three have left, one is leaving in August and one is staying and doing a semester of school before he leaves (like Max is).
One got called to Rochester, New York:
Another just left for Honduras:
A third just left for Nicaragua:
Our nephew is going to New York, NY:
A girl in our local congregation just got called to Korea, and another to Mongolia.
One of my best friends from high school’s son just got called to Arizona and another of my friends sons is already in Peru. They are all over the world I tell you and learning things they never would any other way.
Every time a call is opened I get a lump in my throat because I know Max’s time is coming (we are just starting on his papers). As much as it makes me so excited for him, oh boy, we are gonna miss that boy! And my heart jumps because I wonder where in the world he will get called. Oklahoma? Cambodia? France? Taiwan?
Who knows? But it will be quite an adventure that’s one thing for sure!
We have been attending many “mission farewells” over the last few weeks (when they give a talk in church before they leave) and oh man I have been so impressed by these kids who are so willing to get out there and teach anyone who will listen about God. I love to see these boys together as they anticipate and talk about the mission world that is gradually taking them over.
The first to leave was Max’s friend who has been by his side since Kindergarten.
The night he got his call:
I am really good friends with his mom so to see her go through sending him off has been crazy as I anticipate how it will be with Max. If I am on the verge of tears with him, how the heck am I going to let Max go?
These boys have spent every second together they possibly could in anticipation. This was the night before he left.
Love this great kid:
Max wasn’t able to go to the airport with them all because of work, but here they are together sending Jake off in a little huddle where my friend told me they said a little prayer together.
Makes me tear up to even think about how sweet all these goofy, wonderful boys are.
And also how much they will change in the next two years.
Here he is in the Missionary Training Center getting ready to head out:
Then the next one just left for New York.
And the next to Honduras.
These girls of mine are going to miss all these boys so much too!
So with all this going on, I guess we are kind of on the brink of a new stage…the mission stage. And it is so exciting and sad and emotional and scary and wonderful all at the same time! Before I know it it will be Max opening that mission call and I’m trying to prepare my heart!