So many of Claire’s good/best friends are leaving for missions right now.

She’s so sad to be missing all their farewells, dang it!

But although we don’t have a missionary out right at the moment, I’ve been thinking about missions so much lately.

And the best brand of resilience they have the power to create.

I think of these missionaries in Africa who my brother-and-sister-in-law get to work with:

(All about how they left last summer to serve in Sierra Leone back HERE.)

I have been thinking about that missionary work a little extra because their son, one of Grace’s best friend cousins, finished his mission and got to go directly to them when he was done with those two years.

What a reunion that must have been! Makes my heart swell up to even think about it. We miss those guys so much!

(That kid had quite a mission…went from getting “reassigned” during covid to San Diego, then making it to Chile eight months later, then getting to be in Africa for ten days before he came “home”…but what is “home” really after that anyway??)

Love that these three cousins got to reunite up in Utah:

We were excited to get him back here in the desert:

…and then to gather together last week after his homecoming talk in church, where we put him in the “hot seat” and asked all kinds of new questions about all those adventures:

Also sure thinking of our other missionary friends who are out serving, the initial part of their three-year assignment, and how we miss them (wrote about them back HERE as well).

(Left a “spot” for them down below on the left…then they’ll have to leave a “spot” for us when these two go to join them to be service missionaries there.)

Missions are shifting and changing, which is a good thing.

Service missions are becoming more common and different things work for different people. But the power of a mission, any way you do it, is pretty incredible.

I always think about Hillbilly Elegy (and yes, I mention that one a lot here), but I think about how when he joined the military it changed him for the better. He figured out routine and discipline. He learned respect and how to communicate better with others. Missions are so similar in those respects. What an opportunity to put life on hold and get out there to serve as you learn such important things.

And I was overcome with that as I talked to a few recently returned missionaries in the hallway at church last Sunday. They stood erect, they looked me in the eye, they were such good conversationalists.

Most importantly, they glowed. I don’t think I was imagining it…there is a glow that comes with giving up part of your life to learn more about God and your fellow man.

And that is a pretty beautiful thing.

Posts about missionary work:

A three-year separation with some of our favorites

Reuniting with our missionary Grace Jam

The end of Max’s mission

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  1. Shawni, Thank you for being a light and sharing light, love and goodness. I am grateful for your influence.

  2. Do the ones that choose not to go on a mission (Elle, Claire, several of Saren’s kids, Jonah’s college kids) feel a little weird around all this mission “hoopla” with the comings and goings? Do the parents (and Grandfather) feel a little let down that they chose a more secular route? Maybe deep down wishing they had done a better job at hyping up the mission thing so that they would have chosen to go? Are they side-eyed at all by the ones who have gone on one? Just wondering how it works. I don’t see how, with the importance it is given in your world, that everyone would say “oh well, they chose not to go….”

    1. Claire isn’t old enough. Senior couples can also do missions. Some that choose school and marriage and don’t do one while young and single like anyone else may do so later in life.

      1. Thank you Kristine but I am familiar with the rules. Now I’d like a real Mormon to answer my questions please.

        1. @Priscilla There can be huge judgement on those who don’t go, especially in the past. Things are getting better. People are more accepting. A male who didn’t serve in other generations could expect his dating pool to be severely compromised. Every family treats it differently from a total disaster to acceptance.

          1. Thank you for this response, Jo, I meant to come back here and never did! Yes, there is a problem for sure with judgement from some for those who don’t go, but I agree, luckily it’s getting better. I think it’s just human nature that when a group of people is expected and encouraged to do something and they don’t, it’s easy for people look at it from their own perspective and think they would do it differently. I’m so glad this is shifting and I really hope different kinds of missions become more mainstream for those they would work better for.

    2. Kristine is right, there are several ways to do missions. I think it’s an incredible opportunity for those who chose to go, especially for young adults: it’s all laid out, a path for learning some pretty great things in such a nurturing way. But it’s not the “only” opportunity. There are so many good things to do in the world! I hope more service mission opportunities will open up (we’ve had some interesting conversations about this lately), and perhaps more flexibility with those who a traditional mission doesn’t “fit” as well. In my extended family I think since all of us served missions and had pretty tremendous experiences we are happy when our kids chose to go, but also understand that there are different paths for different kids and I think the biggest desire is for progression and learning opportunities in any way that fits them, uniquely.

      1. My husband served in the Sierra Leone Freetown mission 10 years ago when it included Liberia. He speaks of it with so much love.

  3. Except that Vance is pretty much a snake in my opinion. But do totally agree about the place you choose to anchor yourself can bring great positive changes. How hard is it for guys to choose to not do a mission? Is the pressure so intense that nearly all do? Feels a bit unfair that women truly do get to pray and discern.

    1. I listened to the book on Shawni’s rec. Vance is a good writer, and his perspective in the book is well nuanced (even if I may not agree with everything he says). After seeing your comment I looked to see what he is up to now – and whoa! What a difference a few years (and a political campaign) make…

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