Well, we are finally here.

Tonight is the night my girl gets set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

That means she gets a special blessing to officially begin her work as a missionary. She will begin to wear her name tag as a representative of Jesus Christ and she’ll be giving up many things as she sets her mind to her new work and living by the missionary rules. I truly believe that when one is set apart (we are set apart of many different callings) he/she is blessed with a certain mantle of love and guidance particular to that calling.

Tomorrow she will begin her missionary service at our “home MTC.”

It is a strange time to be a missionary. We have been reminiscing about when Max was set apart all those years ago. All those emotions jumbled up together, all those gatherings for goodbyes HERE, his farewell at church HERE, so many motherhood emotions letting my first child go and breaking up those five children of mine for the first time rumbling around back HERE.

Times are so incredibly different now. There are no big gatherings. We are not sending off Grace to the MTC (Missionary Training Center), since, during this pandemic missionaries do their MTC work from home. So she will be here with us for six more weeks studying her scriptures and working her tail off to learn Spanish. (I’m sure I’ll have a lot to write about that in a week or so after we have a week under our belts…we have heard the best things about home MTC!) So I’m not hyperventilating in my closet that she’s leaving…at least not yet.

She is so excited to hopefully get to Uruguay at some point, but we expect that she will get a reassignment within the next week or so and that she will serve in the states for at least the first part of her mission.

That will be an adventure to figure out as well!

I love what it says in the missionary handbook about missionary work: “When you serve a mission with all your heart, you help fulfill the two great commandments: “Love the Lord thy God … [and] love thy neighbor as thyself” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:5–6).

To be an effective missionary, you must be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. We invite you to enlarge your talents and skills for the glory of God. Jesus Christ will magnify you. Heavenly Father loves you, and He will help you to love and bless His children wherever you serve. He will empower you and the people you serve, through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, to be truly “converted unto the Lord” (Alma 23:6).

We all already love the people she will get to work with, the people she will meet, the people that will change her life in many ways.

I know we’ll go through some emotional upheavals letting this girl who is so full of light leave us for a year and a half when the time comes.

But for now, I’m just excited.

For her. She is so ready!

For our family to get to be in the middle of this cool MTC experience.

For all she will learn. And for all she will love.

For all the grand adventures, sad and joyful, all mixed together.

She has made it through this waiting game, and she’s as ready as someone can be in the midst of a world pandemic to get busy!

Love you forever Grace Jam!

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    1. Thanks for all the good questions guys! Grace is all set apart, an official missionary now (last night was a pretty great night), and I am just barely getting back to these, so here we go!
      I think they’re doing a great job juggling missionaries all over the world right now in so many different situations. I cannot imagine the logistics involved. Some are being reassigned to serve in their home countries (which we assume will happen with Grace), but they are constantly monitoring safety and respect for other countries and who knows how it will all play out. I love that missionaries right now are getting more than they bargained for in terms of where they serve! It sure is a giant unknown!

  1. Something about these pictures brought tears. What a beautiful girl that radiates love already. Best wishes Grace.♥️

    1. For those of us who aren’t Mormon, what are the rules missionaries abide by? Do they have dietary restrictions? Clothing restrictions? Restrictions on activities? I think I remember hearing that some rules have changed in recent years (contact with home for example). Thanks, and apologies if you have already shared this.

      1. Non mormon here- very interested to hear the answers to these questions! Also curious how home MTC works? Aside from the studying, what sorts of restrictions does she have after being set apart? Missionary clothing only? Do you need to speak to her differently? Probably a silly thing to ask, but are home-missionaries allowed to do things like go to dinner with their families? Go on family hikes? Help her sisters with homework? Very interested to hear how this modified mtc works! Glad that you get a more gradual transition to her departure!

      2. I’m also very curious about the at-home MTC. If Grace were going to regular MTC, her language learning would be full-immersion, right? Does anyone in the family speak Spanish? Can you all speak to her in Spanish while she’s still in the house?

        1. Great question. Additionally, does she have any sort of zoom teaching with other Spanish speaking instructors and other Spanish speaking missionaries? Or is she required to teach herself from a book or video? Very much looking forward to the detailed post about her home mtc experience!

    2. For some reason I’m not able to respond to each of these comments individually so here you go:
      Thank you for the kind words, Jenny! I’m a little biased but I totally agree 🙂

      Lots to write about the rules…thank you for the link, Emily. I don’t know how old that is because some of the guidelines have changed here and there. In some missions the “dress code” is relaxed a little more (blue shirts on the Elders, Sisters can wear nice pants, etc.), and things have changed with how much you communicate with family (you can talk once a week, on “preparation day” if desired). This is a HUGE change in my opinion. Those who have been here long enough will maybe remember how wrapped up our emotions were when we got to talk to Max only on Mother’s Day and Christmas. Yow, this will be different!

      I think it’s really interesting to have this “home MTC’ opened up to us because I think the main idea is for the missionary to have a beautiful experience connecting with their Savior, and learning the language…not so based on rules because everyone is coming from such different places and situations. Yes, during this home MTC time they can be involved in family time, walk/hike/play tennis together (Grace and I had a great match this morning), when they’re not in online classes. I’m sure I’ll have lots more to say on this once we really get going, but I think they leave a lot up to the missionary and i have so many friends who have had such great experiences with it in their homes.

      As far as language goes, Bennett, she has already been hard at work making flashcards and studying Spanish. None of the rest of us speak Spanish but we are trying to learn a few phrases and support her in her journey any way we can. She would be obviously more fully immersed in Spanish if she were studying in the Mexico MTC (her original assignment), but I think the classes will be quite in depth and she’ll learn a lot this way too.

      When I went to the MTC all those years ago, we studied our hearts out learning Romanian and I thought I had a pretty good handle on it when I left the MTC. HA was I ever wrong! At some point you just need to get there and be fully immersed and that’s how you learn the most. But she’ll get a pretty good base through the home MTC that will help a lot.

      Jamie, She’ll have Zoom classes every day for many hours, and will speak with instructors and other Spanish speaking missionaries all the time. She has an assigned companion who is also learning Spanish.

      Lots to learn!

    1. Some have reopened on a very limited basis, but the majority are still closed. So missionaries are going out without having the experience of going through the temple, which still works! Our temples here have reopened for very small groups and Grace will have the opportunity to go soon!

  2. As part of your post updating on her home MTC experience, I wonder if Grace could share a bit about her decision to serve a mission vs continue school in Hawaii? I love that your kids have all chosen their own unique paths, and I’m always interested to learn what inspires peoples life decisions like this 🙂

    1. I LOVE that idea. Grace has been on a pretty beautiful journey to figure this all out. I’m with you, I love that they have chosen their own paths…it’s pretty cool to watch as a mama. Elle had a pretty awesome journey figuring out whether she should serve a mission as well, and I have learned so much from both of these girls…and my other kids too on so many occasions. I think it’s the most humbling things to watch your children reach Up and figure things out with God in unique ways. I’ll see if Grace will write up her story, it’s a good one!

      1. Thank you! Looking very forward to reading this post! I’d love to hear a few words from Elle too if possible, just to hear another perspective on an equally as exciting and educational path! Also love that you are equally as supportive of both of your girls’ choices- this must make them feel so loved.

  3. Grace is glowing! She will be an amazing missionary. Your entire family will be blessed for her service! Her smile will brighten everyone’s day! How exciting that you will get to have her home for her MTC experience. She has the light of Christ shining bright!

  4. Has she gone through the temple yet? Don’t remember a post about that. I’m excited to hear all about what Home MTC is like, should be a fun adventure!

  5. My son did home MTC from New Zealand through the Provo MTC learning Portuguese! The time zone difference was a little tricky (he had some classes at 2am our time!). I had a heavy heart at first about the whole thing – he was in one of the very first home MTC classes so it was all very new and unexpected, not to mention disappointing, but it ended up being a wonderful experience for him and for us.
    We set up a spare room for him with his mission flag, a sign on the door, his desk with all his resources, a mini fridge with drinks and snacks and everything else he needed. It really helped to make it a little more special for him and helped keep him focused.
    You will love it just the same I am sure.

    1. Love this! We’re doing many of the same things for Grace. I think it’s a pretty unique experience to have the MTC right in your home! I think we’re going to love it!

  6. Exciting times:)
    When my oldest decided to serve a mission a few years ago, it was the…classic time, I’ll call it:) No pandemic, MTC, weekly emails, and calls only on Christmas and Mother’s Day. My next daughter decided to serve last year and we were all excited for the change to weekly calls. Then 7 months into her mission in Brazil a little virus disrupted the world! After a couple months home, wondering what would happen she is happily serving in Maine and loving it. She comes home around the end of January. My youngest is planning on going at the end of next summer and it’s a little exciting and a little nerve-wracking to wait and see where the world will be in the battle against Covid-19 and how missionary work will be the same and different!
    Like I said, exciting times:)

  7. I am so proud of Grace.Her countenance shines bright and she will be an amazing missionary. I hope she has an amazing experience!!
    Love you Grace!!

  8. I’m so happy for Grace. She is going to be an amazing missionary. My daughter is in her last week of HMTC. It has been amazing and wonderful and hard and all the emotions put together. I have loved the special spirit that has been in our home but is has also been hard watching her have one foot in the world and one in the work. She has navigated it beautifully. There have been tears from both of us but the first time she said our family prayer in Portuguese made every second worth it. I wanted to tell you that the talk you shared from Sister Bellamy a while back where she said that you don’t serve your mission all at once and that you serve it one day at a time or something like that has made such a difference for my daughter. In fact we made a sign for her room that says “One Day At A Time.” I am so thankful you are always so willing to share your experiences with all of us. I have learned so much from you. Good luck to your family the next six weeks.

    1. I’m so glad…I don’t even remember that talk…I better find it because that’s a good mantra for life right now…One day at a time!!

      I’m so glad the home MTC has been a great experience for your family!

    2. Can you tell me what talk this is? I can’t seem to find it from the name or info you shared. I’d love to read it and share it with my new missionary!

  9. Yay for 6 more weeks with your girl! Wishing Grace all the best as she serves where ever she ends up! My mission was a highlight in my life!

  10. I can’t help but feel a little kinship to your experience – my daughter just received her call to the Arizona Tempe mission last night! I see the mission boundaries are SO close to the temple! Do you know if the Gilbert temple is in the Tempe mission or the Gilbert mission? I’m so grateful I’ve followed your blog, because I can share with her your family experiences with the building, open house and dedication of the Gilbert Temple! Makes it all much more special to have the back story. Thank you for documenting those special events in your part of the world!

    1. Congratulations to your daughter that is so exciting! I’m not sure if the Tempe mission is in the Gilbert boundaries, I think at least part of it is! I’m so glad you are able to share those posts with your daughter…I hope you were able to find them ok with this new blog format! I’m so so grateful we were able to be part of the Gilbert Temple opening…makes it pretty special to us. If we can do anything to help with your daughter when she’s here let me know!

  11. It’s fun being a reader and watching your kids grow. My son left a year ago this same week. He’s in Eastern Europe and has been able to stay. I wonder if only those who have had missionaries/future missionaries during this crazy time know just how much faith these kids have shown. Each one of them has a different story to tell and every time I hear a new one I’m blown away. I hope Grace has a great six weeks. Excited to hear where her first stop will be. ❤️

  12. Congratulations to Grace! Also I’m glad of the example your fam sets of kids choosing their own paths. I have 2 friends who were pushed into attending a religious school and/or mission, and now (in their 30s) have very negative associations with any religion and also their parents :/ .

    1. Oh man, this parenting thing sure is a tricky balance! My heart aches for those parents because I’m sure they were doing the best they knew how, but maybe those friends of yours are learning the things they need to learn exactly where they are right now. I hope so! Sending out lots of love!

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