If You Want to Bless Your Family, Serve an Honorable Mission
I have learned a lot about the blessings of missionaries and missionary work this week. Our daughter, who has been serving in the Texas McAllen Mission, came home on Wednesday. The whole experience was somewhat surreal. It seems like she was gone forever, but it also seems like she never left. We took the traditional signs and balloons to the airport, which was very fun. I encouraged my wife to wait with the crowd, but the second we could see her coming down the hall she took off running. The hugs and tears between those two could only have been fueled by a mother’s love.
We brought her home for a family dinner and then went to the Stake President’s Office for her release. We took her 4 younger siblings with us so they could share in the experience. Prior to the releasing, the President asked my wife to bear her testimony. Listening to her, I realized how much our testimonies as parents had grown and how much closer we had come to the Lord because of our daughter’s mission. Our prayers were more sincere, as was our scripture study and fasting. Our trust in the Lord has significantly increased and we learned to love people we would never meet.
He then asked if any of her siblings would like to say something. I was pretty certain they wouldn’t, but our 10 year old raised his hand. He said it had been great knowing that his sister was out gathering our other brothers and sisters back to Heavenly Father’s family. Wow! He had never mentioned that to us. One by one each sibling voluntarily raised their hand to speak.
Our other son, who is 13, said that watching her had made him more excited than ever to serve his own mission. Before leaving she committed him to read in the Book of Mormon daily, which he did without fail. He figured out just how many verses he would need to read to finish the book before she came home. The night she returned the two of them sat down on her bed and read his final verses together.
The most heart-wrenching comments came from her two teenage sisters. Each expressed how much their hearts had ached when she left and that it had driven them to “need” to know for themselves if what she would be teaching was real. Through her tears one said, “I prayed and cried every night for a month to know if all of this was really true, and now I can say for myself that I know!”
Elders and Sisters, you will bless many lives on your mission. I know that it is every missionaries dream to bring a family to Christ. I can tell you now from personal experience, whether or not you baptize anyone, through your missionary service you will bring a family to Christ, your own! Sometimes we worry that our families need us at home, but what they really need is to have you in the field. I am reminded of when Heber C. Kimball visited the Young family while Brigham was serving a mission. Heber said that he found the family almost destitute and was certain they would request the return of their father. To his surprise Sister Young told him to tell Brigham not to worry about his family. They did not want him to return until he had honorably completed his mission.
A Lesson about Life and Missionary Work
This weekend I learned significant lessons about our Heavenly Parents, the Savior, the Holy Ghost, and the Plan of Salvation, Our local scout council sponsored a 50/20–a 50 mile walk in 20 hours. It doesn’t seem terrible on paper, but believe me, it is more than the average person can handle. Our ward had 20 people sign-up. The group included adults, youth, and two cub-scout aged boys. Our cub-scout son, Joseph, was one of them. The walk for cubs would be 25 miles in 10 hours.
He cheerfully began walking at 5:30pm and at 9:00pm called to ask if we would come watch him as he passed close to our home. We decided to do better than that, and everyone threw on a jacket and their walking shoes. We joined him at mile #9 and he was already limping a little. I was worried that He may not make it and encouraged him to just do his best. We kept with him until 11:00pm when we needed to get our other children home. The closer we got to leaving him, the more difficult it became. I realized I couldn’t leave him alone. I knew that he was getting exhausted and still had several hours and miles to go. I asked his recently returned missionary sister to stay with him, to which she readily agreed.
We reluctantly returned home, where his mother and I stayed up worrying and praying for him. At 1:30 am we got a call from them. We could hear him in the background and it was obvious he was not doing well. “Joe needs to talk to you,” his sister said. We gave him some encouraging words, told him that he was amazing, and expressed our faith in him. His spirits picked back up and he soldiered on. As soon as we hung up our hearts were sick for him. We were so thankful He had his sister with him. It was impossible for us to sleep with our son whom we loved so much walking exhausted in the dark. As we sat at the point of tears we decided to start texting them jokes and riddles that we found on-line. About every 10 minutes we also called to tell them we loved them and cheer them on. At 3:16am, while we were on the phone, they crossed the finish line.
In addition to our daughter, there was another recently returned missionary on the trail. He had been called to serve in the Young Men’s and was making the walk with them. He grew-up somewhat a cowboy and had actually come to make the walk in his cowboy boots. By mile 25 all of the young men, save two, had dropped out. One 12 year old was determined to go the entire 50 miles and was staying close to this leader. Around 4am, however, he was getting pretty delirious and this young leader began to carry him. For the next 10 miles he stayed with this deacon, carrying him much of the way, until the boy could go no farther.
Sitting in Fast and Testimony meeting yesterday, I realized how much this experience paralleled the Plan of Salvation. For our own good, our Heavenly Parents have sent us to this earth to walk what seems like an impossible path. At times we may think that we are alone, that they have forgotten about us, but I can promise you they have not. They are constantly watching over us, sending us messages, and cheering us on. Whenever we need it, we can pick up the phone of prayer and have an instant heavenly connection. As was the case with our son, we could not, and would not, leave him on the trail alone. The Savior promised that he would not leave us comfortless. Each of us has been blessed with the Holy Ghost to walk personally beside us. He will not leave us.
Most importantly, we have the Savior. Like the young man in his cowboy boots, who finished the entire 50 miles, He is on the trail. He will carry you when you think you can go no farther. At the conclusion of the meeting this young leader slowly made his way to the stand. His comments are what the Savior might have said. He expressed his amazement in the desires of each youth to complete the entire walk. He then taught us all a great lesson. He said that everyone who walked had succeeded. That each walker had been given different abilities and capabilities and that success was walking as far as you possibly could.
Elder and Sisters, we know that our Heavenly Parents are watching over you. They have not left you alone. They have sent their son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, to walk with you and carry you when necessary. You are doing a great thing, you truly are amazing. Keep walking!
Brother and Sister Eggett