People have ask me about my thoughts on sending a daughter on a mission and I've given this some thought while Megan has been gone. The answer I give to those who ask and often remind myself is...it is the BEST decision a son or daughter can make. This is a "no brainer". As parents, we try to teach our children to learn to rely on Heavenly Father and this is the perfect way for them to experience that while they are far, far away from home. Even though knowing it is the best decision for them, it is still hard. I was so happy that Megan had decided to serve a mission but I realized real quick that I could either chose to dwell on the good parts of having a daughter out serving a mission or I could focus on that she was gone and I wouldn't see her for a long time. I chose to focus on the good and didn't allow myself to get down. For me that really made the difference.
One day, shortly after Megan had been gone, I was in the car out running errands and my thoughts were on her and how she was doing and I was a bit blue. At that moment, I realized the car in front of me had Washington license plates and in my heart I knew this was Heavenly Father's way of letting me know he was aware of me and how I was feeling. I knew He knew Megan and was taking care of her. It sounds funny, but it was like having a witness that He acknowledged our sacrifice of sending her. After that day, every time I was in the car I would see several Washington license plates out on the road. Some days I would see one and other days I would see many. During the entire 18 months, there were only a couple days that I didn't see any. To me, it was a tender mercy that I needed and it would stir my heart whenever I spotted another Washington license plate. The rest of my family thought I was nuts but it is what got me by. :)
Other thoughts about serving:
So many people have been asked to do some really hard things for the church and for the gospel. ie: pioneers, Joseph Smith, Emma Smith, Jesus Christ (not that I compare myself to any of those listed or others who have given so much), but sending a missionary out for 18 months-2 years really isn't that big of a sacrifice. Sure, they are gone for a period of time and you miss them but that's just it, it's a short amount of time and then they are back and life moves on with them home. Sending Megan really made me think and consider my covenants of standing as a witness of Christ and what that means and what I would do to help the gospel spread and reach people's lives who so desperately need the peace the gospel brings. If I want to keep my covenants, I need to do what is asked of me regardless of how hard it is.
I knew it would absolutely be the BEST $400 a month I could spend on Megan's behalf. I knew there would be so many things she would learn about herself while she was out serving that she could never get another way or so quickly. You name it...spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. Those life lessons and the deepening and strengthening of her testimony are really invaluable! Such big dividends on so little money spent.
And my last thought:
On the day Megan left for her mission, I gave her a necklace with the word "love" stamped on a square piece of silver. I told her that I wanted her to remember that love is what it is really all about. Because of our love for the Savior and Heavenly Father and also the love we had for her, we could send her on a mission. Because of the love Megan had for the Savior and Heavenly Father, she chose to serve a mission. And it would be the love for those who she came in contact with and taught that would soften hearts and make people want to investigate the church. Also, I really wanted her to have something tangible so when she was feeling a bit down and blue, she could touch that necklace and know we were with her and that she wasn’t alone. She could feel our love and be reminded of why she was out serving a mission. I really believe missionary work is all about love.
These are a few of my feelings about sending Megan on a mission. I know it is different for everyone who sends a son or daughter on a mission and each of us have to look deep inside to see what it is that allows us to give them to the Lord. Some days that is easy and some days that is hard. I've come to realize my kids aren't really "mine". They are on loan to me. I've just been given the chance to teach them and influence them and then I have to learn to let them fly. Some days that is easy and some days that is hard.