As I listened to General Conference this morning and President Monson started speaking, I realized that something big was coming. I was making chips and stopped to watch and listen and told my 12 and 14 year old that they’d better listen up—something big was coming. For some reason, I just started crying at news of the announcement. I immediately started texting my family that was not with me to share the news.
The first thing that popped into my head was that just a few days ago, my 17 year old son said, “I wish I could just go on a mission right now.” He’s been taking missionary prep every week at the church, been reading his scriptures daily, and been reading Jesus The Christ with the Young Men on Sunday mornings. Most mornings as I cook him breakfast, he has his scriptures and the mini Preach My Gospel book out that I recently bought him. He’s really trying to prepare himself, knowing that he’d have a full year to wait after graduation.
My second thought was, “Oh MAN! This means my one son will come home in April, then my next one could leave in June or July. All RIGHT!! Almost 4 full years of uninterrupted blessings!” (It’s kind of a selfish thought.)
Then part of the reality set in….”Oh dear, we only have 8 months to get prepared. I need to schedule wisdom teeth and doctor’s appointments, all the while doing school, scholarships, and Grad Night. Whoa, this is going to be crazy.”
As you can tell, I didn’t hear much of the next few talks because my mind was still reeling. I need to go back and listen to Saturday all over.
As the day went on, I pondered more deeply on what this means and why. I listened to most of the press conference and thought about what they were saying about this important decision.
They mentioned several times the Lord needing more help and such a great work to do. It felt urgent. I pondered the imminent coming of the Savior and how He needs His army to step things up because the adversary is working so hard. I thought of how so many people are needing hope and help and the joyful message of the gospel and how urgently it’s needed.
I thought about how many people would think that 18 year olds are too young and not prepared. Which in some cases may be true, but in so many I see, it would be better for them to be able to leave quickly following graduation—especially for those in foreign countries who are assigned to serve in the military.
I thought of how this is going to change the thinking of young high school boys. Their minds will be more conscious of serving because they know they don’t have time to mess around in high school, then try to get themselves ready to go after they graduate. They will need to be towing the line all during high school. They’re going to have to grow up a little more, work a little harder, clean their rooms, read their scriptures and not put off preparation for a later date. They’ll probably be a little more self-conscious in their dating knowing that they will be leaving and need to keep themselves clean and pure and will probably be more focused on serving than having a girlfriend. =) They may treat people more kindly, step up their reading and preparation. All bonuses in my book.
I have seen some amazing young men in my life. There are many of them that surround me every day. They are strong. They are obedient. They have been prepared. And I wondered about how these young boys will do. Then it hit me. These are the modern day Stripling Warriors. If scripture were being written about our day, it would say that the Lord call these young Stripling Warriors as part of His army to carry out a great work. One that could not be accomplished any other way.
How will they do it? The same way they did in Book of Mormon times—with strength, with faith, with belief. If their mothers have taught them well, they will believe and have faith that surpasses what we currently know. They will be strong and brave and courageous. They will go and do.
My thoughts quickly turned to the mothers. Are they willing to give up their “boy?” I’m wondering if the mothers will have a harder time than the boys. =)
As I did my own self-evaluation, many thoughts raced through my mind, “Can he do his own laundry? Can he clean a bathroom? Can he cook his own meals? Can we have TWO Family Home Evenings a week from here to the end of the school year out of Teach My Gospel so I can feel like I have prepared him spiritually as well as physically?” My mind was racing and I was thinking that a lot of missionary prep should have been going on years before they should leave. Just a week or so ago my 14 year old said, “I’m the only kid my age that has to do his own laundry.” Poor kid. All I could think of was, “one day, you’ll thank me.” He’s also the one that washed his own backpack. You can read that great story here. I think it’s better to learn it at home so they don’t have to worry about that in the field. They can’t call home when they turn a white shirt pink or wash their backpack with all their pens and markers still in it. =) #nothatwe’vedonethat #seeabovestory
On top of all that, playing the piano has been a requirement in our home. I’ve told them that they have to take lessons until they can play the hymns and some primary songs so that when they are on their mission, they can be of service. They’ve whined about that for years, too. But an interesting thing happened right after the announcement. Out of the blue, my 14 year old went to the piano and started playing hymns. Maybe he’s sensing the urgency and need to be prepared, too. And that’s a good thing. Takes a load off of mom. =)
What I like most about this announcement is this: The kids that are ready to go can go. Some won’t be ready and that is okay, too. I think they should go when THEY are ready. I think we’ll lose a lot less boys between 18 and 19, too. Missions are hard. They aren’t a piece of cake. It’s long days, discouraging days, days filled with work, bike riding, people who don’t like you, having to cook and clean for yourself and just some hard stuff. But mixed in there is something powerful. Something life-changing. You learn to love people in a whole new way. You learn you can do hard things. You learn how to take care of yourself while serving others. You learn things you would never learn if you stayed home. When my recent missionary was having a hard time, I told him, “If missions were easy, everyone would go.” It really takes someone special to serve a mission. It takes courage. It takes bravery. It takes hard work. It takes discipline. It takes a sense of humor. It takes commitment. It takes a Stripling Warrior. And I believe that is what the Lord has called.
I look forward to seeing the great things that will come of this. I look forward to throngs of sisters flocking to the work. I think we may see the bigger increase in them.
I’ve pondered the schools and the lack of incoming freshman. I’ve pondered the sports teams and scholarships since I have a boy who’d like to play college ball. How will this affect those who are wanting to play sports? There are a lot of questions and a lot of answers that will come. But this I know. The Lord is coming soon and He needs help. That should be our first priority—serving Him and preparing for Him.
My thoughts keep turning to the Book of Mormon and reading those chapters proceeding Christ’s coming in 3rd Nephi. I look at the state of our country right now. You can see it in the Book of Mormon in those chapters before Christ’s coming. We are living in those very same times. Corruption in government, persecution of church members, having to choose between good and evil to lead us, many being deceived by an “evil king,” secret combinations, and much more. These are the days we live in and it should be an honor for us as mother’s to prepare our sons and daughters to serve our God, to be part of an Army that is watched over by Him, to boldly and nobly raise the standard and gather the lost sheep in.
As a mother of 5 incredible sons and 2 beautiful and amazing daughters , it is an HONOR and a PRIVELEGE to be trusted to be given and raise these valiant young men and women who will usher in the coming of the Savior.
My patriarchal blessing says that I will see events transpire in the church that will be a wonder and a miracle to the people of the earth. I have seen many. And yet here is another.
I have witnessed history. I have witnessed a miracle. I know there are many more to come.
Raise the banner! Here they come!
PS. As I finished this note, and headed to the kitchen to cook breakfast and pondered more, there was a swelling in my heart and an awareness yet again that we are involved in something bigger. For some reason sports, scholarships, work, busy-ness seemed so unimportant. I am raising sons and daughters of God first and foremost. Raising a star ball player or world known singer or doctor or coach seemed so insignificant because I need to raise them to usher in the Savior.
Then I listened to Elder Holland’s talk and it was confirmed to me that I was exactly right. I am a part of something bigger and greater than I or my children can comprehend.