Tonight my son Andrew was "set apart" as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He leaves for the Provo Mission Training Center tomorrow, and Fresno California in a couple of weeks, but is officially a missionary now and for the next 2 years.
Our church believes in the Laying On Of Hands, and as he left our home, our local leader challenged Andrew to leave his blessing on each of his family members before leaving. My Pentecostal friend compares this to "praying over" someone.
This 18 year-old man has saved up over $6,500 dollars of hard earned money to fund his mission. He's studied hard, and has earned his Associate's Degree, and has several scholarships that are waiting for him upon his return. He is clean, and smart, and an all-around-good-egg. He's committed to delay school, video games, girls, and pretty much everything, in order to give the next two years of his life to God.
I know that he is going to stand out like a sore thumb in California, with his suit and tie and name tag. Most people his age don't spend two years of their lives biking around, looking for service projects, and knocking on doors, going WAY out of their comfort zones to share the Good News of Christ's Gospel. I know that most of those doors will slam in his face. I know he'll be mocked, and laughed at, and maybe even experience violence.
Anyway. Tonight my son laid his hands upon each of our heads in turn, including my husband and myself, and asked a blessing in our behalf. He expressed his love and his knowledge of God's love to each of us individually.
Can you imagine how powerful that was, to have my son thank me for being his mother, to tell me that he loves me? To hear him tell my husband the same things?
How many 18 year-olds tell their little brothers and sisters, "I love you, and I know that our Heavenly Father loves you." He prayed for each of us with such tenderness and insights into our desires and needs.
This young man will work harder than he ever has. He'll stretch and grow, experience rejection and failures. He'll feel more joys and more disappointments in the next two years than in his entire life so far. He'll change lives. And when he returns, he'll be a better student, a better citizen, an amazing husband and father and employee.
I'm going to miss him. If you bump into him, please treat him with kindness.
In my opinion, the world needs more Mormon missionaries.