This is a sweet conversion story, as well as comforting advice for parents of missionaries. It is shared by Deana Ross, who currently has a son serving a mission in Portland, Oregon. Here are her words:
My husband is a convert. He joined the Church while he was in Guam, serving in the Navy. This was over 32 years ago. How grateful I am for parents who teach their young men and young women to stand for the truthfulness of the Gospel.
Steve is the first of his family to join the Church. His sister and his parents still live in Kansas City and Windsor, Missouri. Over the years they have come to see the church in a different light than that taught in their own church.
Whether your children serve full-time missions or serve their country, they have such great influence on others. It was difficult to send our oldest son on his mission, but also a “relief”. Now someone else could keep their eye on him.
He served well and did a lot of growing up. He and his dad kind of had power struggles and I was beginning to think the reason the Lord called missionaries at age 19 is so their mothers don’t kill them (I don’t look good in vertical stripes.) He served in the Adelaide Australia Mission and when you are half a world away and out in the “bush”, it gives you time to think. The people he served were very poor, humble people, who appreciated everything the Lord blessed them with and he fell in love with the people and the culture. When Jeff returned he was a humbled young man, who had worked hard and there was no longer the power struggle with his dad.
That was ten years ago. He is now married and has two children and still serves faithfully. It wasn’t as difficult sending our second son to the Auckland New Zealand Mission. Chris was always a hard worker and everybody’s friend. He too fell in love with the people and the culture.
Now, we have sent our youngest son, Will, to the Portland Oregon Mission. This was very difficult! He was our companion, our “to do” list, our social life. I told my husband we need a jar titled “conversation starters” so we have something to talk about. Before it was always about what Will was doing or where he was or something.
Between these boys, we had two daughters. They are married with families of their own. So my husband and I are officially “empty-nesters.” I can hardly wait to get home from work on Thursday’s to read Will’s email. I can only say, I am thankful for each experience each of our sons brought to us through serving their missions; and for our daughters and their eternal companions (husbands.)
For those of you with sons and daughters on missions, hang in there. This time will not only be sweet to you, but glorious to those who find the church through our missionaries. I was born and raised in the church and often took it for granted. When I married Steve, and listened to his conversion story (which I never, ever get tired of hearing, even after 30 years of marriage) and realized how dramatically his life was changed, I too became “converted.”
The church is true. What comfort this knowledge brings to my heart. How humbled I am at the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. No matter were our sons and daughters serve, they take the teachings of our homes with them: our “traditions”, our family home evenings, our counsels, our prayers, our love.
These experiences change people’s lives, even if it’s half way around the world or as close as Portland Oregon.
~ Deanna Ross