This past week I sent my youngest daughter off on a mission. What is a mission you ask? Every worthy child of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints has the opportunity to serve their fellow man in the early years of their young adult life. They can apply as a missionary to be called to anywhere in the world where the Church has a congregation and they spend anywhere from 18 months to two years serving their fellow man.
Both women and men can go and it’s up to the parents to help prepare their children to receive this calling. So far, 5 of my 9 children have been called and traveled to places all over the world. When children are taught from a young age to help serve others, it instills a sense of duty to others which they can follow through and this duty changes their perspective for the rest of their lives.
Along with serving the people of the area where they serve; these missionaries also teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. For those who are thirsting for spiritual nourishment, it is a Godsend. There are many souls who feel lost in this world and the enthusiasm and fresh look at life held by these young members along with teaching the gospel can make a huge difference in the lives of people all over the world.
Those missionaries who are sent far away first attend a training center, which is where my daughter is now. The Provo, Utah facility holds over 3,000 missionaries and they are trained in the language and culture of the country they serve. There are 15 Missionary Training Centers (MTC) all over the world all teaching these young people to be representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Not every member youth travels far to go on a mission. If there are physical disabilities, there are close-by callings which can help instill a sense of service for others around them. There is much to do everywhere and anyone who wants to serve can apply to go.
From the time they can understand gospel principles in junior Sunday school, all children can learn that serving a mission is a noble calling. Parents teach their children that to serve a mission is a great achievement and teaches those who serve how unselfish acts of love and kindness make us better people.
As a family we attend church every Sunday and involve ourselves in the congregation we live closest. We also set aside time to pray together every day and read some kind of scripture verse to remind ourselves who is in charge. Taking the time to pray and read, no matter how small, renders great dividends of great blessings to parents when we pray and read together often. The more days families can consistently participate together, the better the Spirit of the Lord can dwell in the home.
Participating in service projects is another way to prepare children to serve a mission. We have engaged in countless hours of service projects for others over the years as my children grew to adulthood which taught them the importance of serving others no matter how inconvenient.
To help communities clean a park, or plant new trees or clean up damaged buildings after a storm. Sewing quilts for war torn countries, serve food to the homeless, snow shovel an elderly neighbor’s yard or mow lawns for a disabled person. There are missionaries all over the world helping others in these ways and more. Countless hours of service and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ is a great training ground for adulthood.
So am I sending off my children as an interruption to their life? No, of course not. A mission will do more to educate themselves in preparation to life than anything I can do while I am with them. Taking on selfless service and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ helps set a precedent which will last a life time. A lifetime which will have meaning and purpose to themselves and those around them; including me.
Valerie Steimle has been writing as a family advocate for over 25 years. As a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, she promotes Christian living in her writings and is the mother of nine children and grandmother to twelve. Mrs. Steimle authored six books and is a contributing writer to several online websites. To her, time is the most precious commodity we have and knows we should spend it wisely. To read more of Valerie's work, visit her at her website, The Blessings of Family Life.