Every July 1st, a group of newly-called mission presidents pack up their families and leave their lives behind to serve the Lord. As members of the Church, we see their pictures in the Church News every Saturday morning and imagine how wonderful it would be to serve like that. Little do we know, they are about to be hit by a bus! (Just kidding--it's not exactly a bus...maybe just a tiny car ha ha) Don't get me wrong---is IS wonderful. But there is nothing easy about it. It will be one of the hardest things they will ever do in their lives. The good news is, this is one time in their lives when they will see the hand of the Lord so clearly in their lives, and for every effort they give, He will immediately bless them. The 3 years we spent in Boston when my husband was mission president there were truly the most difficult, challenging, depressing, wonderful, joyous, and exciting years of our lives. (I don't know why those things always go together, but they do!) We took all 8 of our children with us (our baby was 3) and making a move like that is a monumental task. I had felt stress before, but nothing like what I felt trying to get eight children adjusted to new schools, a new neighborhood, a new ward, and new friends. I told my friends at home: "Don't ever call me after 2 in the afternoon because every day, by then, I'm crying." The adjustment was tough on all of us. I'll never forget what we were told by Elder Marlin Jensen who was our Area President at the time. He told us to hang on, that things would get better. "You watch," he said, "In three years your kids will be crying because they don't want to go home." Dale and I looked at each other with that look and I still remember saying the words, "Oh no...he doesn't know OUR kids. And he doesn't know we just moved here from the Celestial Kingdom (aka Alpine)...our kids will be SO happy to go home." Fast forward three years...Elder Jensen's prophecy was fulfilled! Our kids cried and cried the night before we left our mission to go home. And..truth be told.. I shed more than a few tears, too.
The president of our neighboring mission called my husband after we had been in Boston for a few weeks and said, "We were praying for you the day you arrived. Every July 1st we pray for the new mission presidents." I remember thinking.."How sweet." But as the days and months passed, I realized there was nothing sweet about it. It wasn't just a kind gesture. No...it was a necessity. And that mission president knew it. So, as July 1st approaches, let's all remember those amazing men and women (and children!) who are sacrificing--literally--everything to serve, not only the Lord, but our sweet missionary children.
I have collected a wealth of ideas for mission president's wives over the years that I have shared with friends and neighbors who have been called to serve. Please leave a comment if you are one of those lucky people and would like copies--I am so happy to share them with you.
When President and Sister Jeff Simmons (can I just say here how much we love them?) were called to serve as mission president in our son, Jake's, mission, we met them for dinner one night before they left for Sydney, Australia, and gave them some encouragement by way of a few little gifts (labeled with different pieces of advice) for them. "All I Need To Know About Being A Mission President I've Learned From the Easter Bunny" was one thing we did for them that was a lot of fun (see below.) For example, we tied the words, "Everyone needs a mission president who is all ears" to a chocolate bunny that had HUGE ears. (Maybe you know someone who is leaving to serve as a mission president you could use this for, too!)
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