Friday, May 6, 2016

A Mother's Greatest Fear: Will My Missionary Child Be Safe?

Just over a month ago, news of the explosion at the Brussels airport made it's way around the world and into the heart of every mother of every LDS missionary serving in Belgium stood still. That momentary fear--until news comes that your child is safe--is paralyzing. Was he there? Is he OK? If I pray hard enough for him will he come home to me, well and whole? How can I bear the uncertainty of wondering and worrying from day to day?

The truth of the matter is, some mothers do suffer the unbearable pain of losing a missionary child as they serve. We know it's true. We know it happens. Our hearts are drawn out to them--one mother to another--as we bear each other's burdens from afar. Truth be told, there isn't one mother (or father) who has said goodbye to a missionary child at the MTC and hasn't considered the frightening possibilities. We do our best to face our fears with faith, knowing the Lord is in charge. But what can we do when those moments of worry come?

Here are a few ideas:

1. Write to your missionary child every week and ask him to do everything humanly possible to write to you every week, as well. I noticed when my boys were serving, if I felt "out of the loop" because they hadn't told me about their week and what they had going on, I worried about them a lot more.

2. Be sure to stress to your missionary the importance of following mission rules. If they are exactly where they belong every minute of every day, the likelihood of running into trouble diminishes greatly. There are certainly times when missionaries are keeping rules and something completely unforeseen happens. But being obedient is always the best possible way to stay safe. Each mission has rules unique to that area of the world that have been tried and tested that provide every missionary with the very best ways of staying safe. For example, some missions restrict the amount of money missionaries can carry around, some have rules about keeping passports with them (or not.) There are many specific rules you or I would never think of because we don't have the experience the Mission President has. Remind your child that the mission rules are there for their protection and they must obey them.

3. Keep up with travel alerts or other information about the area of the world your child is serving by periodically checking for updates on the U.S State Department website. This will probably seem like a better idea if you never actually see an alert for your child's country. Knowing he is not in a place that is "on the list" can give you a lot of reassurance. It might not feel like such a good idea, however, if you do see an alert. I know from personal experience it can be a very upsetting feeling. A word of advice: if this does happen, please do not panic. An alert simply means you need to get more information about what is going on (see #5.)

4. You can feel confident in the fact that your child's Mission President and his wife love him and are doing everything possible to keep him out of harm's way. They think of him as their own during this time he is serving with them. I know it isn't quite as good as YOU being with him. But, trust me, it's pretty darn close.

5. If you have worries or concerns--especially when there is news of a catastrophe of some kind--do not hesitate to contact the Mission President. When my boys served their missions, I always made note of their Mission Presidents' email addresses for this very reason. If you are worried, send a quick email to ask about the situation and your son's well being. If it is urgent, call the Missionary Department and explain your concern. They will have the most recent updates on any worrisome situations.

All in all, the best piece of advice I could give you is this: stay focused on all the wonderful, positive parts of your child's mission. There are so many--too many to count! Thinking too much about negatives--especially things we cannot control--brings frustration and fear and sometimes keeps us from fully recognizing the incredible blessings that are pouring into our children's lives, as well as our own, as they serve the Lord. It is God's work they are doing and I have seen for myself the miraculous ways He protects His missionaries. That in itself, can bring great peace to a mother's heart.

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