From the Parent of a Missionary
I have been waiting for the day ever since my first child was born 19 years ago. We have always known, as has he, that he would be going on a mission. He has worked hard preparing, for years, reading and studying, earning and saving, and of course praying. Janine and I have prayed too; hoping that we have given Justin all the opportunities he has needed to gain his own testimony. For the past few months, since we got his call on March 6th, we have been actively preparing, blindly walking right into the worst best day of my life.
He stood on the curb of the MTC parking lot, the host elders at the trunk of the car getting his luggage, mom nearby watching, I standing next to him. This was it, time to really say good bye. We had just taken good-bye pictures in the parking lot across the street and given parting embraces because we all knew we would not have much time at the curb. Now it was the last time for 24 months.
Perhaps Justin would feel differently, but as I turned to him I saw his face turn a little whiter and his eyes a little wider as the moment sank in. I being the most emotional person in the family by far, feared that I would create a scene, but seeing Justin, I knew it would not help him, so choaking my feelings down, I gave him one last hug and stepped away for his mom. Then the host elders told him it was time to go. That was it. Done. As he walked away, I got a couple pictures of the back of his head, but he didn’t turn around, he was focused on the work in front of him. That is Justin, all the way.
How did we get here so fast? It seems just yesterday that he was in my hands with his double-cone head in the Irvine hospital birthing center. Just a few hours ago that I was ordaining him a deacon in the Aaronic Priesthood. Just a minute ago that he was giving a speech at his high school graduation ceremony. Time is not my friend.
There are so many moments in a parents life when they look at their child, no matter what age, and they get a glimpse of who they will become. For me, his father, I have always seen him as a strong leader, an example for all to follow, someone very focused and yet very grounded. He has amazed me continually in his life with his achievments and the things he has done. He informed me, after recieving his final report card in high school and getting the perfect 4.0 GPG, that he acheived his goal that he set in fifth grade, straight A student. It is his drive, his focus on the task at hand, and the confidence in the Lord, that I knew that my son will be involved in some very great work while in the field in Guatemala.
For my father, I now understand the pride that all dads have in their children, and how much they can love them, unconditionally for all they are and all they will be. It is this love that I feel is closest to the love the Saviour would have us have for each other. Oh, how strong that love is!!! And to watch him walk away at the curb in front of the MTC, leaving for 24 months to a foreign land. Definitely the worst best day of my life.