Well, today is the day. My little brother-in-law left for the MTC (Missionary Training Centre) at 4:30 this morning and after 9 weeks of intense Spanish language training he will be dispatched to his mission in northern Arizona. Sigh.
In the end we decided not to say anything to him about his mission. We told him we loved him and that we would miss him. We told him he would do well and that is was an opportunity to grow. All of these things are true and yet, so much was left unsaid. Like, you would grow just as much by going to University or travelling the world. You will likely discover great things within you and despite what you believe, they will not be revealed by the holy spirit but by exercise, a life of routine and regimen and challenging yourself.
My husband still feels that his mission was a positive experience overall. He lived in France for 2 years and learned to speak fluent French. He became a great negotiator and public speaker and learned things about himself and about humanity more generally. He thrived in the almost military approach to schedule and exercise. They woke up at 6:00 every morning, lifted weights and prayed. They worked from morning until night and read scriptures. And then they did it again…for more than 700 days. He couldn’t see movies or listen to any music other than the tabernacle choir. He couldn’t read any books other than the approved missionary library that consisted of five church books. He was never alone. He went every where with his church appointed companion and ate what he could afford, which wasn’t much. He was encouraged to journal every day but like most things in the church, even that wasn’t really an exercise in individuality. Everything he wrote was filtered so that later generations would never hear of any doubts, stumbles or struggles. A big boring book of testimony.
But, he travelled and grew and made wonderful friends and learned about his strengths and weaknesses. He was challenged and directed and on his own for the first time in his life so I suppose I can see the appeal.
After much thought and consideration we decided to just be kind and supportive. My little brother is so excited and feels good about himself. He is heading off on his own for the first time ever and this is a very vulnerable point in his life. He came to our house for dinner the week before he left and we had a wonderful time. He is smart and thoughtful and in my opinion, too bright to stay a church member.
After he left I said to my husband, “Do you think he’ll leave on his own?” to which my husband replied, “Nope. I’m going to help him.”
Let’s hope that is exactly what happens.