Monday, May 26, 2014

How to Prepare...

Today was an interesting Sunday.  Everything seems to center around missionary work.  One of the Priests announced that he received his mission call.  Two young ladies were baptized yesterday and they received the gift of the Holy Ghost in Sacrament Meeting.  Then all the talks were centered around the influence missionary work has.  The last speaker was a return missionary too.  It was great!  
Over the past several weeks, months, and even years I've had the chance to think about preparing my children to serve full-time missions.  I feel like we are so late in the game every time when it comes to actually getting our boys out the door.  I asked Curtis about this a few weeks ago.  He said he feels behind too.  I wish there was a fast track method to get this boy ready.  I wish there was a money tree we could go chop down so he had the money he needs to get going, but there isn't.  I know Curtis needs to serve a mission.  I know that without a doubt.  I also know that since he has a desire to serve, and we have a desire for him to serve, that a way will be provided for this to come to pass.  
So, what does it take to get a missionary out for two years?  Some would say each prospective missionary needs to know the following....
Every Elder should know how to catch, kill, prepare, and cook various forms of waterfowl.
Every Elder should be well-trained in how to perform sweet BMX-like tricks on a NON-BMX bike.
OR
It is absolutely critical that every Elder possess the courage and adventurism necessary to eat whatever is placed in front of them, and then ask for more!!
I don't think that is REALLY what each prospective missionary needs to learn.  One might say preparing to serve a mission is like getting ready for the Olympics.  An Olympic athlete doesn't start learning how to play the game when they are trying to get on the Olympic teams.  They practice for years to get to that point.  With a mission, preparation does not begin 120 days out from when the papers are filed.  It needs to start years before that time.
I love this scripture....Alma 49:8-9, But behold, to their uttermost astonishment, they were prepared for them, in a manner which never had been know among the children of Lehi.  Now they were prepared for the Lamanites, to battle after the manner of the instructions of Moroni.  And it came to pass that the Lamanites, or the Amalickiahites, were exceedingly astonished at their manner of preparation for war.

I want my children to be prepared for battle in the best way possible, so personal revelation is an important part of that.  The things Kevin and I feel are important in our family for our "astonishing" preparation might be different than the things that are important to other families.  With personal revelation, every family brings in different aspects to their preparation that will make their preparation new and astonishing.
In the church we have been counseled that if we follow certain patterns, our families will be blessed.  The patterns I am talking about is Family Home Evening, Family Prayer, and Family Scripture Study.  We have heard about that plenty of times so I will not go into that.  BUT, it does take a consistent effort, and I will be the first to tell you, it's not easy!  It's not always spiritually fulfilling, but if we keep working at it and trying, the blessings will come.  This is something our family has gotten away from.  We need to get better about this, not just for our future missionary, but for ALL of us.
Believe me, we have had Family Home Evenings that started out okay, and then ended in chaos!  We usually do better if Family Home Evening is something fun, like playing games or doing something together.  Then following up with scripture study and family prayer.  We then have our best discussions about any and all gospel topics either in the car or when we are just sitting around talking.  When it is planned, it always gets derailed, every time.  But we still try for the formal teaching Family Home Evenings.  Our poor kids.
Even though each effort has been less than stellar, we do see the fruits of our "labors" or efforts.  I'm impressed with the knowledge my children have of things and the fact that they each have gained their own personal testimonies.
I thought this was interesting.....At a Stake Relief Society activity some years ago, past missionaries were asked what advice they would give to future missionaries wanting to serve full-time missions.  One of the things they suggested is that before serving a mission, young men and young women need to have an experience where they've had to do something really hard....to the point that they wanted to quit, but they had to keep going.  The reason for this is that when these missionaries are away from home or 1 1/2 to 2 years, they need experiences like this to draw from, so they know they can continue through the hard things they might be asked to face on their mission.
For our family, we could draw on so many different things, but the one thing I would say that Curtis personally experienced is his time playing football.  My husband has always encouraged our children to play a sport in school.  Primarily because it teaches those things.  It teaches you how to do things with your entire team in mind, it teaches you to work hard, it teaches you to endure even when you are pucking your guts up as you run sprints.  It also teaches you to have courage.  Curtis played football for several years.  Then one day he told us he was intending to quit the team.  It was a rough time in the Schmidt house, because the one thing my husband told each of our children was, once the season started and you have committed to play, you cannot quit, no matter what.  So, what did Curtis do, several weeks after the start of his Senior year, he decided to quit football.  I think telling my husband he decided to quit was the hardest thing Curtis has ever had to do.  But he did it.  
Some of the other things that have taught Curtis about hard things, are the countless scouting activities over the years.  The earning of badges as a Cub Scout, the Scout Camps and the merit badges, not to mention all the hikes and adventures he has been on.  These have all taught Curtis something about enduring hard things.
One of the other points I would like to mention about mission preparation makes me think about Alma the Younger.  This young man came from a great family, but he made his own choices and was going around with his friends "stealing away the hearts of the people, causing much dessention,"  and "seeking to destroy the church" (Mosiah 27:9-10)  Suddenly an angel appeared to them and told them to knock it off, then got the young men back on the right path.
I personally have not ever seen an angel, but I am very grateful for the people who have been angels in my own life and in the lives of our children.  Susan Tanner stated that "Everywhere there are young people who are in the middle of their own stories, facing dangers and hardships.....There will be "angels round about you, to bear you up" (D&C 84:88).  They will sustain us as we carry out our earthly burdens.  Often, those angels are people around us, the people who love us, those who allow themselves to be instruments in the Lord's hands"
I know my children have been influenced by many angels in our ward and stake, in seminary, at school, and even in their own families.  I've tried to find out who our children look up to without making it obvious that I am trying to find out.  I want to know who has been an example for them.  At times I have been told some of those names, but there are many others, and I am very grateful for the influence they have had. 
Years ago a book was written called, "It Takes a Village."  I haven't read it.  I do know that many people were bothered by this book, they even came back and said, "it takes a mother."  Honestly, I believe, it takes a village!  I know we, as parents, couldn't do it all on our own.  Sure, Kevin and I have wonderful parents, but we have also had plenty of angels in our own lives that have helped to make us who we are today, and that is all the proof I need to know, It Takes a Village, for sure!!!
For years now, Kevin and I have talked about where our children will go on their missions.  At times we think they will stay state side, other times we think they will go to another country.  Each time, we have never come up with an actual country or state.  But once in a while, we see certain traits or things that make us think about certain areas that might be best for our children.  All in all, it is exciting to think about the whole process of receiving your mission call.  Each time I have been in the midst of a potential missionary the excitement of receiving the call has been thrilling!!!  
One night after Young Men's/Young Women's about a year ago, I was waiting and waiting for my kids to get home.  Finally at about 9:30 p.m., I was upset and decided to drive down to the church to drag my children home, I passed my children on the way.  (I wake up early for work each day and cannot sleep until everyone is home safe.)  I beat them all home, and waited for them to arrive at our home to give them a piece of my mind about how late it was, and the appropriate time to come home.  When they were getting out of the car, Curtis got a "where have you been???"  His response - we were playing dodge ball for a while, then we got to talking about missions with some leaders there.  Of course, my rant was gone, and I said a silent little prayer about wonderful leaders who take the time to discuss these kinds of things.  I did mention that 9:30 was too late to be coming home, but I was a lot nicer that I would have been.
Probably the most important step in preparing to serve a mission is gaining a personal testimony that you can share with others.  Unfortunately, that is not something I can cook up and serve on a platter, and consider that step complete.  There really isn't a whole lot I can do about gaining a testimony beyond doing these other things and hoping my children are touched by the spirit.  
This from Jeffrey R. Holland, "A 14-year old boy recently said to me a little hesitantly, "Brother Holland, I can't say yet that I know the Church is true, but I believe it is."  I hugged that boy until his eyes bulged out.  I told him with all the fervor of my soul that belief is a precious word, an even more precious act, and he need never apologize for "only believing."  I told him that Christ himself said, "Be not afraid, one believe," a phrase which, by the way, carried young Gordon B Hinckley into the mission field.....What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine."
Elder Holland is great!  I love hearing him speak and reading his talks, but he isn't someone that our children can watch and hear from all the time beyond his recorded voice.  Our children need to hear our testimonies!!  We are people they can watch and learn from daily.  That too can also be a scary thought, as well.  To realize the importance of that, check out these three examples from the Book or Mormon.
Even though Enos had a grandfather, uncle, and father that were prophets, he still needed to gain his own testimony.  While hunting one day, he stopped to pray.  "Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forest; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart" (Enos 1:3)
Alma the Younger, also the son of a prophet, made poor choices and needed a change of heart.  When he was knocked from his astonishment at seeing an angel, everything he had been doing to destroy the church was running through his mind.  "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins, behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to atone for the sins of the world" (Alma 36:17)
We know that the stripling warriors relied on the testimonies of their mothers.  "They had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.  And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mother, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it" (Alma 56:47-48)
Maybe a huge reason for having Family Home Evening, Family Prayer, and Family Scripture Study is so we will have lots of opportunities to share our testimonies with our children.  If they know we know, they can lean on our testimonies when they need to.  Hopefully in the end, even with all the mistakes we make, the end result will come to pass....they will gain their own testimony. 
In D&C 123:17 "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed."
So, as a parent, all I can do is cheerfully do my part, follow the patterns the church has given us, seek and follow personal revelation for myself and our family, and do what I can do to help my children gain their own testimonies.  Someday I hope when I look back on these years, I will see how deeply Heavenly Father has been involved in raising our children too, through their life experiences and through the people who have influenced their lives, as well as the people our children will help to influence too.  Through all this, our son will be well-prepared to serve his mission and I can stop thinking about all the things that are still left to be done and start focusing on the things we have done.

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