Tomorrow I put my daughter on a plane to serve an LDS mission for our church. She will be gone for 18 months sharing the gospel and serving the people in the country where she will serve.
May I ask that if you see an LDS missionary that you will do one of the following:
1) Wave hello or smile. These are 18-20 year-old kids who are living away from their families for a year and a half to two years. They could use all the warmth and love you have to give. Simply smile and wave as you pass them. We often honk and then wave in a friendly way to let them know we see them and are aware of them. They are pretty good at smiling and waving back.
2) Invite them in. Whether or not you want to hear the message, sometimes these missionaries just need a warm place to sit for a while. Offer them a cup of hot cocoa, or a drink of water, or soda. Imagine living on a little more than $100 a month for groceries, laundry, mailing supplies, and more. A simple snack or drink or even some shade or warmth can help them get through a long day out in the sun, or rain, or snow.
3) Be polite. We recognize and respect that not everyone will want to hear our message. They have been well trained to accept that. However, imagine one of your children having the door slammed in their face, being yelled at, or even being chased down. Sadly it happens. A polite "no thanks" is all these missionaries need to hear to move along. They will appreciate your kindness. I will appreciate it as her mother even more.
4) Offer to feed them. Missionaries are hungry young men and women. Some missionaries go without meals because their money doesn't quite stretch. Even a hamburger from McDonalds will be greatly appreciate by these kids who are often living on ramen and pancakes. You can also, with their permission as they have rules they need to follow, offer to feed them a meal in your home. They are typically very grateful for anything whether it's a bowl of ice cream or a Christmas dinner.
5) Let them serve you. Part of their mission is to serve others. Let them do something for you. Let them rake your leaves. Put away your groceries. Shovel your walks. When they are feeling homesick and need to feel needed and necessary, an act of service can help put them in a good place again. They are good kids who have learned how to work hard. Let them do something for you.
6) Listen to their message. If you are at a point in your life, where you want to learn more about your purpose here on earth or want to understand where you came from and where you are going after this life, take some time to listen to their message. They will encourage you to pray and ask Heavenly Father if what you are hearing is true. The decision to accept what they are teaching is fully up to you. They are eager to make sure everyone has the opportunity to hear the message and make that decision. If you feel prompted that you may want to learn more, let them in, seek them out, and hear their message. You can also request missionaries through https://www.mormon.org/missionaries. Simply fill out the form and missionaries will reach out to you. They are always willing and eager to share their testimonies of the faith they belong to. They would love to share that message with you and your family.
Last night the father of one of Katelyn's newest friends stopped by. He happens to be from the very country and area in which she will be serving. He gave us the email, address, and phone number of family members who still reside there and who will be there should she need anything. Can I tell you what that did for my Mother heart? It eased some of the pain and worry I feel about watching my daughter go off into the world. Now I know that if I need to help her, there are willing and local hands to do so.
So whether you believe as we believe or whether you simply prefer not to receive the message, please remember that this is someone's cherished son or daughter. They are far away from home, missing their families, serving at great financial expense, and they simply want to do what they feel the Lord has asked them to do.
Please help us in watching over our sons and daughters. Knowing they are in your kind and supportive hands makes letting them go a little bit easier.