Wednesday, November 23, 2016

A mission from a parent's perspective: here's one post from the Daddy Blogger

OK, sports fans, here is an unsolicited hijack post by Hno Parks, padre of Hna Parks.  As her mission comes to a close, I want to add my perspective as the dad.  When I look at the statistics on the back end of the blog, I realize that we get traffic from a variety of sources, including some that might indicate this blog is occasionally a source of information for missionaries who are soon to serve, considering service, or remembering their service in Peru (or elsewhere).  My intent in posting today is that someone might find this blog, read Christine's weekly messages, and find the family perspective to be helpful.

Christine wanted to serve a mission when she was a small girl.  Her parents and grandparents served missions; we regularly have missionaries in our home; and we've been blessed over the years to see a few friends embrace the gospel.  When the age change was announced in 2012, Christine was more committed and excited to serve.  I explain this to highlight the fact that I was prepared for her to serve a mission.  Her decision was anticipated and we shared in her excitement to serve the Lord.

What I didn't anticipate was the change in family dynamic that would occur as a result of her service.  Monday afternoons became a weekly highlight.  Her messages and photos cast a new light in our home.  Our other children see her service and make decisions differently.  Their faith and willingness to accept challenges have increased because of her example.  We've used her missionary service as an introduction to share with others.  I grossly underestimated the happiness I would feel as I watch her serve and grow.

Christine was well prepared to serve in many ways: socially, intellectually, spiritually, and physically.  As can be seen if one reads her messages carefully, her mission was also the most difficult experience of her life (and she had done a few difficult things prior to her mission).  The experience has transformed her.  She understands the Atonement of Jesus Christ in a way that she didn't before her mission.  Please don't misunderstand my assertion herein--missions are not the right path for everyone--but her mission was right for her, and for her family.  I think she will agree with me on this point.

For parents who are reading this as their child considers a mission, perhaps just received a call to Piura, or who are looking for answers to basic questions about missionary service in general, I have a few pieces of advice from the daddy blogger perspective:
  • Enjoy your son or daughter's mission.  It ends too soon.  The happiness you feel as you watch her serve is unique--a reward from Heaven for your effort to raise your child.  You may be surprised, as I am at this moment, to feel some sadness when she completes her service.
  • Remember that she is well cared-for.  My wife and I have prayed daily for her safety, success, and health; for her investigators; members in her wards and branches; the Rasmussens; her companions, the mototaxi drivers; and her pensionista.  We never doubted that a loving God and some angels in Piura watched out for her on a daily basis.  Those angels are named throughout this blog over the past 18 months.  We are eternally grateful for them, and hope to replicate the service they gave.
  • Become a better person because of her service.  She will do it, and so can you.
When I drove to my office on the morning of June 15, 2015 after saying goodbye to my daughter at the airport in Medford, OR, I listened to a song composed by Marta Keen and sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir: "Homeward Bound".  On that difficult but happy day, I needed to be reminded of the value of setting my child free.  Keen's lyrics best express this concept:

If you find it’s me you’re missing, if you’re hoping I’ll return,
To your thought I’ll soon be list’ning; in the road I’ll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing as my journey nears its end,
And the path I’ll be retracing when I’m homeward bound again.
Bind me not to the pasture. Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling and I’ll return to you somehow
Kevin Parks


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