Two weeks after our son left for the MTC, we received the letter that every parent longs for from their missionary. The “Thank You” letter.
He thanked us for teaching him the value of hard work. I’m not talking about the do your chores around the house work. I am talking about the back breaking, working outside in the Texas summer heat, kind of work.
It was a week and a half before our son left for his mission. I could hear the opening of cupboards, cereal being poured and the up and down of the stairs as he prepared to leave for work. It was early. The sun was beginning to rise and he was heading out the door to go to work. It was 5:40am. He spent his day cleaning clubs, detailing carts, interacting with members of the golf club all while being on his feet in the 100 degree Texas summer sun. He did this all summer long, as well as deliver and lay mulch for clients in nearby neighborhoods. He worked while his friends were enjoying their summer before college.
The transition to being a missionary wasn’t difficult for our son because he spent his high school years learning to manage his time, manage his money, balance school, school,church, work, family and friends. It wasn’t always easy. Especially for me as a mother. I often wanted to lighten his load, to make it a bit easier for him, but knew that it was through the fire that one was refined.
Refined he was.
He mentioned in his letter that day that the daily schedule for him was a walk in the park. He also shared that many missionaries struggled with the schedule, the long days,the 6:30am wake-up call and the daily grind. He attributed his easy acclimation to the missionary lifestyle 100% to working back at home.
If there is one thing that we should teach our future missionaries to do, it’s how to work.
If they know how to work, they will learn to study. If they learn to study, their testimonies of the Gospel will grow. If their testimonies grow, they will have His spirit with them. If they have His spirit with them, they will be amazing disciples of Christ.
It is hard enough to leave the life that you’ve known for the past 18 or 19 years. Why not make this one aspect of the transition seem effortless for your missionary?
From the Chinese proverb, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime”
The same can be applied to work ethic, if we do it for them, they will never learn the true value of a strong work ethic.