Twice now, it was time. The first time it was a send off for 6 months to China. The second was a send off to North Africa. Bags were packed. The car loaded up. To the airport we go. Hugs given. We love you said…several times. Tears shed. Eyes watching at the security area until we can no longer see them. A few more tears shed. Off they went, flying into the great blue yonder. With a sigh, we turn and head to the car to return home without them.
Our job is done, right? We sent those children of ours out the door….WAY out the door. To the other side of the world kind of out the door. We’ve sent them out and now we can sit back, relax and say, “Whew- my job is D, O, N, and E, done!”
Beep, beep, back the truck up! Not so fast there buddy! Not so “done”.
Surprisingly we have discovered that on our end of the rope there are many things that could be/needs to be done for our missionary children overseas. A lot of times these things are taken care of by a mission board. That is so very much needed and appreciated. However, once while traveling with my daughter on deputation, I had a lady give me some advice. She worked for a mission board but also was a M.O.M. (mother of missionary). She told me that there were many tasks that a mission board can and will take care of for missionaries on a foreign field but that it is great if the missionary has a trusted family member stateside that can take care of personal matters for them. She said that, if possible, be the stateside advocate for your child. Mission boards are there to take care of so many things for missionaries (thankfully) but if a loved one could take care of some of these things it is of great benefit.
Some of the things that we have taken care of for them include:
- We have sold a car for each of them after they left. They had tried to take care of that before leaving but it just did not get finished up-some issues with the sale delayed it until after they left.
- Pay any bills that come in after they leave. Sometimes we have done it for them (they left us checks from their account and we have a power of attorney) or at least scanned the bills for them so they can take care of it electronically.
- Banking business or issues.
- Going up to the probate office at the courthouse to inform the folks there that our child would not be able to fulfill their duty to serve on a jury as they have moved overseas.
- We have purchased needed items to have someone traveling to their field deliver to them.
- Taxes-we scanned items and forms that were needed and sent off checks to pay for the taxes.
- I can testify that, for me, one of the weirdest and hardest things that I do for my missionaries on the field is open their mail. Don’t worry, rest easy, I am not committing a federal crime by opening mail not addressed to me. It’s OK once it has been delivered by the Postal Service. I don’t know if it is difficult for the missionary on the field to have their mail opened by someone else, but it is difficult on this side-at least it is for me. I feel like I am intruding/meddling in my adult children’s personal business/lives. However, it must be done and is done at our house. Regardless, for me, it’s still weird.
- We scan cards and letters that are sent to them and send by email or stick it in a program called dropbox. For instance, I have a folder in dropbox for my daughter that is labeled “Encouragement”. I know you’ve heard the saying “the best way you can bless me is to bless my child.” Sometimes the notes in the cards or letters are as encouraging for me as it is for them.
- We are not able to do this often as it can be expensive, but we do try to occasionally send a surprise (sometimes not so surprise) package to them containing some “needed” items. This might include Reese cups, Butterfingers, Pepperoni, Girl Scout Samoas cookies, Easter sweet tarts candy…..etc, etc, etc–you know, the IMPORTANT stuff. We thought about cake and ice cream for a birthday but didn’t think that might work out so well.
- Of course the usual calls and encouragement we try to give.
I am sure that this list will grow longer as time progresses. It is an honor and a privilege that we get to be stateside advocates for our children. This experience has shown me that being a sender is much more than just putting some money in an offering plate.
You may not be a M.O.M. like me and you may not be able to help with the things I have mentioned, but you can become more than just a donor to the ministry of a missionary and become an active sender. You can Facetime or Skype them. Send them messages. Find out what is going on in their lives and ministries and find out what you can do to help. Those things not only will bless a missionary’s heart to know that you care and want to be involved, but it is also one of those “the best way you can bless me is to bless my child” occasions.
One blessed M.O.M.,