Brother Sikahema recently contributed a story to the Deseret News, in which he captures what it means to be the parents of a missionary. His son, Leonard Trey, returned this week from a mission to London. Leonard Trey was the third missionary son of Vai and his wife, Keala. Brother Sikahema's words will resonate with missionary parents.
It's much too early in Elliot's mission to begin thinking about his return (only 13 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days to go!) but we remember well the day our older son Keith returned home and look forward to the same wonderful reunion with Elliot.
Few things are as satisfying as seeing your sons return honorably from missions. When they were infants, I didn't bless them to be college grads, although they're all destined to be, nor did I bless them to become CEOs or NFL players. I blessed them to live that they may serve honorable missions and marry in the temple. Their missions now complete, we're confident they'll follow LJ's example and marry in the temple.
I recently read a quote from Harvard business professor Clayton Christensen that being a Mormon missionary "is the hardest job in the world." If it's not, it's pretty close to the top. And because it was such a seminal and life-changing event in my life, we've been single-minded in preparing our sons to be missionaries.
Our logic was this: If we could help get them on missions and if they did it for the right reasons, we wouldn't have to ever worry about their college major, their chosen vocation, work ethic, job security or unemployment, whom they'd marry or where they'd live and raise their family, or their commitment to God and country. Nothing else could help them be enormously successful or help them deal with disappointment, failure and rejection. A mission would prepare them for all of that.Brother Sikahema concludes his thoughts with a description of the reunion of a return missionary and his family.
Into the wee hours of the morning, we stayed up and heard of Trey's extraordinary experiences in England, the wonderful people he met, his many companions from whom he learned so much and to whose parents we are so indebted. Leonard Trey regaled us with stories of the gifted leaders who taught him important lessons and the people he taught the gospel to that will sustain him throughout his life.
We laughed till our sides hurt over the memories of growing up together in NFL towns throughout the country and the little quirks unique to being a part of our family. It was a slice of heaven. Through it all, my wife Keala and I reveled in what is truly one of the most gratifying moments in LDS parents' lives — the reunion with faithful sons who have served their missions honorably and with distinction.
And just for fun, enjoy a video of a 2009 interview with Brother Sikahema after the jump.