It wasn't so long ago that I left on my mission. I was eager to go. I thought leaving my family for two years would be harder, but the tears were short-lived, and easily outnumbered by the tears I shed when I had to come back home. I had a hard time understanding why people would say "I can't wait for you to come back home!" It was almost insulting. I loved being a missionary. Loved it. Why would anyone want to take that away from me?
I get it now. My little brother Collin just left on his mission a couple weeks ago. Collin and I are the closest of friends. I love that kid. He's an inspiration to me, and is already far ahead of where I was at the same point on my mission. He'd never allow that comment to stand, insisting that he feels like he hasn't moved anywhere accept to Mexico, but that's precisely why he's so far ahead. The kid is humble.
Anyway, I was saying that I understand where people were coming from when they wanted me to come home. I hope the next two years go by quickly. I don't hope for him to come home early, but I hope the next two years go by quickly for me, and slow enough for him. Its hard to wish that. It would be so easy to wish He could just come home tomorrow. And what if I want to talk to him right now? This minute? Tough. he sent his email today, and there won't be another one until next week. and maybe he'll respond to you next week, because he didn't have time to today. Maybe. Is this what he was going through while I was on MY mission?! Respect just went up. It is HARD. Now that he's out, I want to talk to him all the time. Its funny how when you lose something, you realize just how much you relied on it.
Collin is my only brother. I love all my siblings, but there is a special bond between brothers. I assume there's a similar bond between sisters, but having never been one, I can't speak to that. Anyway. The bond of brothers runs deep. Both of us have injured the other. Physically, mentally, emotionally. It happened. But we grew from it. That time when he punched me in the face? I deserved it. We laugh about it now. That one time when I accidentally threw him right into the bed frame and his head took the brunt of it? Oops... No (real) damage done, and yes, we laugh about it now. And we did all those other weird/gross things that only boys can think are funny, and they really were hilarious. At the time. Probably. But we also were able to speak about deep things, spiritual things, embarrassing things, emotional things. Believe it or not, we got emotional around each other, and it was ok. I know things about him that no one else knows, and vice versa. And we both know it will stay that way (no need to worry Mom and Dad- they're basically all just embarrassing things :P).
I watched him move from being unsure of his testimony and who he was and what he was supposed to do, to knowing, with fervent zeal that he is a son of God, that he was called to serve him, and that we would do just that- with all his heart, might, mind, and strength. He prepared like I've never seen any one prepare, and that kid entered the Mexico MTC an Elder, prepared from the beginning and endowed with power from on high to preach the word of God and be the instrument through which God will restore many of His children to the knowledge of their savior and their divine potential. What an amazing gift!
I have always loved and bragged all over my brother, but I have never been more proud of him. He is a man. He has "put away childish things" if you will. He has put everything on hold for two years, and yes, that includes me. That includes our Mom. That includes his music, his school, his friends. All on hold. And is it worth it? Of course. Of course it is.
God Speed brother. May God lift you when you fall, and strengthen you when you are weak, speak through your mouth to his children, and work with your hands to serve them. I know He will.
And to all you who are still reading and watched this take a turn for the personal and sentimental, deal with it. I love my brother.
To all the other brothers out there who are missing their brothers on missions, whether they be brothers by blood or brothers by bond, don't take this time for granted. Don't wish your brothers home soon. Encourage them to keep going, and to lose themselves in the work. That's what they need. They need to hear it from you. They expect to hear it from their Moms and Dads. But they need to hear it from you. Write to them regularly so that they know that they still matter to you, and that you are praying for them. Let them know that you want them to succeed. Do not tell them how many days/weeks/months they have left. Most of all, tell them you love them, and that you look up to them, and that you are glad that they are there, and not at home. They need to know that YOU know that they are exactly where they are supposed to be. The support of a brother is powerful. Few things are more powerful. Be free with your support, and give it all, and they will teach and preach with power. This I know. Because it is what happened to me. Now I hope to be the same for him, as he was for me.