Here's a blurb from Mormon.org about what missionaries are and what they do:
Most people who aren't LDS don't realize that:
- Missionaries (or their families) pay for their own mission. Alec has been working the last 3 years as a lifeguard to save towards his mission. It's $400/month. Every missionary pays the same amount and it is dispersed throughout the world to the different missions. Obviously a mission in California costs more regarding living expenses, etc. than a mission in a 3rd world country. So it all works out evenly. Missionaries are responsible for the purchase of their bike, suits and other clothing, passports, etc... We were blessed because Seiuli's brother has a nice bike and is giving it to Alec to use. My parents bought Alec 3 suits, tons of dress shirts, slacks, ties, shoes... A lot nicer and more than we could afford to get him. My sister bought him his bag (which wasn't cheap at all...) We've been really blessed. I've basically bought him socks and each of us has picked a tie for him so when he wears it he'll know we are thinking of him. For missionaries who cannot afford to pay for their mission, members of the church can donate to a mission fund to help pay for these missionaries.
- Missionaries can communicate once a week via email or letters. They can call home 4 times throughout the 2 year period. (Just typing that made my heart break a little more...) He can call home Mother's Day and Christmas. I'm so thankful we have email. I can't imagine having to wait and wait for letters. I did that for 9 weeks when Tristan was at bootcamp and it was brutal.
- We won't be visiting our missionary. My in-laws actually live a couple hours from where Alec is going and they probably won't see him either. But as a rule, his immediate family won't be visiting him. This is so he can continue to focus on where his focus is suppose to be- serving the Lord and the people in the California, Anaheim mission.
I'll write more about my feelings and things when I can do it without my eyes filling up with tears. I can do this. He can do this. I know our family can do this. But it won't be easy. I know he will grow and learn so much during this time. And I know we will be blessed. I also know it's where he is suppose to be. But if you see me crying, in mourning (because there really is a mourning process going on here), please don't say, "Is there any other place you'd want him to be?" I know the correct answer is "No", but you might get throat punched. I'm Mormon, but I'm definitely not perfect. Fair warning. ;)