"On Wednesday, October 29, my 15-year-old daughter Jadi and I flew home to Virginia after speaking at a conference at BYU. While standing in security at the SLC airport, we noticed a lean, tall young man in a dark suit saying goodbye to whom we assumed was his family. After a few final hugs, he joined us in the line.
I turned to Jadi. "That young man is going on a mission."
"How do you know?"
"Look at his mom."
Just a few feet away, a woman stood between a man and a young adult, perhaps another son. The woman wiped tears from her eyes, but did so without looking away for even a second. Fortunately, though the mother might not agree, the line was short and we were quickly on the other side looking back. I watched her for as long as I could and imagined her mixed salad of emotions: sadness, pride (the good kind), joy, satisfaction, loss and longing.
Then, I did what I hope someone would do for my own child.
"Hello there," I said to the young man after we'd all collected our things from the security belt. He was standing alone and seriously studying his boarding pass.
"Are you heading on a mission?"
His eyes lit up. "Yes, I am."
"Ghana, the Kumasi mission." (He really said 'Benin Cotonou')
We discussed his trip through Chicago and, eventually, to the Mission Training Center in Accra. As he spoke, I looked him in the eye and saw myself two decades ago making the long journey to an unfamiliar land and language.
"Can I tell you something? I'm just so happy for you." As soon as I'd said the words, I realized I hadn't said them to be nice, I was genuinely thrilled for his adventures ahead.
We talked briefly about the country and he beamed with enthusiasm. When he struggled to find words, which happened more than once, he said simply, "I'm really excited."
As I said goodbye, I shook his hand and reminded him what he surely already knows. "The Lord is going to take care of you, Elder. He loves you. And He's grateful for your service."
"I know," he said with a nervous smile.
"And trust me, work hard, because it's going to go very, very fast."
"I know," he said, again.
We said farewell and I caught up with my daughter. "That one is going to be a great missionary," I told her. Then we slowly walked away and I looked back to see the elder check his boarding pass one final time and begin his best two years. If his mother stumbles across this account of our brief exchange, and I can only hope it is shared online until it finds her, she should know that her son has faith in his eyes and fire in his bones. Though our conversation was brief, he represented his family, his faith and the Savior he serves exceptionally well. And though I forgot his name by the time our planes went in different directions and I could sit to share my thoughts, I'll never forget the impression that your son loves God, and how He must love him, too! While the days at home may sometimes crawl, before this tearful mother knows it, this powerful missionary will be walking back to her side of security and back into her arms. I hope she trusts that in the meantime, he is in the Savior's." (Note: his name is Elder Brandon Hammons from Payson, Utah)
--"Before you can change your life you need to change your heart