eighteen months

Today, Ben has been gone eighteen months.


I know what you are thinking. Maybe you even turned and quipped it to the person next to you, “Wow. The time has just flown by. I didn’t think he’d been gone that long.”

Think it if you like, or whisper it to each other, but just don’t say those words to me. At best, I’ll just start to cry; at worst, I’ll kick you in the shins. Because all I hear is, “I don’t miss him. I don’t care about him.”

Eighteen months, 549 days, is a long time to not see your child, to not hug him or watch his face break into laughter. And these next months might go quickly, but I won’t wish them away, because as soon as Ben gets home I have to say goodbye to Stefan (and then Hans and Xander and Gabe, but if Mary goes, we’ll at least get a two-year break in between).


People often say to me, “I bet when you were having all these boys, you didn’t think about sending them on missions one after the other.”

I’m probably a little too direct when I answer, “I thought about their missions every single day.” Erik and I raised them to be ready and anxious to serve the Lord.


As Latter Day Saints, we feel an urgency to serve God who has given us all; we do it in little ways every day. And young men have a priesthood responsibility to serve the Lord on a two year mission. It is a privilege to represent Jesus Christ while teaching his gospel and serving His children. But I won’t say the time is flying by.

For our family the blessing of Ben’s mission is the increased closeness in our family and the love we have for each other. He writes the kindest, sweetest letters and we try to live up to the image he has of us.


Strangely, everyone chooses to write ‘letters to Ben’ from my email account (even Erik and Stefan). So in addition to Ben’s glorious and funny letter, I get a weekly glimpse into what each person in my family is thinking and feeling. I’ve learned about Stefan spending twelve hours a day in the library, Hans fasting for a friend, Xander’s love for the New Testament, Gabe’s new friend and Mary’s heart, “now Stefan is gone too. Our house is getting empty and it scares me.”

I especially love Erik’s letters– long epistles full of thoughts on the gospel, stories from work and expressions of love for our family. How often, in this age of cell phones and text messages do we read a thoughtful letter? I’ve learned to love Erik on a whole new level (and he misses Ben like crazy too).


Happily, Ben loves Italy, loves missionary work, loves the people. I think the next six months will go quickly for him. As Ben wrote, “Missionary work is all about bringing people to Christ and strengthening families. It seems fitting to leave my family for two years so others can be with their family for eternity.”

I’m proud of Ben, I am grateful for his opportunity to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ. But I still miss him.

September 26, 2012



  1. jen

    September 16, 2012

    You seriously do have the best boys. I’ve loved reading Ben’s letters and I’ve never even met y’all.

  2. Hot Hot JJ

    September 17, 2012

    As a mama of little ones I feel like it has been a long time since Ben has been gone. When he left my little James was just a baby!

    And I LOVE all the old photos in this post. So so so adorable!

  3. Tracy

    September 17, 2012

    You have such a beautiful family, my friend. xo

  4. Cath

    September 17, 2012

    “It seems fitting to leave my family for two years so others can be with their family for eternity.” A beautiful thought. I love your sweet family.

  5. Jeanelle

    September 17, 2012

    I’m grateful you’ve all made it to this 3/4 of the way done point and are all better through this experience. Sending love your way.

  6. Tasha

    September 17, 2012

    I think I understand a little bit…my baby is only 5 days old and I already fret a little bit about the day when he’ll have to leave on his mission. Hang in there!

  7. Claudia

    September 17, 2012

    Your pictures made me cry! Such beautiful babies! Oh my they grow up so fast. Yet when they leave, everyday seems like an eternity. xoxo

  8. Kelton

    September 18, 2012

    Anziano Lehnardt is an amazing missionary and probably the missionary that I learned the most from. Even as a “greenie” I always looked up to him.

  9. Lisa

    September 19, 2012

    And you have every right to miss him…sniff…tiny tears thinking about your reunion in 6 months!

  10. Judi

    September 21, 2012

    Oh Michelle…this post brought back to many memories of Robert. The last six months will be the best six months.
    I can’t wait to meet him. Robert has spoken so much about him and loves him so much. I think they were a blessing to one another during the time they spent together.
    Ti voglio bene!

  11. Kristin

    September 21, 2012

    Thanks for sharing. Your words and photos uplifted my spirit today.

  12. Barbara

    October 11, 2012

    My Benjamin is my fourth missionary -in the MTC since early August & heading for South Korea in a couple of weeks. He already loves the people and the language. – It doesn’t get any easier. It is what we work for, dream of, pray for; but it is hard. It is also wonderful.

  13. Juliana

    October 17, 2012

    Those emails in both directions are a treasure, aren’t they? There are many blessings of having a child on a mission, but watching family relationships grow and heal through the weekly emails is surely one of the finest.

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