Tuesdays are now the most exciting day of the week, simply because that’s the morning an email from Elder Ben drops in my inbox. With only thirty minutes of computer time, his letters are rushed, uncharacteristically filled with typos and sentence fragments.

He’s doing well– the language is coming easily, the food is OK– and he misses us. He misses us a lot.

Someone advised me to never say that I miss him in a letter. I don’t know what to think of that advice. It’s good to know that people love and miss you– certainly not to say, “I’ll die if you don’t come home.”– but to express, “I care about you; I notice your absence.” But I’ll try not to say it too much.

I’ve been writing him almost every day using dearelder.com (a very cool, free service that prints out my letter and delivers it to the MTC every day), assigning a sibling to write each afternoon and sending care packages.

Ben was so excited and eager to go that the initial separation was not as hard as I had anticipated. After all, I’ve been through much worse.

But the reality of two years, twenty-four months without my boy, is settling in. People tell me that the time will fly by, but I know that’s not true. The boy across the street left in June of 2009– my world has cracked and changed in unimaginable ways since then. Loved ones have left this earth and been born into it. The axis of the earth has literally shifted for all of us.

And besides, I can’t wish these two years away. I have a houseful of people who need me and I want to create a home that they too, will miss when they leave.

Some time soon, I’ll set up an Elder Ben blog to archive his missionary letters and photos.
But for now, I am keeping his words close to my heart, unsure what to share and what to reveal. Already, his second letter was less personal than the first. And though I am sorry that he was homesick that first week, I think I’ll always treasure those words, “I miss just talking to you, Mom. You really are the best.”

Do you think the other Elders envy Ben’s fantastically decorated envelopes?

If you have the time and inclination to write Ben, he would absolutely love it (no haters please). You can use dearelder.com or mail it to:

Provo MTC Box #106
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT 84604
March 26, 2011
March 31, 2011



  1. martha corinna

    March 30, 2011

    You are a good mother Michelle. I hope that my children will one day say they miss talking to me, hopefully because they are serving missions and not because they just are not talking to me anymore.

  2. Judi

    March 31, 2011

    ben is a lucky young man to have such a wonderful mother. italy is waiting for him, and needs him! maybe he will be with my robert in may or sometime down the road…un abbraccio forte!

  3. Carrigan Clan

    March 31, 2011

    You can do this! I hear the first 3 months is the hardest. At least you know you fill a space in his heart that only his mother could fill 🙂

  4. Judi

    April 1, 2011

    oh, i forgot to tell you, that once ben is in italy, wednesday will be your favorite day, and the emails come around 3-4 am our time, usually, depending on p-day activities and conferences, etc…but you won’t sleep on tuesday night/wednesday morning because you will be so anxious for that email…hugs! hope you’re doing okay!

  5. Rachelle

    April 3, 2011

    You and Ben look a lot alike. Sometimes I have to leave your blog and come back later to comment because I can’t face the emotions just yet. You are a very gifted writer, Michelle, and I feel what you feel. :o)

  6. Life Trekking Mama

    April 4, 2011

    What an awesome mother & son pic!

    Keep smiling & thanks for sharing Elder L’s mailing address.

    Best wishes to all you guys!

    Cuz’n A.

  7. Mitchell Family

    April 4, 2011

    Thanks for posting his address. The sticky note with his address has disappeared. Now I always know where to find it.

  8. Tifani

    April 6, 2011

    I’m saving Ben’s address and plan to send a letter when I can, but there are no promises that it will be eloquent.

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