“Uh oh, Grandma brought her red bag.” I said to my Aunt.
“Oh great, that devil bag.” she replies with her displease for that big red bag. Everywhere she goes, she has that bag and seems to lose everything in that bag. “She is always losing stuff in that big, huge bag of hers.”
Usually, this is the introductory comment to a delightful dining experience with the Hart family. I would usually seat next to one of my aunts, looking at the menu and waiting for my refills of Sprite to come. Usually, conversations between me and my brothers were the type where we would just give each other a hard time like who was better at the NCAA football video game or who’s football team was good or not. And at some point during all of this, my grandma would always make the comment to me, “You know, Matthew. It has been nice to have you home from your mission. It felt like you were gone for four years.”
I would usually reply, “But, Grandma, I was only gone for two years.”
“Ya, I know. But, we don’t have email and stuff like that so it felt longer.”
I would usually think on this. It was good to be back. I had missed my family. I had missed these moments of going out together and eating a delicious meal and enjoying one another’s company. Or having Christmas at our house with everyone traveling up to celebrate it with us. It was these things that I had missed for a few years.
I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I was called to serve a two-year mission in Belgium, preaching the gospel that Jesus Christ taught. The Mormon Church was not well known in these areas of the world. So, I was able to experience a different culture and way of thinking. I was raised to believe that families are eternal and that a family can be together forever. This was something that I believed and later felt that it is true during the two years of church service. Being gone from them for two years, I was only able to communicate via e-mail and two phone calls a year. Wanting to be with my family helped me realize that they were important for me.
Serving my mission was the one of the best things I have done. I realized the things that mattered most in this life. I realized that my family was the most important thing. They were always there for me during the good times and the bad times. They loved me no what happened. They would always be there for me if I needed. This is what I believe in. I believe in my family.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.