Ryan - a.k.a. Curtis, Mrmn, Citrus, etc - was set apart as a full time missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Sunday, June 21. We will share some of the advice Ryan was given at that time in an upcoming post.
[Hmm, I think I'll let Papa explain the definitions of terms some of you might not know... I could try, but y'all honestly don't want me to sort out the muddle in my mind after such a busy day, weekend, week, and month...] (With that introduction, this is Papa. To avoid confusion, I will add all my comments in parentheses and write them in italics, in the grand tradition of S. Morgenstern. If you don't understand that reference, you haven't truly lived.)
(Being "set apart" means, in practical terms, to be given a particular responsibility through an official ordinance. In theory, it means to be removed from normal life in some way and "set apart" from that normalcy. When someone is set apart as a Sunday School teacher, for example, that person steps outside their normal life for an hour each week and teaches a class. When a missionary is set apart, that person steps outside their normal life for two years and focuses on living the life Jesus lived for the three years of His mortal ministry - teaching and serving others without distraction or other responsibilities.)
Being set apart marks the official beginning of Ryan serving as a missionary, although his missionary service of two years starts when he enters the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on Wed June 24. Missionaries are called Elders or Sisters, depending on gender. (Lunchbox, just for you, to be obvious and obnoxious, as Elder DeGraw would want me to be, the "Sisters" are the women. *grin*)
Elder DeGraw, or Elder Ryan (or Elder Mrmn or Citrus or whatever your preference is), flew out of Cincinnati today, Mon June 22. He arrived safely in Salt Lake City, where he was met by my brother-in-law, niece, and nephew. He will stay with them in Orem until Wed morning, when they will take him to the MTC.
I know his decision to serve a mission is hard for some of his friends to understand completely. Please set your skepticism aside as you are able, and don't doubt that RYAN made this choice to serve. He was not forced, coerced, or brainwashed. He has many compelling reasons NOT to serve. Believe me, if HE didn't want to do this, he WOULDN'T be!
(Mama is a bit emotional about this point, so please understand. There are so many misconceptions about missions - and really Mormons in general - that it's hard sometimes to just sit back and hear the stupid stuff that gets said. It's not a reflection on any of you, necessarily.)
Know that God will watch over him. That doesn't mean that he will not have challenges (He certainly will. My mission, in many ways, was the hardest things I've done - including attending Harvard while married and working full-time, but it was the most rewarding things I'd ever done. Marrying Mama changed that, but that's for a different post on a different blog.), but he is doing a good work. I know God blesses our best efforts to do good. (no matter what they are or in what context they are offered by anyone - Brett made a profound statement Sunday before Ryan was set apart. He mentioned, in essence, that a way to honor Ryan's effort to be the best person he could be and do the most good he could do would be to do the same thing in whatever way is possible in your own lives. It might not be a full-time mission for a church, but it can be something - even if only a more concerted, intentional effort.)