Ben smiled down at the newborn baby in the hospital bassinet. Although he had sisters, he had been waiting nearly 12 years for a brother, and it was worth the wait. He picked Andrew up and cuddled him. “He’s so cute,” Ben whispered.
As Andrew grew, Ben always made time for his younger brother. After school they’d wrestle or play ball. Ben played on the school basketball team, and Andrew was his biggest fan. Ben coached Andrew’s basketball team. They called each other “Bro.” “Bro, come watch me ride my bike,” Andrew would call from the garage door.
“Be there in a second, Bro,” Ben would answer.
One of their favorite games started when Andrew was two years old. Ben would say, “I love you,” and Andrew would reply, “I love you more!” Back and forth they went, each trying to outdo the other. “I love you to the sky.” “I love you a zillion.” “I love you infinity.” Finally it was settled that “I love you the most over forever” was the absolute most you could love anyone. Whoever said that first was the winner.
Years passed, and one day a big white envelope arrived. It was Ben’s mission call! In three months he would be leaving. The family studied maps, went shopping for clothes, and bought luggage. Ben got shots and filled out papers. He had his picture taken for his passport and for the plaque on the bishop’s wall. Andrew became sadder and sadder. A couple of times he cried.
One Wednesday night Andrew went with Mom to drop his sisters off at the church for Mutual. His sister Katie said, “I can’t believe Ben will be on his mission in just three weeks!”
Andrew and Mom returned home with tears rolling down their faces. Mom sat down on the couch and put Andrew on her lap. They both cried and cried.
“I’m going to miss him so much,” Andrew sobbed. “He’s my best friend and my only brother. Besides, no one else knows how to pitch to me just right.”
Mom and Andrew talked about what a wonderful son and brother Ben was and how much they would miss him. They decided to kneel and pray for comfort. During the prayer Heavenly Father’s Spirit gave them peace. They realized that Ben would be an even better son and brother from serving the Lord. Andrew thought about how much he loved Heavenly Father. Although it was a hard thing, he wanted his brother to be a missionary and help families in Argentina.
For the next three weeks Andrew tried to be happy. Ben went to the temple and spoke in church. Suitcases were packed. The night before Ben was to leave, the stake president came over and set him apart as a full-time missionary. The stake president asked Andrew to bear his testimony. Andrew told everyone that he knew the Church was true and he wanted his brother to serve a mission. Then they ate hot cinnamon twists. Andrew called that last day “the day he wanted to never end.”
Early the next morning they all drove to the airport and flew to Salt Lake City, Utah. Then they rented a car and drove to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. Just a few miles from the center, Andrew’s tears started to drip, but he wiped them away and kept smiling. They unloaded Ben’s luggage in front of the training center and went into a big meeting room where there were hymns and prayers and brief talks. Andrew tried to be brave, but he could not keep the tears away. He sat on Ben’s lap until the mission president said it was time for the new missionaries to walk out one door and the families to walk out another. The “bros” hugged and cried and hugged some more. With tears and big smiles, they each walked out the right door.
Andrew wanted to be brave, but he cried all the way to the car. He called it a happy/sad day. He was happy because it was a good thing for Ben to do and sad because he would miss him so much. Mom and Dad reminded Andrew that because he had faith in Jesus Christ, his heart would soon feel better. Daddy quoted the words Jesus used to comfort His Twelve Apostles before leaving them. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27).
As they drove away, Andrew called out from the backseat, “Bye, Bro, love you!” There was silence for a minute. Then, in a deeper, faraway voice, Andrew answered himself with a playful grin. “Bye, Andrew, love you the most over forever!”
“On that special day when a mission call is received, parents, brothers and sisters, and grandparents gather around the prospective missionary. … Feelings are very near to the surface. Tears come easily, and the family rejoices in the bond of love and the goodness of God.”
President Thomas S. Monson, First Counselor in the First Presidency, “Today Determines Tomorrow,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 50.