"Mom, Dad, I think God is calling me to be a missionary." Granted, I had already changed my major several times, so I knew what they were thinking. Was this just one more phase I was going through? They had always told me they would support me and be proud of me, no matter what I chose to do professionally.

If my parents worried or agonized about my decision, they never let on. True to their word, they have been nothing but supportive, proud parents. "When you were young, we dedicated you to the Lord, and recognized that you belonged to Him, and that He could do with you as He pleased," they told me.

"If this is where God is leading you, then we will support you all the way." Many times, a family's first real contact with the world of missions is when their child is called to the mission field.

Chelsea Dozier, who is a new Latin America Mission (LAM) missionary in Costa Rica with her husband Tomás, says that her parents thought at first that their daughter's desire to become a missionary was only "wishful thinking." Nevertheless, as Tomás and Chelsea's calling to the field was confirmed, her parents began to share in their excitement. They made many changes in their lives in order to support their daughter and son-in-law.

They flew across the country for several months to help them in the final departure preparations, helped pack up their house, and later on, even flew to Costa Rica to bring items to them and help them settle there. But, "the most important support my parents gave was faithful prayer. I know my parents pray for me. Nothing else can be given credit for our easy transition," writes Chelsea.

LAM missionary Tracey Pieters spent several years as a single missionary in Mexico, all the while enjoying the strong support of her family back home. While in Mexico she met her husband, John, who was also a career-minded missionary.

"When I got married and told them that I was marrying someone who wanted to spend the rest of his life in missions in Latin America," writes Tracey, "they knew that I had found what my heart desired and gave, and still give, their full support."

Tracey shares one of their most significant acts of support, saying, "two years ago, after I had a serious accident in our not-very-safe van, my parents raised money from among church members and family in Canada and purchased a 1993 Voyager for us. Between my dad, two sisters and brother-in-law, they drove it to Texas, where John flew to pick it up and bring it legally into Mexico."

Legacy of Love

Many families have encouraged children from a young age to consider missions as a career.

The grandparents of Tami Palumbo, LAM missionary in Mexico City, had wanted to be missionaries in their 30s, but at the time were considered "too old" to begin missionary service. Nevertheless, they never lost their heart for missions.

"My grandmother would always tell us missionary stories when we stayed with her," Tami wrote. "She had always hoped that one of her descendants would be a missionary." Tami and her husband Mike are an answer to a grandmother's prayer. "I wouldn't trade the spiritual inheritance that I have for all the money in the world," says Tami.

Christina Burch and her husband Greg are LAM missionaries in Venezuela. Christina's parents are missionaries, so they are uniquely suited to identify with them in the joys and trials of missionary service. "It's hard on them, of course, that we live so far away," she writes. "But they encourage us, support us, give us advice, and most of all, they understand us, because they have been there!"

Bonita Byler, LAM missionary in Colombia, also came from a mission-minded family. Bonita's parents had always wanted to be full-time medical missionaries, but things did not work out. Nevertheless, they continued to promote missions from their North American home, and even took their school-age children on several short-term mission trips. As a result, they have four children, including Bonita, who have been involved, or are working toward mission involvement. And now it is the parents' turn.