Son, in some ways we would have preferred to have you with us on this birthday, this being one of the big birthdays we celebrate. Today's the day you're no longer a teenager. Today you're two decades old.
But you're away, on an assignment for which you volunteered. Last year you were gone, too. I remember being away from home when I turned twenty. Unfortunately I don't remember it enough so I looked in my journal. When I turned twenty I was in the mission office and the mission president, a man a greatly admired who left us far too soon, gave me a chocolate cake. I got birthday cards from members in Odense and from a friend back home. I also got a package from home. This was before the age of e-mails or text messages or Facebook, so if it didn't come in the mail or by phone, that was it.
For our son, we sent packages early so he'd get it before today. And we get to e-mail him each week--an amazing thing.
Son, I hope your birthday has been fantastic! Next year you'll be home and we can eat the cake together. You're missed, but it's for a greater purpose that you're away. Take care, Son. We've got an eternity to celebrate together for all the other birthdays.