At our home we have a wall, not just any wall, it's our Missionary Wall...sometimes irreverently referred to as "The Shrine" by my other children yet to pin their photos. I should explain. We have a lot of returned missionaries in our family and many, MANY neices and nephews who are growing up much too quickly. Mason would be the first missionary grandchild on my side of the family to serve a mission and I wanted to show where he was serving and where others had served before him.
We purchased a very large map at a local school supply store (Utah Idaho Supply). I bought the laminated version because I wanted to protect it as I didn't plan on putting glass over it. I also picked up some gold map pins while there to used for marking where the missionaries had/were serving. I just used a heavy embroidery floss in a coordinating color to span from the pin to their photo. I took the map to my local frame shop (FrameWorks of Utah) and we sketched out what I invisioned.
First I needed to figure out how much mat I wanted showing between the map and the frame itself. I figured that most people have a wallet size photo and so allowed enough room to mount the photo as well as a name/place tag under that. I contacted all of my family members (on both sides of the family) who had served missions and requested a photo. They can just email one to you and you can print it out. If they send you an original please be very careful with it and return it promptly. I only contacted our direct line i.e. Grandparents, parents, aunts/uncles and cousins. If I did our extended family...well, that would just be too many missionaries! I do have a few that I haven't received photos from yet...I just printed out a tag anyhow and someday I'm sure they'll come across a photo. Everything is just mounted onto the mat (which has a slick surface) with photomounts so they are easy to reposition and move around when I need to squeeze another missionary in - so their strings don't cross over each other 'cause I'm really anal and that would just drive me bonkers! When everyone came over for Mason's 'Grand Opening' of his mission call, I had the cards with photos and places ready and those that were there got to attatch their own photos and strings. Then Mason opened his call, and attached his photo and pinned his mission, and I cried. It was a pretty amazing evening and the cousins look forward to their chance to be on the Missionary Wall.
Here's a cost saving hint: Try to find a composite frame i.e. one not made out of wood. Mine looks beautiful, I think. It's actually a plastic composite and is very light and very inexpensive. You could also go to a thrift store and purchase a picture in a frame; take the picture out, spray paint the frame any color you desire, take the frame to the frame shop and they will mount your map and mat for you. Even better!
As usual with my hairbrained ideas, what started out as something simple morphed into something bigger but in this case better because we all actually really love what it morphed into. My son Connor, came up with the brilliant idea to mark the temples. I loved it! I went back to the school supply store and purchased more pins: White = temples in opperation, Brown = temples under construction, and Yellow = temples announced. We had an amazing evening one night pinning all of the temple pins. My daughter, Rebekah had the list of current temples and she would read them out while the younger kids found the location and pinned it with the appropriate color pin. After finishing we stood back and were amazed at how the world is literally dotted all over with temples. One of the kids said, "Look at all of the places in the world where there are wars and contention. Look how far away they are from a temple. The temple really does bring peace." Out of the mouths of babes...One of our favorite parts of General Conference is when they announce the dedicated and new temples. We stand ready at our map to change colors and insert new pins.
Now, my cute little Matthew has opened his call and guess what? He got to attach his photo and pin his mission and I cried again. What an amazing adventure he's about to begin!