I spent an entire week in Florida back in October of 2010, staying at Make-A-Wish's Give Kids the World Village. My family and I spent all day every day that week in either Disney World or Universal Studios, going on ride after ride after ride with no wait in between (thanks to Risa's Give Kids the World badge). => In other words, I've been on an awful lot of roller-coasters. I've been on ones that dip, spin, spiral, go upside-down, go backwards, ones that blast forward so fast that you can't hear yourself scream, ones that wind and jerk around caves so dark you can't see a thing, ones that drop you, shoot you up, rattle, shake, and get stuck. But no matter what the roller-coaster does, I've found in my many dealings with them that the scariest part for me is always the beginning. It's that moment when you're all strapped in and trying to talk to the person next to you as a distraction from your nerves and then the coaster moves forward with an eerie click, click, click.... Every roller-coaster starts with that, even if it's only for a few short moments before it suddenly shoots you forward. I can handle the shooting part. I can handle the sensation that my stomach's been left behind. I love the thrill! After the first plunge it's all great fun and I can't get enough of it. But those first moments of anticipation--! It gives me goosebumps just to think of it.
Well, that's a bit what getting ready for a mission feels like. There's the excitement and anticipation, but also the nerves and the feeling that maybe I don't realize what I'm getting myself into. Mostly it's excitement right now.
Since I always wished someone would explain to me exactly what steps are taken to prepare for a mission, I'm going to describe how it's all gone for me up to this point. It started, of course, with the simple decision to go. After that I found myself standing there with a zealous grin on my face, waiting for it all to magically happen. Then I had to ask myself the question, "Now what?" My roommate, Jessi (who had also decided to serve a mission), and I decided to start preparing Spiritually by studying from the Preach My Gospel manual every morning before work and school. It was a little awkward at first, trying to figure out how to go about a companionship scripture study, but we figured something out that worked for both of us and have stuck to it ever since. We both felt like we were well on our way to becoming great missionaries!
After a Christmas break spent telling everyone, "I'm going on a mission!" and then feeling utterly silly in the face of their questions of "when?" and "where?"-- having to admit that I hadn't actually started my papers yet, I decided that the next course of action must be to talk to my Bishop about it. So my first Sunday back in Provo after Christmas, I set up an appointment to meet with the man, and eagerly walked to said appointment the very next Tuesday.
I wasn't sure how the interview would go, or if I was supposed to bring anything with me. I just went in and sat down. Then I wondered if there was anything special I was supposed to say.
Bishop Davis welcomed me into his office with his usual warm handshake and asked, "So, Railee, what are we doing today?"
Was that my que? Now was the time to say what I'd come for! Clasping my hands together in my lap and smiling like an idiot, I blurted, "We're talking about what I need to do to start my mission papers!"
One of the great things about Bishop Davis is how casually and matter-of-factly he handles things. He nodded his head with a smile and said, "Alright, let me ask you a few questions and we can get you all set up tonight."
He then proceeded to ask me a series of very straight-forward questions about my past and present standing with the Lord. Almost as soon as the questions began, they were done and before I knew it, Bishop's laptop was open in front of him and he was setting up my missionary account on LDS.org. He proceeded to ask me what my home Stake and Ward were, the name of my homeward Bishop, and if I would need any help from the church with funding for my mission. Then, right there in front of me, he called my homeward Bishop-- Bishop Daniels--, told him I was there in the office with him to start my mission papers, asked him what he thought of that, and they exchanged some information that they needed to set up my account. Badda bing, badda boom! It was done. Bishop Davis emailed me the link to log on to my missionary account and told me just to follow the instructions from there.
My step was as light as a feather as I made my way home in the ice and snow, singing hymns in my head and grinning from ear to ear like a buffoon. I couldn't help it! It felt GREAT! And when I got home, Jessi and I were so excited (she was going to meet with Bishop an hour later) that we sat down for another scripture study session, just for fun! Who'da thunk it? We were so giddy that we even started singing Primary songs together. What a cheesy pair we make. I'm sure our other roommates thought we were insane.
From there, it really was mostly a process of following instructions. I logged in to my missionary account and there were 5 forms for me to fill out. I pretty much did them all in one night. There's one about my ID, one about my education and service history, one about insurance, one very detailed personal health history form, and then a follow-up of that one to explain past and current health issues in more detail. Filling out that health form--! My goodness, it's certainly enough to make one feel like they're falling apart. Jessi and I were freaking out a little as we filled that one out because we'd heard that if we got "three strikes" on it, our applications would be set aside and looked at later. Oh NO!!!! What counted as a strike, we wondered?! Would that wart I had on my toe as a kid count as a strike? Would my seasonal allergies make me seem unfit for the rigorous schedule of a missionary?! It was quite stressful. In a funny kind of way.
After filling those out, it's down to just seeing a dentist and a doctor, having each of them fill out a short form that I print off for them, along with an envelope that is stamped and addressed to my Bishop, and let them take it from there. Then I just have to upload a picture of myself onto my account and wait for my call.
Maybe I'm more of a baby than most people are when it comes to setting up medical appointments, but that was definitely a click, click, click part of the process for me. First off, how do you know what doctors to see? I procrastinated making calls to doctors' offices like the crazies. I remember other soon-to-be-missionaries in this area recommending to me dentists/doctors they'd seen, but when the time came for me to actually do it, all of those girls had already left on their missions and I'd never written down the information they'd so kindly given me. Dash it all. Finally I chose Cougar Dental, a) because it's literally right down the street, and b) because Jessi highly recommended them. For my doctor I sent out a plea for recommendations from my facebook friends and the lot fell on Intermountain Family Health Clinic because their phone number was the easiest to find. Swallowing my fears that I would do something wrong, I plunged in to making the phone calls. The Dentist phone call went so well that it gave me the courage I needed to call the doctor. Boom! Before I knew it, I had two appointments set up for the very next week. I was so proud of myself for doing it on my own.
They always say Pride goeth before the fall, and "they" were right. After my dental appointment yesterday (I absolutely love Cougar Dental and would highly recommend them!), I learned that I'm going to need all four wisdom teeth removed, plus a cavity filling (my first-ever cavity), and that together it would cost a grand total of........... $892.00. Yes, those are dollars. That's with a discount they gave me for paying out-of-pocket because I don't have insurance. Ouch. And I haven't even gone to my doctor's appointment yet! Yikes.
This is about the time that the click, click, clicking is really echoing in my ears-- the part where I start to wonder if I had any idea what I was getting into and I realize it's too late to turn back now. I'm on the ride. It's moving forward. I know I'll be glad in the end, but right now my heart is rattling my ribs like a prisoner in a jail cell, screaming "Get me outta here!!!"