Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chapter 5: The Call

My Chi was at peace when I woke up yesterday morning. I didn't stress about whether my call would come or not, and I went to the temple with Jessi. Then I went home, had some breakfast, and ran some errands in the gorgeous, sunny weather. When I saw that the Monticello swimming pool was no longer suffocated by a black winter tarp, but full of crystalline blue water, I knew it was a sign of good things. Even if it's not open yet, seeing a full swimming pool connotes warmth and Summer joy. After that I went to town doing my Spring Cleaning around the apartment, accompanied by the recorded voices of Prophets from last October's General Conference (next Semi-annual General Conference this weekend! I can't wait to be there in person!). There's something deeply satisfying in hearing Elder Jeffery R. Holland's voice spur you to "Come join the ranks!" while you're scraping a stubborn dirty pan with an S.O.S. steel-wool pad.
Finally, at around 3:45, Jessi very innocently asked me if I wanted to check the mail. "I'll do it with you," she offered when she saw my hesitation. The day was going so well, I was afraid to tarnish it with the echo of an empty mailbox resounding in my ears. But, sucking in some big gulps of air, I excused myself from Elder Keith B. McMillin (with an assurance from him that he would be there to continue his talk on the power of the Aaronic Priesthood when I got back, should I return empty-handed) and walked, barefoot, out to the mailbox with Jessi.
I considered my bare feet to be another sign of good things because, as everyone knows, when it's warm enough for you to walk outside without shoes, then all is right with the universe.
I stood beside Jessi as she unlocked our mail cubby and then, as our eyes fell on the big, white envelope sitting atop a pile of junk mail and newspapers, I think we were both too stunned to do anything for a few milliseconds. And then, quite unexpectedly to myself, I screamed. Then I screamed again. "Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! It's here!!!" I snatched up the envelope to be sure it was real and Jessi and I jumped up and down, squealing and hugging like little girls! It was a beautiful moment.
I thought it would be torture to wait for the next three hours to open it with my family on video chat, but it was actually ok. I felt very calm about it and even though I had no idea where I was going to go, I felt very certain that I would know it was right when I opened it. I finished cleaning the kitchen and living room, ate some food, took a shower, and then tried to set up the video chat on google nice and early so I wouldn't have to waste time messing with it when my sister, Reana, called me on her break. Sadly, when it comes to technology, 20 minutes is not sufficient prep time and 40 minutes later I was still fiddling with two computers and juggling phone calls as dear friends poured into my living room to watch my pitiful display. Despite my obnoxious advertising on Facebook, I was genuinely shocked at how many people actually came to watch me. It was very touching. And embarrassing.
So, after much ado... here's the video!

It really was like watching the Brady Bunch, having my family in all these little video squares on my computer screen, talking all at once and getting frustrated when they can't hear each other or me over their own voices. Ha ha ha! You can hear them much better on that video clip than I could hear them in person. I didn't realize dad was trying to tell me they couldn't hear me as I read the letter. But Reana's break was almost over by that point anyway, so it's a good thing I just spit it out and got it over with.

It doesn't feel real yet. Coincidentally, my brother served his mission in Brazil, and I'm super excited to be able to speak Portuguese with him when I get back. And my roommate's sister has been serving a mission in the Salvador South Brazil mission, just like I will be, and I've been reading all of her blog posts for the past several weeks. It's very thrilling to think that I'll be in all those places I've been reading about! But oh, September seems sooo faaar awaaay.... Hopefully this enthusiasm I feel right now won't waste away over the next five months!

I'll try to keep busy. I still have a million immunizations to get, and then there are the visa and passport that I still have to acquire. I hear it can take up to three months just to get those, so I'm going to get those processes started right away!

Brazil. I can't believe this is really happening!!!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Chapter 4: Inner Peace

It's been two weeks since my mission papers were sent in, and I still have yet to find that big, white envelope smiling up at me from my mailbox. Over these past days, my feelings about my mission call have seen every color of the rainbow, every measurement of the Richter Scale, every letter of the alphabet, every musical pitch, every country in the world! During the process of completing my papers, I genuinely didn't even care where I would be called to serve. All I wanted was to go out and teach like the crazies. The excitement of having made the decision to go was all-consuming. Any mention of missionaries or the Gospel sent me into an excited tizzy. That was the first stage.

The next stage required a little more effort to get my endorphin fix. Pinning pictures of missionary tags on my Pintrest board was no longer enough. I wanted to imagine what my own mission would be like, but I couldn't ever get past walking through the doors of the MTC (Missionary Training Center), because what I'll be doing there depends on whether I'll be learning a foreign language or not. For a while I was able to satisfy my desire to imagine by reading other missionaries' blog posts from all over the world.

Stage three found me doing indexing and family history work to keep my mind off of imagining myself in Germany. I knew that once I started envisioning myself somewhere-- anywhere--, I'd be disappointed to be called somewhere else. In the end, I know I'll love my mission no matter where I go, and I know I'll be excited. But I live in fear that the glorious moment of opening my call will be ruined with even the briefest moment of disappointment. So it's best not to have any expectations at all.

About two hundred stages later, every day becomes more and more a struggle to achieve Mission Call Nirvana. I try closing my eyes and "ohmm"ing. I try mental flashcards of every possible area I can think of and what makes it special. I try to keep an open, clear mind. Mostly, I try not to think about it. But from every side, my chi is disturbed by the question, "So, did you get your mission call yet?" Or "Do you know where you're going yet?" Or "When do you leave?" Or "Where do you want to go?" (That one's the worst.)
"I want to go wherever the Lord sends me." No one ever wants to hear that one, but I repeat it anyway, hoping that if I say it enough, the inner peace will come and when my mission call sends me to Provo, UT or Boise, ID, I will be thrilled beyond belief! That's the goal.

I hope my call comes today, but if it doesn't, I guess that will give me more time to practice patience and achieve inner peace until I can (in the words of Master Shifu) "harness the flow of the universe."

I only wanted the first few minutes of this video, but... ya know... I don't know how to get that....