Saturday, August 11, 2012
Chapter 10: A Guest Appearence by Rod Serling
Portrait of Railee Whitaker: a pampered girl from Beaverton who likes her rice with Yumm sauce and her oatmeal without sugar. But she finds herself perpetually hungry for a want of greatness in her diet; the kind of greatness found only in the selfless service and hard work of a full-time mission. What you're about to see is that hunger of the kind Railee feels can't be satisfied merely by a plane ride to an exotic beach on the humid coast of Bahia, Brazil, but by entering a portal to a dimension where reality is no longer defined by what is tangible. Railee Whitaker has crossed over the threshold of the physical world into... the Twilight Zone.
Cue spinning white door, blinking eye and eery music.
Thank you, Rod Serling, for your generous contribution to my humble blog! You're a real peach.
Anyone reading this post may think that Rod went a little overboard with his intro, but let me tell you-- his dramatics are spot on in this case! Some days I really do feel like I've kissed the "normal life" goodbye and I find myself in awe of what my new "normal is". By merely telling people (at work, on the MAX, at the park, etc) about what I'll be doing in the Fall, I end up making the bold statement that I know what I believe to be true so strongly that I'm willing to travel to a foreign country where I don't know anyone, learn another language, and go door-to-door every day to share it. As the time for my mission draws nearer, it's becoming more and more impossible to open my mouth without bearing my testimony in some way or another. The time for lukewarm neutrality has passed and I'm only just beginning to realize that what I will be for the next 18 months of my life is a walking, talking bold statement. I won't merely be a person who quietly believes in the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ-- I'll be a representative of Jesus Christ, with His name on my chest, and there will be no stepping down or blending in to the crowd. For 18 straight months, nothing will be about me or what I want. It will all be 100% about the needs of the people I am called to serve. I won't be casually checking facebook or listening to the latest music. I won't be sleeping in or going out to the movies. I'll be focusing all my energy- everything I am and all that I have- on serving the Lord, my companion, and the people of Bahia.
The wait for a VISA is a strange limbo of sorts. After that phone call to the Church Travel Office, I heard nothing from anyone about my mission. My other friends who are also preparing to leave on their missions all received letters from their Mission Presidents, greeting them and telling them what to bring with them. I, however, wasn't sure until a few days ago that my Mission President even existed! In the packet I received with my mission call, there was a blank space where a picture of my President and his wife was supposed to be, and a brief explanation that no picture was available yet because he'd only recently been called and wouldn't be set apart as the new President until July 1. After July 1, I'm sure he was a very busy man, and so I tried not to get my hopes up that a letter would come from him anytime soon.
... But early this week, a letter from Missao Brasil Salvador Sul, addressed to "Sister Railee Whitaker" appeared in the mailbox just for me. President and Sister Andrezzo hadn't forgotten about me! They're alive! They're real! Still no picture of them, but at least I've got a signature!
The letter, along with its enclosed list of 'Important Recommendations', served to reawaken the dormant enthusiasm for my mission and my mind immediately started making lists of things to pack. I've spent the day organizing my room-- setting aside clothes I can wear on my mission, putting the ones I can't into storage bins, and tossing everything else into a bag for the Goodwill. It's suddenly dawned on me just how soon I'll be leaving. And just how unprepared I am! There's still so much to do, and so much to learn. This roller coaster has such a long climb to the top that, for a while, I became deaf to the monotonous clicking. But now that I'm almost to the peak, I'm aware of it again and even as I wonder, "Why did I get on this thing?!" I can't suppress the giddy anticipation in my stomach that makes me hold on tight and squeal in girlish delight.