Dobar Dan Sestra: Accepting the Call and What I Wish I Knew

Have you noticed an increase in Mormon missionaries recently? You haven’t yet, give it time. You’re about to get hit with a wave.

For those of you who do not know much about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or “Mormons”, I’ll catch you up on what’s going on. Every six months (April and October), there is a televised “conference” that lasts two days. Three sessions on Saturday (only two are televised over TV stations) and two on Sunday. We call this General Conference. It’s a chance for all members of the church or any one interested to hear from our Prophet, apostles, and other area leaders. Prophet? Yes, prophet. We believe God still puts prophets on the Earth and speaks to his children. This is called revelation. It’s inspiration and direction from God. Everyone is entitled to it.

This past October General Conference, Prophet Thomas S. Monson shared new revelation. Young men can start serving 2 year missions at age 18 instead of 19 as long as they have graduated or an equivalent and young women can serve 18 month missions starting at 19 instead of 21.

I never really saw it in my future to serve a mission. I wasn’t opposed, I just didn’t think I needed to worry about it for a while. However, when the Prophet made the announcement, I knew I was going. It wasn’t anything spectacular, just a knowing. I knew this is what was going to happen. It didn’t even feel new. I wasn’t the only one either. I’ve had friends and family members tell me that I came to mind when they also heard the announcement. Some friends I haven’t seen or talked to for a while.

The next Sunday I started the process. I met with my local leader, filled out questionnaires, met with a doctor, had a dental check-out, TB test, and finally met with my area leader, referred to as a Stake President.

3 weeks later I was told my mission call was assigned. The following Wednesday I got the well-known big white envelope in the mail. I stalked the mailman. I sat at the window and tracked his every movement as he drove past. He somehow was able to sneak the mail into the mailbox without me seeing. Tricky! I think the first person I told was my brother, Bryn. I can not describe the excitement that clouds the opening of the call. Bryn and I tried to figure out if I’d be serving state side or foreign. How thick is the envelope? How much did postage cost/what is the weight? Bryn guessed foreign but I really wasn’t sure.IMG_2402

If you try putting the envelope up to the light or see through the envelope, it’s not going to work. They put a thick white paper on top of the letter with the call. The people at the mission department are smart, although at the time I was thinking they were so mean.

The envelope almost did open prematurely. While on a pizza run, I put the boxes in the back with my call. The steam started to undo the seal of the envelope. Not badly though, just a corner.

Finally, it was time for the opening. Patience is near nonexistence in a situation like this. Even Grandma was about to rip it out herself. The wait seems even longer the hours the actually opening, like forever! Kind of like this post. It doesn’t help that you feel like a chihuahua on crack. The moment the last person came through the door, I was ripping open that envelope.

Perks of Face-time: Giving your dad a finger 'stache without him knowing.
Perks of Face-time: Giving your dad a finger ‘stache without him knowing.

My dad couldn’t come in person because he had some kind of flu. So he Skyped. Just as I opened the envelope, one of my nieces leaned in front of the Ipad. “Hi Grandpa!” The timing was perfect. I almost waited for her to get out of the way.

She is Face-time/Skype natural! So funny!
She is Face-time/Skype natural! So funny!

The wait had been too long and patience really was non-existent. So I ripped it open and read out loud:

Sister Farnsworth,

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints . You are assigned to labor in the Adriatic North Mission.

“What state is that in?” Before a call opening, it is customary to have friends and family guess where the missionary will be assigned. No one came even close. No one had even heard of it. I’m pretty sure I even said it wrong.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center 29 May 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Croatian language.

Thank goodness they give you a little booklet with information. My mission covers Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Serbia. My sister-in-law is Serbian! She was especially ecstatic.  The booklet also includes information like what to take, who my Mission President and his wife are and information about them. Map of the Adriatic North Mission

One of my friends and my sister-in-law had already planned my wardrobe. I didn’t get to look through that book until that night. Everyone wants to know about your Mission President and your mission and your guidelines and all such things. By the end of the night, my family and friends probably knew more about my mission then me.

Left to Right: Grandma Jackie, Sarah (the Serbian), Rachel, Me
Left to Right: Grandma Jackie, Sarah (the Serbian), Rachel, Joel (my brother) and his baby, and me

That brings me to a good point. Don’t be frustrated because your lack of knowledge about your mission area. It’s natural that you won’t know much. Don’t worry. Soon you’ll realize you know more than you think. Just when you feel confident about where you’re going, you’ll find you still no nothing at all. But that is the same with any subject.

The choice of which environment you open your call in is personal. Some like big parties with all their friends and relations and the mailman and the random guy at the store, and some prefer to open it by themselves in their bathroom or in a special spot. I, personally, feel that my mission is a very close and personal thing. So I just had my direct family (brothers, sister, in-laws, nephews, nieces, grandma, grandpa, roommates, a couple friends, and a rockin’ awesome young women leader from my young and rowdy days).

Roommates! Roommate San Diego and Allyssa!
Roommates! Roommate San Diego and Allyssa!

My biggest advice would be to enjoy the moment. So it in. It’s pretty momentous to find out where you will be spending 2 years or 18 months on a life changing adventure. So be there. Be present in the moment. I know there are a million people that want to talk to you and people you want to call, but put it on hold. They can wait. If I did anything differently, I would told anyone who called me that I would call them back later. Be with your friends and family. Put that phone and Facebook status to the side for a little while.

After the Call: "I guessed that, I just wrote it down as Ireland"
After the Call: “I guessed that, I just wrote it down as Ireland”

Going on a mission is a huge thing! Getting the call is the first step. Honestly, I didn’t care where I was getting called. I still don’t. I decided I was going to serve a mission. A mission is mission, no matter where it is served. It’s the same message and the same purpose.

I started on this journey about 6 months ago. I finally leave next month. I’m still feel like a chihuahua on crack. So if you find a overexcited, nervous, red-headed missionary that can barely spit out any Croatian, it most likely will be me, thousands of thousands of  miles away from my home. See you in about a month!

Sestra Farnsworth out!

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