My wife Terry and I received our mission call about ten days ago, on January 10, 2017. I want to let you know what that was like. Terry called me at work and said that the call letter had arrived in the mail; it was a large 9×12 envelope that was rather thick. As soon as I could break away I came home and we opened it together. Some people had suggested that we invite other family members to be with us when we opened the letter, but we wanted to be alone when we did it. It was a solemn, spiritual time for us. We prayed before opening the letter. We were looking forward to learning where the Lord would call us to serve.
The Mission Call Letters and Packets of Information
Terry and I both received separate letters from President Thomas S. Monson–each signed personally by him. He told us that we were called to serve for eighteen months in the Texas Fort Worth Mission, to serve in the Seminaries and Institutes of Religion program. We were told that we would work under the direction of President Darrell Whitney and his wife, Sally. We remembered that several months ago when we looked through the hundreds of missionary opportunities for seniors that one of those needs was in Denton, Texas, a suburb north of Fort Worth. We are to report to the MTC in Provo, Utah on Monday, March 6, 2017.
Terry and I had dozens of questions, so we quickly read through the packet of information and instructions that had been sent with the letter from President Monson. The information in the packet was general information that applied to most senior missionaries. A lot of it was detailed, but we still had many questions that it did not answer. We knew that we would get a letter from the mission president that would provide additional information. We have yet to receive that letter, but we expect to receive it shortly. After we read the packet, we went on line and sent in our acceptance letter. The packet instructed us to begin some online pre-mission training and finish reading or read again The Book of Mormon. Later that day, we called all of our children about receiving the mission call, and we emailed our siblings about it.
Finalizing Financial Arrangements
Although we had been making many arrangements to be able to go on a mission beginning March 1st, there still remained a lot to do, and there are some matters that have not yet been adequately arranged. For example, we need to rent our home for 18 months, and I need to obtain payments from several outstanding legal matters–payments that are critical to our being able to support ourselves for the next year and a half. We made inquiries, and located a property management company with whom we listed our home for rent. We are trying to decide where to put our furniture, books and papers that need to be stored–we haven’t made those decisions yet. In the meantime, we have begun a major project of sorting our stuff, and throwing out a lot of it. We don’t want to pay to store stuff that we would throw away after we return from our mission–we want to throw it away now.
With regard to the business payments that we are expecting–some of these are payments that I have mostly earned, but for which I don’t control the exact time when payment is made. Yesterday, I received the notice that two of those payments were about to be made. Receiving this notice has been a great relief to me. The last big financial matter is for us to rent our home. This needs to happen in order for us to avoid a major drain on our finances. But we know that the Lord knows of our need, and we are expecting him to bless us with a rental.
Learning Details of the Work We’d Be Doing
About a week after receiving our call, I called Elder Ayres, the brother in Salt Lake who helps to coordinate with the senior couples working in the Seminaries and Institutes program. We had spoken with him several times before, beginning in October, as we were inquiring into mission opportunities. Brother Ayres continued to be helpful and gracious, in responding to our questions. When I called him last week, he said that I should call Brother Kevin Clayton, the Director of the Institute at Denton, Texas. Brother Ayres said that Brother Clayton was anxious to talk with us, and that now that we had accepted the call that this type of pre-mission communication was proper and was encouraged.
We called Brother Clayton, and had a telephone call with him of almost an hour. He answered many of our questions–including giving more specifics about what we would be doing. He said that we would spend most of the week days from 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Institute building, and that we would do some team teaching, and that we would be the host and hostess of the Institute building–providing love and friendship and support to about 150 LDS college students who would be regularly visiting the Institute for classes and for friendship. He said that we would be replacing another couple, Brother and Sister Bond, and that we would be moving into the apartment where they are currently living. In addition to responding to our many questions, Brother Clayton said several times that he is excited and anxious to meet us and that he knows that the Lord has called us to come and work with the students at the Denton Institute. Brother Clayton is about the same age as several of our children, and we are impressed with the words he said, and with his enthusiasm, and faith and love.
Still Much to Do to Prepare to Leave
Terry and I feel like we have a lot to do before we leave for the mission, but we are excited about the mission call. The task of sorting and storing all our stuff is quite daunting. We are also trying to figure out what we will bring on our mission with us. We have more latitude than the single missionaries in deciding what to bring with us, although we may have to ship some of the things. In our case, we have a number of books and resource files that we want to bring.
Now that we have received our mission call, our bishopric asked Terry to speak in church last week, and I will speak in church next Sunday. (See Jimmy’s related post on missionary farewell talks.)
Once the Church received our acceptance, we began to get additional information online and in the mail (e.g. instructions about travel and about needing to get the flu shot before entering the MTC). We are currently considering driving to Utah–going through Peoria, Illinois (where one of our sons lives); visiting Nauvoo, Illinois; visiting Independence, Missouri; visiting Mormon Grove, Kansas (where some of my ancestors are buried); and then visiting the families of two of our children in Utah. Four of our children are expecting babies at this time. We hope to be able to meet one new arrival (projected delivery date of February 26th) in Utah, just before entering the MTC.