Rebekah's LDS mission papers (application and subsequent recommendations by doctors, dentist, bishop and stake president) went in on Sunday, January 25th. An average time to receive the big, white envelope in the mail containing the official mission call is about 2.5 weeks. But Rebekah's friend Casey had just received her mission call a couple of weeks earlier...and it only took 1.5 weeks for it to show up in her mailbox. The fact that Rebekah's papers were going in to the church headquarters during a slower time (all those potential graduating high school seniors still had a few weeks before they could start submitting their papers) meant that likely Rebekah's call would maybe come sooner than the average time and more like Casey. At least that's the conclusion I came to as it all swirled around in my brain. It also may have had to do with a healthy dose of anxiousness and hope. That big, white envelope was going to change my daughter's life and tell her what she'd be doing and where for the next year and a half so yes, the sooner I could start wrapping my brain around the specifics, the better!
(Filling out the various applications and forms on-line. And then some blood work as part of the required doctor's exam.)
Another statistic of mission calls...normally they come on a Wednesday. So 1.5 weeks after those fateful papers had been submitted I parked myself in front of my laptop which just so happens to sit next to a big, front window to watch for the mailman. Luckily ours comes early-ish...like 9:30-10:00. But the big, white envelope was not delivered on that Wednesday. Swallowing my disappointment, I texted Rebekah (who was waiting equally anxiously in Logan) to tell her that the call had not arrived that day, but maybe the next? Thursdays were not as normal for mission calls but Casey's call had come on a Thursday...so there was still hope. But the next day there was no big, white envelope peeking out of the mailbox either. Rebekah and I were both frustrated. Which was silly, of course. Because we knew well that normally it takes another full week for a mission call to come. We had elevated our hopes after watching Casey's situation. Throughout that Thursday I had multiple people try to rally my spirits by sharing with me stories of mission calls arriving on Fridays and sometimes even Saturdays. But I had determined to steel myself for another week of waiting. Waiting is hard!
Regardless, I watched closely for the mailman on Friday morning....just in case. I got a text from Rebekah, "Has the mail come yet???" Funny enough, I had just seen the mailman across the street just seconds earlier and was waiting for her to make the rounds through a couple of cul-de-sacs before u-turning onto our side of the street. She must have had to stop to run a delivery up to someone's door because I swear it took her longer than normal to get to our house. I actually started thinking she had passed by without my noticing and went out to check. Nothing. Sigh.
But then a few minutes later, around she came. I tried to put on a semblance of nonchalance as I walked back outside...hoping but trying not to hope as I opened the mailbox. But lo and behold....there it was! On a Friday! The BIG, WHITE ENVELOPE!
Rebekah's anxiety in Logan notwithstanding, I took a few seconds to snap a couple of pictures and then quickly texted her one of them....a picture being worth a thousand words in this case. Her reply text went something like this: "OH MY GOODNESS!!! (: I'M SO EXCITED! (: (:"
And then suddenly all my anxiety went away and I was filled with peace. I was all sorts of excited for her to open the call because I could hardly wait to see where she was going and when she would leave, but the waiting was finally over. I stuck the big, white envelope up on the mantle and started calmly cleaning the house and making preparations for the friends and family who would likely be coming over later to watch Rebekah open the mission call and rejoice with us.
We set the time for 8:00PM. I kept track of all the guesses that came in through Facebook and Instagram throughout the day and we put colorful little post-it note stickers on a big map detailing those guesses...86 in all. My personal guess? I was pretty set on Washington. I was fairly certain she'd go state side. But if in fact she did go foreign, Ireland.
After everyone arrived we went downstairs...time for the big moment. Everyone whipped out their phones to take pictures or video and Rebekah ripped open that big, white envelope. I could see the look of excited amazement on her face and in her voice as she read aloud and her brain processed where she was going about half a second before she announced it to us.
"Dear Sister Croft,
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 England London Mission. In addition to your calling to share the gospel, you will be assigned to serve in the Hyde Park Chapel Visitors' Center."
Oh my goodness, I did not see that one coming. I'm not sure Rebekah did either. My sister-in-law Kari offered to take pictures with my camera for me so I could just focus fully on the big announcement...she said she was planning to take pictures of Rebekah but also my reaction the news, as the missionary mother. I'm afraid all her pictures of me are blurry because I was jumping up and down.
Let me type that again....LONDON!!! The land of Harry Potter and Doctor Who and the Beatles and the Royal family.
I mean, seriously. How cool is this? Bryan and I visited London back in 1999 and despite the fact that I was teased as being "from the colonies" when I stopped in to check out Big Ben and the House of Parliament, I was completely enamored of London. From a history stand point, I have a huge amount of respect for the way Londoner's particularly handled the Blitz during WWII...their stoicism or "stiff upper lip"...their Keep Calm and Carry On that has become so popular lately. From a family history standpoint Rebekah's ancestors come from Ireland and Sweden but also and especially England. I could not be more thrilled that London specifically and England generally was going to become an important place to our family. And from a parent perspective, how perfect...to send off a daughter to have a foreign experience, but not have to learn a new language and to a place where we don't have to worry quite as much for her safety or health. We all were just over the moon with this news!
We celebrated and took pictures and talked all at once and very loudly...so excited were we all. Eventually we calmed down and things settled into a dessert party of sorts with pie and cookies upstairs in the kitchen and lots of conversation.