Friday, March 24, 2017

The big, white envelope

It has been Julianne's dream to serve a mission, ever since she was a little girl. When the age requirement was lowered from 21 to 19 for sister missionaries, it just solidified her determination and spiked her excitement. Watching her older sister Rebekah decide to serve and then spend 18 months in London made it all that much more real. She had many debates as to when to submit her papers. Should she go as soon as she turned 19 in February? Or should she finish out the school year at Utah Valley University (which would also give her more time to spend with Rebekah who returned in December) and then leave in May? I think one of the main deciding factors ended up resting with the fact that she was the Relief Society President in her YSA ward and felt like she wanted to see the year through as she was very much enjoying her calling and her association with the sisters she was serving. And waiting through that second semester ended up being a good thing for many happy reasons.

Julianne's mission papers were submitted on Sunday, March 5th and we began the nail biting wait. Rebekah's call arrived only 10 days after her papers were submitted but we knew, seeing as Julianne's were going in during a busier season, that it might take a little longer. And so we weren't surprised when the big, white envelope took an extra week to arrive and showed up in our mailbox on Thursday, March 23rd. Julianne was delighted when I called her, and immediately made arrangements to leave work early down in Provo so she could make the drive home. Rebekah also drove down from Logan and we opened the call that night, just the six of us. Julianne decided that tradition notwithstanding, she really just wanted to keep it to immediate family.

We had all been throwing out guesses for weeks...some silly, some serious. We had polled family and friends on social media and had a map full of predictions as to where Julianne would serve.

She ripped open that big, white envelope.
She started reading out loud.
And then she stopped.
And smiled.
And then started to giggle...which turned into a pretty good laugh.
All of us watching her, still in suspense...waiting, waiting, waiting...while she had a momentary giggle fit.

She was laughing because she realized that in all our silly mission guessing and wondering from days previous, she had indeed guessed her mission:

"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 New Jersey Morristown Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months.

You should report to the Mexico Missionary Training Center on Tuesday, June 27, 2017. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the Spanish language."

She was absolutely convinced that she was going to get called to a Spanish speaking mission. So much so that despite the fact that she'd had 4 years of junior high and high school French under her belt, she signed herself up for a beginning Spanish class at UVU her second semester. She envisioned herself serving somewhere Central or South America...similar to her HEFY humanitarian trip to Belize last summer. But in our guessing games of where she would go, she had very literally mentioned New of many odds and end places she threw out as we we toyed around with thoughts of what different missions would be like.

At first I thought Julianne was trying to get a rise of me...that maybe she was joking. But no, New Jersey it really and truly was! Spanish speaking, even! Of all the many predictions that had come in from friends and family, not a single person had guessed New Jersey. Only Julianne.

The New Jersey Morristown Mission was created from parts of the New York, New York Mission and the Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Mission. Bryan served in Philadelphia, Spanish speaking, 25 years ago. The lower half of New Jersey was in his mission and he spent his last few transfers in Atlantic City. His first reaction to Julianne's call was to sigh and say, "She is so going to get mugged." I don't think it fazed Julianne much. She was too excited.

She was also very excited to realize that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are in her mission. They have sister missionaries serving on Ellis Island to help visitors in their family history research as they look through immigrant records and documents. A copy of Julianne's social security card was among the paperwork that she needed to immediately send back to her mission home so they could have a background check done on her in preparation for her to serve.

She is New Jersey bound...with a quick stop in Mexico City. My Julianne will be a Hermana, and she couldn't be more pleased and excited.

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