We sent in our mission paperwork in November of 2015, and finally received the big white envelope containing the location we were being asked to serve on the morning of December 11, 2015. Calls were made to family and friends, refreshments were baked and readied, and by that evening we had a house full of people to share the big event with us.
Along with a couple of other options, we had indicated in our paperwork that we were interested in serving in New Zealand or Samoa because we both love the South Pacific Islanders so much. Finding out that we were called (with our consent, of course) to serve in Australia was a bit of a surprise! We were also surprised to learn that it would be for 23 months instead of the 18 months senior missionaries are typically asked to serve. Since then we have learned that there are a lot of wonderful Samoan, Tongan and Maori people in Australia, along with native Australian Aborigines and those of many other cultures. I had no idea Australia was that much of a melting pot!
Bob was a bit surprised that we were called as an office couple (we had not asked for that) and would not be starting our mission until July 18th – nearly seven months away. Now as I write this post six months later, hindsight has shown that the Lord’s hand was in the timing of this call. Bob’s father, nearly 85 years old and now experiencing some memory issues, was living in a somewhat remote location over 1200 miles away from us. He nearly died from pneumonia in January before a neighbor found him, and it took two trips to visit him before he finally agreed to relocate closer to his family in the West. That entailed cleaning out and repairing his house, staging it for sale, moving him, finding a suitable assisted living facility here, and listing his home with a local Realtor. We got all that accomplished, just received an offer on his home, and expect to have the transaction completed about two weeks before we leave.
On the home front, we have also had a lot of other things to accomplish before we leave. Bob had to officially retire, and I had real estate transactions to complete (I am a Realtor). We decided to empty and rent out our home since we will be gone so long. That will also make it easier to do some remodeling before we move back in after our return. We found some good renters this past week and finally feel pretty comfortable leaving it. There have been a myriad of other details that needed to be handled as well, like additional mission paperwork, getting financial matters in order, buying the clothing we will need, etc. All of this has almost felt like a mission before the mission! I have jokingly stated that after the preparation, the mission itself should be like a vacation, in comparison. We’ll soon see! We enter the Missionary Training Center in about five weeks – and then the real adventure will begin. 🙂