Lauren opened her mission call yesterday! It arrived at noon via UPS (thanks to my Mom, who forwarded it along from my parents' house) on the first day of our three-week winter break. True to form, Lauren didn't want a huge hoopla so we just gathered our family here and a few sleepy people who were still awake in the states (my parents and Lauren's friend Mike) joined us via Skype and phone at 4 p.m. Australian time.
She opened the envelope and read out the call, her voice brightening as she scanned ahead to the mission location:
You are assigned to labor in the Macon, Georgia mission...[reporting on] Wednesday, August 21, 2013.
She's thrilled and delighted. We all are! It feels like just the right place for her. She was entirely willing to go anywhere but, when pressed, over the last month or two she always mentioned the southern US as an area where she would love to go (that, and the Hawaii Visitor's Center. But that's a given!)
When I was at Tufts I was asked by a professor to do a guest lecture on the cultural sociology/anthropology of Mormonism. The students in the course had been studying different cultures through the lenses of independence and interdependence so I prepared at length to describe how Mormon families & congregations operate in a unique blend of both independence and interdependence.
It went well and the students were engaged in the topic (which I always found true at Tufts--openness to and fascination with ideas in general translated to the same respect and genuine curiosity about my religion in particular). When I got in front of this group of 70 undergraduates and it got to question & answer time, however, what they really wanted to hear about was missions. They were fascinated by the fact that young adults their age volunteer (no pay?!) to go somewhere they're assigned (they don't get to choose?!) for 18 to 24 months (in their late teens/early 20s?!), with a companion you may or may not get along with (but have to spend every waking moment with?!), phone contact home only twice a year (not even texting??!), no dating (what?!) and a full-time schedule of teaching and service.
It really is such a curious thing to put the very geography of your next 18 months in someone else's hands. I mean, they could just list all the available slots and have people volunteer for them (as they do with senior couple missionaries). But it's one of many acts of faith--of handing over your own will in a very real way--that begins the turn to selfless mission experience.
Let the devil-goes-down-to-Georgia + midnight-train-to-Georgia jokes commence!