Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Preparing to Serve

Micaela felt a strong desire to serve a mission and she worked hard to get her paperwork completed as soon as possible. She asked the stake president to text her when he submitted her papers and when she didn't get the expected text she sent him a text to remind him. She asked that her call be sent to her dorm room at Utah State and when the call arrived on September 17, 2014, we gathered in five separate locations via Google Hangouts to hear where she would be serving for 18 months.

She was concerned that she would be called to an Asian country because the food would be really difficult for her. I was hoping that she would be called to Brazil. My mother (Micaela's grandmother) joined the church when she was a sixteen-year-old girl in Brazil and none of her children or grandchildren have been called to serve there. Micaela is the youngest grandchild and my mom's last chance. However, when Micaela read that her call was to Argentina Cordoba it felt just right for her. She was so excited! She loves Spanish and two of her brothers served in Spanish-speaking countries (Chile and Mexico). My brother served in Argentina, my brother-in-law served in the Cordoba mission and Micaela was taking an Institute class from him at the time. Everyone she knew who served in Argentina raved and raved about how much they loved the people, the food and the country. And those who served in Cordoba raved about the beauty of the singsong accent in that part of the country.
Ben and Deanna were the only family members who were there in person.
Ryan provided the appropriate sound effects during the conversation. We all appreciate his humor and easy ways.

Besides shopping, there was a lot Micaela had to do to prepare. To apply for a visa to Argentina, she needed an apostille (obtained at the State Capitol Building) and had to send several sets of fingerprints to the FBI.
Micaela and her roommate, Emari, in front of the State Capitol Building
Micaela took temple preparation classes and then she received her endowments on November 29, 2014. It meant so much to have her siblings and their wives and her Grandma Povey there with her.

After consulting with a lot of returned sister missionaries she decided to cut many inches off the length of her hair.

The last week before Micaela left we learned even more about what she would be encountering as a missionary in Argentina.

Our neighbor, Sister Reay, served as a missionary in northern Argentina and she told us about La Brioche, an Argentine Bakery in Orem, so Micaela and I met Don and Duff there for lunch. We tried the sandwich de milanesa and the choripan (a sausage sandwich) and some pastries. The waitress was from Uruguay and she was so excited about Micaela's mission call that she brought us a couple of empanadas on the house.

Duff's nephew's father-in-law (got that?) served as a mission president in Cordoba, Argentina a few years ago and Duff's sister, Pam, invited us over to meet him. He gave us a slideshow, showed us some souvenirs, and loaned us a beautiful book on Argentina. It was so kind of him to share his love of Argentina with us.

And our neighbor, Brother Miller, one of the most enthusiastic returned missionaries we've known, had us over for Family Home Evening two days before she left. He has the best attitude and said a lot of things that Micaela needed to hear. He told her that if she wasn't scared she was crazy and if she didn't have a ton of fun she was crazy too. When he served as a missionary he made a very conscious decision, over and over again, to love the people, the country and his experience there. We asked a ton of questions and the answers were so reassuring for all of us.

As the date of departure approached Micaela started to get very nervous and she told President Top how she was feeling. He very sensitively addressed all her feelings at her setting apart on January 27, 2015. He blessed her with the ability to speak equally as well in Spanish as English and the ability to communicate with words and with the Spirit--and so much more! Micaela's siblings had come over beforehand to give her advice and spend a little time with her. She feels things deeply and the separation was deeply felt.

On Wednesday, January 28, 2014, we went to Zupas for lunch one more time (her favorite place) before dropping her off. We were all trying very hard to keep our emotions in check. After lunch, Micaela checked her missionary email and there was a letter from a high school friend serving a mission in Texas. Even though she hadn't expressed to him how she had been feeling he wrote the exact words she needed to hear. A tender mercy. When we arrived at the MTC a man motioned for us to stop and roll down the window. He leaned into the back of the car and said to Micaela, "You are going to change lives, like some missionaries did mine and my wife's years ago." Another tender mercy. We stopped, pulled out Micaela's luggage and a sister missionary going to Brazil took this one photo before whisking her away.

She turned back to give me her final message:
She learned this ASL sign for "I really love you" when she was little and she would always sign that when I dropped her off at school or other activities.

That almost sent me over the edge, but I held back until we started to drive away and then both Duff and I started to sob. We will miss her so very much! Some people question why we would support and encourage our children to leave home and family and sacrifice 1 1/2-2 years of their lives to missionary service. It's because we have experienced the blessings of the Gospel and we are deeply grateful to the missionaries who brought that Gospel to our families.

"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!"--Doctrine and Covenants 18:15

We know that, as hard as it is, a mission can provide tremendous growth opportunities that will benefit the missionary for the rest of their lives. In so many respects it is a labor of love.

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