Monday, May 27, 2013

The Mission Call Opening - 26 May 2013

For over 19 years our family planned on, dreamed of, and anticipated the day that Jonathan would receive his mission call.

Serving a mission in the LDS church is somewhat expected, because our Lord and prophets have asked that all eligible and worthy young men serve a mission. However, that being said, missions are still very much voluntary. We have known plenty of young men who chose not to serve, either because the choices they made rendered them unworthy, or because they simply didn't want to. My brother and father included.  While that may not be the happiest of occasions, we still love and support those who chose to not serve. It is not to us to pass final judgment.  

But when a young man makes consistent choices throughout his 19 years leading up to this milestone event, somewhat of a "right of passage" for Mormons, it is a very big deal. It represents their faith, their endurance, their commitment to the Lord they profess to worship and their wisdom in understanding that the self-sacrifice they will make for these two years is more than worth it, because the blessings that pour forth because of it cannot be enumerated.  In our family we rather think of serving a mission as your 'tithing' on your life as a young Priesthood holder. And as the Lord has promised, whenever you obey Him, He bless you and enlighten you even further. 

So it is that on May 24, 2013, Jonathan's Mission call arrived in the mail!  Bob was so excited he threatened to open it, steam it open, rip it open, whatever ... read it, then seal it back and pretend it had been left untouched for Jonathan to open. Haha! Silly Daddy!

Leading up to receiving this call, in October of 2012, our prophet and President of the Church, Thomas S Monson, made the worlwide announcement from the pulpit during the Semi-annual World General Conference that the age of eligible young men for serving missions would be lowered to 18 now, rather than the normal 19, and that for young women the age would be lowered from 21 to 19.

Our family was excitedly surprised.  We talked with Jonathan, who was just about to turn 19 in about 5 more months, and decided he should pray to see if the Lord wanted him to serve right away, or to follow his plan of attending one more semester at college, and then turn in his mission papers and be ready to serve that following Summer.  Jonathan informed us that he felt very strongly he should go ahead and start working on turning in his mission papers.  So that is where we began to focus.

What normally would take 2-3 weeks, ended up taking Jonathan 6 months. It seemed that every time he was ready to take the next step, SOMETHING would come up or happen that impeded it. Really, it was rather eery.  However, we FINALLY got it all together the way it needed to be, and where it needed to be, and the paperwork went in.

Within 2 weeks we received the call in the mail. GLO - RI - AH!!!

Next step:  Inviting a few of his closest friends to attend a short Open House to watch Jonathan open his mission call!

As his parents, Bob and I were so excited, and so proud of our boy. Proud and THANKFUL that he had made such honest and righteous decision in his life that got to him to this point. Proud and THANKFUL that Jonathan DESIRES to serve the Lord, to learn of Him, and to love Him with all his heart, might, mind, and soul. Does ANYTHING in this world ever bring greater joy to a parent than to know and witness that their child desires to follow the Lord above all else and actually does it?  I think not. (That's not to say Jonathan is perfect. Far from it. None of us are. But he repents, he tries, and he keeps getting up anytime he falls, and he is HONEST, and KEEPS HIS COVENANTS he's made with the Lord this far, and DESIRES to do what it right. SO THANKFUL for him!)

So here is the Open House for the Mission Call Opening with Family and Closest Friends:

And here he is opening his Mission Call!  (You will see him holding a cell phone - that's because his very close and special friend, JK, couldn't be there for the opening, and so she called in on her cell phone in order to hear him read his call. Thank you, JK, that was very special and it meant A LOT to Jonathan!)
Let's see who guessed closest where I'll be serving my mission!...

"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 California Bakersfield Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 24 months."

Right here, he's got "the man lump" in his throat, as the Spirit had just testified to him that THIS is exactly where the Lord needed him to serve!  He is also thanking everyone for coming to support him.
We thank Thee, Heavenly Father, for such a strengthening testimony of this!

Now time for more photos. . . .

Here you see him Top/Left with Elder Yan - his close friend. For years they both talked about wanting to serve missions together, though they knew the likelihood of that was almost nil. However, they both received their Mission Calls the SAME day, they went through the Temple to be endowed the SAME day, they held their farewell meeting at Church the SAME day, they were set apart by the laying on of hands by those in authority the SAME day, they flew out of here the SAME day on the SAME flight, and both stayed at my sister's house the night before they entered the MTC, and then entered the MTC the SAME day, and were able to see each other there a few times before each leaving for their separate missions. They both considered all of that as having served at least a tiny part of their mission together.  What a blessing! :)

you see Elder Nine with another best friend whom he met in and has been BFF's with since second grade, Steven R. These two have been through the highs and lows together and have been like brothers to each other over the years.  A friendship I expect will last throughout their sojourn on this earth. :) So glad Steven could be here for Jonathan's extra special day.

Bottom photo: Remember that close and very special friend, JK?  This is her (in the cell phone) and her family, who have all come to be dear and special friends of our whole family. We love them! And it meant so much to us to have "all" of them here for this special moment in Jonathan's life. The two year separation was definitely a hard thing to swallow for both Jonathan and JK. But I know the Lord is blessing them both in handling it just fine. :)

And... our family...  How I love our family!
Big sister, Jessica, is 8 months pregnant here with our first grandchild and we were glad she was able to be here for this special time with us, though we were sad he husband had to work during that time, so he couldn't make it.

You'll have to ignore the washed-out, tear-stained faces on some of us.

Look at papa bear - if that T-shirt had buttons, they'd have been popping like popcorn!

There are no words to describe the joy, the love, the gratitude, and the pride we feel for and in this young man of God! Truly our parental prayers have been answered where he is concerned. Thank you, son, for living righteously, for making righteous choices, for repenting and making yourself worthy, for centering your desires on the Savior and His plan, and for giving of yourself to God and your fellow man during these two years of "tithing" on your life. We know God will bless you with a lifetime of blessings that will further bless you in eternity. We love you so very much.

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