Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Called to Get My Swerve On

It has been such a long time hasn't it? YES IT HAS. Let's do an update then!

Last week I met with the Stake President; the local guy in charge of taking care of all of the bright young missionaries and all of the families and bishops in this particular area. This was important because it was the last thing I could personally do to put in my papers. At least, that's what I thought. The meeting was really good; he asked me about my background, if I had a testimony of the Church, and a series of questions about my personal conduct and integrity. It's kind of an intimidating interview! It makes one think very seriously about the implications and realities of going on a mission. Missionaries are held to a VERY high standard; even by Mormon standards. So instead of just, like, not drinking or smoking, missionaries are expected to... SUPER not drink and smoke.

Ha ha ha. At the end of the meeting, the stake president said he felt comfortable putting my papers in but said first we needed some paperwork from my therapist. Specifically, a letter of recommendation stating I was alright to serve a mission. The Church is very thorough in making sure that its missionaries are physically and mentally capable to serve. Since I take medications and am effected by a few different mental ailments, the Church is going to want to make sure that I've been properly treated and that I am fully taken care of. So, before I send in the papers, I need a letter from my therapist. Problem is, my last therapist is in Utah. I called her and left her a message and then sat on my haunches until yesterday.

Real talk time: the expectations of the missionary are super intense, as I've mentioned. Not only in terms of living the commandments and guidelines of the Church to a tee, but also in terms of how much responsibility and work rests on the shoulders of a missionary. Working 7 days a week from sun up to sun down, walking and biking all day, the emotional work of living up to yourself fully, of being stretched to your limits in terms of hope and faith and your ability to love. To love yourself and others without exception, without thought. I walked out of my meeting with the stake president feeling... slightly deflated, to say the least. Would I be adequate for the work? Here I had tried so hard for so long to get myself prepared, to get the papers in, to work hard and be strong and to invest myself in this task. And here I was forced to wait yet another week, to stare at yet another hurdle. To sit with my thoughts quietly, reviewing over and over the fact that I am not perfect and have never been perfect and, yet, perfection seemed to be expected of me. I felt, very heavily, the weight of this task. I felt so very responsible for my actions, for my mind, for my past and my future. For the way I treat others. For the way I treat myself. I felt kind of dragged through the mud.

It took me a minute to realize that all of that worry really means nothing in the face of why I'm going. I went home from the meeting, feeling like a failure and I prayed. Hard. I prayed for guidance and I prayed for clarity and I prayed for peace. And it blossomed into my mind that the reason I was even praying in the first place was reminder enough of why not one thing but my desire to serve matters. I have faith in this Church and in this gospel and I want to share that with others because I know it bring good things to their lives. I believe to the depth of my heart that Jesus Christ is my savior and that God loves each and every one of us and knows each and every one of us and that, through the teachings of the church, we can live up to His lofty vision of us.

Heavenly Father truly answers our prayers. He knows the desires and pleadings of our hearts and all we need is to ask Him, in faith, to comfort us and to explain the world to us. And it comes.

Sorry, heavy stuff man. But true stuff. True to me, at least. So true that no matter the obstacles, no matter the self-conscious feelings of inadequacy, despite anything else, I need to give of myself to the fulfillment of God's much better plans. I wouldn't have this beautiful thing in my life, this sustaining and solid testimony and faith, without the two young men who served their missions in 2008. I am really grateful to those two boys and it makes me realize that there are other people out there waiting for what they brought to me.

So. In conclusionnnnnn: I got a call from my therapist yesterday. She's going to write the letter and send it before the weekend. She'll mail it to the stake president. By next week, he'll submit the papers to Salt Lake City. They'll look them over, figure out where and when I'm going to serve, and then send me back the mission call packet.

SO. In theory, I'll have my assignment in mid-to-late March.

Every time I realize this, my heart starts to thump and my throat constricts and I'm like "OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH YEAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"




Saturday, February 4, 2012

What To Do After Your Recommend Is Complete

A great question, thanks missionary recommendation site!

I have completed my recommendation - aka The Papers. What does that look like? Something like this:

My advice? Eat gumbo and relax on your day off from work and church. Read a book. You worked over 40 hours this week! Take a little "time for yourself". Also, go to bed early because you have kids to pick up at 8:30 tomorrow morning for church.

The Church has their own advice.

"After you have submitted your Recommendation Form to your bishop, do the following:

If you have not already done so, begin the hepatitis A and B immunizations immediately. You will receive additional immunization information with your assignment.
You are expected to be physically and emotionally capable of working several hours a day and walking several miles a day six days a week. If there are reasons why this might not be possible, please discuss them with your bishop.
Before entering the MTC, correct any problems such as plantar warts, flat feet, chronic headaches, inguinal hernias, and so on. Stabilize and understand the treatment for chronic problems such as asthma, diabetes, seizures, emotional disorders, irritable bowel, endometriosis, and so on.
If you are taking prescribed medication for any chronic problem, medical or emotional, do not stop taking it unless your physician advises you to do so.
Your bishop will meet with you to review your recommendation form and to interview you for worthiness to serve a mission. He may make changes and adjustments to the information on your form as he deems necessary. The bishop will then submit the recommendation form with his recommendation remarks to your stake president.
The stake president will likewise meet with you to review your recommendation form and to interview you for worthiness. He may also make changes and adjustments to your form. When the stake president is satisfied that you have met all requirements, he will submit your form with his recommendation remarks to Church headquarters in Salt Lake City.
At Church headquarters, your recommendation form will be reviewed by the Quorum of the Twelve, who will assign you to a mission. Thereafter a call letter from the President of the Church, accompanied by a call packet with information about what you will need to do to prepare to begin your mission, will be sent to the address you specified in your recommendation form."

So that's that I guess. Better advice than mine. In any case: I'll have a meeting with my bishop hopefully tomorrow or in the next few days. Then my Stake President. Then. DONE. WOAH BUDDY!

Is it appropriate to guess where I'm going yet? GUESS WHERE I'M GOING!