Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where in the world?!

The most common question I get when I tell people that I’m going on a mission is, “So where would you like to go?” And my typical response (which I’m sure has been slightly frustrating to the inquirer) has been, “I can’t answer that question.” But let me explain:

When I decided to go on a mission, I knew that I had to be prepared to go anywhere. Those who know me understand that this meant being as willing to go to Nebraska, as I would be to hop on a plane bound for the deep jungles of darkest Africa. For others perhaps it is the other way around. A mission in essence is completely unselfish. Therefore I have tried to take my will out of the equation, and I can honestly say I am excited and ready to go wherever the Lord sends me.

With that said, I will answer the question as best as I can. I don’t have ONE particular place in mind, but I love being able to live in foreign places and immerse myself in new cultures (so far I’ve done that in Russia and Israel, besides South Africa, Canada and the USA, of course). Also, I have always wanted a second language and so a foreign speaking mission would be quite convenient. To be more specific, somewhere French or Russian speaking, since I’ve had a start in both languages. But, as I said, I am prepared to go to Nebraska and I believe that God has a sense of humour and so he may well send me there.

I’ve even compiled a list of reasons why I would be happy going Stateside. Here it is:

1. If I open my call and see that I’m going to Nebraska, then I’ll know that’s where the Lord wants me to be.

2. The voltage and plugs will be the same so I will be able to use my Chi hair straightener. (My friend Kristin pointed out that if I went to Russia, I would have poofy hair in all my photographs, which has happened before.)

3. I am quite comfortable using the English language (in fact my career of choice depends upon my ability to communicate in this particular language) and it would be an asset as a missionary to speak in my native tongue.

4. I guess one could argue that for a South African Canadian like myself, the US of A is in fact a foreign country. And depending on where I serve, I may very well have to learn “another language” and celebrate the diversity that is the United States. I have already had one person guess Alabama (though I won’t list his reason since this is a public domain and it wasn’t exactly PC).

5. The mail would be quicker and more reliable. You see, for the most part, snail mail is a missionary’s link to the outside world, and in places like Cambodia or Peru it could very likely take three to four weeks for a letter to arrive. I’ve also heard stories about missionaries arriving at the post office to pick up a package only to find the postal worker wearing their new shirt. (In one case it was a shirt from the missionary’s girlfriend and it had her photo on the front!)

This list is by no means complete. And in fact, if you have any other ideas to add to it, please leave me a comment! As far as a status update goes, according to the Internet my assignment has been made and is probably now in transit.

Example one of poofy hair in Russia.

Example two - proof that I need a hair straightener.

Example three.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Choosing my own adventure ... almost

When I was a kid, I used to love the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. My mom would read them to my brothers and me before bed, and we took turns “choosing.” If my brother chose poorly and died a gruesome death then it would be my turn to determine my fate through a series of 50/50 choices. The idea of being in control was, I think, very appealing to a kid who had little else to decide besides who to play with during the day and what game we should play (Ninja Turtles or school)?

However, as I grew and had to make decisions of more consequence, that series started to lose it’s appeal and I came to prefer a good old novel, which despite a few troubles along the way, generally ends in happiness for the main character. There lay the real appeal – knowing that after so many life-changing decisions things can turn all right, at least in fiction anyway.

I recently reached a four-way stop of sorts in my life. By returning from Jerusalem and graduating from BYU-Idaho, I had completed my five-year plan and had not yet planned beyond that. The obvious next step was to get a job, but even that presented me with many different options. Did I want to work at a newspaper or a magazine? Did I want to stay in Vancouver or try somewhere else in Canada, the US or Abu Dhabi (where they are apparently in need of journalists)?

And yet somewhere in the back of my mind, another option lingered – I could perhaps serve a mission. A mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints lasts 18 months for women, during which time I would be a full-time representative of the Church. Specific assignments – that is where in the world I would be asked to serve – are made by inspiration.

So I had to decide: missionary or career woman? I thought about it and prayed about it for a while and finally reached the conclusion that I was trying to choose between two good decisions and that I had to choose one and act on it. Unlike a “Choose Your Own Adventure” book, neither would lead to sudden death.

Finally, I have made a decision … come back next week to find out what it is! Just joking. I have chosen to serve a mission, but you really will have to come back later to find out where I’m going. My mission papers are currently in Salt Lake City for processing and when the assignment is made, I will receive a big white envelope in the mail telling me what that assignment is.

I feel very good about my latest “choice” and I am excited to find out where that choice will lead!