Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Finding Joy~ Day 21: The Day Gary Gets His Mission Call!

This was one of the most joyful days of my life.
Of his life.
Of so many of our lives.

A day we've dreamed of.
A day, he most of all, has been praying would finally come.

Since Gary turned in his mission papers to church headquarters at the beginning of the month, these days just have seemed to drag on and on. The holiday rush has honestly been a welcome distraction in some ways. We've been sitting on pins and needles, anxious to know where in this world Gary would be called to serve his mission. His ecclesiastical leaders told him to expect that the letter would come today.

Gary brought over his stuff late last night to sleep here. Obviously, none of us slept very much. Think Christmas Day anticipation x10. Keith and I laughed, noticing it was 1:30 in the morning and all we could hear were the sounds of Gary downstairs rummaging through the Lego box that Isaac had been playing with during the day. We smiled there in the dark. It was a happy sound- this way  of his he found to occupy his mind.

In our town, the post office usually calls prospective missionaries early in the morning to notify them that their letter is in. Whether to hold it or deliver it. No call came by quarter to 8 and knowing I couldn't wait any longer, I went ahead and made the call. Sure enough, the letter was there. We all piled into the van. Such joy, laughter, and expectation filled the air as we drove to pick it up and then on to Mama's and Papa's house to gather as a family. To share it all with them.

Each of us made our guesses. Excitement, love, and pure joy reigned. We knelt in prayer and listened to Gary's sweet sincere prayer of gratitude and humble plea for peace.

I thought my heart would burst out of my chest. Beating so fast and so hard. We were all literally holding our breath.

And then there was that tender silence.

Our waiting while he weeps. Tears of utter happiness.

" Dear Elder C____,

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

Finland! We were shocked. None of us even considered this place. Many more tears. Shrieks of delight and amazement. A whole new way of thinking, processing it all.

He will leave on April 25th for a two month stay at the nearby Missionary Training Center. To learn the language and the culture. To learn how to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ. What it means to be one of His representatives.

We gathered around the computer. Wikipedia (the first place we go to for information these days) would shed more light on this country that would become beloved and cherished in time. Sensing now that it already is these things.

Calling to share the good news with loved ones. Spending the day back at home digesting it all, letting it all sink in. Visiting with eager- to- find- out- the- news friends of his. Listening to online Finnish instructions- how to count and what this new and different language sounds like.  All of us agreeing that his love and ease of learning languages might be one of the factors in his being assigned there. Cranking up Sibelius's Finlandia and feeling the sudden stirrings of pride for this people and culture he'll soon learn to love. 

Such day of joy and jubilation.
This day of true rejoicing.
An early Christmas present.
Sweetness none of us will ever forget.


  1. Congratulations!! I am so happy for ALL of you! He is going to make a wonderful missionary...he is READY! Merry Christmas!

  2. So Exciting!!! Congratulations, Gary. I can't think of a better Christmas present!!

  3. I've been waiting for this post! Wonderful news!

  4. I teared up to the picture of his face as much as I did of the one of your Dad! This is a day of good tidings and joy!Congratulations!

  5. Oh the anticipation in your post, Emily! Congratulations to Gary and your whole family! What an amazing opportunity. I think Finland would be incredible (in fact, I just told Marc last night that I had the itch to go somewhere in Scandinavia). Good luck with everything!

  6. Ryan Struthers returned from there last year. Maybe he can get some pointers from him over Christmas break. Congrats! That will be a blessing for all! :)

  7. you captured it all so well - amazing. a good day in your house for sure!!

  8. So excited for Gary and your family! Congratulations! He will be a great missionary!

  9. Congratulations!!! Finland holds a special place in my heart. My dad served there and loved it! I grew up hearing stories about it and frequently asking him to show me the reindeer fur slippers and big Russian-style hat he brought back. He and my mom visited there several years ago for the Helsinki Temple open house. What a great place!!!

  10. Congrats Gary! My Brother went to the very same mission about 30 years ago (yes, I'm old)and it still has a special place in our hearts! I still have a fur deer skin hanging on the wall in Taylor's bedroom that he brought home for me. You are in for a real treat! We are so excited for you! What a blessing it is as a parent to have a missionary serving the Lord. Nothing better! Congrats Crofts family!

  11. WHat a wonderful day for all of you! Congratulations Gary.

  12. Congrats to your son Gary. I know you all are sooo happy. Wishing him God's speed in the work he will be doing.