Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Day Jane Gets Her Mission Call!

I'll never forget this day.
She'll never forget this day.
Her dreams coming true.

Early last month, our church announced that the age requirement for young women who would like to serve as full-time missionaries would be dropped from 21 years to 19 years. Serving a mission has always been something that Jane dreamed about, but never knew would be part of her life's plan.
Well, once she heard that announcement, her world would soon change. Her heart burned, this dream and desire confirmed, that yes, this was the right choice for her to dedicate and set aside 18 months of her young life to God and go wherever she would be called in this world to serve His children.
Her brother Gary's current missionary service in Finland has been an inspiration to Jane. They have always shared a close relationship and bond, and will be a great support to each other as they each labor in different parts of the world. I never dreamed that two of my children, these two, would be doing this at the same time. An idea that I'm still trying to wrap my brain around, but at the same time, beyond thrilling and a blessing to our family for which we are profoundly and eternally grateful.
So for the past month, she's/we've quietly (I haven't shared any of these doings here in this space) gone about visiting with her ecclesiastical leaders, getting paperwork completed, and doctor and dentist appointments scheduled. It's been a busy time, between her demanding college life and all the changes (Grandpa's death and my going back to school) these past few months have brought to our family life.
So yesterday, we found out that the special "call" or letter would be coming in the mail this morning. I went that afternoon to pick her up from school to bring her back home where she would stay the night and we'd wait eagerly for an early visit to the post office.
You can imagine that sleep didn't come easy. Like that night last December when Gary, too, was waiting on pins and needles for his own mission call. Think Christmas  morning anticipation x10.

We knew that our town's post office would have the letter waiting, so around 6:00 am this morning, Jane and Keith hopped in the truck and headed out into that frosty darkness. We wanted to open the letter all together as a family before everyone headed to school and work.

Last night, Jane made a little chart for us to all place our guesses for where in the world Jane would serve her mission.
(The one closest gets a prize, she said.)

So the moment we'd all been looking forward to, this pivoting, life changing moment for a girl who's now made the journey into womanhood,  this moment that she'd dreamed and hoped for and worked for her entire life... was finally here.
And then there was that hushed, sacred quiet while she silently read, and we looked on in wonder and anticipation.
All of us privileged onlookers, each holding our breath.
And then those tender tears began to spill.

 "Dear Sister Jane Crofts,
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 Taiwan Taipei Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months..."

You see, this was all part of her dream.
It all began when she met Xiaoyi way back in her Sophomore year in high school. She felt a special connection and bond with this new found friend which soon blossomed into a love affair with even more Chinese friends, the Chinese culture, and the Mandarin Chinese language. A language that she has now pursued as a major these last two years at university.
But when this past September came, Jane was faced with a painful realization that this language, one that always came so easy for her, was becoming more difficult and would continue to become so if she wasn't given an opportunity to learn it with native speakers. So she turned to God one night in frustration, pleading for help in knowing what course she should take; whether or not she should drop her class and if this whole idea of majoring in Chinese was an impossible dream.
 After the missionary age change was announced, and after determining and deciding that a mission was right for her at this point in her life, she kept all these feelings in her heart, knowing, too, that God knew it, but at the same time coming to a place of willingness and peace that wherever she would be asked to go, she would go and serve with her whole heart.

You can only imagine her happiness. This joy now that's filling her heart. This utter joy that can not even be expressed.
And all along, in this mother's heart, I, too felt that God knew all these things. There have been times this month, that when I'd be thinking about Jane's mission call or talking about it, I would have come into my view or mind's eye something that had to do with Chinese culture... even just like yesterday when I was waiting to meet Jane in the hallway in front of the university bookstore, I thought about her call coming, the warm tears coming, and then, my eyes turned slowly to the sweet face of a young student who looked like she could be from China.
And like today, after making all the phone calls to announce her good news to interested family and friends and a visit to share the happy news with her loving grandparents (and on stepping through the door, Mama beaming out "It's Taiwan, isn't it!!)
... she heads back to school, amazed when she is in the restroom and here are these two other students, Chinese girls; each walking out from each side of her stall, no less!
And  then a few minutes later, while walking through the food court, there is that sweet, familiar face of an older woman from China who tutored her last year and who she hasn't seen since then. And after joyfully hearing Jane's news, told her that she never frequents this spot on campus...
Happy coincidences?
 "God Signatures" is what I like to call them.