Just a week ago, we felt comfortable gathering 40+ people in our kitchen to watch Gabe open his mission call. Yes, we were cautious. We discouraged handshaking and encouraged lots of hand washing. It definitely didn’t feel reckless or irresponsible. Gabe attended three mission calls that night. All with hugs and celebrations.
Yesterday, one of Gabe’s friends opened his mission call. Gabe grabbed my phone to watch it on Instagram live while his friend stood all alone, in a nice suit with an ironed shirt, and opened his call to the sound of quiet cheers from his parents and sister.
So much changes in a week.
Last Tuesday night, Gabe was caught up in Spirit Week– the week of school where kids dress up according to a theme every day, they hold activities at lunch and work their way to the Spirit Bowl and Dance on Friday. Gabe was in charge and feverishly working on preparations. And then Tom Hanks tested positive, and Rudy Gobert and like a line of dominos, everything was canceled.
No school, no dance concerts, no sports, no church, the MTC closed, restaurants, movie theaters… we’ve sobered up. We’re started taking coronavirus seriously.
And then, we were jolted awake by a 5.7 earthquake this morning. It felt like a giant came and shook the whole house. We were lucky. Besides a few things falling off shelves and a crack in the ceiling we’re fine. So many people lost power. I’m seeing photos crumbled buildings, floods in the airport and homes where it looks like the giant not only shook the house, but turned it upside down– glasses and bowls and treasures shattered on the floor.
It feels a little scary right now.
Back to Gabe’s mission.
For the last 18 months he’s studied German. He took French in school, but found himself drawn to the land of his ancestry. Starting with Duolingo, he worked his way through the curriculum and asked questions– Sammie is fluent, Erik is very good at German and Ben and I are middling (I understand and I have a good vocabulary, but I don’t speak very well). Impressed by his dedication, I even booked flights to Berlin last May, but the trip didn’t work out.
So when it came time to put in his mission papers, whenever people asked, “Where do you want to serve?” He said, “Germany. Or wherever God sends me.”
I felt so much calmness about Gabe’s call. For the last four calls, I felt pretty calm until their papers went in and then my stress level increased. I’d think, “They could send him anywhere. ANYWHERE. And they know nothing about him.” It’s a huge test of faith.
Still, this time I felt calm. Maybe I’ve learned from experience that missionaries go exactly where they need to go? Maybe I’m gaining maturity? Maybe all this life coaching really works?
Rather than the big white envelope my four older boys received, mission calls now come in an email. Gabe knew it would come on a Tuesday and he gave me access to his email:
Since he wanted to open an envelope, he gave me permission to print the call and seal the envelope for him. So, yes, I knew three hours early. And that was fantastic. Highly recommended. I was able to calm his last minute nerves and he didn’t have to deal with any of mine. I simply told him over and over, “You will be very happy.”
Want to see what pure joy looks like? Here’s the video:
Who know what will happen in the next few months? Will Gabe go the MTC? Will his mission be delayed?
For now, it doesn’t matter, we’re holding onto the joy.