Apologies that it’s taken me this long to answer a few simple questions. My unbloggable life resembled a soap opera in the last week (with plot twists you’d never believe), but we are well and cheerful and hopeful of a happy ending.
First, when does Ben leave? Not until March 16th. He’d probably jump on a plane tomorrow if he could, but we’re thrilled that he’ll be around a little longer. This delay gives him time to finish the semester at BYU and spend January through March at home. He’ll be working, shopping for suits and probably skiing a bit during those months. And he’ll be around for all of our birthdays. As Ben pointed out, it will be his last season as a kid at home and we all intend to enjoy it.
On March 16th he’ll report to the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center– a sprawling campus of dorms and classrooms that happens to be less than a mile from his BYU dorm. The big difference between the MTC and BYU is that missionaries very rarely leave the grounds. Their days are spent studying language and gospel principles. Erik’s fondest memory of the MTC is dessert at every meal. Ben will be there for two months and although we can send him a letter or a package every day if we like, visits are strictly forbidden.
Can we visit Ben in Italy? No. Not at all. The restrictions on visits and phone call are perhaps the hardest part of missionary life to explain to anyone outside of Mormon culture. Our reasoning is that a missionary should concentrate on his work and visits from family or girlfriends are simply too distracting. But if my sister or one of my friends feels the need to visit Italy and check up on him that would be just fine. 😉 We will be able to email him every week and chat on the telephone on Mother’s Day and Christmas.
Will Ben get paid by the church? Again, no. But it’s pretty interesting. Back in the day, families would anxiously open a mission call knowing that the location determined the expense– Japan or Europe, you’ll be spending a fortune; South America, hmm, maybe I’ll get a maid? Now, each missionary pays $450 a month and the church disperses the money as needed. Missionaries live a pretty bare-boned lifestyle. Suits or work clothes are the daily uniform and they don’t buy the latest music or electronics because they can’t listen to popular music or play with an iPad.
Missionaries travel two-by-two, and their companions change every 6-12 weeks. As you can imagine, getting along with a new roommate and constant sidekick is an enormous part of the learning experience.
One luxury most missionaries indulge in is eating well. Even in the poorest countries, the mothers of the world cook and bake and pinch the cheeks of these young people so far from home. And can you think of a better country for food than Italy? Mamma Mia!
Every post of yours about your church makes me want to be a part of it. Even the hard parts of what Ben will do sound well reasoned and planned. And what a great idea to have everyone contribute to a general fund for the trip.
Did I understand correctly that you will have no contact with Ben at all while he is gone?
Congrats and wonderful post. I’m so excited for you and Ben – even though I don’t actually know you (other than the blog)…
My husband went to Milan for his mission. He had a few “pasta momma’s” as he called them – they fed him well, and taught him to cook. 🙂
He still keeps in touch with them, and they are still wonderful assets to the missionaries and the church. So – I’m excited for you guys!
You should be a part of it, Tifani! It is the best thing in my life and teaches me how to make every day joyful :]
Can he email?? He must be able to communicate a little bit to let you know he’s well? I’m excited for him! And, nice that you have some time to prepare for it.
Oh! He’ll email every week. I’ll go clarify that.
Can he blog?
What a fantastic place to be for the food and culture. Yum-o!
I went to Spain and also had to wait about four months to go to the MTC. My stake president had me go through the temple early so I could go often before entering the MTC and going on my mission. Different leaders have different views on this, but it is something I really valued being able to do. I attended the temple almost every week for three months before my mission (and I did get to go every week in the MTC too).
Oh yay!! Happy he can email each week. You can only talk on the phone on Mother’s Day & Christmas? Gulp. Okay, yes, I do believe it will be a wonderful experience! :o) Like Tracy, I want to know if he can start a blog? It would be so fun to follow his missionary adventures in a new country! Not a bad idea.
This was a great post, and I have to say that the picture blew me away…such an unexpected ending and it brought tears to my eyes.
I love the spirit of your family, the unity, the love. Really an inspiration.