I believe you know that I am a Mormon girl, dear friend and devoted reader. And I think you know that once upon a time, I was one of those Mormon missionaries. You know that I went to Romania and lived there as a missionary for sixteen months.
But did you know that I never even considered that I would go to Romania? It's true.
When you decide to go on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you don't choose where you'll go. God does. You fill out some extensive paperwork which includes notes from your ecclesiastical leaders, results from your doctor's/dentist's physical examinations, and some basic get-to-know-you stuff.
Certainly, the forms have a section where you are supposed to list any foreign languages you've studied. I noted my French minor in the provided space.
I knew that having previous exposure to a language didn't guarantee being sent to a country where that language was spoken. And I wanted to be thrilled with wherever I was sent. I used to sing myself the "Fifty Nifty United States" song and stop to think of something good about each state. I wanted to have a positive association with wherever I was going to go. I tried to think of all the francophone places in the world and do the same thing. Then, I thought about all the Spanish-speaking places in the world. Then, Portuguese. And so on. I really thought of everywhere possible (or so I thought).
Well, my mission call (the letter saying where/when you will leave on your mission) came one day at the end of my junior year of college. My little brother, Jared, lived in the same apartment complex I did and I wanted to wait for him to open it with me. I also had to go to work, so I stashed it under my mattress and ran out the door.
When I got home, I walked into a huge party in my honor. My best friend, Melissa, had called together many of our friends, decorated our apartment--complete with a "Mendy the Missionary" banner-- and baked a cake in honor of my big night. She also made a huge map of the world upon which everyone had to write their guesses as to where I'd be going. After all the guesses were written, it was time for the big reveal.
When I went to retrieve my letter from under my mattress, I discovered that it was gone. Jared knew me too well and he had confiscated it! No worries, he hadn't opened it or allowed anyone else to have a peek.
Once I had the envelope in my hand, I opened it. I remember looking and seeing the word, "Romania," and thinking Oh my goodness, that is so cool! I never even thought of Romania. I felt shock, joy, and excitement all at once. Quickly, another thought entered my mind, What language do they speak in Romania? Further down the letter, the answer was revealed: Romanian. Oh, duh.
I don't know who took this first photo, but it is my reaction the moment I read my call. Even though it is a really goofy photo of me, I quite love it. I am so excited in it and you can see how happy Melissa is for me.
The next photo is a group shot I took of my friends who came to help me celebrate that night. I may not have kept in touch with all of them, but I am sure glad they were there to help make the night I opened my mission call a memorable one.