Sunday, June 30, 2013

Big Girl in Brazil

Fun fact: I am going on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I will be serving in the Brazil São Paulo West Mission, speaking Portuguese, from August 2013 to February 2015. For those who struggle with calendar math (such as myself), that's 18 months in which I will be a full-time missionary in a foreign country, on a different continent, speaking a language that I currently don't know. While I am doing all of this, I will be completely dedicated to teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. (Go here for more information about what a mission is. Or feel free to ask me any questions you may have!)

There will come a time in which I have much, much more to say about what all of this means to me. In fact, those posts are currently drafts.

But I wish to post something in the meanwhile. So stay tuned for the deeper stuff, it's on its way.

You know, my mom sometimes tells a story of my younger self. She always sang a lullaby when she tucked us in at night--usually whatever we chose. "Oh, Hush Thee, My Baby," was among the favorites. But it didn't take me long to catch on to something: my sneaky mother was trying to con me into thinking I was still a baby. And guess what? It wasn't working. On at least one occasion, my fiery red-headed self boldly informed my mom that, "I'm not a baby. I'm a big girl." And, in order to appease me, she changed the words. "Oh, hush thee, my big girl; a story I'll tell..."

(She also tells a story about my 18-month-old self running away from her, wagging my finger and yelling, "No no, Mommy, no no." But that is another tale for another day.)

I report to the missionary training center in 44 days and counting. Which means the deadline is fast approaching. The little details can't be overlooked for much longer--like the fact that I have only purchased a fraction of the wardrobe I will be needing to get me through 18 months of missionary service. So I'm becoming increasingly aware of the things that need to be taken care of and, apparently, so is my mother.

Every so often, my mom contacts me with various questions. It's usually sparked by troubles that other members of our congregation are having as they work through preparations for their missions, so the questions are along the lines of, "So-and-so is having trouble with his visa because of this, have you done that?" And I remind her that I was applying from the other end of the country and I applied through a different consulate.

Sometimes, however, the conversations are more varied. The following are samples of things I have said to my mother regarding my mission:

"Yes, I have been checking my church email. But remember, my mission is a new one and won't open until July. It doesn't exist yet."

"No, I can't go to Canada--I don't have a passport. Don't panic, I have a passport, but not with me. Yes, I know I will need it to get into Brazil. Mom, the church has my passport. They'll send it to me a week before I go to the MTC. I don't know how my visa status is, they'll tell me a week before I report if I'm going straight to Brazil or if I'm going to Provo first."

"I know I need clothes. Yes, I will need a suitcase. Mom, I can't bring that to Brazil with me--it's a giant teddy bear, I don't have room in my suitcase."

"Okay, I will try my hardest to get a present to Benny before Christmas. But remember how the mail is there. Sometimes the post office goes on strike and things."

"Yes, I've heard of the protests happening in Brazil, but who told you? Mom, you cannot keep reading the news about Brazil. It'll put you in a panic! You don't need to be that informed. I'll write you and tell you how things are going. Mom! This is like the time you watched a video of a hip replacement surgery before you got the surgery. You thought you needed to be informed then, too, and it turned out to be a horrible idea. Mom, really, don't follow the news in Brazil."

I am of the firm belief that my mom and I will be having the same conversations for the remainder of . . . forever. Because apparently we've had this one before. And you know how it ended?

If I recall the story correctly, the song went along the lines of something like, "Oh, hush thee, my big girl."

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