Preparing to ServeWith the call to the Philippines came a packet of materials, nicely bound, which outlines the preparations necessary to enter the mission home on January 5th. It was nicely written, easy to understand and at first glance fairly simple. However, we have learned that in each section are many tasks and those tasks each take some time. In this post, I will try to describe some of the things it takes to get ready to enter the Mission Training Center in January.
Electronic Stuff: We were instructed to log into the missionary portal at the lds.org website and given a password. At this website, we were able to track our progress in missionary preparation, find help with the Tagalog language, descriptions and photos of acceptable missionary dress, and many other useful hints to prepare for our departure. Our laptop is 10 years old and our desktop computer is older than that, so we decided to buy two Surface 2, tablets. They are made by Microsoft and come with MS Office 2013 fully loaded. We have found that they are wonderful for laptop stuff, but many of the apps written for Android devices and Apple devices are not available for our tablets. This is going to become a problem, but not a large one. We mostly want Skype, which we will have to pay for . . . and we are not sure why. We don't pay for it on our laptop, or phones.
Medical Stuff: Prior to sending in our application for a mission call, we had to have physical exams, eye exams, dental exams, colonoscopies, and started getting immunizations that we knew we needed - Influenza, shingles, hepatitis, and others. After receiving the packet and logging into the missionary portal, we found some gaps in our shots. Our typhoid shots were out of date. I needed a pertussis shot, etc. We also decided to get new glasses and found a 2 for $89 deal at Sears, so we got some new glasses.
Family Stuff: We felt it important that we spend some time with all of our family before we left and enjoy as much time with them as we could. All of our kids and grandkids made it to the cabin for the family reunion this summer. We have spent several days with each of our mothers, traveled to North Carolina and Florida to visit Blake and his family and my sister, Carolyn. We have spent time with most of Chris's sisters and all of her brother-in-laws and all of my brothers and sisters. All of our children and grandchildren except those we visited in NC will be at the cabin for Christmas. Still, it seems as though this will be the hardest part of going on a mission. Leaving the family.
Finances: We are not a wealthy couple. For the past couple of years, while working in Arizona, was the first time we haven't had to rely heavily on credit and summer employment to get by on a very basic lifestyle. When considering serving a mission, the cost of that mission, was definitely a consideration. We decided that we would both apply for our Social Security benefits now and use that money for a mission. We would also sell both cars and that would provide enough money for most missions in the church. We could not afford to go to most big cities in the world or metropolitan areas in the US, but there are many places to serve that we could afford. With the help of our son, Tyler, we will likely have both cars sold in time. Whew!
Clothing: Serving in the Philippines creates some interesting clothing dilemmas. It is hot, humid and during the rainy season, it gets wet - real wet, real often. I am not required or expected to wear a suit coat at any time. I may need one in the MTC, but will never use a suit in the mission field. Chris will only need skirts, tops, and dresses. Sister Bertin, the mission president's wife, has been very helpful for Chris. She sent photos of the shoes she wears, and suggested that we buy Crocs. To me Crocs are those bright yellow cloggish things that I wouldn't be caught dead in. It turns out though, Crocs makes even dress shoes and sandals and they are nice because, they handle water well. We each have a pair.
So what about our other clothes. For me this was easy. My favorite kind of slacks are made by Hagar. Penney's had some on sale for nearly half-price just before Thanksgiving. I bought 6 pair, went down the mall and bought 8 white shirts and 12 pair of socks and I was done. Chris, however, has had a more difficult time. As of this writing, December 1, she is about half done. Matching tops to skirts and making them interchangeable and finding the right price have all proven to be a challenge. No doubt, though, we will be ready to go when the time comes.