Tuesday, September 24, 2013

That big, white envelope

On the 16th of June I picked my way up Wilson Mesa, a beautiful stretch of timber on the Elliott Barker Wildlife Area, on my way back to work at Rich Cabins at Philmont Scout Ranch. Charlie and I had just spent the night with our neighbors, the Pueblano Boys, not long after helping to evacuate the South Country for the White Peak Fire. And yet as exciting as the previous 3 days had been, I had something even more exciting in store: there was a large, white envelope in my backpack. Much to the chagrin of my hiking buddy and "brother," I had stopped at the mail room every day of my days off to check for it. I was finally rewarded the day before I was to return to work, and wanting to open my mission at a particularly picturesque place as planned months before, I placed it carefully into the back of my pack and planned to open it on Wilson Mesa on the way home.

Me with my mission call in front of the mail room. I simply sat and stared at it for about 20 minutes in disbelief after this photo was taken. Sorry, Charlie!

As we climbed that day, we were joined by one of our good friends we'd known since the previous year who fortuitously encountered us at Pueblano that morning as he was hiking to visit us that night. We reached the top of the mesa and I called a halt, took a photo, and then, as planned, hiked some way off the trail to have some time to myself. 

Baldy to my left, Touch-Me-Not to my right, and a mission call in my hands

Long before I decided I was going to serve a mission, I'd decided if I was to ever have a mission call of my own, I'd want to open it alone, and ideally, on a mountaintop. Even more ideally, I'd open it on a mountaintop at HOmE, at Philmont. And here I was, long after, executing the plan I'd only daydreamed about. I found a secluded place, knelt, and prayed, expressing gratitude and trepidation for the opportunity to serve as a missionary. I opened my call and forced my eyes not to skip to "where and when" part of the letter. "Dear Sister Ferrin, You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Okay, got through that part. "You are assigned to labor in the Nicaragua Managua North Mission." And that was where I started crying and laughing all at once. What a perfect call, what a perfect assignment. I couldn't have come up with a better place for myself. It was perfect, and a testament to me that my Heavenly Father knows me and loves me. I spent some time laughing and crying to myself, reading through the rest of the letter, and reading about my new mission president before I returned to Matt and Charlie, who were patiently waiting for me (those awesome guys).

I then called my parents (lucky for me, there's service on Wilson Mesa) and read my mission call aloud to them and Charlie and Matt. I got congratulations and hugs from all of them (well, okay, only hugs from the boys). Then we packed up and hiked home to make it back before noon. Because that's what you do at Philmont. No matter what happens, the show must go on, because we do it for the kids, though I did get to enjoy a guessing game with all the family at Rich when I arrived home, before I even got to take my pack off. 

And so, ladies and gentlemen, that is why I will be departing for 18 months, why I will be leaving behind the family I love, the friends I adore, and the mountains I think I just can't live without. Why I'll be leaving my country, my native language, all that is familiar and comfortable. This is why I'm choosing to lose a summer at Philmont, to miss weddings and graduations and new babies. It's because there is truth and joy that I have, that make me who I am and make me happier than anything else on this earth, and I want to give others a chance to have that too, an opportunity to do the will of the Father, so that they may know if His doctrine is true, if it is of Him, or of man. And for 18 months, that's just what I'll be doing in Nicaragua.

1 comment:

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