Sunday, April 28, 2013

Salem, Oregon

Last Wednesday was one of the most memorable days of my life.

I'd finally fallen asleep at around 3:30 that morning. I was restless, unfocused, and antsy--which didn't bode well with my trying to finish a writing assignment due at 11 the next day (or, I guess, the same day). I woke up at 6:30 because I had work. Except I actually hit snooze twice, slumped out of bed around 6:50, pulled a shirt over my head and jeans over my feet and sleepwalked to the car.

I can't remember a longer morning. Every minute felt multiplied as I thought of the possibilities that lay ahead of me. Mission call, I kept thinking. It's all I could think about or talk about, though at the same time, I knew that dwelling on it would only make the time creep by slower, so there was a constant mind battle going on. (The side about my call won.)

Cue 10 o' clock. There's me sitting in the library staring at my laptop wondering how I could turn a scripture into a verse of hymn. And then there's me distracting myself by talking to Tyler and telling him what was happening that night.

In my class/final, I announced to everyone the reason I would be rushing home afterward--something very important was happening. My professor even prayed that I would have a confirmation of the spirit when I opened that envelope and that I would know it was right. We then proceeded to sing the hymns we wrote for two hours (our final was a writing assignment in which we were to pick a favorite chapter of scripture and fit the words to a hymn of our choice). Finally finally finally it was 1 o' clock.

I remember the next 15 minutes of my life exceptionally clearly. I stupidly took the long way out of the JFSB, ran and walked down the RB stairs, said hi to Alyssa as I sped by her, and ran past the Smith Fieldhouse to the third row of the student parking lot where I had parked. I stuck my iPod into its auxiliary cable and "If It's Love" by Train came on. Rolling the windows, I sang as loud as my voice would allow as I drove (I did not speed) home. I parked in the second spot on the right, pounded up the stairs, threw open my door, tossed my backpack onto the couch, and snatched the mail key off the nail in the wall. I stepped outside. And then I was standing in front of the mailbox, arm outstretched, key in hand.

And I just stood there.

What if it didn't come? was one of the thoughts that went through my head. In retrospect, it was probably the only one that I could process, the only one I could actually use words to express. I just paused. There was a lot of weight that was going to come with that letter, and I guess I just didn't know if I was ready to carry it yet.

The hesitation didn't last though. After about 10 seconds, the lock was turning and I was staring at my future. Hashtag destiny hashtag so cheesy. But it's true. I picked it up and stared at the words "Sister Bronwyn Elise Bent." Somehow, all the antsy-ness, impatience, and anxiety dissipated. A calm patience came over my heart, and my eyes welled up. Okay, I cried. This should surprise no one. My roommates weren't home, so I actually ran to apartment 6 and banged on the door, but no one was home there either. So I went over to the little hill of grass just outside our living room window and sat down. I was holding it in my hands. My 6-month struggle had not been in vain; here was the fruit of my labors. I looked at it, hugged it, and thanked God for everything. I had never felt so blessed (well, until later on in the evening, but at the moment I had never felt so blessed).

Fast forward 8 hours after a shower, 3-hour nap, cleaning spree, and episode of Chopped. I'm standing on my couch in my living room, which is crowded with 25+ dear friends, including some family skyping in from California and Maryland. Lauren walks in (at last!) and that's my cue. With shaking hands, I slide the letter open through the top and pull out a packet and a sheet of paper. Sit down. Flip paper over and begin reading.

Oh wait, I forgot--I was already crying at this point.

So I tried to read but it was probably all just blubbering.

"Dear Sister Bent..."

A pause to breathe and control myself.

"You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."

And then my eyes were on the second line. I saw where I would be going before I had time to read a single word of it. Cue more tears, closed eyes, deep breaths, and a silent prayer. I sobbed/smiled. (Smobbed? Smibed?) Everyone yelled at me because I totally left them hanging. Oops. So I continued:

"You are assigned to labor in the Oregon Salem Mission."

And the crowd goes wild! Joy, pride, and gratitude swelled in my heart and manifested itself in streaks down my face (I really can't help it you guys...). I can't remember ever feeling happier. In that moment, Heavenly Father answered countless prayers and blessings, namely that I would be able to go on a mission at all, and also that I would feel a confirmation of the spirit that my call was received with divine revelation. And it was.

I am one hundred percent confident that Salem, Oregon, is exactly where I need to be. I know what my Savior expects of me. I'm bringing the fire. And Oregon better get ready.

Monday, April 1, 2013

To Whom It May Concern:

March 29th. I didn't take my phone to the gym; I left it on the coffee table in the living room. When I got back, I had four missed calls and a text message. People don't usually call me. There were two from my mom, two from numbers I didn't recognize. Two voicemails. One from my mom, one from my bishop, and all it said was "Bronwyn, it's Bishop. Call me back!" And then the text? "Bronwyn it's bishop give me a call when you get a chance thanks bye." Whenever anyone tells me that they need to talk to me, my stomach sinks, and because of all the hold ups in my mission papers thus far, I felt sure that Bishop Donaldson was calling to deliver more bad news. I mentally prepared myself for the disappointment as I pressed the worn down green button and waited somewhat anxiously as the line rang too many times.

At long last, he answered: "Hello, this is Lee."

"Hi Bishop, it's Bronwyn!"

"Oh hi, Bronwyn. How are you doing?"

"Good," I responded. Cut to the chase, I thought.

"President Lusvardi is going to submit your papers this weekend. You still want to go on a mission, right?"

Shocks. Gasps. Heartbursts. "Wha-- Y-yes. YES."

The thing is, I thought I'd have to meet with my stake president again. I thought it would take more weeks on top of the months that I'd already waited through. I knew it would happen eventually, but I had stopped hoping for it to happen any time soon. I had honestly prepared myself to wait as long as I needed to--finally, I'd reached the point where I felt patient. The fact that I knew I was going was enough. However long it would take, I would wait. And, as it turned out, I had to wait quite a while.

But he explained to me that I didn't have to re-meet with President. He said that they talked, and they both agreed that I was ready, and they believed in me. I'd gotten all the clearance I needed--there was nothing left to do other than submit my papers, and that was going to be done within days. Days! I hardly knew the meaning of the word. After a timeline measured in months, my reality was shortened to days. And in just a five-minute conversation with my bishop. In five minutes, my waiting was almost over. Almost...

I had my first meeting with the bishop on October 9th, and we started the process that evening. It's been six months since I started my mission papers, only six months--but it's been almost three years since I decided I was going to go. This has been in the works for a while... And I'd venture to say that it's been in God's plan for always.

April 1st. My mission papers are in.