Just like Beckett's play, the past four weeks in our lives have bordered on the absurd, mixing the mundane and the truly extraordinary. Activities like packing boxes and holding yard sales have followed on heels of our son's temple wedding, occasioning a wonderful reunion with family and friends. We still have to mow the grass, but the next door neighbor has agreed to buy our house! Our sons are going to help with inheriting and storing furniture and boxes, and friends have already offered to share their home after we sell the house. Then it's back to packing more boxes.
All the while, we have waited for word from the headquarters of the LDS Church in Salt Lake City. We initially told them we could be available by the first of September, but we're kind of thinking that it would be nice to have more than two weeks' notice between receiving our call and reporting to the Missionary Training Center in Provo. We continue our preparations, rearranging bill payments and contacting friends of friends, who have served in Tonga themselves. Pragmatic yet banal thoughts fill my head at night: do I bring a two-year supply of hair color? Bug repellent? I don't want anyone to have to ship stuff to me unless it's medical necessities - our post office told us it would cost $11 per pound to ship merchandise to Tonga. That adds up quickly.
Then there are the wonderful moments. Colleagues and friends are extremely excited to hear our news. Even people we haven't told come up to us saying, "I heard you are going to Tonga!" We have the support of many, many people around us, whether or not they happen to be members of the Church. We were a little concerned about how Jim's mother, age 85, would receive the news, but we shouldn't have worried. Her response was, "I knew you couldn't stay in one place for much longer!"
There have been opportunities to bear testimony. When Jim's brother expressed apprehension about Jim's physical ability to fulfill this assignment, I found myself assuring him that the Lord would sustain Jim. I also told him that if we did come home early, we wouldn't be the first ones. It's not like we're going to be dropped in the middle of the Pacific and then not contacted for two years. And you never know if you can do something until you try!
One more pedestrian concern has yet to be addressed. We have two dogs, and we need to find a long-term dogsitter. Pazzo, aged 15, came home with us from Italy, and he may or may not survive two more years to greet us when we return. And 4-year old Tucker is a handful; he is half Jack Russell terrier (need I say more?). Someone with a lot of love and a lot of patience needs to appear on my doorstep! Okay, Lord - I'm going to trust that this one will get taken care of as well (but yes, I'll start asking around!).