Recover from our eldest son Kai's wedding: check.
Receive official letter calling us on a mission: check.
Sell and close on the house: check.
Say goodbye to friends and relatives in the San Luis Valley: check.
Pack up the house and drive it 1000 miles to storage near #2 son RC's home: check.
Find good (temporary) homes for both dogs: check.
Buy enough missionary clothing and supplies: check.
Buy a HUGE fourth suitcase, to fit everything we're taking: check.
Enter MTC: wait, wait, wait! Not until October 3rd.
Begin Operation In-Between: check.
Goodbye, house. You were a good little house.
Okay, we're kind of ready. There's a few more things we still need to buy, but mostly we're ready. I've got one bag packed that I've promised myself I'm not opening until we arrive in Tonga, another bag packed for the MTC (Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah), and a third bag packed with clothes I'll use until I enter the MTC. The amount of stuff we've decided to take is nothing short of ridiculous - it's a good thing these suitcases have wheels, because I'd end up in the hospital trying to carry them. My advice to the young - don't get old! You end up with too many pills, too many "have to have" items in order to make it through the week!
The wedding went beautifully. Friends from all over the country flew in and helped out. Jim catered the food (one and only time from a hotel suite), and the reception went off without a hitch. The temple ceremony was simple, sweet, and earnest - just like it should have been. And Kai and Jacilyn held a short ring ceremony at the beginning of the reception, to welcome those who did not attend the temple ceremony. It was a wonderful time, and after changing clothes, the bride and groom broke with tradition and stayed to help with the reception cleanup! I can't speak for the bride's parents, but the groom's parents took about 5 days to recover!
We received the "mission call" letter on August 19th, the Friday before our stake conference. The folks at the missionary department in Salt Lake City wanted to know if we would gather family members around to open the letter. Even if we'd had family nearby, I don't think Jim could have waited. He walked in from the mailbox, laid down the rest of the mail, and tore open the big envelope marked "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints", just to make sure we had been called to the same mission we had been arranging all those weeks! Yes, we got called to Tonga - no surprises, no foreign mission in Kentucky or something. We've been on the telephone with our coordinator in New Zealand, and we've been in touch with former International Teacher Education Program missionaries via email, so we're getting some hints as to what our days will look like. We'll find out most of the details when we get there.
We loaded up the U-Haul truck Tuesday night, with the help of many friends. Jim's former high school football team even came over - you can empty a house in a very short time when you have 25 teenagers filing through the hallways! Some adult friends from church were also there, and packed the truck so very well and so very tightly that absolutely nothing shifted in the more than 1000 miles between our house and the controlled-climate storage site in Corpus Christi, near RC's home. We didn't quite fit everything in the 20-foot truck, so we went back the next day and got a 12-foot trailer, and I drove that one while Jim drove the truck. On Thursday, August 25, we waved goodbye to the San Luis Valley, and Mount Blanca, above, and started a long trip - three full days, at 55-60 mph, rather than the 75-80 that everyone else was doing!
Got to Corpus Christi and found one more reason to like RC's girlfriend: she has a very compassionate dad. His name is Gary, and he has two little dogs already, but he has agreed to take our little Tucker for two years. We are grateful beyond words - I had already threatened not to go on this mission if I couldn't find a home for Tucker (RC is taking Pazzo, but Tucker doesn't get along with RC's big dog, Cole). Now the last obstacle has been cleared, and we can go with clear consciences, and serve without worry. For those of you without pets, who don't understand how a four-legged creature can become as precious as a child - just wait. You'll get it when you adopt a pet. Anyway, thanks, Gary. You are going out of your way to help someone, and I am confident you will be blessed for it. I will remind the Lord frequently!
Okay, now the rest of the month looks like this: stay here in Corpus for a few more days, drive north, spend some time with Kai and Jacilyn in Denver, then drive farther north to visit Yellowstone, before heading west to Salt Lake City. Friends there are willing to host us for a couple of weeks before we finally enter the MTC. Operation In-Between has begun!