A place for me to save a few thoughts

Thinking About Jonah

Before we knew we weren’t going on a mission, we planned to meet Wendy and Bryan in Hawaii for a few days. Once we knew we weren’t going to Italy, we decided to go ahead with the trip. We’d been on such an emotional roller coaster, so we were ready to relax and figure out what we were going to do next.

As we packed, I mentioned to Marieta that I felt a little like Jonah. I had received a call to serve, but I was going off in the opposite direction. Would our trip turn into such a disaster that we would reconsider our decision?

On the morning of our flight to Hawaii, we were awakened by a call from Air France. Our luggage had been found and was headed home. A great start.

We were booked on a flight through Honolulu, because there had not been room on the non-stop flight to Maui. I thought I would check one more time to see if room was available on the non-stop, and amazingly seven seats had opened up.

Our Maui flight left on-time and the headwinds were less than expected. We landed 20 minutes early in a heavy rain.

Soon after we landed the rain stopped. I went to get the car while Marieta waited for the luggage. The car we had requested was ready and waiting. Meanwhile Marieta found all our luggage and met me at the terminal curb. Just as we had loaded our bags into the car, the rain started up again.

We encountered little traffic on our way to the hotel. The rain stopped as we arrived at the hotel. Our room was ready, even though we had arrived three hours earlier than expected. From our balcony window we could see a family of whales out in the ocean. They looked friendly.

We’re home now after a problem-free vacation. We have almost no idea what we’ll do next, except that I still refuse to take up golf. Love, Pete

Closed during Previews

After a really great dinner with the Dunaways, we went back to our sad hotel room. Marieta was already stressed out, and then my heart went into A-Fib for the first time in months. We froze for most of the night. We hadn’t heard that we had to request the heat be turned on if we wanted heat.

I slept for about four hours and awoke about 4:30 a.m. to Marieta’s crying. She had been awake the entire time thinking she needed to get dressed and go directly home. I told her missions are like this. I remember my first few weeks in Uruguay when I was 19. I had nothing to go home to, but I wanted to go home. My suitcase at first went to Madagascar instead of Montevideo (the truth). I could hardly speak the language and everything about the foreign country was foreign to me. I couldn’t even find the apartment where I lived, because every building had the same grey stucco. But by the time I finished my mission, I would miss Uruguay much more than I had ever missed home. I explained that feeling miserable at first was normal.

That didn’t help at all. She told me she wanted to go home. Her anxiety and homesickness were too much for her. Just moments into the overture, Marieta, the leading lady of our production, developed a horrible case of stage fright.

Just after she told me we were leaving, she was able to sleep. Of course, I was wide awake. Would she change her mind in the morning? What would the Lord think about us backing out? What would everyone else think? I lay awake trying to figure things out. A mission is hard, but President Dunaway was really trying to make things as comfortable for us as possible.

I would have stayed, of course, if Marieta would stay. I was prepared to be miserable. I don’t go to church because I love it, I go because I should. I go because at the end of the day, I feel better doing what I think I should be doing. If I didn’t know the Lord heard and answered prayers, I would be watching football for sure.

I also thought about how much I love and admire my wife and want her to be happy. She is a good woman and has been a good wife to me. She gave me six really wonderful children and cared for them well. She has stayed strong when I was weak. She is careful not to give offense. She loves her children and grandchildren completely and continues to serve them, to pray for them, and to do her best for them. Surely the Lord loves her.

At 6:30 I couldn’t lay in bed any longer. I took a shower and put on my same clothes from the two days before. By now Marieta was awake and she was absolutely sure she wanted to go home.

At 8:00 a.m. she called President Dunaway to tell him she couldn’t stay. He came to our hotel on his way to church and was very kind. He hoped Marieta would at least stay until she could get a little more sleep. You could tell we weren’t his first missionaries who wanted to go home early.
After he left Marieta was still determined to go home. I called Air France and asked that our lost luggage be rerouted to our home. They had found one bag, but the other’s location was unknown. I called Delta and arranged for flights. During the taxi ride to the airport, I used the Internet on my phone to arrange for a hotel near the airport for our layover in Paris. Because we had paid for 8 nights in advance, the hotel manager in Opera gave us a credit balance for whenever we wanted to return to his hotel (not likely). When we knew President Dunaway was out of church, we called from the airport to apologize. When we were on the plane, Marieta started to feel better. As long as she doesn’t try to talk herself into staying, she is fine.

After everything that went wrong on the trip, it was only appropriate that it would be snowing at the Paris airport. We were held at the gate for four hours before we could leave. We happened to be returning with the same crew that brought us to Paris on Friday. We were easily recognizable since we were wearing the same clothes. They were happy to see Marieta not crying anymore. It was also appropriate that it would be snowing in Utah when we landed. It was a 3 hour drive home.

We talked with our Stake President, and he was also very kind. We will still get our call in the mail tomorrow, but by then he will have asked for a medical release for us. We will just have to figure out another way to serve.

Our Opera Overture

Musicals and operas generally start with an overture. The lights start to go down, but before the curtain opens, the orchestra plays the overture. It’s usually an instrumental summary of everything which is to come, with bits and pieces of all the songs you’ll hear strung together. It gives patrons a little extra time to find their seats and the actors a little more time to get ready. I call this trip “Our Opera Overture” because we are coming to Opera, Italy, a suburb of Milan, for ten days to get ready for our mission. So far, you wouldn’t call our trip a comic or light opera. Things look pretty dark right now.

Our Delta flight from SLC to Paris left an hour late. That wasn’t too bad, because we picked up 30 minutes on the way and easily made our connection with Air France to Milan. The Air France flight left 30 minutes late, which gave us hope that our luggage would make it. We brought along 2 huge bags and a big bag, with stuff like bedding and towels and lots of clothes. Unfortunately, only one of our big bags made it, and the one that made it didn’t have any of our clothes. As we go to sleep, we’re hoping we’ll have a change of clothes to wear to church tomorrow. Air France gave us a couple of t-shirts and a few bath items, and that’s pretty much all we have to wear tomorrow if the bags don’t come.

Our mood wasn’t all that great along the way. Even though we’ll be home in 9 days, Marieta is already horrible homesick. Her dad used to say, “homesickness is the worst sickness,” and right now Marieta believes he is right. From time to time on the flights she would cry and then start really sobbing. At one point the flight attendant wondered if I had done something to hurt her. I explained as best I could our desire to do what we think in our hearts is right and how at the same time our heartstrings are tugging us home.

After leaving the airport without our luggage, it didn’t help that the day was dreary. The taxi driver told us Milan has had 30 days without any sunshine. Everything looks grey and lifeless. We made the trip to our hotel in less than an hour, but our driver told us on a normal day it would take two hours. The Christmas holiday in Italy goes until January 6, so not many cars were on the road. The fare was 150 euros, which is pretty outrageous. We will have to figure out mass transit for sure.

Our hotel is sad and dreary as well. They advertise themselves as having 4 stars, but none of them are shining. We did get free Internet access for our 8 nights here. The problem is that no one has been able to use the Internet since the serviceperson fixed it on December 24. He let me try their computer in the lobby just to prove that the Internet was working (I couldn’t connect with my computer, even though I tried two different cables and a number of settings). With their computer running, I opened the browser. It took only 3 minutes to bring up the Google search page. So, the free Internet is a good news, bad news type of thing.

As far as I can tell, we are the only guests in the hotel. It’s clean and we have a little kitchenette in the room, but it’s not very inviting. The restaurant is closed until the 7th. I’m not sure if that is a bad thing. Of course, I paid in advance after learning about the free Internet access. It is very quiet here.

President Dunaway picked us up for dinner a little after 6:00 p.m., and that part of the day was very nice. Ruth fixed dinner, and it was authentic Italian and very good. We talked about what we would be doing and what needed doing. Just barely did Marieta not blurt out, “I want to go home.”

So, the first little snippet of our overture is rather somber. If we could wish ourselves home in a moment, we would be there now.

A Leap not of Faith

We still don’t know for sure where we are going.

We submitted our papers on December 9, requesting we go to Italy. The papers went through a review process, and then went to the Missionary Committee on December 18. From there they were forwarded to the desk of one of the Apostles. As our luck would have it, the Apostle has not made a decision about where to send us.

We know this because the Italy Milan mission president has been calling the Missionary Committee every few days to track the progress of our papers. He has not been told which Apostle has the papers, but has been told that the General Authority in question has been out of the office and will probably not return until next week. So, we likely won’t know our fate until the week of January 5.

Of course, we are in turmoil. We have sold two cars, spent hours learning Italian, settled finances, purchased large luggage, taken family pictures, and have moved forward at an unhesitating pace. Marieta was even released from her ward callings. We are truly hurrying up and waiting at the same time. Could we end up in Africa?

More unsettled is our upcoming trip. We have been planning to fly to Italy on January 2 for a week of training before the current office couple comes home. They leave on January 16, but they won’t have much time in their last week to teach us very much. So, if we want their help, we have to go right away.

We can’t even call this a leap of faith. We have faith the Lord will send us where He wants us to go, but we have no idea what He might be thinking. We talked with the mission president this morning, who talked with the Missionary Committee this morning, and everything points towards us going to Milan. Our probability of going is likely to be greater than 90%.

What do you think? Remember that Milan is cold, foggy, and rainy this time of year. Keep in mind that we can take a lot more stuff if we make two trips. Remember that much of the work we will do is very specific to Italy–helping missionaries with visa issues, paying bills, and handling leases. We also would be able to see our apartment, so we would have an idea where we can put Marieta’s sewing machine. On the other hand, if we stayed home, we could save more than enough to money to ship anything we needed FedEx.

Should we go? Let us know what you are think we should do.

Love, Pete and Marieta

Not a Christmas List

Our week passed in a blur of appointments, shots, interviews and arrangements. We’ve sold one car, purchased two items of luggage, put our finances in order, and started a list of things to do. The list is long enough that we use post-it notes on the kitchen door. There is so much left to do. And the list is growing.< ?xml:namespace prefix = o />

Our last appointment needed to finish our application was a visit to the dentist. At 4:30 p.m. at the moment the dentist signed the evaluations, I called Bishop Cluff to tell him we had completed our application. Within moments he pushed the application to the stake level.

We took our signed evaluations to the assistant stake executive secretary so he could fill-in all the medical and dental information. By 8:30 p.m. the application all was ready for the Stake President. Minutes later, President Hughes, who happens to be in Japan today, sent an email to say he had reviewed the application and had passed it on to the missionary committee. After a week of furious activity, we have officially submitted our mission papers.

First thing tomorrow morning, President Dunaway will be calling the missionary committee from Italy to make sure everyone is on the same page. Although unlikely, there is a small chance the church could send another couple to Italy and send us to some other place. Marieta is very afraid we will end up somewhere in Africa.

We probably will not know our fate for certain for two to three weeks, but at least we can relax a little. Because we are trying to get to Italy as quickly as possible and because we cannot get a long-term visa until we have an official call in hand, we were in a rush. Now while we wait we can concentrate on our list. Hopefully, Marieta will have a little time to sew. Pete