Sunday morning we trudged to the Stake President’s office to keep a 9:00 a.m. appointment. Marieta felt at ease, because we were both under the impression that I would get a new calling. Soon she shared my anxiety.

President Hughes explained that President Dunaway, our former stake president and current president of the Milan Italy Mission, called asking for help. The mission office couple was returning home in January, and he desperately needed a senior couple to serve in their place. The missionary department of the church let him know that he had little chance of receiving a replacement couple unless he could find a couple himself. The demand for senior missionaries exceeds the supply, and the available missionaries were needed elsewhere.

President Hughes explained that after a lot of prayer and thought he had come to the conclusion that he should ask us to consider accepting the call. Unlike earlier days of the LDS church when calls were announced from the pulpit and no one could say no, he was asking us if we would be willing to serve. We talked about our family, our health, our finances (Milan, Italy is one of the more expensive missions and missionaries pay their own expenses), and our commitments. We could only think of nine reasons not to go—our grandchildren Rylee, Samantha, Jacob, Barrett, Dani, Jonny, Ashley, Matthew, and Jane. They are so dear to us. Watching them learn and grow is such a joy.

We had a few questions, but we told President Hughes we would go. By Tuesday morning our questions were answered and our plans were settled. Assuming we pass our physicals, receive approval from the church’s missionary committee, and have our visas, we should be in Milano (notice the switch to Italian) in March.

We’ve shed some tears and lost a little sleep, but we’re going to go because we feel we should. We’re excited to help the missionary effort and to learn a little Italian, but we’re sad to have to say good-by. Luckily we’ll have the Internet and the tools it offers us to stay in touch for the 18 months we are in Italy.