Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Elder Call Completes Mission, Arrives Home Safe and Sound

The day finally came: Thursday, 24 February 2011.

Elder Call was to fly from Pocatello to Salt Lake City. Then, after a three-hour layover, he was to fly home to Kansas City.

His older sisters, Rachel and Rebecca, were living in Provo.

I had to be in Provo working with a client that day.

This was warming up to be a wonderful day.

Elder Call arrived on time, at about 10:30 or so in the morning, at the Salt Lake City airport, where he spent a couple hours visiting with Rachel and Rebecca.

I spent the morning working.

We had all managed to keep my surprise a secret.

After Rachel and Rebecca said their goodbyes, Elder Call got into the security line to board his plane to Kansas City. What he didn't know was that Rachel was texting me, informing me where Elder Call was at the airport, so I could hide from him. He didn't know I would be joining him on his flight home.

Thanks to Rachel's text messages, I was able to be at the very end of the security line as Elder Call was near the front of the line.

I stood on my toes, scanning the hundreds of people ahead of me, looking for my dear son. I spotted a tall man with a missionary haircut near the front of the line, but he was facing away from me. Could this be my Elder Call? He started to turn his head. He too scanned the crowds. He looked right at me for a split second, then continued to scan.

Yes! It was Elder Call!

The next 30 minutes were spent hiding from him. After everyone boarded the plane, I made it to the gate.

I had arranged for Elder Call to be in seat 12A. I was assigned to seat 12B.

The plane was full, and everyone was seated. I slowly made my way down the isle, looking for row 12. There it was. The lone empty seat. Next to a handsome returning missionary.

My son. My heart skipped a beat. I could barely contain myself. Should I smile? Should I call out his name? Should I be low-key? Should I draw attention?

Before I knew it, I was at the seat.

"Hi Elder," I said.

He looked at me.


I smiled. He looked away. He looked back at me.

He did another double take.

"Oh. Hi!" he said.

I sat down as we tried to hug in the snug seats.

We both laughed.

Elder Call shook his head. "This is something you would do," he said.

The next two hours literally--and figuratively--flew by.

We arrived in Kansas City, where Mom, Mary Ann, and John were anxiously awaiting Elder Call's return. As we walked through the security door, hugs were given and tears were shed. John couldn't stop jumping up and down out of excitement. Mary Ann had made a beautiful "Welcome Home" sign.

Elder Call is home.

--Editor, otherwise known as "Proud (in a righteous sort of way) Dad"

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Lot of Goings-On as Elder Call begins Final Week

21 February 2011

Dear Dad,

Thank you so much for the past couple of emails that you have sent. It is really good to hear from you. Sorry this email is coming kind of late in the day. It is President's Day so all the libraries are closed and we had a weird schedule this morning.

Grandma and Grandpa Brown came up to Rigby for lunch today! It was so good to see both of them. I wasn't sure if they were going to make it up--I kind of figured that since Salt Lake was closer I would just see them there. I didn't realize that they have been experiencing those kind of health issues. Sister Christiansen called me this morning and told me that they were going to come up for lunch today. They made it just fine, a little longer drive than I think they expected (I don't think they knew I got transferred up to Rigby a few weeks ago). They are such good people. We had a really good visit. They were surprised that they were able to find our house, it sounds like Sister Christiansen talked them all the way here. Bless her heart. Those office couples are really something special, and I don't think they know it.

I hope the Spring has come. The last couple of days were windy and snowy again.

It sounds like you guys have some big plans for the house, that would be really good to have fruit trees and a garden. It would be fun too.

We had the Departing Missionaries Temple Trip on Thursday. The Temple in Idaho Falls is an exceptional place to visit and ponder. Being there with missionaries that I have learned to love and President & Sister Colton, what a neat experience. Brother Mengel gave us a ride down to and back from the temple. He and his wife gave us our first meal here in Rigby. They are good people.

I also was able to get together with Grandpa Call's cousins again for lunch this week. I love those people also, they absolutely insisted on getting together. Sister Barbara Call Brown copied a bunch of pictures for me again. She is a funny 80-year-old woman, very spry for her age.

That Valentine's card wasn't only my idea. Last Monday while we were in Walmart an older couple stopped and said hello to us (as many do), but she then said, "Let me see, it is Valentine's day and you would love to send a card to your mothers, telling them how much you love them, but you just don't have the money. Let me give you each a card to mail to them." She handed us the cards and they went on their way. She was right.

It has been a good week. We found four new investigators--that was a miracle. I hope that this area can start to blossom some more (not a whole lot was going on here when we got to Rigby). I really love Rigby it is a wonderful place with some amazing people. I wish I could be here forever. One of our new investigators in particular seems really promising. His wife is a less-active member and he said he is easing into the church. He told us that he will be baptized, just didn't set a date. We will teach him again tomorrow and hopefully set a date with him.

As cold and as hard as it is sometimes to go out and work and keep trying, I don't want to leave. I don't want this to end. The mission is too good to me. Being here and watching as the Lord's work and purposes unfold is a miraculous event--beautiful and awe-inspiring. I love the Lord.

Thank you for everything that you have sacrificed for me for the past two years. I can't thank you enough.

I love you,

Elder Call

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dad's Final Post (At least at this point. . .)

On Anticipating My Son's Return

I wonder. . .

I wonder if all the longing I feel

             to embrace. . .

                  to hold. . .

                    to see. . .

I wonder if the hunger of my heart

              to welcome. . .

                  to listen to. . .

                    to simply be. . .

I wonder. . .

I wonder if these longings, these yearnings, these wishes of my soul. . .

              could they be. . .

                      could it be. . .

                                      they are but a foreshadowing. . .

                                            they are simply a type and a shadow. . .

                              they are but a drop in an ocean of longings yet to come. . .

I wonder. . .

            I wonder. . .

I wonder if, when I am on the other side. . .

              awaiting my loved ones to return. . .

              Will I feel as I do now?

              Will my heart hunger as it does now?

I wonder. . .

          Are today's longings

                  simply another lesson

                          from my mortal journey. . .

          to prepare me for my eternal experience?

I wonder. . .

Monday, February 14, 2011

Finding Investigators, Meeting Relatives

14 February 2011

Dear Dad,

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thank you for the emails this week. It has warmed up a little bit here also these last few days. It has been kind of nice. I don't know if it will stay this way or not.

We went on exchanges this week, Thursday night through Friday night. I went with Elder White in the Rigby East Stake. I think it was a really good exchange. It was cool because Elder White wanted me to meet Bishop Wayne Call in one of their wards--Grandpa Call's friend and cousin. We went over there Friday morning and they were excited to meet me, and it was lots of fun to be able to talk with them. They had lots of good stories and even pulled out an old picture that had Grandpa Call's grandpa and Wayne Call's grandpa in it (they were brothers). Bishop and Sister Call's sons lived in the Taylor Mountain Stake and I knew them both, they are a really good family. They insisted on feeding us also, so Sister Call made some fried halibut and shrimp for lunch--it was delicious. They are extremely friendly people with a lot of faith and trust in the Lord.

I don't know if I will be able to get a hold of the Olavesons, I will see what happens. But it is going to be a pretty busy week coming up.

It has been a good week here, still just trying to find more people to teach. A few weeks ago we tracted into a couple of teenage girls who said they weren't members, but had been to church before and liked it. So last Monday night we finally met one of the parents, the father. He told us that he isn't active in the church or anything, actually that he hasn't been baptized. He told us to come over though and to teach him and his family. We set up an appointment, and he called and had to reschedule for tomorrow night, I hope that we will be able to teach him and his family.

That is kind of funny about the Primary kids not going to the right classes, but everything always works out better when done how the Lord wants it done. Kind of a similar thing that I have learned on my mission is people don't go to the wards they belong too! It can get rather frustrating, because we want the investigators to go where they can receive guidance from their inspired priesthood leaders. President Colton told me once that it is a big problem in the church and the way we are going to fix it is one person at a time, starting with our own investigators (or the people we have stewardship for).

I had forgotten that you were going to school also, that is a big thing to try to do that and work and family and church callings all at the same time. I hope that things will be done when they need to be done.

It makes me happy to hear that Mary Ann and John are doing good in school, I can't believe that they get up at 5:30 every morning. I don't think I could ever do that again for an extended period of time.

Thanks for letting me know about Rachel and Rebecca and meeting them at the baggage claim, I actually didn't even think of that! I don't like airports, they can be so confusing.

I got Mom's letter about how Grandpa and Grandma Brown wanted to see me before I leave, I called the mission office and Sister Christiansen said she would talk to you about the whole deal. Did she get a hold of you? I don't know if they realize that I got shipped back up to Rigby, which is a lot farther away from Logan than Pocatello is. I suggested that if they really wanted to come up and see me the best day would be on Monday the 21st, or they could meet me at the airport also. If you haven't had any contact with the mission office about it yet, could you please give them a call? Thank you.


Elder Call

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Inspiring Zone Conference; Thoughts on Searching for Ancestral Land

7 February 2011

Dear Dad,

It sounds pretty crazy with what is going on with the weather. I bet Mary Ann and John loved having a week off of school! I don't think I ever had anything like that. I hope it is nicer weather when I get home. I think we have only had one day where it was blizzard conditions and that was just a few days before Thanksgiving. It was really cold here the first few days at the beginning of the week, but it has warmed up a bit these last few days.

The $100 visa card should be more than enough to cover for things that I need. Thank you so much for sending it.

I am excited for Uncle Darryn. I am sure that he will do a great job as stake president. He has always been so nice and such a good guy. I am excited for him.

I am really excited to look around and see all of the different sites in Missouri. That will be a lot of fun. I love church history. I have thought about trying to find some of our ancestors' land in the area. That would be really cool. If you do start looking around, it would be good to look in Anson's journal for clues about where to look--also in Samantha Call Willey's life sketch. If I recall correctly Cyril Call and his sons (Harvey, Anson and possibly Josiah) went to Missouri in the summer of 1838 and bought land at a place called Three Forks of the Grand River. It was a little community with a few families.

We had zone conference this week on Friday. It was probably one of the best zone conferences I have been to. It was held in Ammon at the Ammon North Stake Center. The topics were pretty much The Book of Mormon and Repentance. It went on to 5:15, and was supposed to end at 4:00. Long, but good.

Thank you for all of the things that you do for me.

Elder Call

Monday, January 24, 2011

Family History Brings the Spirit

24 January 2011

Dear Dad,

It sounds like it has been quite the week for the family! With school and church being cancelled. I bet that is a ton of fun for Mary Ann and John.

I am glad that Mary Ann was able to visit some of her friends up in Roscoe! I bet it was a great experience for her. I hope that she can make some new good friends in Missouri, it makes me happy to know that kids in the ward were asking about her.

I am cool with speaking on either the 20th or 27th, whichever works out better for you guys. If 27 March is best, then that is what we will do. I don't need to speak in the Wood Heights Ward, just curious if they were planning on it.

That is so good that you are getting some more jobs, I hope you can find new clients. I do know about the Lord stretching us, to teach us to lean on him. He really knows how to test us.

We had a couple of neat things happen this week. In one of the ward directories we saw that there was a Call family and decided to go visit them. The same day we decided that we should see them, the Relief Society President told us that we should go see the Call family because they could use a visit. So we thought we should go over that evening. We knocked on the door and Sis. Call answered and seemed a bit skeptical about why we were there. I told her I was just curious to see if we were cousins some how. She smiled and called to her husband, and said "Elder Call is here and wondering if we are cousins."

So he came to the door and invited us in, we sat down and talked for a minute. He is descended from Anson Call's son Anson Vasco Call. He is part of the Star Valley branch of the family. He asked me about my family history and I explained that I was from the Rigby branch of the family, through Anson's brother Omer. He told me that he had heard about the twin brothers Omer and Homer and that he was related to the Calls from Rigby. We got to know him a little more and he told us he hasn't been active for about 5 years. He then invited us over for dinner tonight. He stopped and said, "Wow, I just invited you guys over again. That's good, twice in one week. I haven't let missionaries in for 5 years."

He also told us that the other day he saw a couple of missionaries walking by as he was shoveling and they offered to help shovel. He said that he didn't need any help, so they kept walking. As they left he noticed that the good feeling he had as he was talking with them left also, and he almost called after them, but was too scared to.

I guess we just don't realize the impact we make on people sometimes.

I think I will write about the other neat thing that happened in a letter home.

Thanks for the email, it is good to hear what is going on at home.

Elder Call

Monday, January 17, 2011

Elder Call and his New Companion Enjoy Rigby

17 January 2011

Dear Dad,

Thank you for the email. It is really weird how some ares have so many members of the church. Even here in Idaho some stakes are really big, with lots of families and children and others have very small wards. That is good that our new stake has so many people in it.

My new companion's name is Elder Taumoepeau (Tau ([as in abOUt]-moy-pay-au), and he is straight from Tonga! He is a good guy and a good missionary. He is well prepared.

We are enjoying Rigby--it is a good little town. I like it a lot, nice and quiet. We cover four wards; 4th, 5th, 6th (YSA), and the 14th wards. Everyone in Rigby is way nice and always trying to help us in anyway possible.

Earlier this week we were tracting and met one of the Hamer girls from Freeport, Illinos. I can't remember what her first name is, but she is married now and I think she was about Rebecca's age. She said she knew her. It was way funny because she looked familiar (but we meet so many people that we see all over the place) and she said she recently moved here. I asked where she was from and she said Chicago. So I said I was from the Rockford area and we made the connection. Her married name is Curtis. It can be a really small world.

It has been really cold, snowy and wet this week. Elder Taumoepeau has had a heck of a time adjusting from the nice warm Tonga weather to Idaho snow.

Everyday this week I have been asked at least once if I am related to the Calls from Rigby, and everyone is so excited to know that I am.

I really just feel at home here in Rigby. I feel so comfortable, like it is perfectly natural for me to be walking up and down the streets.

I get along with Elder Taumoepeau really well. He is quiet and a bit shy, but funny when he opens up. He is a solid missionary. You can tell that he is out on a mission for the right reasons--to serve the Lord. He has 5 older brothers, one older sister, a younger brother and a younger sister, nine kids in all. His mom was the principal for Liahona High School and his dad was the seminary coordinator. I am glad he is my companion.

Hopefully there will be more to tell you next week.

Elder Call