It's official. Saturday, July 27, we were set apart as missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to serve in the Tonga Nuku'alofa mission. We made our last trip to Juneau this weekend, packed our last few boxes into storage, and added few more items to the things that will be coming over in a barged 4 x 4 x 4-foot container our Tongan friends are building and shipping to us. Yes....it's ALL essential stuff we (MOSTLY we....well, yes, I confess, a lot of it is mine) will need for the next two, possibly three years, said good-bye to dear friends who have been our family in Alaska for over 25 years, and hardest of all, said good-bye to Joanna and Gabrielle. Thank goodness for Hangouts!!! What did people do when they had to wait weeks, sometimes months, for a letter? And being senior missionaries (I wonder if there's a word that describes a missionary who is not a "young" missionary, but not yet a "senior"...hmmm....I'm pretty sure we're not seniors yet!) we will get to Hangout a lot. At least once a week. At least we will get to see and talk to our kids real time. We've been practicing since our family is getting so spread out now. We're getting pretty good at it :)
We still have a while before we officially report to the MTC. But until then our schedule is still pretty full. We fly to Seattle tomorrow night (Tuesday) and will pick up my little Camry which we shipped down last week on the barge. Then we'll drive from Seattle to Salt Lake City, pick up Tyler and Sarah and drive to Ashton Idaho for a family reunion. One last chance to see family. More good-byes.....I don't really like good-byes!! Then we spend the week of August 5 doing intensive language study before officially reporting to the MTC on August 12. Then it's a hop, skip and a jump and we'll be in Tonga!!
Our little house is ready for us, thanks to Pres. and Sis. Tupou. We'll be right across the street from the temple. I've never lived so close to a temple before. I'm so excited! I'm hoping going to the temple in Tonga this time around my Tongan will be a little better and I'll be able to understand more. Let me tell you, it can be a little tricky when going through a session spoken in a language you don't understand. Tricky for all involved!! But also a testimony to the fact that language does not matter when you are being taught by the Spirit. I loved going to the temple on our previous visits, and am looking forward to attending the temple often now that it's right next door.
We are a whirlwind of emotions: sad to be saying good-bye to our friends and family, and knowing it will be a long time before we see them again; curious as to what things will be like when we get back; calm because we know we are doing Heavenly Father's will and He will take care of us and our family while we are gone; a little nervous because we're heading off onto a grand, huge adventure and we're not quite sure what to expect; a LOT nervous because we don't know very much Tongan yet, and because they talk so darned fast we're not sure we'll even be able to pick out any of the few Tongan words/phrases we have been practicing so hard to learn; but most of all EXCITED, because this IS a GRAND and HUGE ADVENTURE and we're going to a place and a people we love!!!
'Eleta Hamblin, Palesiteni Youngberg, pea Sisita Hamblin