Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Call to Serve

Tom had a personal goal to submit his papers to serve a mission, at the earliest time which is four months prior to his nineteenth birthday.  And so it happened, he was able to submit them to his Bishop, three days after receiving the Melchizadek Priesthood, and four months exactly before his birthday.  This also coincided with our much planned road trip to Southern California.  As anticipated, Bishop received notice that a call to serve had left Salt Lake City early on the second week of our travels.  By the Thursday, Tom & Sarah flew back to Denver while Rick & I started the long drive back, stopping overnight in St George, Utah with our good friends the Jensen's.  By mid afternoon, Tom called to say it had arrived at Bishop Smith's!!  We arranged to all meet there, family and friends, when Bishop was home to enjoy this experience together.  Rick & I made good time and arrived back in Denver with a couple of hours to spare, and were able to organise for his sister Karlie and her family in Adelaide to be on the phone, and his brother Mike in Brisbane to be on skype!!

This is another most choice experience we have been able to share as a family! The opening of a letter from the Prophet with a call to serve as a full time missionary! 

"Elder Bennallack, you are hereby called to serve in the AUSTRALIA MELBOURNE MISSION!"

Tom reading his call out, with Karlie on the phone and Mike on skype!

The gathering at Bishop Smith's to share the moment!
L-R Back: Kelsey Mercer, Rick, Donna Mercer, Conlan Reardon, Kelland Hansen & Bishop Smith
Middle: Caden Mercer, Paige Mercer, Michelle & Sarah
Front: Tom and Taylor (Skippy) Tripp.
How wonderful, how exciting, and how right it felt for Tom to be called from America back to Australia.  Congratulations Tom! 

Tom's date to report at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, is the 7th of December, 2011.  Rick and I were glad this was before we leave Denver, which is the 11th December, but immediately saw a problem regarding his current visa status.  In short, because myself, Sarah and Tom are dependants of Rick, we cannot stay in the USA if Rick leaves the country.  So Tom would either need to attend another MTC or enter on a different date.  Rick phoned the missionary department who understood completely, and due to the six week transfer process, Tom now needs to report a transfer earlier on the 26 October 2011.  This means he will have his birthday in the MTC, but there are no visa issues at all..  WOW!

Meanwhile, we were able to travel to Upstate New York, visit the Sacred Grove and Palmyra and then explore New York City itself.  What a wonderful opportunity it was to visit these places. Missionary shopping commenced in New York City, with the purchase of a suit from Macy's! 

During this time of preparation, the Denver Temple closed for two months for some major renovations and updates.  Tom's cousin Elder Mitchell Herrick was arriving in Utah with his dad to also attend the Provo MTC, so early September, Rick & I drove with Tom to Utah, stayed with our kind friends the Welch's, so Tom could receive his endowment in the Temple and share this time with extended family!  Again, we were blessed with a rich experience together as we attended first the Salt Lake Temple, then in the following days, the Jordan River Temple, the Oquirrh Mountain Temple and the Mount Timpanogas Temple.  What a wonderful time spent in the temple along with his cousins and Uncle Jamie.

Viewing the SL Temple from the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
L-R: Ben, Tom, Jamie, Elder Herrick, Michelle & Rick

Outside the Mt Timpanogas Temple
L-R: Tom, Philip, Mitchell, Jamie
Front: Kaylee & Michelle
This time of preparation has gone be very quickly.  Missionary shopping that took place in Utah continued here in Littleton, and finally, I am satisfied  Tom has all he needs.  Looking good!

According to our now family tradition, we were able to spend time together in the Baptistry of the Denver Temple, the four of us.  This was another lovely time.  And in the final week before departing, Tom was able to work in the Denver Temple participating in all the areas available to patrons.  What a wonderful week it has been. 
In Sacrament Meeting at church, Tom gave a wonderful talk on faith and shared a beautiful testimony of Jesus Christ and shared his strong desire to serve Him as a missionary.  I'm afraid there was alot there with misty eyes, (especially me!) We are proud of you Tom, and wish you all the very best as you serve in the Australia Melbourne Mission.  You are a great example to us and we love you deeply.

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