You’ve probably seen Ella’s picture in Instagram or facebook showing two thumbs up with her Mission Call in the table in front of her in Goldilocks. And you’re probably asking why she opened it there; why we had her open it there.
Here’s what happened …
Well, we received the white envelope around 9:30 this morning and she was already in her office. I was speechless when Romel waved it over his head as he announced to us that “it” has finally arrived. I was silent for a few minutes, trying to let the reality sink in. In less than 2 months, another daughter will temporarily leave us behind to serve a full time mission in another part of the country … a long long way from home. I was about to cry … I wanted to cry, but it does not feel right, so I fought hard so that the tears will not flow.
We then discussed when will be the best time for Ella to know that her Call has arrived and we also talked about when it will be best for her to open the call. Initially we said it would be ideal if we will have a Family Home Evening tonight and Ella can open it during the FHE. But then Sarah said that she will be out and will not be home early. April is also having friends for a sleepover and she said it would be better if we open it as a family, with all of us present. Besides, we were all “dying” to know where she will be serving.
So finally we agreed to fetch Ella and eat out for lunch. The plan is to text her and tell her Daddy wants to try the Lugaw in the Lugawan near her office. We told her we’d meet her outside the RDU. Then I called Tonton and told him about what ‘s going on and asked him if he would like to join us. He said yes and he asked permission from his teacher.
April, Ton ton, Sarah, Daddy, and I, we all went to Ella’s office to break to her the great news! So at exactly 11 in the morning earlier today, we waited for Ella outside her office building. We waited for almost one hour.
When she finally came, we let her take the seat behind the driver seat. As she was beginning to tell us about what the guard told her …. (“naa imong kuya dinhi sa silong ga hulat …), and with three cameras documenting what was going on, I gave her the white envelope.
She squealed! Obviously she was not prepared. She was repeatedly saying …. My oh my! and My Gosh! Hahaha!
Then we told her the date she is expected to report to the MTC, and she squealed again! She said it’s too soon! Barely 2 months, unlike her Ate Myco who had two months to prepare everything she needed. Ella kept hugging the white envelope …
As Daddy began to drive, and as we were trying to decide where to eat for lunch, she was speaking nervously …. She could not decide when she will open the envelope. We told her to take her time … except for April, Sarah, and Tonton who were too eager they couldn’t wait any longer. They kept telling her …“sige na Ate Ell, open na! Basin Butuan ka ma assign hahaha” …
We looked for a place to eat, and since it was peak hours, all fast food chains were packed full. We transferred from one fast food chain to another and I was beginning to worry because Ella had less than 30 minutes to eat lunch and she needed to go back to her office soon. Finally we settled at Goldilocks, the only place we could find with a vacant table and one that’s closest to her office.
There, in the small white table, with all six of us gathered around, she slowly opened her Mission Call.
And just like the customary practice of reading the letter line by line instead of jumping directly to her assignment, she slowly read the letter from the First Presidency.
With a “tambon-tambon effect” ;> and in a hushed tone, she read the letter, one line at a time until she reached the part on where she will be serving for 18 months was written :
PHILIPPINES LAOAG MISSION!
She paused …
Laoag … she said to herself and then she looked at me and to her Daddy …
Ton ton said “Cebu” upon hearing the last syllable of the word Laoag! He thought it was Lahug. And then Ella looked at her Daddy and then at me, and we both said Laoag is in Ilocos, in the northernmost part of the Philippines. What followed was a lengthy discussion of what makes Laoag a beautiful place to visit. I told Ella her Lolo, my father, would be happy to know that Ella will visit his birthplace. Vigan in Ilocos Sur is my father’s birthplace, and it’s part of Laoag Mission. Ella will be serving in one of the most beautiful places in the country, and she will be serving the Ilocanos. Ella is ¼ Ilocano, from my Father’s side, and I am so happy to know that she will most likely get the chance to meet our relatives there. I haven’t been to Vigan, and now that Ella will be serving there, the chances of us visiting my father’s birthplace is now a real possibility. When Myco and Ella comes home from their missions, we will visit Angeles and Laoag, and they will be our guide.
Ell, CONGRATULATIONS Anak! We are so proud of you! We are so happy for you too! Just like Ate Myco, we will miss you but we’re happy for your decision. We know it will also be hard for you to be away from us. But know that we will always be here for you! 18 months is not that long … remember that our goal is forever, together!
We love you very much!