We started those in January, hooked up via a web video feed with 7 other couples in the Philippines, Japan and Arizona. They were helpful.
Somewhere in there someone realized something that we had been wondering about: that our assignment will start in March instead of in July, and that when we started we would have only been able to participate in two of these sessions. So a crash course was put together by some very good people and L. and I flew to Salt Lake City to spend 4 packed-full days doing the next 4 sessions of discussion and reading and meeting with resource people and working with young missionaries. It was extremely helpful and the two who took on the task of coordinating the whole thing and with whom we spent the most time were delightful, insightful people.
(And we were able to spend some time with Sam and Susan and their families on our last evening there too, which was great.)
The general plan was that we would return to Hanoi on Friday morning, arriving on Saturday evening, in time to be there to prepare for previously scheduled visits by Gary Stevenson, Gerritt Gong and others mid-week, the government and member meetings involved with that, and that L. would be set apart during that time as well. (I figured that since mission presidents' wives are set apart as full time missionaries, which I am already set apart to be, I was already set in that department.)
But things change. Enter Felix,
whose entrance into the world we were alerted to as being imminent on Thursday and who was born in Seoul on Saturday morning.
I had been praying for his safe arrival at the best time and really, the timing was perfect both for him (full term) and for us, since we were routed through Seoul on Saturday evening on our way back home to Hanoi, and six months previously I had gotten sure permission to leave the mission to be there to help Elizabeth with her first child. (Generally moms on missions aren't there for grandchildren births because, generally, there are sisters, aunts, mothers-in-law etc. who live near enough that they can travel to be there to help, but in this case there is not.)
It was also a choices challenge, however. Turns out that mission presidents' wives need to be set apart too, even if they are already full-time missionaries. And it needs to happen when their husbands are set apart. And if I wasn't in Hanoi when Gary Stevenson was (he's the one who needed to do that setting apart, and the general March start date had been chosen because it could be coordinated with his scheduled visit), that created a new challenge.
Good, better, best. It was clear to me what the best choice was. But it was hard knowing that making that choice would complicate other people's plans, including some other dearly beloved individuals, not just the aforementioned Stevenson and Gong. I hate making things more complicated for people. My initial instinct is to try to disrupt things as little as possible.
Sometimes when you make a correct choice, it is not the one that makes things easier for all the people you want to help. Sometimes it is, but not always.
L., of course, was completely supportive of whatever I chose to do. Dear fellow, he had the unenviable position of needing to be the point of communication between us and our anticipated visitors without being the one who was making my decisions.
So now I am in Seoul, and L. is in Hanoi.
More than half a century ago, in 1946, Jean Wunderlich and his wife Jane Burlingame Wunderlich were called to the West German mission. While setting him apart, David O. McKay said to Brother Wunderlich, "Be true to the law of your own being."
Jean later said that the words of that commandment were the most important words he ever heard.
To me that is a call to integrity, to make decisions based upon what you feel called to do by God and which are based upon the principles that are most important to you.
That is a good lesson with which to start the work we will commence next month.
For more information on the Wunderlichs' story: