Sunday, October 21, 2012

The rest of the story, to be continued...

I have had trouble sleeping for the past week or so.  I guess the excitement and anticipation of receiving a mission call has taken its toll.  So last Friday I got up early and wrote my last blog entry.  I am sure it sounded a little frustrated, because I felt a little bit that way.  I mean, how long does it take, really, to get a letter from Salt Lake to Twin Falls!  We were planning on driving to Salt Lake Friday to go to the Book of Mormon Archeological Foundation (BMAF) annual meeting.  I was planning on taking Tom and Spencer along because they have both been to Guatemala with me on dental service missions, and they have seen some of the ruins down there.  Gaye said she wanted to delay our departure for Salt Lake until after the mail was delivered.
Handsome Peruvian boy

The first hint I had that something was going on was when my grandson excitedly informed me that “it is here!”  Yep, there were three pieces of mail, each with the same incorrect zip code on the front.  I am not sure they went to New Mexico, but they sure took the scenic routs to Twin Falls in any case.  So how are we going to do this?  Should we call all the kids and let them participate by Skype or Facetime, or just by regular telephone?  Should we just have Kim come over and open it with her, then call the others?  Becki and Ethan were here, so it  would not be like we were trying to leave people out.  Which of us do you think was the most impatient about this?  Yes, it was Gaye.  She could not wait!  Well, I was also a little excited, but I tried to not show it.  You know, be cool.

Rexburg Idaho Temple
Nauvoo Illinois Temple
I set up a couple of cameras to record our response to the moment of opening the letter.  The travel information came in a larger envelope, so I wanted to open that one first.  When I received my call to South Africa centuries ago I opened that one first and a little piece of yellow paper fell out.  It said, “You should apply for a passport immediately.”  I knew I was going somewhere outside the USA.  Gaye vetoed that idea, though, and she opened her letter.  

Dear Sister Patterson,  (There was one identical addressed to me.)

Twin Falls Temple
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  You are assigned to labor in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.  (We both registered shock and surprise at that moment, caught forever on camera.)  Your primary assignment is to labor as a member and leader support missionary.  It is anticipated that you will serve for 18 months.

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Monday, November 12, 2012.  

Brisbane Australia Temple
My siblings just before my mission
We both also registered extreme shock and surprise at that bit of information.  That is only three weeks!  If the letters had not been wandering around in New Mexico we would have had a few more days, but then we would have just relaxed and put it off longer, so the short time is probably better.  Besides, we have actually been doing things to get ready for the past couple of months.

So there you have it.  San Juan Puerto Rico. I would not have guessed that in three lifetimes.  I was thinking of something like India or Siberia or the Seychelle Islands.  We have a Spanish vocabulary between us of about 10 words.  Gaye can say “Gracias”.  
Jackson with his dog and his chicken
George Patterson, Missionary

The rest of the day was a blur.  We drove to Salt Lake, talking all the way.  The BMAF meeting on Saturday was good, especially the part of being with Tom and Spencer, and then we drove home.  Oh, I forgot to say that Gaye went shopping with Kay, her sister.  I simply reminded her that she would only be able to take two suit cases weighing 50 pounds each, so don’t get carried away.  She actually behaved herself very well.  Now I must go get a few white shirts and pairs of slacks.  I am to take one suit, and I think (hope) that will be for when I am at the MTC in Provo.  The weather is tropical, always around 80-90 degrees (Fahrenheit, of course, because the USA is still on the archaic British measuring system) in the daytime and 70 at night.  Humidity is high, the sun is straight overhead, there are tropical storms and hurricanes for half the year, we will be at sea sounds like Paradise to me.  Besides, this dry Idaho air wreaks havoc on my nose and skin.  Senior missionaries can go into the ocean, too.  

I have been making a list of questions.  The mission includes the Lesser Antilles Islands that string out from Puerto Rico like a strand of pearls.  Some of those islands speak French, some speak Dutch, some are Spanish, and maybe English even figures in there somewhere.  I had a couple years’ French in college, long ago.  Afrikaans is quite similar to Dutch.  Maybe our mission president will send us out to a little branch of the Church on one of those islands where we can just get lost in helping people grow in their testimonies as we work with them each day.  I will fill in the blanks as we go along.  Stay tuned.

That’s all for now.


  1. What a fantastic place for you to serve. The people of Puerto Rico are very lucky. Senior missionaries really can go in the ocean?! You are right, it is going to be paradise!

  2. Yes, the proper zip code helps tremendously. It all honesty, mail coming to Twin Falls does get intermixed not only with New Mexico, however with Florida as well. tee hee! I am excited for you and Gaye and know you will be welcomed instruments in the hand of the Lord as you serve in the Puerto Rico San Juan Mission.

    I am looking forward to keeping in touch.

    PS - thank you for taking the time to let me know. It was appreciated. I love the church and all that it has brought me. The most important of course is my testimony.