Our oldest son, Jacob, graduated from high school last June and was excited for the change that was upon him in heading off to study at a university in a different state. Well, around all the excitement, Jacob soon realized that his life would change even more so as his family decided to accept the position in India moving his family halfway around the world from him. This week, this last member of our family joined us in Asia, as Jacob flew to the Philippines, arriving Tuesday evening, putting him much closer to us. Instead of being 12 1/2 hours behind us, he is now greeting the day 2 1/2 hours before us.
For two years, Jacob will serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the San Pablo Philippines area. He has spent the last 6 weeks studying the Tagalog language at a training center. We knew before accepting the assignment in India that Jacob would be spending two of our three years in India serving a mission somewhere in the world. A missionary does not get to pick their location, it is assigned by an apostle of Jesus Christ, and so you can imagine that we were elated when we found out in September that the assignment would put Jacob a bit closer to us.
Our other children would say that this move of ours to India has had little affect on Jacob, as they dreamt of him back in the United States enjoying their favorite things, but if I could speak on behalf of Jacob, I think he would say that it has affected him. For example, Jacob was scheduled to start school in the fall but with our move happening the first of August we moved his start date at the university to begin the summer term. This way, we could drop him off at college and get him settled. When it came time to pack Jacob up for college, it wasn’t just packing what you want to take off to college — we had three piles going — one for college, one that would sit in storage for three years and one for donations. Jacob did not like this part because he felt like he was “packing up his life” a bit sooner than he wanted. When Jacob returned to San Clemente for the break between summer and fall, he arrived at a home that was empty. That was a little weird to him and cemented the fact that his family was gone. But with all of these changes, there have been some true blessings that have come from it as well. Jacob got to see firsthand just how many people care about him and were ready to look after him after our departure. He grew closer to many extended family members due to their love and concern for him. He had friends cover things like rides to the airport, staying at their homes in San Clemente during breaks, and feeding him. Another benefit has been the “know how” Jacob needed to obtain quickly on some things in life as his parents were not accessible at his every waking moment due to the time difference.
So as we spoke with Jacob Monday night as he was waiting at the airport to fly to the Philippines, we were excited to know that he is arriving in Asia and that his adventure of living abroad is beginning. His experiences will give him a better understanding of some things we have been experiencing and likewise we will understand some of the things he will share with us — like toilets. (The Philippines has the same way of cleaning themselves when using the toilet as the Indians.) After we finished talking to Jacob on Monday night, Hailey asked if I was sad because he would be gone on his mission for two years. I could honestly tell Hailey that I was happy about it. I had already worked through some emotions back in August when it struck me just how far away he was from us and how little I could do to help him. I am happy for his decision to serve Jesus Christ and happy to know that he is joining us in Asia.