Last week my 20-year-old daughter got her mission call to Oslo, Norway. Riding the crest of the wave of new female applicants, Nicole will be one of the first to arrive at the MTC before turning 21. And the excitement is palpable. The minute President Monson announced the new female eligibility of only 19 years old, thousands of girls began filling out applications. Passports, dental appointments, doctor visits—it’s been a mad scramble for eager young women who can’t wait to get out and teach the gospel.
Nicole called me from BYU-Idaho during Conference to tell me “everyone” was applying, and “everyone” was buzzing with excitement. Instead of the usual hundreds of applicants, Mission Headquarters is now trying to process an avalanche of thousands upon thousands. You couldn’t get a bigger stampede if you had announced free tickets to a Justin Bieber concert.
Nicole had already begun the application process, hoping to celebrate her 21st birthday in the MTC. So in her case, it only saved her about a month. But the swell of enthusiasm has even energized her already firm desire to serve, and now she can’t wait to join the throngs of girls who will open the floodgates of missionary service, and spread both the Book of Mormon and perfume around the world. You’ve heard of the Mormon Moment? This is the Sister Missionary Moment. Or, as a nonmember friend of mine termed it, “Missionariettes.”
Yes, it’s also exciting that young men will be able to serve a year earlier, too. I foresee thousands more returning missionaries one day who will be better prepared for marriage, better organized for their schoolwork, better prepared to choose the right major, better able to serve in church callings of all kinds, and better able to work with a vast array of people after so many diverse companions. Many more children of the future will be raised by the double blessing of two returned missionaries for their parents, and both parents will be teaching the gospel on a level beyond anything we’ve experienced before. Wow.
As for Norway, it’s perfect for Nicole. It’s an extremely difficult mission, so unless you know my indomitable daughter, you might think it’s going to be an uphill battle. But Nicole could sell snowballs to Santa. She once posted New Year’s Resolutions on the fridge for the rest of the family. Convincing others to do right is virtually in her DNA. The mission application doesn’t ask for your personality type, your determination, or your stubbornness. It doesn’t have to. The Lord knows you already, and knows where he needs you. With only 4,000 church members, this European nation of mostly atheists and agnostics will never know what hit them.
And although we have no family heritage there, already some pieces are falling into place. A family in our ward is Norwegian. A girl she knows at school is Norwegian. A cousin of mine is Boeing’s Norwegian Air Shuttle Leader. A neighbor is friends with a family who adopted a baby from China whose identical twin was adopted by a family in Norway, whom they want Nicole to contact. Nicole has been a longtime advocate for kids with a rare medical condition, and there are several clinics there that deal with it. My deceased sister, adopted as I am, was born to a Norwegian au pair in Salt Lake City, and this woman went on to become an internationally exhibiting artist we’d like to find. None of this was on the application. And it’s only been a week—who knows what other Norwegian connections will crop up?
Years ago I visited Norway and thought it was the most beautiful country on earth. By a mile. The train ride from Oslo to Bergen is so gorgeous it makes your eyes hurt. The fjords are breathtaking. It looks like a set designer went crazy for a fairy tale movie where jagged mountains are capped with snow, apple blossoms burst into bloom in the foothills, and quaint cottages with flowerbox windows cluster together in the valley beneath. If a rosy-cheeked peasant girl were to be skipping along a path (singing), followed by a trail of waddling geese, it wouldn’t surprise you in the least. Nicole is going to love this tidy snow globe of a world. But she’ll get right down to business, too. If anyone can convince the locals that there’s something missing in their idyllic lives, it’s Nicole. I’m so thrilled that the Lord took a hand in this and sent her to the one, exact place tailor made for her skills.
As for me, I wouldn’t mind getting another look at that dazzling country in just about eighteen months from now.
Joni Hilton’s book, “FUNERAL POTATOES—THE NOVEL” (Covenant Communications) is in LDS bookstores everywhere.
Her latest three novels, “JUNGLE,” “SISTERS IN THE MIX,” and “PINHOLES INTO HEAVEN” are all available on Kindle at amazon.com/jonihilton just in time for Christmas!
Hilton has written 20 books, three award-winning plays, and is a frequent public speaker and a former TV talk show host. She is also the author of the "As the Ward Turns" series, "The Ten-Cow Wives' Club," and "The Power of Prayer." Hilton is a frequent writer for "Music &The Spoken Word," many national magazines, and can be reached at her website, jonihilton.com. She is married to TV personality Bob Hilton, is the mother of four, and currently serves as Relief Society President in her ward in northern California.