Elder Tanner Shane Swensen,
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 Philippines Cauayan mission.
You should report to the Provo Missionary Training on Wednesday July 2, 2014. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the TAG-A-LOG language.
This was a complete shock to us all. Never had any of us guessed that he would go to the Philippines. He took German in high school and we just had a German exchange student so maybe Germany, high possibility he could have stayed stateside (New Mexico Navajo Nation), or maybe South America. The most we knew about the Philippines was we had some super nice Filipino ladies in our Ward (and boy were they excited when they found out).
But the bigger shock was that he was leaving in 8 weeks. Tanner did not own a suit let alone any missionary clothing at all. We had encouraged him to get his packet in quickly and Susie had been praying that he would leave soon, but we never imagined in 8 weeks. Yannick, our German exchange student and Tanner's very good friend, was coming to visit on July 12. We thought we would at least have that time, but it wasn't to be.
We started to get some things here and there. Tried to get Tanner to get his paper work done. For some reason he could never get his passport and visa photos right (pictures in street clothes, pictures with his beard, pictures with his glasses on, pictures with his collar stuck in his tie). Finally we just took the best of what we had.
With about 4 weeks to go we still didn't have a lot of his clothes and were starting to feel the pressure (just his parents not Tanner). Then we got a phone call from our Stake President. The church office had called and asked if Tanner could report one week early on June 25th. Of course he accepted and we (mom & dad, no Tanner) hit the outlet stores and completed his shopping in one weekend.
In three more weeks he was ready to go. On June 25th, we woke up, packed his bags, and were ready to go. We stopped in Orem and said goodbye to his older sister Britt and his younger sister Hadley who was at a soccer camp. This left us time to grab lunch and still have time before he was to report at 1:30. But Tanner was ready to go! He passed on lunch and had us drop him off around 12:00.
Mom's prayers were answered, the Lord provided a way, and our oldest son was ready and eager to serve!