I mentioned back in my “transitions” post that Claire was preparing for study abroad. But she also has another big thing she has been preparing for. She didn’t tell many people, so I waited to mention it here until she was ready. But since it’s now assigned, (and she’s ready), I’m here to say Claire is heading out on a mission!

Claire in front of the temple ready to read her mission call

This means she will be going out to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints for eighteen months.

It has been so interesting to watch each of my girls make a mission decision over the years. Each of them have worked their little hearts and souls to figure it out. And each has had some pretty beautiful experiences surrounding the process. I feel pretty lucky to have had a front-row seat in this business as a mother.

Not only have they grown so much in the process, I have grown too. I have learned so much through trial and error. Isn’t that just how motherhood goes? Love that we have a God of second chances! Since I was a missionary myself (a video of my mission call is in that post) and loved it with all my heart, I at first figured all my girls should go. I mean, what was there not to love there? But I have learned that kids can make some pretty awesome decisions for themselves. And those decisions don’t always lead to missions!

The Big Decision

So Claire sure put in some work to figure this one out. She didn’t want to go just because so many friends were going. Oh they were the best examples, but she wanted to go because she felt it was uniquely what she wanted to do. She read her patriarchal blessing. There were plenty of trips to the temple.

In the end, I hope I will always remember this:

The two of us sitting together the day she got her wisdom teeth out. (This was one thing she was doing to prepare for a mission, but still wasn’t sure yet.) Her whole head was wrapped up in purple medical tape to keep the little ice packs reducing swelling in her cheeks. She started asking questions. Trying to figure out next semester at school or a mission. I told her to envision herself doing both. As we talked, giant tears started falling down her cheeks. She was overcome with this huge desire to serve a mission.

It was such a special conversation, but let’s be honest, she had just had her wisdom teeth removed. I wasn’t sure how clear-headed she was. Ha! But as time went on that girl went forward.

Working on the Mission Papers

She worked on those mission papers. She kept preparing. And when she was home last, she had her last doctor appointment, Elle whipped up her mission picture before she had to leave:

We walked around the temple en route to her appointment:

And that girl turned in those mission papers!

It was a cute story how the whole interview went down, maybe for another day, but she pressed “send” and those mission papers were turned in!

We had a little picnic with Chick-fil-A in the car to celebrate. Can you tell how excited she was??

Waiting for the Mission Call

Then it was time to WAIT. Claire was so nervous! I mean, she could be assigned anywhere in the whole wide world!

A few days ago she got a notification that her call had been assigned. This meant she would be getting her call on Tuesday…which was yesterday.

It just so happened that Dave and I were going to be in Utah for a business meeting that very same day. (And also, let’s be honest, to see Murphy for her three week bday🙂

Opening the Mission Call

Claire was much too nervous and excited once the call came to wait until evening for Dave and I to get there. To be honest, so were we. We were all dying to know where that girl would be going, and we knew we’d get to hug her later in the day.

So she headed to the temple with Max, Abby, Murphy and Grace to open up that mission call!

We all got on FaceTime (including Lu who was en route home from school).

Claire on FaceTime ready to read her mission call

And Claire read that mission call to us all.

I’ll let her tell you where she’s going:

Oh my goodness, It was so crazy, a little hard to hear, but the most special phone call! We were all so emotional! And so excited!

This screenshot below captures one of my favorite moments. Carson was at work in surgery so he missed the actual call. When he was able to get on, all in his scrubs, Claire read it again to him. Which was pretty exciting because IT IS HIS SAME MISSION!!!!

Claire telling Carson she's going to his same mission

Can you even believe that???

Ok, even though Claire announced it up there in that video, I better put it here too:

Sydney Australia Mission
Speaking Mandarin Chinese

He went to Sydney as well, but he spoke Spanish there. We were all so excited!

Here we all are, so happy for Claire:

That night a group of others gathered once again for Claire to read it one more time to announce her call.

A crew of supporters when Claire read her mission call again at the temple

A few of the crew of Claire’s friends and sweet cousins were still in Provo:

Gotta get Dave in here!

Dave and Shawni with Claire

My mom was a tad bit late so Claire read it again to her…loved her sweet reaction.

Saren was just a little late too but caught it on Instagram Live:

Oh just so grateful for all that love and support.

And SO excited for this next chapter of Claire’s life.

She will leave for the MTC on September 18th, after she gets home from her study abroad.

What a ride she is in for!

Claire and Shawni in front of the temple

Oh the places you’ll go, Claire Bear! Love you forever!

Other Mission Calls:

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  1. That is SO amazing!!’ Congratulations!! What a beautiful time for your family!! With little Murphy and another missionary! Claire is gonna be amazing!

  2. How exciting! I am not LDS so forgive my lack of knowledge surrounding missions. Is it a coincidence that she will speak mandarin (side note–how cool!) since both max and Dave spoke it on their missions or was she able to request/do they ask what family missions were? This whole thing sent me back to maxs mission call post which was so fun to rewatch… absolutely mind blowing that of all the places in the world, grace guessed right last time just as Lucy did this time– and I want to give Elle some credit for guessing Australia back then! Maybe she was on to something 😂
    I’m sure Claire will be very busy before heading out, but it would be very interesting to hear from her how she chose to go, having seen both older sisters make a different choice (though each the right one for them!)
    Best of luck to her and to you as a missionary mama yet again!

    1. Oh I’m glad you found Max’s mission call opening, I meant to link that and also Grace’s! I’ll go back and add them. And yes, there is a spot on the mission papers where you list relatives who have served and where. When her Stake President did her final interview, he asked if there was anything she was drawn to, she told him she’s always had a love for Mandarin ever since she lived in China and studied it. She picked up on it so quickly back then, let’s hope she’ll learn it quickly again! She does remember how to say “where is my pencil,” but I’m not sure that will be overly helpful. HA!

      And Yes, kudos for those kids for guessing! I am not holding my breath on Claire doing a guest post, but that really would be so fun!

      1. Thank you for your response! I appreciate you taking the time to teach your non-lds readers about how these things work. Even if she does not share here, writing it all down while it’s fresh (as you do with your fantastic blog!) blog will be such a treasure for her to have in the future. Also wanted to say how I admire the respect you show for your kids’ decisions in general, but especially surrounding missions where I know there can be lots of pressure. Looking forward to following along her adventures!

        1. I sure try, but man alive, sometimes that’s tricky business! I am still learning, through trial and error! Luckily kids are resilient and forgiving:)

    2. They teach the missionaries the languages. They don’t always know the language before the call.

  3. I can’t remember, did Ellie go on a mission? I remember that Max and Grace did. Also I was wondering about the language that she’ll be speaking on her mission. Does she start learning that in preparation for her mission or does she already know it?
    I can see how excited she is!! You must be so proud of her and all of your kids!! They always make such good decisions!

    1. No, Elle didn’t go. She actually had her mission papers all ready to go after she did study abroad in Jerusalem (one of the posts about that is here: https://71toes.com/today-elle-turns-twenty-in-jerusale/ , but I can’t find the one that talks about how she thought long and hard about a mission. In the end, she just didn’t feel right about it and decided not to go. Which was the perfect decision for her.

      Claire will enter the MTC (Missionary Training Center) on September 18th (after she gets back from her study abroad in London), and will study Mandarin Chinese for nine weeks. She’ll head to Australia around the end of November.

      She really is SO excited! She knows it will be hard, but also that it will be so good!

    1. Aw thank you Genevieve! We need to start collecting info for the people in Sydney who might be able to help her out if she’s ever in a bind! You’re the sweetest to welcome her.

    1. There are large migrant communities in Australia. Not everyone speaks English as a first language here. I imagine Claire will be assigned to areas with large Mandarin speaking populations.

      1. Thanks for the explanation, Sarah! Janine, she may serve in English-speaking areas as well, but from what we hear, verified by Sarah, there is quite a large community of Mandarin speakers there. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out!

  4. This is brilliant news. I’m really excited for Claire & you & your family. x

    I know that Heavenly Father will watch over Claire on her mission & will also bless your family. x

  5. Congratulations Shawni. Claire is such a beautiful person and I know that she is going to do fantastic on her mission. She radiates the light of Christ and she is just so stunning. I am very proud of her and her decision to serve the Lord. Love you Claire!

  6. How exciting!! I’m so happy for her and your sweet family. Seeing the joy and happiness spill out of her and all your reactions was so lovely to witness, so thank you for sharing. I live an hour out of Sydney and happy to answer any questions Claire or your family have about this wonderful place. She will truly love it. Will she travel out of Sydney at all to be assigned in neighbouring parts? Or is she purely based in the city?

    1. Good question, Amy! I haven’t sat down with Claire to explore all her mission maps and information yet, but it looks like from the map here: https://www.thechurchnews.com/members/2022/9/30/23379823/map-of-lds-missions-see-area-by-area-breakdown, that Australia only has five missions. This means they are pretty spread out. Which also means the missionaries probably have large areas outside of Sydney as well. I bet your area is within the mission boundaries! Since Claire is going to be speaking Mandarin, she will most likely be assigned to the areas where there is larger concentration of Mandarin speakers. I’m assuming more Mandarin communities will be in Sydney rather than the outer areas. But still trying to figure all this out at this point!

      Also, here’s a little more about the church in Sydney: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2019/02/the-church-is-here-sydney-australia?lang=eng

  7. Congratulations to Claire. Thank you for sharing your family openly with everyone. Your family is lovely. I have a question and forgive me for my ignorance. It seems like your family (and extended) family has the opportunity to go to some pretty amazing places for the mission work. Is it because you have plenty of funds and are big supporters of the church? What about the poor kid who would dream of serving a mission overseas but gets stuck in his/her hometown?? And I know Grace was in Texas BUT she didn’t start there… I realize the Mormons say that God chooses the path, but it just seems like your family in particular gets the REALLY REALLY good mission trips where my poor neighbor in Atlanta just went down the road to Florida. Do you have to be in with the president of the ward pretty well? Seems like favoritism to me.

    1. Thank you for asking a genuine question. Favoritism or having connections has nothing to do w the mission assignment. Everyone pays the exact same amount to serve a mission. Sometimes, physical or mental health might play a role in where they are assigned.

      1. It is suspicious that Shawni came from a family of 9 kids and all of them managed missions abroad. I would have thought that kids wrote out all sorts of travel abroad already didn’t get stateside assignments leaving the abroad assignments to the kid working 20 hours a week trying to get a 30 on the ACT to go BYU like they are encouraged to try to attend to earn the money for the mission and unable to do travel sports and numerous study abroad on their papers. It’s not the family’s fault they don’t decide. But it is interesting to wonder what the ones that do decide are thinking. It’s not like a teen can take German four years in high school and land a European mission assignment. Given COVID I still do not understand why the church in each country can’t support enough missionaries to get them from their own wards. Who knows what is next?

        1. I am from Central CA (not LDS) but big LDS population at my HS. One family was similar to Eyres, and all their kids ended up in some pretty interesting mission locations in comparison to others—one was actually sent to a town only 90 minutes away that famously smells like manure 24/7. 😅 one family I was close to had 3 of their 5 sons go abroad and 2 ended up in Arkansas and Kentucky. It’s dependent on needs and decisions of others. Your family name has nothing to do with it.

          1. It’s all anecdotal. You see a family of 5 mixed stateside and abroad. I see a family of 9 all abroad and three miraculously in the county their parents served as mission president. And the recent mention they bring up past experience out of country on their papers. This is a 3 or more generation family of members. Before they stabilized the fee it used to cost more to be sent to Finland versus Wyoming. That was before the Eyre’s served making it more curious. If they were a little older it would make more sense why so many went abroad given they would have had to money to manage a more expensive assignment. We are just going to think what we are going to think. Just hope they safely come back after this milestone.

        1. You don’t have to marry in your religion. Chaun, I love that he served in Russia. I’d love to hear all about that. Hard to even imagine with what’s going on over there right now.

          1. Shawni, yes! He became a better person from living in Russia for two years. We actually lived there as a family for a few months. (Similar to your semester in China!) We’ve been sick to our stomachs worrying about how our Russian friends and the people at large are doing.

        2. You don’t have to marry in your religion. Or get married in the temple if you don’t want to. 🙂 In my case, I was LDS at the time, and chose to have a temple wedding. Things have changed since then, but we make our mixed faith marriage work!

        3. Hope, You don’t have to marry in your religion. Or get married in the temple if you don’t want to. 🙂 In my case, I was LDS at the time, and chose to have a temple wedding. Things have changed since then, but we make our mixed faith marriage work!

          1. Wow so you left the church! That took a lot of courage… unless you were excommunicated…. Either way you dodged a bullet…

    2. @ Rachel Sometimes a person will get a call that is considered “cool” like Europe, but it’s actually one of the mentally toughest places to serve cause they have zero interest in religious stuff there. I have experience so I know what I’m talking about. Missions are very diverse experiences even in the state near where you’re from. You don’t get to choose where you’ll serve. If you studied the language, then that can be a small factor. I feel like this post makes it seem like the Stake President influenced the SLC people. I’ve never heard of that happening. The missionary will grow where they’re planted and it’s is unacceptable to refuse based upon location. If you’re called somewhere less cool, then humility lessons are required. However, everyone will be challenged out there regardless of destination. It’s not a vacation and not a mission trip like other religions.

      1. Thank you for the response, Jo!

        @ Rachel, I loved your question! I love that Claire had me listen to the link that Ann linked below before she opened her call, all about how missions are assigned. Mission calls don’t have anything do do with how much tithing you pay or where you are from. I think the missionary committee does take into account things like how much language you’ve studied or where your ancestry is from. Also maybe where your parents served missions?? But I’ve heard of people who studied French for years who got called to Mexico, or Minnesota, and people who have never had a lick of language study who are sent to Hong Kong. There is a spot on the mission papers that asks how you think you’d do learning a new language, and I think there’s even a spot to write whether you’d like to go foreign or not. You may be surprised how many kids (and parents) would love the state-side missions.

        I think the bottom line is that those who give the mission calls are so very prayerful, and do their best to make an inspired decision. Jo is so right that you just learn to grow wherever you go. My sister saydi didn’t get her visa to go to Spain so she was reassigned for a few months to Pocatello, Idaho while she waited. She LOVED serving there. There is so much good to be found anywhere you go. Also pros and cons to everywhere too. The hope is that you learn and grow wherever you are, and most importantly that you deepen your connection with the Savior through giving service and connecting with God in so many different ways.

        1. Going off of both your and Rachel’s comments, how does funding work for missionaries? I’ve always assumed that it’s like, say Quaker Voluntary Service or Jesuit Volunteer Corps, where the church covers basic living expenses (food, housing, little else ;)) but do families/missionaries cover these expenses for LDS missions?
          Thank you so much for being so willing to answer questions like this. I’ve learned a TON from reading your comments. I took time off of college a handful of years ago and did full time volunteer work at the US-mexico border. I was surprised to find LDS missionaries volunteering in our shelters; I had no idea how broad their service was! It also showed me that not all of their work is proselytyzing. They were happy to answer when I peppered them with questions but there was clearly no intent of bringing people in. Another question – are there explicitly certain times when missionaries are asked not to proselytize?

          1. Hi Selkie, great questions about paying for missions. Yes, families/missionaries cover mission expenses. Some kids save money from the time they are young to put toward their mission, some families pay, and sometimes ward members will help cover mission costs for those who have financial hardships. Some missions used to cost more than others according to how much it cost to live there. For example, Japan has much higher living expenses than, say, Guatemala. But about 20 years ago the church established a system where every missionary pays roughly the same amount.

            I’m so glad you met missionaries volunteering in those shelters. Missionaries do quite a lot of service, which is all part of “ministering” and loving those in the communities where they live. I hope we incorporate more and more service into missions!

            Most commonly missionary work is to proselytize, but there are certainly times when missionaries are asked to serve in other ways. Depending on which country they are serving in, and what the situation is, especially in respect to the government and their requests. My friend’s son served in a place where he never wore a missionary name tag, just did mostly service. My sister, who served in Bulgaria, had a time in her mission when they just did service as well. There is an option to serve a Service Mission as well.

  8. This is such a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing. So excited for Claire! I am wondering as a mom getting ready in a few years to send my first kid to college, did Claire choose her roommates or know them beforehand or was it just luck she had such incredible ones?! I had such good roommates randomly at BYU, but I’m wondering if most parents kind of set up the first group of kids their kids room with…or are they usually just amazing? Did she live in dorms first?

    1. Claire went to summer school at BYU before she attended UVU to play volleyball. She lived in the dorms and didn’t chose a roommate, but ended up meeting the BEST kids up there. She praises that summer semester like nobody’s business! (Elle did it too, and has the same love for it…we’d recommend that experience for anyone, members of the church or not, such a great way to start off college!) She did chose her roommate after summer semester, who was her cousin…couldn’t get better than that! They had four other roommates they didn’t know before. It was a great experience for Claire.

  9. I’ve been reading since before you lived in China – when you had the old house too. I have got a book of Morman you sent. And this is SO EXCITING for me. I’ve met missionaries on the train, in Sydney. I’d be so keen to meet this ‘magic’ (internet magic) person if that’s at all possible and safe.

    I’m an (almost) married woman of 38, I have two step kids, a dog and a rabbit and live in the inner west suburbs of Sydney, easily on a train line. I’m so excited people I know so much about, though this blog, will be so close!!

      1. She could have step kids from a past relationship and she is almost married and surely one starts to think of a partner as a spouse before the wedding, the same would go with kiddos. No matter their age.

  10. How exciting!!! My daughter just came home from her mission in Sydney! (We live in Brisbane.) She loved it. President and Sister Reid are so loving and blessed my daughter’s life greatly!

  11. Interesting. Out with the second pair of earrings and on with the black clunky Mormon shoes and bobby socks!

  12. Congratulations to your family! What an adventure she will have! One of my best friends served his mission on Kangaroo Island. I honestly cannot imagine what life is like in Australia, just from the stories I hear, but it sounds so wonderfully diverse! (Except for the spiders. That sounds terrifying 😆) Best wishes to Claire in her mission work! ❤️

  13. That is so exciting!! The Sydney mission is special to our family. My great grandparents Zelph and Irene Erekson were the first mission presidents of the Sydney mission and the. My grandparents Norman and Annie Erekson served a senior mission there as well. We have lots of special stories about their time there. So happy for her and your family!

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