Not only did Sarah Munafo want to keep it a secret from her dad that she was working on her LDS mission papers, but she decided to break the news to him by giving him a surprise that caused him to sweat bullets.
Munafo, 19, is studying at Brigham Young University-Idaho and had been tossing around the idea of serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ever since President Thomas S. Monson announced the lowering of the missionary age requirement during her senior year of high school.
Following the announcement, Munafo began part of the application process before moving to Idaho for school. During this time, Munafo's father had consistently shared his desire for her to serve a mission.
"I'm a convert to the church, I joined when I was 18 and went on a mission, and it just was a fantastic experience for me. I always was pushing — we have a large family of five daughters and three sons — and I always pushed the missionary aspect and wanted to encourage my daughters and sons to go on missions," James Munafo said. "So with my daughters, I got excited when the age dropped."
James Munafo had shared the importance of missionary work with his children through his own conversion story, as well through discussions about the blessings he received from serving a mission in South Africa.
"I don’t really know how hard it is to find the gospel and take missionary discussions, but from my dad’s experience I’ve learned that missionary work is important," Sarah said. "His sister was actually the one taking the discussions, and he wanted to protect her from people filling her head. So he sat in on the discussions ,and he actually ended up being the one to stay with the church. So that really made me think that missionaries are important to help bring the gospel to those who haven’t even heard of it."
But before Sarah made the decision to serve, her father would often check in on her thoughts regarding the topic.
"I probably teased Sarah and put a little bit of pressure on her about going on a mission, always in a playful way," James said.
Sarah retold one of her favorite mission plugs her dad made.
"My favorite line from him, I was telling my mom about the guy drama I was in and he would just say stuff like, ‘Um, Sarah, it sounds like you need an 18-month break.' He would constantly say stuff like that, so it was funny," Sarah said.
But regardless of his jokes, James and Rebecca made sure Sarah knew that whatever she decided, they would support her.
"She was dating some really nice guys, and we kept telling her, 'You know, despite Dad’s teasing — and you know I’m biased towards a mission — you need to find out for yourself. You need to go to your Father in Heaven,' " her dad said.
So as soon as Sarah decided that serving a mission was what she wanted to do, she decided to fool her father by not telling him about submitting her papers and lead him into believing that she was about to get engaged.
"At first I wasn’t going to tell him about my mission papers just in spite of the fact that he really wanted me to go," Sarah said. "So it started out that I was just not going to tell him until I got the papers, but as it got closer, I was thinking about how at one point I might not have gone on a mission because of the possibility of getting married soon — and that that would be the best prank ever for my dad."
Soon her family, her home ward and even all of Facebook knew that Sarah's mission papers were in, except for her father. But it wasn't always easy to hide the news.
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