My dad sent us an email this morning summarizing their first week at the Missionary Training Center. I started to read it aloud to the family at the breakfast table but Jake had to finish because I couldn’t read through my tears. There isn’t any particular reason I was crying. I think I was just overwhelmed at the reality of them leaving. I’m so proud and excited for them. I know that what they are doing is completely out of their comfort zone, particularly for my mom. I can only imagine how stressful this week was for her.
Mom… I’m proud of you!!! Dad, I loved the letter. It was perfect!
My parents have been part of the lives of so many of my friends. I thought you might like to read about the experiences they have over the next couple years, so I’ll share them here with you.
Well it is official, we are now missionaries. You know — the ones that walk around with big smiles and Black and White Badges on their chests.
We were set apart by President Gilbert, of Becky an Ray’s Stake. Since we arrived in Utah the Lakeview Stake has been our official “home away from home”. Becky’s ward has been very welcoming and supportive. When our “call letter” arrived in March, we received permission from our
Alaskan Stake President to have President Gilbert set us apart. That took place Sunday night. Becky, Elizabeth and Megan’s family were on hand, AND as a special treat Lauran and Jacob were also there.
On Monday morning we were both nervous, with grandma just a little more so. We reported to the MTC at 10am, in Ben’s little blue Saturn. It was so nice of him to allow us to use it while we are here. I think it’s cute. It is a stick shift and needs a paint job, but it works great and gets about 35 mpg. It does tent to “screech” when we first start it and grandma worries that it will “screech” in the MTC parking lot when the other missionaries are in the lot with us. Most of them are driving “big expensive looking” cars. Like Cadillacs, Lexus, Buicks etc. You get the picture. However, once inside the MTC we looked just like everyone else (except I think grandma is a lot cuter than the other sisters) so we fit right in.
While Monday was actually our shortest day (starting at 10 and ending about 3), we were sure tired when we got back to Becky’s. Consider this:
When we arrived at 10am we were directed from the parking lot through a small door into the main building. Once inside we stood in-line in a very small hallway, waiting to enter a small room where there were three different “sisters” that checked us in. One of the sisters reviewed our medical (shot) records and gave us two slips of paper. One paper told us to go to a particular room on Wednesday at 4pm for a shot and the other told us to go to a special room on Tuesday at 3pm to meet with a doctor to learn about “malaria” (more about this later).
Then we were moved to another room across the hall where another sister reviewed our “packet”
that we had been given in the previous room and again explained what was in it, including the campus map (the directions we were given by those two sweet sisters were quite different). From there we crossed the hall to another room and had our pictures taken. Then back to the first room to met the MTC director and his wife (Elder and Sister Stock). Then off to the Book Store to pick up our “badges and packet”
We spent Monday in a state of shock! We had no idea what was coming next. We were assigned to “a district” consisting of four couples, the husband of one couple was assigned as our “district leader”. Then we met our “teachers”, Young returned missionaries that work as Employees at the MTC (not to be confused with the Volunteers OR with the Leaders that were called and set apart OR with the Staff)
There were literally thousands of young elders and sister missionaries at the MTC while we were there. They were from all over the world and many counties. We heard many conversations in many different languages and we were moved to tears when we mingled among them because the spirit of the Lord was so strong. We visited the book store where we could purchase not only books but combs, toothbrushes, snacks and toys.
Right next to the bookstore was a “mail room” where we were assigned a “mailbox” (box 40). It was great fun walking hand in hand and just looking around.
We were only at the MTC for 6 hours with a whole hour for lunch and “15 min breaks” every hour. But once it was over and we got back to Becky’s we still had “homework” and stayed up late to get ready for Tuesday.
On Tuesday we knew a lot more about the MTC, in fact Grandma miraculously seemed to know where we were going. I was impressed. We spent the day going from the “large classroom” where we met with the entire “Senior Missionary Group” of 38 couples to the “small classroom” where we met with our district and Sister Rodriguez and studied and practiced. And then back again. The sessions lasted about 45 min with a 15 min break to travel to the next class room. At 3pm we went with several other couples to meet with the Doctor and get the “malaria” talk.
I found it interestingly, Grandma found it terrifying. She came out of the room crying and could not stop. I admit, I didn’t understand and could do little to comfort her. We spent the next 30 minutes trying to be inconspicuous and not draw attention. We have subsequently e-mailed our Mission President and have been told not to worry about it where we will be living there is no danger.
Tuesday night was very special because a member of the 1st quorum of 70 addressed us. The auditorium was filled to the brim with over 2000 missionaries. The spirit was very strong and tears came easily. But is was also very exhausting, so we were “dog tired” as we crawled into Becky’s living room. “Was it that bad?” Becky exclaimed, when she saw us.
Wednesday started at 8am, also. We had more homework and spent the day listing to lectures in the “large meeting room” alternating with class time doing “role playing” in the small class rooms. Just before lunch we had the exciting opportunity to give a lesson (first discussion) to an “investigator” in a small room that was decorated like a sitting room in a home. It also contained video cameras so our “instructor” could watch us and tell us what we did wrong or right.
We were really worried we would not do it right, but in the end it was actually fun. We couldn’t find out how our instructor felt we did because she was monitoring four separate rooms. She told us that by the time she had tuned into our room, it was empty. (I guess we did it too fast, but he investigator seemed to enjoy it and agreed to read the committed to read the B of M and set up a follow up appointment, had a closing prayer and left the room.
So she said since she missed it, we would have to tell her how we did. We told her we did great, and we deserved an “A”.
Thursday was much better, not that it was easier, but that the stress level decreased and the spirit was much more supportive. On Friday we were able to leave the campus at lunch time and spend it with the McKimmey’s and the Love’s at “seven peaks”, a wonderful water park for kids.
Grandma and I are so grateful for the support of our family and friends that are making it possible for us to serve this mission. We know that we are going to a land where the Lord wants us and that he will use us for an important work.
Grandma and Grandpa