This is installment #1 of our mission blog.
Kathy and I reported to the MTC last Monday and began our official training. As with all missionaries, the first week is the common block and focuses on the manual, "Preach My Gospel". This group of senior couples is one of the largest groups they have ever had at the MTC, some 70 couples and several senior sisters. Each couple/sister was asked to stand and tell where they live, where they will be serving, and the function they will have. The range of assignment locations was truly inspiring; such places as Beruit, Lebanon, the Marshall Islands, Ghana, and so on, and the types of assignments included such things as Leadership Support, Family History, Records Preservation, Military Relations, Seminaries and Institutes, Young Single Adult support, Humanitarian, Self Reliance, Public Relations, and Office Support. . For many of the couples, this is not their first mission.
We began each day in a large conference room, then split up into districts in smaller rooms for practice sessions. Most of the classes are taught by returned missionaries who are students at BYU or UVU. They are incredible and wise beyond their years. Volunteers from the surrounding area come in to become "investigators" and serve as guinea pigs for practicing our teaching skills. For Kathy and many others, this was anxiety provoking but serves to really focus our efforts to become effective and empathetic teachers.
Especially inspiring is mingling with the young Elders and Sisters at lunch time and at other times. They love sharing their testimonies and experiences and where they will be serving. The dining room is an orchestrated mass movement with the hundreds of hungry missionaries making their way to one of four serving areas, then to tables, and then to the tray return area. Wednesdays and Sundays include ice cream from the BYU Creamery which is wonderful (but not as good as Aggie ice cream in my estimation, being a USU graduate), and speaking of USU; we ran into a couple and I thought, the wife looks very familiar to me. As we visited, it turns out she and I had dated while at USU. Needless to say, 50 years later we don't look quite like we did then. It was fun to reminisce a bit. They will be serving here in the Salt Lake Valley at Church Headquarters.
Next week we will return to the MTC for training specific to our calling as office missionaries. We will be responsible for the mission fleet of 80+ cars, mission finances, etc. Evan will also serve as mission medical support and attended the training a few weeks ago. We are planning to drag a trailer with some of our things including exercise equipment, our bicycles, a computer, some furnishings, cookware, etc. The amount of "stuff" will easily exceed the capacity of our Hyundai Santa Fe, hence the need for a trailer!
So stay tuned for installment #2; not sure whether this will be done at the end of our second week at the MTC or after we arrive in Calgary. We are excited to serve and look forward to the many experiences that lie ahead. We love you all and hope you will stay in touch through email. My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org, and Kathy's address is: email@example.com.