Mission Application Photo

Mission Application Photo

Sunday, January 24, 2016

We Love the MTC

We had a wonderful and inspiring week at the MTC.  It is really something rubbing shoulders with 2100 young and excited missionaries along with 42 equally excited, but slower moving, senior couples.  We were just overwhelmed with the quality of people we were able to spend time with and learn from.   When you get that many people together in one place, all preparing to represent our Heavenly Father and his Son around the world, no wonder there is so much enthusiasm and anticipation.

This week our focus was Preach My Gospel; inspired instructions for Missionaries to carry out the Lord's commandment to share the message of the gospel to all the inhabitants of the world.  "Go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost."  (Matthew 28:19)  Our purpose in relation to that command is "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end."

We learned how to be most effective in carrying out this charge.  We really had a wonderful time and felt the warmth of the Spirit in all of our activities.

Our general schedule during the week included group meetings and small classroom activities like role plays.  We had a few senior couples speak to us about their experiences and they passed on advice.  They suggested keeping busy doing good and helping in the community even when we don't have other specific mission assignments.

We happened to be at the MTC when the church held a worldwide missionary broadcast via the internet for two hours on Wednesday.  We heard talks, saw videos, and watched a panel discussion on various topics from church leaders.   It was the first in 10 years.  Our friends from Page, AZ heard it in Guatemala on their mission, we were in Provo, UT and our personal friends in Ghana were watching all at the same time.  What an amazing world with technology.

On Tuesday morning we met our teachers for the week.  Sister Smith and Sister Anderson were our am teachers and Elder Swallow was our pm instructor.  Stan was quite skeptical about how effective  21-23 year-olds could be instructing us old timers.  We were absolutely blown away by the quality and skills of these young people.  In a very short period of time we came to love them and appreciate their talents.  They were THE BEST!  Even after only 4 days, we were sad to say goodbye.

Sister Anderson in the back and Sister Smith in the front.  Both have served missions and are currently students at BYU.  We found an immediate connection with them.  Sister Anderson went to Botswana near South Africa for her mission and helped in a leper colony in India as a medical coordinator for a summer.  Sister Smith went to Minnesota for her mission and spent six months teaching missionary lessons to PHD students from China.  She managed to learn a few gospel phrases in Mandarin, but of course she mostly taught in English. 

We were grouped into "districts" for the week for small classroom instruction, which included role plays.  Our teacher, Elder Swallow is on the left.  He is getting married in April and asked for marriage advice.  During our breaks he always had a joke for us.  Ex.  Who are the two doctors in the scriptures?  Moses delivered all of Israel and Job had a lot of "patients"!!

Group picture:  From the left....Elder Swallow (our teacher)
Elder and Sister Webster from California and he will be associate legal counsel for the church in Accra, Ghana and she will help with reading at a school, working in the temple and humanitarian work.
Middle is:  Elder and Sister Burnah from Utah going to Montreal French speaking.  He is a French teacher and they will be member leader support, helping church units with whatever is needed.
The Paces!
Elder and Sister Eldredge from North Carolina going to Hawaii to assist with members and military relations.

This is our "home away from home".  It is small, but we are really only here to sleep.    The senior couples have private quarters with a private bath while the young elders and sisters have more "dorm like" rooms.  We are grateful that BYU follows the idea that "cleanliness is next to godliness".  Everything is so clean here.  You could eat in the bathrooms and feel just fine about doing so!

There are many choices at the MTC cafeteria.  Most of the food is quite good and there are always healthy selections, along with homemade ice cream from the BYU creamery on Wednesdays!.  We were surprised that one of the dinner choices during the week was Chick-fil-A!

Some of our evenings were not scheduled so we took the opportunity to meet friends in the area.  We forgot to take pictures so we will have to "repent" and do better.  On the weekends we stay with Stan's mom in Lehi.

This coming week....training for our office responsibilities in the Ghana Accra Mission!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Missionary Traning Center

Well, today we entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT.   It has been four months since we received our mission call to serve as the office couple in the Ghana Accra Mission.  We were beginning to think that January 18th would never come.  We actually flew in a few days early to spend time with Stan's mom and sister, Marla, and her husband Jamon.  We arrived to a blanket of snow but felt warm and calm as we touched down at the SLC airport.  We are now, finally, "officially" missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint with the privilege of representing our Savior in His work.

On Friday evening we met with our Stake President, Rob Fotheringham, and were set apart as missionaries.  He gave us some marvelous council and blessings.  Nancy particularly remembers the advice to be patient as we will be in a foreign culture and there may be different ways of doing things!!  It is easy to feel a little overwhelmed by the nature of our call, but he helped assure us that we are doing what we should be at this time in our lives.  It is humbling and yet invigorating that we might be an instrument in inviting some of God's children to Come Unto Christ.

 This photo was taken in the Stake President's office.

We had to have a selfie

Saturday morning, our friends, the Bowdens, took us to the airport for our 10:30 flight to Salt Lake City.  We were a little worried about the weight and cost of our baggage.  But since we are Delta Card holders, our two 50 lb bags were free and our other two 50 "carry-on" bags - not quite that heavy - were checked at the gate.  (It is really quite amazing how much "stuff" you can get into a carry-on). 

We had to take another selfie on the plane.  We are on our way!!

Saturday night we all had dinner with one of Stan's dear friends, Don Pectol, and his wife, Robin, at the Pectol's in Orem.  We had fun reminiscing and just enjoying the time together.

Stan and Don were friends during Junior High and High School in Arcata, California.

Beautiful day at Stan's Mom's in Lehi, Utah
We enjoyed a nice Sunday visiting with family and having dinner together.

Today Stan's sister drove us to the MTC which adjoins the BYU campus.  The Missionary Training Center houses about 2100 missionaries at a time.  There are many young sisters and elders who spend 3 to 12 weeks here learning a language and preparing to teach the gospel.  There are about 80 senior missionaries this week.  Assignments include military relations, church education, helping with member support, mission office, self reliance, etc.  Locations range from Sandy, UT to Hawaii, to Italy, to New Zealand, to Armenia, to Missouri, to Montreal, to South Africa, and to Ghana, etc.!!

Today we attended various orientation meetings.  We found out where the cafeteria, mail services, classrooms, etc. were located and made sure all our paperwork, visas and travel plans were finalized. We spent some time meeting other couples and learning about their assignments plus heard welcome talks from the MTC mission presidency.  One couple is originally from the Philippines and they are now going on their fifth mission back to the Philippines!! 

As senior missionaries we can have electronic devices, leave the MTC at night to visit with friends and family and generally can be on our own as long as we attend our training meetings.  We will have the weekends free so we will be with family during that time until we leave for Africa on January 31.

The first week at the MTC we will be learning how to be missionaries, reviewing the doctrines of the gospel and studying the scriptures.  While senior couples may not teach as much as the younger missionaries because of other support assignments, we are to be prepared to help as much as possible.  You will note that we are wearing our black missionary name tags now.  (Nancy's sweater is black so hers is hard to see.)

There is a huge world map in the hallway at the MTC.  Almost every missionary poses and points at the location of their mission.  So, we had to follow the pattern and show our Ghana Accra Mission.  At the MTC we met two couples who are also going to Ghana.  One is a medical doctor from Alaska and the other is an attorney from California.  They will be in the church West Africa area mission offices (over 13 missions) so they will be close to us, but not actually part of our particular mission operations.  We understand we will have "senior" missionary potlucks and meetings from time to time.  We are looking forward to establishing new friendships with these incredible people.