Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Missionary Training Center Experience

JUNE 28, 2015

The traditional picture taken by all missionaries!

How does one even begin to describe this experience? There were 126 couples gathered from all over the world to be trained for our three year missions. We ranged in age from 36 (double eek!) to 68. Together we have 599 children. The youngest is 1. The oldest is 43. So many stories! So much sacrifice! 

It was fascinating meeting and speaking with these people from all walks of life, who have all walked away from their regular lives for the next three years. Selling houses - renting houses - arranging for children and (eek!) grandchildren to live in houses - selling vehicles - closing businesses - putting businesses on hold - walking away from law practices - dental practices - medical practices - you name it - the story was there. Amazing. Boyd and I felt humbled to be amongst them.

There was lots of laughter and lots of chatter - so much so that Elder Bednar gently (but directly) rebuked us and suggested we practice reverence before the meetings began instead of visiting so enthusiastically with our neighbors.

We literally sat at the feet of our apostles and prophets and were taught for four days. President Packer and Elder Scott were unable to attend due to health reasons. But we had a video interview done with Elder Perry shortly before he passed away that was shown. It was so sweet, and so good to hear his voice just one more time.

We were looking for a table to eat at when Boyd called me in one direction. But I had just seen Elder Ballard beckoning to me for us to join him at his table. So I just grabbed Boyd's hand and said, "We're sitting here!" (When an Apostle beckons, you go! No one else was sitting with them at the time - I think everyone was a little intimidated...) We had a delightful dinner reminiscing about the days when he and his wife served as OUR Mission President and Wife back in the day when we were newlyweds, and living in Porcupine. We were all much younger then! But we have several friends in common, and it was fun to remember them.

At breakfast one morning we met another person that had ties to Timmins. President Leppard, from England, served in the Toronto Mission as an Assistant to the President under President Hardy. President Hardy is the one who called Boyd to be the District President of the Northland District way back when. Again - good people in common. He knows he traveled to Timmins once or twice, but we don't remember him. :-) But it was really fun meeting him, nevertheless. They were making a stopover in Kansas City to visit with President Hardy (currently serving as Temple President there) on their way to their mission field: England Birmingham.

We enjoyed getting to know the Foote Brothers. Both called to serve as Mission Presidents the same year. One is going to Madagascar, and the other to Atlanta Georgia. 

President and Sister Richards - now reunited with their family after faithfully serving for three years in the Maryland Baltimore Mission!

There was a large podium set up at the front, with a curved screen to display the audio-visual portions of the instruction we received. The Brethren taught us well, and we loved being instructed in the principles of the Restoration and the Atonement. They worked hard to provide their instructions in various methods. I tried to make a list:

  • Discussion
  • Question and Answer
  • Lecture
  • Lecture with audio/visual illustration
  • Music
  • Panel Discussion (the three General Presidents of the Relief Society, the Young Women, and the Primary all spoke of their experiences when they were Mission President's Wives, and one also spoke of what it was like to be thirteen when her parents were called to serve - giving hope to those who are bringing teenagers into the field!)
  • Modeling (Experienced returned missionaries demonstrated telling the Joseph Smith story in less than five minutes)
  • The Video-taped Interview with Elder L Tom Perry
  • More videos

Elder Hales and his wife also did an informal chat, where they spoke of their experience as Mission President and Wife. It was delightful (And we were chewed out again by Elder Bednar - this time more direct and less gentle. Elder Hales stopped and asked if there were any questions. There were none. My mind was a total blank! Finally, after more prompting from Elder Hales, Sister Oaks stood up and asked a question. Once she had primed the pump, so to speak, the questions kept coming. After the Hales left Elder Bednar told us to "get over it," and when an apostle with the experience and knowledge of Elder Hales asks if there are any questions, we should have all been jumping out of our seats with questions. And of course, he was right. :-)).

After each day of instruction we were broken into smaller groups and we each had a 2 1/2 hour recap and discussion of what we had learned. That was very helpful, and really helped to solidify the things we had learned that day.

And - the last day was Sacrament meeting. And the only speaker was Thomas S Monson.


We had time Sunday for Alma and family to spring us out of the MTC and take us home with them for one last meal together. Cullen joined us, and we said our good-byes that evening. It was a little bit rough. I'm not going to lie.

Arlo and Megan met us bright and early the next morning at the airport (after flying home from Korea the previous day). They had gotten about 2 hours of sleep, but they said they were fine, because their bodies had no idea what time it was! We were at the airport good and early, so we had a chance to have a good visit with them before we boarded.

Life is good. It's not always easy, but it is always good.

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