How can I begin to talk about our first week at the MTC (Missionary Training Center). Since it didn't exist when I was on my first mission to Berlin many years ago, I only had the experiences and stories of others to create an impression for me. None seemed to measure up to the reality.
We walk around the beautiful campus with tulips and spring flowers near all the paths. Young men and women wearing their brand new missionary clothing and of course their black missionary tags pass you by with wide grins that never look phony. They've been instructed to open doors for the senior couples and they never miss. Since the MTC is a secure facility, everyone needs a card to open exterior doors. Kind of a pain, but with the cadre of missionaries around, we don't use our cards often to walk into a building.
Our room is adequate. Some have better, but it really doesn't matter. We are up at 6:00 a.m. and from there the day is scheduled out until 10:30 p.m. Quite a change for a couple of retired grandparents. My day begins with a trip to the exercise room while Sister Frank gets up and going. What a great place to work out. Each piece of equipment has earphone jacks connected to your choice of four large screen TVs with a selection of conference broadcasts, Mormon.org spiritual videos, and other videos that make the workout almost seem too short.
Breakfast and all meals occur in the large eating room where the army of missionaries take their pick of more food than you can imagine. It all lives up the the stories we had heard. The seniors often sit together and meeting them has become one of the great blessings of the MTC. Elder and Sister Williams, who both speak German but were called to serve in a Young Adult Center in France; The Baxters, called to serve in Minnesota — "that sounds nice" I said, then they mentioned they would be serving Nepalese refuges who need to learn English; the Sheley's from Boise who will be starting the first YAC in Poland; I could keep going for an hour. The hundreds of young elders and sisters always bring a lump to my throat if I think about them too much. We sat next to six young elders. They asked about us and then said they were off to India and Bangalor. They were from Idaho to Kansas. Every ethnicity and race I could imagine eats together in that room. They are strong, happy and dedicated to the Lord. Week after week thousands come and then go out into the world to spread the word. I can't quite get my mind around the pride I feel in being with them.
I'll let Sister Frank (they suggest we refer to ourselves this way...we're not very good at it!) tell about some of our great classes and teaching experiences. I'll end with this: Even though most of the seniors here have years of experience in the church, have read the scriptures many times, have filled many callings, I believe we all discovered how little we knew about preaching and teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. Nancy and I have a lot to learn. I love the Book of Mormon and its witness of the Savior. I'm sorry to say that years of casual reading have weakened that understanding in me. I plan to change that as I continue in our mission.
Where do I begin? I believe the MTC is the happiest places on the earth--not DisneyLand. There is so much anticipation of being able to do work of such great importance--saving souls! We have been to several inspiring classes, and as Elder Frank said, we are being taught by young returned missionary students. Many of them were in the middle of school finals while they were working with the senior missionaries.
The classes were to help us better study and teach from "Preach My Gospel." Of course I'm sure there will still be a learning curve when we get to our mission.
Tuesday night we had an excellent devotional where all of the missionaries came to listen to Elder Larry Gibbons of the Seventy speak. He was a medical doctor, but said he wouldn't trade all of his years of education for the two years he served on his mission. He also said that missions are not just for the period of time we are called, but for our entire lives. Everyone tells you how wonderful it is to hear the missionaries sing Called to Serve, but you have to hear it to feel the power of all those young men and young sisters, and all of us old-timers.
Another highlight for me was Relief Society this morning. Ann Monson Dibb, counselor in the Young Women's Presidency and daughter of the Prophet, spoke to the women. It would take up several pages to repeat everything she said, but some highlights were:
- We need a testimony of many different things to be able to serve as missionaries.
- Truth is never obsolete.
- Prophets testify of Jesus Christ.
- All prophets testify of the importance of change. They provide a voice of warning.
- She asked her father, Thomas S. Monson, what he would like to to say to the missionaries and these were some of the things he told her:
- Look to righteous examples. She talked about the story "President Monson Wiggles His Ears." To shorten the story, there was a young boy who sat watching President Monson at a meeting and was copying every move that Pres. Monson made. If President Monson folded his arms, so did the young man. If Pres. Monson touched his face, the boy did likewise. After several such incidents, Pres. Monson wiggled his ears and smiled at the boy who then turned to his father and told him what Pres. Monson had done. Sister Dibb said that several months later while driving away from a church meeting with her father, he saw a couple of young boys running out of church. They looked like most four or five-year olds after church with their shirts untucked and their ties disheveled. Evidently they had heard the story because when they saw President Monson in his car, one of the little boys came running up and asked if Pres. Monson could "wilwy wiggo his ihwers."
- A positive attitude is so important. Be of good cheer.
- Work will win when wishy washy wishes won't.
- Be ye doers of the word.
- Obedience is always better than disobedience.
- Send hand-written experiences to family and friends. You never know when you might influence someone for good.
- Measure twice and cut once. Plan, think and pray before doing.
- Learn from your mistakes.
- Don't let strong impressions you may have to help someone pass you by. Follow-up on those impressions.
- If you want to give a light to others, you have to have a glow yourself.
- Follow health guidelines.
- Forget discouragement and move forward.
- Ask yourself the question, "Have I done any good in the world today?"
- In regards to companionships, both senior missionaries and young missionaries, harmony is made at home.
- Yes, President Monson has had challenges, but he knows where to go for help.
- Go forward with faith.
- Please let the missionaries know how much I love them.
It's getting late and we need to quit for now. Can't wait to tell about Sunday devotional this evening. Love to all.
|Elder & Sister Frank|
|Sister Frank by our classroom|
|Learning German from Sister Lisa Jensen|
|All missionaries have photo at the map. See Berlin?|
|The MTC place to gain weight|
|Sister Frank eyes the healthy salad before moving on.|