Monday, January 5, 2015

MTC Day 1

What a place this is; hundreds of young missionaries, dozens of senior missionaries, organization everywhere.  Checking in was well-organized. Food services is well-organized; training and orientation - seamless.  It seems like the church has done this a few times.  Oh, I guess they have.

The first day in the MTC is over and things went real well.  The people are all real nice and very genuine.  They like what they are doing and it shows in how they teach and organize.  We have met many people our age who are beginning a mission (mostly 18 months).  About 1/3 of the senior couples here are serving from their homes in stake missions.  We have spent extra time with a couple going to North Carolina near where Blake is living.  There are also two couples going to the Philippines.  One of those couples will be living in Quezon City in a medical advisory capacity with a focus on mental health issues.  The other couple is going to an island called Elo Elo, I think.  We have met people from Arizona with whom we had common friends, people who graduated from Skyline in 1970, retired teachers, others who have cabins in Island Park.  It really is a small world and the Gospel shrinks it even further. 

We are getting ready to go exercise, then early to be so we can rise early.  For tomorrow, we are to study from the Preach My Gospel manual , My role as a Missionary and The Restoration.  We will spend tomorrow studying those two chapters and spend some time practicing teaching.  Sounds like fun. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Ready to Go

All our bags are packed
We're ready to go!

Tomorrow, January 4, 2015 we will attend sacrament meeting in the Island Park Ward and drive south to the Mission Training Center in Provo, Utah. We don't need to be there until Monday morning at 10:30, but we can stay at the MTC a day early.  There is a Winter Storm Advisory for the entire length of the trip until Monday afternoon; it might take a long time to get there. 

We each have 2 bags that weigh about 40 pounds each plus a carry-on.  We did not have trouble packing . . . actually got all packed and had room in each bag.  We thought of some more things to take up space. 


A Sad Thing Happened

Chris and I consider the Madera Ward in Sahuarita/Green Valley Arizona to be our home ward.  We were there when it was created from 2 existing wards about 4 years ago and I served in the Bishopric, Chris served as the Primary President and as the ward grew close as a family, we grew close to them - like family.  We always thought we would return to Arizona and leave on our mission from there.  We decided in November that it wouldn't be financially or logistically a good thing to leave from Arizona, so on December 14, our records were moved to Idaho.   The Island Park Ward is a very special ward, as well.  We just never allowed ourselves to join in and become part of the family here. 

Preparing to Serve

Preparing to Serve

     With the call to the  Philippines came a packet of materials, nicely bound, which outlines the preparations necessary to enter the mission home on January 5th.  It was nicely written, easy to understand and at first glance fairly simple.  However, we have learned that in each section are many tasks and those tasks each take some time. In this post, I will try to describe some of the things it takes to get ready to enter the Mission Training Center in January.

Electronic Stuff:  We were instructed to log into the missionary portal at the website and given a password.  At this website, we were able to track our progress in missionary preparation, find help with the Tagalog language, descriptions and photos of acceptable missionary dress, and many other useful hints to prepare for our departure.  Our laptop is 10 years old and our desktop computer is older than that, so we decided to buy two Surface 2, tablets.  They are made by Microsoft and come with MS Office 2013 fully loaded.  We have found that they are wonderful for laptop stuff, but many of the apps written for Android devices and Apple devices are not available for our tablets.  This is going to become a problem, but not a large one.  We mostly want Skype, which we will have to pay for . . . and we are not sure why.  We don't pay for it on our laptop, or phones. 

Medical Stuff:  Prior to sending in our application for a mission call, we had to have physical exams, eye exams, dental exams, colonoscopies, and started getting immunizations that we knew we needed - Influenza, shingles, hepatitis, and others.  After receiving the packet and logging into the missionary portal, we found some gaps in our shots.  Our typhoid shots were out of date.  I needed a pertussis shot, etc.  We also decided to get new glasses and found a 2 for $89 deal at Sears, so we got some new glasses. 

Family Stuff:  We felt it important that we spend some time with all of our family before we left and enjoy as much time with them as we could.  All of our kids and grandkids made it to the cabin for the family reunion this summer.  We have spent several days with each of our mothers, traveled to North Carolina and Florida to visit Blake and his family and my sister, Carolyn.  We have spent time with most of Chris's sisters and all of her brother-in-laws and all of my brothers and sisters.  All of our children and grandchildren except those we visited in NC will be at the cabin for Christmas.  Still, it seems as though this will be the hardest part of going on a mission.  Leaving the family.

Finances:  We are not a wealthy couple.  For the past couple of years, while working in Arizona, was the first time we haven't had to rely heavily on credit and summer employment to get by on a very basic lifestyle.  When considering serving a mission, the cost of that mission, was definitely a consideration.  We decided that we would both apply for our Social Security benefits now and use that money for a mission.  We would also sell both cars and that would provide enough money for most missions in the church.  We could not afford to go to most big cities in the world or metropolitan areas in the US, but there are many places to serve that we could afford.  With the help of our son, Tyler, we will likely have both cars sold in time.  Whew! 

Clothing:  Serving in the Philippines creates some interesting clothing dilemmas.  It is hot, humid and during the rainy season, it gets wet - real wet, real often.  I am not required or expected to wear a suit coat at any time.  I may need one in the MTC, but will never use a suit in the mission field.  Chris will only need skirts, tops, and dresses.  Sister Bertin, the mission president's wife, has been very helpful for Chris.   She sent photos of the shoes she wears, and suggested that we buy Crocs.  To me Crocs are those bright yellow cloggish things that I wouldn't be caught dead in.  It turns out though, Crocs makes even dress shoes and sandals and they are nice because, they handle water well.  We each have a pair. 

So what about our other clothes.  For me this was easy.  My favorite kind of slacks are made by Hagar. Penney's had some on sale for nearly half-price just before Thanksgiving. I bought 6 pair, went down the mall and bought 8 white shirts and 12 pair of socks and I was done.  Chris, however, has had a more difficult time.  As of this writing, December 1, she is about half done.  Matching tops to skirts and making them interchangeable and finding the right price have all proven to be a challenge.  No doubt, though, we will be ready to go when the time comes.