Sunday, February 12, 2012

Where in the World Are the Smiths?

MTC: Week 1

It is tradition for missionaries to have their picture taken at the “Go Ye Into All the World” map, which is at the MTC, so here we are!  At this time, we are the only couple assigned to go to the DR Congo and we know that all six couples who are currently serving there will be coming home by August.  So, for those who read this, will you please join us in a fervent prayer that Heavenly Father will touch the hearts of ALL couples who COULD serve a Senior Mission and especially for couples who will be willing to serve the Lord in the DR Congo Kinshasa Mission.

It is hard to describe our first week in the MTC.  Maybe “Spiritual Boot Camp with Angel DI’s” would begin to give you an idea.  For an overview of the MTC, click HERE
Senior Missionaries are honored and made to feel special at every meeting, whether small or large. We also hear some funny (but loving) comments that we can all relate to and appreciate.  For instance, in a combined meeting one night, the 2,000 young Elders and Sister Missionaries were asked to look over at our Senior Missionary area.  They were given examples of some of the types of sacrifices that older couples make and were told that we are “Silver-Haired Energizer Bunnies”. By the end of the day, most of us are not feeling all that energetic and some of us are even more tired because we are taking an additional (optional) 2-hours of language after dinner.  So, my day begins with wake-up at 5:30am and we get back home at 8:15pm.  Then we answer our emails, do our assigned homework, shower, say our family prayer and collapse into bed… after which George reads a chapter from the scriptures out loud and I listen attentively. J

We are in a group of 30 new couples who entered the MTC February 6.  Some stay for one week, but we’ll be here two weeks for office training.  When the next batch comes in tomorrow, we’ll be the old pros. In this week’s group, we had all sorts of destinations and all types of assignments.  Just a small sampling: Jakarta, Indonesia; various cities in Russia & former USSR countries; Mongolia; Australia; Dominican Republic; Canada; various Polynesian islands; a Navajo Reservation in Arizona; Philippines; London, England (to work with a Slovak ward); India; The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Brother Tom Peterson, the MTC Director of Training, has been a very dynamic and humorous instructor.  After he greeted us the first day, he began to ask the couples about their different destinations by saying “Where is the couple who are going to (then he would name a location)?”  The couples who answered to “Russia” were told, in serious tones…“Be sure you have a VERY thick coat and do enjoy this beautiful weather we are having here!” (It was 20 degrees!)  To the couples going to India “Be sure to have a hamburger before you go!”  Finally, he asked about the couple going to the DR Congo (just us) and when we raised our hand, he said (leaning forward and speaking in an ominous voice which trailed off without completing the sentence) “We know we can GET you there……!”  It reminds me of an LDS video which I think was called “Saints in Africa”.  The video gave so much credit to the early Protestant and Catholic missionaries who were responsible for converting large numbers of Africans to Christianity.  (95% of the DR Congo is Christian, mostly Catholic) Those brave missionaries were only given one-way tickets to Africa because it was assumed they would die while on their mission.

Today we have enjoyed a full Sabbath Day.  The class rooms of the MTC Administration Building became the locations for numerous Sacrament Meetings staggered throughout the morning.  We went to our assigned room and found it filled with young men and women from around the world.  One of the speakers that most impressed me was a strapping, handsome Samoan who spoke of the day that he felt the earth tremble just before boarding a school bus.  Moments later, the students on the bus saw the nearby ocean suddenly withdraw and then come back with a tsunami which hit the bus.  He spoke of the calmness he felt as he heard the screams of so many people who were crying out for God’s help.  Now he is going out to serve the people whom God has prepared to hear His message.

Tonight, we had a Sunday “Fireside” with Richard I. Heaton, the Administrative Director of the Provo MTC.   He was followed by a video of the talk which Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave on Christmas Day Sunday 2011. He spoke of the need for us to not just have a testimony, but to be fully converted to the Lord Jesus Christ.  Simply put, we use our testimonies and the Grace of Christ to grow more like him.  To the extent we do this, we are converted.  That is why Christ said to Peter, who already had given a powerful testimony, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”  

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