Saturday, April 19, 2014

MTC PMG: Week one in the Missionary Training Center

Hurray! I finally made it into the MTC!   I thought I'd keep a blog (we'll see how THAT goes) to keep everyone who's interested up to date on my mission. I may get a bit long winded on here as this is how I plan to keep my "travel journal", so you're welcome to skip through it :)

I had planned on entering the MTC on Mar 1, 2014, but Spain had other ideas. As soon as I got here (I planned to spend about a week with Marie and her family), I found out that the Spain consolate had decided it needed an additional two forms to add to all the stuff I had already sent for my Visa. So they decided to delay my entry into the MTC until it came. And I waited. And waited. I was kind of worried I might not be able to get back in time to be home for Sam (who is on a mission in the Central Salt Lake Mission), so they set a firm date of April 14th (a Monday) and the week before that, my visa came!  It was great cause for celebration!

Entrance to the MTC:

Marie and Joshua drove me down (thank you Marie and James for all your help and hospitality!) to Provo... it was so exciting to enter the gates of the MTC!  I got my official "missionary badge", security and meal card (you have to swipe to enter the grounds and all the buildings), and misc. information, dropped my bags in my room (with the help of some very nice Elders), then headed to the chapel for orientation. Btw - I'm staying by myself in a very nice room, much like a small hotel room, on the third floor of the building that houses the MTC book store. Orientation was the normal introductory stuff, plus they divided us up into "districts" that stayed together for classes etc.

All the "senior" missionaries in our group :

My district consisted of the Bradshaws, who were from Alpine Utah and was going to serve in their stake as Leadership Support; and who had already served a mission in Hungary; the Maynards, who were from South Jordan, UT, and were headed to France to serve the Young Single Adults of the area; the Martins, who were on their second mission in the Family History Archives division, photographing records in Olympia, the capital of Washington; my companion, Sister Tilley from Colorado, who was going to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii to do whatever they wanted her to; and myself, from Medford, Oregon, going to the Spain Malaga Mission, as office support.  We had two wonderful young teachers that were students at BYU, Sister Holland, who had her very last final Friday and was moving on to the "real world", and Elder Lystrup.

This week was dedicated to "Preach My Gospel" training, which is similar to what the younger missionaries go through. First we learned our purpose - to teach PEOPLE, not lessons, with love and simplicity, where they are at. Next we learned how to teach the Restoration of Jesus Christ's true gospel, using quick summaries, scriptures, and questions, with some experiences and our testimony thrown in. Then we practiced on each other, and the next day practiced on some volunteers from the community who pretended not to know anything about the church, which was quite scary for some people, but since I'd already done some of it (thanks Kelly and Dee!) I thought it was fun! One of the most challenging parts was learning to work as a team with your companion. I had lots of practice developing this talent as I kept getting new partners as my companion got sick and missed a fair amount of time. It kept me on my toes! Then we taught the Plan of Salvation as a followup lesson to volunteer "investigators", which was really easy with ours - he kept saying "I have a question about (something), and then proceeded to tell us all about it and state that it made total sense to him!  The challenge was sneeking some teaching of our own in!  Finally, each couple made up a scenario where we pretended to be members who weren't coming to church any more, then we had an introductory meeting with another couple (not of our group), and each couple had to come up with a lesson to teach to that particular couple's needs. We were encouraged to use true examples in our lives, and the couple we "taught" was a family where the mom had fibromyalgia and was using that to abuse prescription pain pills and get as much money/support as she could from the government and church. It was interesting! (How to be tactful and yet helpful.... we ended up encouraging her to try other doctors and to  try out the church's Addiction Recovery Program. We also reminded her of the help that comes from Christ's atonement).  Finally they went over working with Stake and Local church leaders. All in all it was a very interesting week - great teachers, and great information. The hardest part though was staying awake that hour after lunch, no matter how good the teachers were!

One kind of funny thing:  I wrote how I've been without a partner for the last couple days - well, they decided it was okay if I just did the community teaching thing by myself, so I went in there, introduced myself, and start teaching. Suddenly another sister appears and sits down with me...apparently they realized I was "alone" with a single (married but w/o his wife) man  (it's in the gym with partitions between everyone but open to the middle where the instructors were so I didn't think it was any big deal) and decided that wasn't a good thing after all! 
Some more about the MTC:   The food is served in the cafeteria, and on the whole is excellent (or as excellent as mass produced food can possibly get). There is always fruit and salad, and usually several choices. It's easy to find way too much that I want to eat! We've had Mexican, Chinese, Papa John's pizza, the Creamery (college) icecream (all you can eat!), wraps, all kinds of burgers, chicken steak sandwiches, and on and on...  I found the luggage scale Wednesday, and decided that a bit less food and a bit more exercise was in order ;)  I also "found" (or he found me) L.T. Hoak Thursday. It was so fun visiting with him!  He looked great! The Elders here are SO nice - I rarely have to open a door, and they (and the Sisters) always have a big smile and cheerful greeting. There is an exercise room with 2 treadmills and 2 bikes on my room's floor, and a big exercise room in the basement everyone uses, so I have no excuse not to exercise (which I've been trying to do). And there are beautiful flowers everywhere outside, and beautiful pictures everywhere inside.

 There is also a world map where it's a tradition to have your picture taken while you point to where your mission is. I couldn't resist :)

Another tradition - every Tuesday we have a "devotional" in which one of the church leadership comes to give all the missionaries an inspirational talk. This last Tuesday  Sister Kathy Andersen and Elder Neil Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke. Sister Andersen spoke on treasuring the words the Lord has given us through His Apostles during conference (it was interesting to hear an insiders report on how much care and thought and prayer go into the talks). Elder Andersen spoke on Laying Hold upon the Doctrine of Christ - Follow, and Do! Understand the Atonement and put it into your own life - live it, and it will make your faith immoveable.
Something really neat - they had a bunch of missionaries (mostly the young folk, with a few older) form a missionary choir that I got to sing in. It was TOTALLY AWESOME!  Think of all those men's voices (usually a rarity). Very powerful. And the director was VERY good - he really gave us a sense of the meaning of the hymn. A great experience.
What was funny though, although we were having an apostle come to speak to us Tuesday, all that day the whole MTC was abuzz about what a GREAT devotional we were going to have on Easter Sunday. I can't wait to see what they have planned for us!  At least hopefully I can go. Remember I wrote about my companion being sick?  Well, she apparently was generous enough to share with me, because I woke up with *ahem* bowl problems this morning. So far it's only been the one time (it's 5pm right now), so if it stays fine, I'll be able to go tomorrow, but they think she may have norovirus, which is VERY contageous (we found this out Thur, after I've been partnering with her for 3 days) and she is under quarantine, so we'll see.  It kind of tanked all my plans for today, but at least it's a nonteaching day, so I'm only really missing exercises, temple, and shopping. And I made time to go to the temple here Thursday night (what a beautiful temple inside!), and it gave me time to write up this blog, so it's all good.

The very best thing about the MTC is the spirit here - I love feeling the Holy Ghost bear witness to me that what I am doing and what I am teaching is very true and that I'm doing what the Lord wants me to do. Can't get better than that!

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to hearing about the wonderful adventures ahead!