MTC November 26, 2012
Did I have expectations of this day so long anticipated? We are bunking in the Marriot Hotel in a lovely room. I didn’t expect that for sure. This was a record day for MTC Senior Missionaries, 126 of us, breaking the old record of 121. We passed a microphone around the room and introduced ourselves, told where we will serve, where we are from and how many previous missions we have been on. There were a surprising number of Idahoans compared to Utahans. A few had served previous missions, one or two couples on their 4th. There were many exotic destinations, including the Canary Islands. We were kidded that maybe we are going on vacation there.
The first day was rules and regulations day. I started to doze off in the afternoon after a big lunch. Mike arrived drugged to the hilt with various cough and cold aids. He made it through without embarrassing himself by hacking out of control. He went to insta care on Saturday to get a stock of meds to see him through. He is quite a mess as his cold has moved to his chest and his old perpetual cough has arrived.
There was a large devotional with senior and junior missionaries on Tuesday evening. There were 1000 plus missionaries there…what a beautiful sight they were. My soul was swollen to tears as we all sang “Called to Serve” with power and joy.
The food was plentiful and OK, with enough variety of fruits, salads and French fries galore that anyone can be happy. The seniors eat at the same Cafeteria as the young elders and wow, those young elders pile on the food, but I noticed a fair amount was thrown away…eyes bigger than bellies, I believe. Wednesdays and Sunday’s are ice cream day for lunch and dinner with mega toppings and the best hot fudge ever. I skipped breakfast entirely every day…too much food for me.
The days consisted of morning devotionals, classes in the morning, where we talk about principles from “Preach My Gospel.” We role play the concepts on each other. Our group leader is a young returned Elder in the morning and a sister in the afternoon. They are impressive and good. We have four couples in our group and they will all be wonderful senior missionaries.
On Wednesday we were taken to small rooms to practice teach someone who has volunteered to play investigator. We taught The Restoration to a sweet elderly lady who played her part well. We had prepared adequately and all went well.
On Thursday morning, at the beginning of class, I looked over at Mike and he was white and hyperventilating a little. He went into the hall and called me out a bit later. He took cough syrup with codeine that morning for the first time and it made him nauseous. We eventually returned to the Marriott where he rested. As long as he was down he was OK. We were scheduled to teach the “Plan of Salvation” but Mike just wasn’t up to going. We returned for lunch but Mike couldn’t eat and threw up in a plastic bag on our way back to the hotel. I got permission to go to class without him in the afternoon. He was better by dinner and ate a little but was still queasy. We went to our Spanish class from 6:00-8:00 PM. Mike managed to survive on half his pistons. He dropped into bed at 9:00 PM. The cough syrup worked, he didn’t cough all day, but the nausea was a very bad trade off.
Friday was a better day for Mike but not 100%. This week has many wonderful spiritual elements but the days are long for us who are doing language every night for 2 hours. It is all good hard work. We became very attached to the four couples in our district, such impressive spirits!
On Friday night, as part of our language training, we split into two groups and had a testimony meeting to testify in our language of study. There was German, Spanish, French, Finish, Norwegian and Polish being studied. Some of the men had served previously in these countries. Our trainer encouraged us to bear a testimony early so I got up first…and I didn’t pass out. I was glad I had been working on my testimony at home. I already had it memorized when we arrived at the MTC. Mike did a great job and recited a few of his 70 verses of memorized Spanish scriptures as part of his testimony. Our week will be the last of the night Spanish instruction during the senior MTC weeks. The seniors are going to be moved out of the MTC into the church down the street in preparation for the influx of new young missionaries.
The second week was CES training and we liked it better than the first week. It would have been good for all the seniors to be there as there were some great ideas for developing a lesson. My favorite parts of both weeks were the senior missionaries who came back to tell us of their experiences...amazing people.
When the senior missionaries convened for the week on Monday and stood to introduce themselves I was a little surprised at how old we all looked and out of shape. I wondered how we were going to preform our Missionary responsibilities in the far flung areas of the world in which we would be serving. But by Friday these missionaries all looked younger to me and there was so much enthusiasm, humor, vibrancy, and spirituality in the group it spilled over to my soul in a very sweet way. I felt energized by them. The spirit is the best elixir of youthfulness, I am convinced.