What do you say when something wonderful is about to end? It’s been a day of hugs, not a few tears, good-byes, promises to “keep in touch,” and pictures. Wait a minute: that was the last fifteen minutes before lunch and the last few minutes before we left the building at the end of the day.
It has been a full day of teaching by our wonderful young instructors and by the Holy Ghost. Some of the ideas that we want to remember are:
-If someone has not kept a commitment, help them repent by doing the thing that they have not done the thing they have not done; i.e. read scripture with them, pray with them.
-You yourself will never bring a person to Christ. You can only be a conduit for the Holy Ghost.
-When does the Lord want people to come into the Gospel? When they are ready, not when you are ready.
-When people start to lose their testimonies, they start to experiment with things.
-If people have struggling testimonies, teach faith, repentance, baptism, and the Holy Ghost. Teach the basic Primary principles.
-Coincidence is a miracle where the Lord prefers to stay anonymous.
Again, I just can’t say enough about these young missionaries. I wish I could attach a picture of them. But a picture could never show their enthusiasm. A picture could never show that eating in a cafeteria with 3000 teenage missionaries is quieter and more pleasant than a local McDonalds. A picture could never show their love. A picture could never show their desire to serve others.
I wish I could show a picture of 800 new missionaries coming to the MTC, each one greeted by name by a missionary wearing a “Host” sticker. But a picture could never show the excitement and energy; the orderliness and peacefulness of such a huge staging event.
These young people are truly the army of God, which makes the MTC God’s boot camp. They are not giving up two years of real life. They are starting two years of real life.
Is this the last day? No, this is the beginning.
In the words of Elder Holland:
Come to the edge, he said.
No! We’ll fall!
Come to the edge! he demanded.
No! We’ll fall!
Come to the edge! he commanded.
So we came to the edge.
He pushed us
And we flew.
The edge is where risks are taken and miracles happen. When Jesus says, “Come follow me,” He is saying, “Come to where I do things. Come to the edge.”
August 26, 2013
A few years ago, we had occasion to be sitting in the lobby of the Mission Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah. From where we sat, we could see down several steps to a long, wide hallway. As the hands of the clock moved to the noon hour, the doors of large classrooms along the hall opened. Doors in the hallways which opened off the main hallway opened. Four sets of double glass doors at the back of the hallway opened. Hundreds and hundreds of young men and young women poured into the hallway on their way to the cafeteria for lunch. They talked excitedly, laughed with each other, and hugged friends they happened to meet. As we listened to the sounds, waves of joy rolled down the hallway toward us. We thought to ourselves, “How could anyone not want to be in a place like this?”
Now we are missionaries. Along with forty-four other senior missionary couples, we walk the halls. We laugh and talk and greet friends. We don’t just observe the joy; we feel it.
When we arrived at the MTC, someone met us at the gate. Someone met us at the door to the lobby. Someone went with us to show us all the rooms where we were to check in. We felt cared for and loved.
Someone showed us to the chapel for our orientation meeting. There we all introduced ourselves.
Three couples in our group are assigned to serve in the Philippines; two in Germany; one in Hong Kong; one in Japan; two in Texas, others in Vermont, Illinois, Nevada, Florida, California, and many other places.
Almost four thousand young missionaries are in the MTC this week. This is a record number so far.
On Wednesday, 800 more young elders and sisters will come to the MTC. Next Monday 140 more senior missionary couples will come to the MTC. Someone will be assigned to meet and care for each of the new arrivals.
It feels as if the Lord is scattering missionaries across the face of the earth like a net to gather in His people.
We have been organized into districts of three couples. We are taught in large groups, in our small district groups, and as individual couples. Our teachers are young men and women who have already completed missionary experiences. Our teachers are all in their early twenties. We have listened to a number of teachers in our lives, but these are the most amazing teachers we can imagine.
We go to the cafeteria for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food is amazing. The thousands of beautiful young ladies and handsome young men are more amazing. Imagine a lunchroom with several thousand young people. Then imagine it as a joyful, pleasant place. We have never had more enjoyable meals.
At dinner on Tuesday, we saw a couple of small boys dressed in suits and ties, and several nicely dressed young girls. The senior missionaries looked at them with home-sick eyes. We later found out that they were the grandchildren of Elder Neil L Anderson, one of the apostles. He was the speaker at the Tuesday night missionary devotional held in the Marriott Center.
Our week in this marvelous place will end tomorrow. It has been an exciting and exhausting week. The senior missionary couples have pleasant room in the Marriott Hotel, but the intensity of our days has left us short on sleep.
After the one-thirty meeting today, our young teacher asked us a question.
Are you sleepy?
Yes. We all are.
I was in the back of the chapel and I thought that either a lot of you were either really engrossed in your scriptures, or that you were asleep.
She disappeared and returned to the class room with a bag of trail mix for us to chew on.
We have learned much, and realize that we have much more to learn. We have come to appreciate the concise but undeniably inspired words of the “Teach My Gospel” manual. Most of all, we are filled with gratitude and joy at the opportunity of being in this place and gratitude for the call to serve.
The waves of joy continue to roll down the hallways.
August 18, 2013
Several people have asked us why we are going on a mission.
We love spending time with our children and grandchildren. Some of them are going camping over Labor Day. We would love to go with them. Three of our beautiful granddaughters will graduate from High School next spring. We would love to celebrate that milestone with them. We love our home and enjoy spending time there.
Why would we want to leave all this?
There is only one answer that makes sense: “We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.”
As a friend of ours said, “If you knew that God had talked to somebody, wouldn’t you want to tell everybody?”
In the words of a song:
Called to serve Him
Heavenly King of Glory
Chosen er’r to witness for His name.
Far and wide we tell the Father’s story
Far and wide His love proclaim.
Onward, ever onward
As we glory in His name.
Onward, ever onward
As we glory in His name.
Forward, ever forward,
As a triumph song we sing
God our strength will be
Press forward ever
Called to serve our King.