Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Wonderful Experience & Wonderful People

Well, just two more days and we will have finished our training in Provo.  We will spend the weekend with Carolyn's brother and his wife.  Monday we leave for England!!

We have met some wonderful people here this week.  They are all as excited as we are to get into the mission field to start their assignments.  We became very close to three couples who were in our "District".  The four couples spent all last week together in our training classes and one couple is with us this week in Employement Resource Center training.

In the top photo - Elder & Sister Boden, Elder & Sister Molinari (assigned to Milan, Italy.  Elder Molinari will assist with housing and cars & Sister Molinari is a nurse), Elder & Sister Conrad (assigned to Mauritius - an island off the coast of Madagascar and part of the Madagascar Mission.  They are assigned to Member Leadership Services), and Elder & Sister Stutz (assigned to Bulgaria to work in Employment Resource Centers).  We developed a good friendship and I hope we will stay in touch with each other throughout our missions.

Monday, April 29, 2013

More Training...

We took a break over the weekend and stayed with my sister (Marge) in Lehi, UT.  On Saturday we drove into Salt Lake City to do some shopping.  We went to church with Marge on Sunday and then had dinner with my family – Marge, Catherine, Robert and his wife, Ann. 

We returned to the MTC about 6:00 p.m. to attend a devotional.  Elder Stephen Allen, the Managing Director of the Church Missionary Department was the speaker.  I was wrong about last week’s devotional.  The auditorium holds 2200 people, not 1000.  The missionaries unable to attend in the auditorium were in overflow room on campus.  Elder Allen spoke about the need to “have both feet in the MTC”.  He spoke to the missionaries about how there will be times of discouragement, home sickness, and challenges, but that it will be worth it.  It was really a very good meeting.

Today, April 29th, began the second week of training.  We took a “field trip” to the Church Welfare Square in Salt Lake City. This facility is amazing.  We began the tour at the Bishops' Storehouse.  This is a Grocery Store - without a cash register.

The Bishops’ Storehouse is a facility that people in need can come and obtain food with a Bishop’s order form, or they can work for a food order.  This is available to members and those who are not members of the Church.  Included on the “Square” is:

a bakery that produces 3,500 loaves of bread each day; a cannery that produces about 6-7 products;

a grain elevator ( holds 16 million pounds of wheat); a milk processing plant that produces milk, cheese, and sour cream; and Deseret Industries Thrift Store that sells clothing and furniture manufactured in other Church facilities.  We learned that 85% of the clothing donated to Deseret Industries is sent thought the Humanitarian Center to the needy in countries around the world.  Also, 100% of every dollar contributed to the Church Fast Offering and to the Church Humanitarian Program is used for this operation. 
It has been a full day and a very impressive day to learn more about Welfare Square and the distribution of food throughout the world.  Following the tour we went to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in downtown Salt Lake City for lunch and more training on Welfare issues and Employment Resources.  The objective of the Welfare System is to practice “Pure Religion” as defined in the New Testament - to visit the fatherless and the widows, care for the poor and needy, and teach self-reliance.  (James 1:27)


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Training Has Begun

We are half way through the first week of training at the Provo Missionary Training Center (MTC).  This has been a wonderful experience so far.  We flew to Salt Lake City on Monday morning, April 22nd.  We arrived at the MTC on Monday, April 22 about noon.  We checked into our room and we were just in time for a brief orientation and lunch.  There are currently about 3000 young missionaries at the MTC.   There are about 45 senior couples and 6-8 senior sisters also.  Lunch for the senior missionaries is served in the cultural hall in the chapel next door to the MTC.

After lunch we began our first training session.  It was held in the Chapel.  Each couple introduced themselves telling where they were from and what mission they had been called to and what assignment they had been given.  What a variety of missions - - Martin's Cove, Detroit, Pittsburg, Texas, Netherlands, Germany, Bulgaria, Italy, Mauritius (sounds like "delicious".  It is an island that is part of the Madagascar Mission), Kentucky, Zimbabwe, South Sudan (a new African country), Hong Kong, etc... 

Mission assignments include: Member Leadership Services, Nursing, Office Services, Employment Services, Church History Sites, Humanitarian Services, Church Education System, Military Relations, etc.  Most couples are going for 18 months, some for a year, and a few for 23 months.  The missionaries come from all parts of the country and a few from Canada.

Monday evening we had time to unpack and then go to dinner.  Eating in the main cafeteria is definitely an interesting experience.  They manage to feed all 3000+ people in about two hours.  It is amazing the way things are organized to make all this happen.  The food is actually pretty good.   The cafeteria is staffed with BYU students.  We eat breakfast and dinner in the cafeteria and lunch is brought over to the chapel cultural hall to make it easier for us.

Tuesday began our training as missionaries.  We have been taught by young returned missionaries the most effective way to invite people to come unto Christ and benefit from the blessings of his atonement.  Today we had the opportunity to teach an introductory lesson about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon to an investigator.  We will continue that teaching experience tomorrow and Friday. 

Tuesday evening we attended a devotional with about 1000 missionaries.  Elder David Evans of the Seventy spoke.  There was a missionary choir made up of about 500 missionaries.  It was a very special evening.  They had the senior missionaries sit down in the front section so things were perfect.
We will be staying with my sister over the weekend and then begin our second week of training on Monday.  We begin by taking a tour of Welfare Square in Salt Lake City on Monday.  I’ll post more on this training when it is concluded

Ready for Training

The Entranced to the MTC

Entrance to the MTC

All the Spring flowers are in bloom.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Farwell to AZ...and others

Thursday we locked up the house in AZ for the next 18 months.  We have enjoyed the AZ spring this year.  The cactus blooms have been amazing to witness.  The neighborhood is alive with color...cactus blooms, the red yucca are in full bloom, and the lantana are recovering from a very cold winter.

We are spending the weekend in California prior to leaving for Utah on Monday.  Yesterday I was able to able to visit with a few dear friends from work.  Over the last month I have been able to adjust to retirement life because we have been so busy prepareing for our mission, but I have really missed my association with the people with whom I have worked with during the last few years.  We are excited to begin this next part of life's journey.  Farewell to dear friends.  Not goodbye, but just farewell.  I hope to stay in touch with you through this blog to share our experiences over the next 18 months. 

Monday we fly to SLC and enter the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah.  The first week of training is regarding general missionary service and the second week is specific training on the Church Employment Resouce Centre.  (Yes, Centre...I need to learn the British spelling of many words) 

The essence of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to love God, and love thy neighbor...in other words, I'm third.  God should be first in our lives, then second, we should help our neighbor, and then we are third. 

The Church Welfare Plan as we know it today began in 1936.  The great depression brought many challenges to Church leaders in the early 1930's because of so many people being out of work.  Church Leaders were needing to help people find work, care for the poor, and teach self-reliance.  They expanded the concept of the Bishop Storehouse, created Church Welfare farms and canneries.  This concept has grown into today's worldwide Church Welfare Plan.  Church members and non-members alike are help through the Church program.  The statistics of the assistance provided throughout the world are staggering.  Often the Church has been among the first responders in disaster releif efforts throughout the world.  There are hundreds of Employment Resource Centres throughout the world helping people find employemnt.  In 2011 these Centres helped 147,000 people worldwide find employement.

We are excited to become part of this effort.  We will be working with the people of Scotland and Ireland.  We will be teaching Career Workshops and Resume Writing Workshops.  We will be helping people prepare for the job interview process.  We will be working with Stake and Ward leaders as they assist and counsel with members looking for work.  We have a lot to learn about how business function in the UK.  I'm sure things work a little differently than in the US. 

The journey begins on Monday as we begin our training.  For now...farewell, but stay tuned in for more updates.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Seven Days left until we leave

We have settled into life in AZ pretty well.  Most of the boxes have been unpacked but there are still quite a few in the garage.  They will stay until we return.  During the last month we have spent many hours studying and preparing to leave for England.  We enjoyed a visit via FaceTalk two weeks ago with the couple in Scotland we will be replacing - the Hambeltons from Boise, Idaho.  Our assignment has been better defined and we will definately be working in Scotland with some responsibility for the work in Ireland.  Last week we attended a Career Workshop at the Mesa, AZ Employment Resource Center.  It was very helpful.  We attended this workshop because we wanted to see how it was taught here because we will be responsible for teaching this same workshop in Scotland and Ireland.  We learned about creating "Me in 30 Seconds" statements.  These are 3-5 sentences that explain who you are.  They are helpful in focusing on your skills when in the interview with a prospective employer.  The thought of teaching the Career Workshop is a little overwhelming but I know we will be able to do it.

I think we have both been packing mentally for a few days wondering what we should be taking...and wondering, "what are we doing?"  We need to finish up all the last few details to lock up the house as we leave for this new adventure.

We enjoy our new life and look forward to our mission.  We will leave AZ on Wednesday or Thursday and go back to California.  We will say our last "farewells" to friends and neighbors there and will be set apart as missionaries by our Stake President on Sunday morning.  We will be speaking in our Sacrament Meeting on Sunday and then fly to SLC Monday morning.  We will arrive at the Missionary Traning Centre (I'm trying to get used to British spelling) at noon and will begin our first week of training.  The second week of training will be on the Church Welfare Program.  We will spend the weekend in SLC and they leave Monday morning for England.  We arrive in Birmingham on Tuesday and will spend a couple of days there in more training.  We understand that there will be Area Welfare Training those two days for other missionaries as well as us.  There we will meet Elder and Sister Hambelton.  They are coming from Edinburgh to pick us up.  On Thursday we will head for Scotland, hopefully with time to stop at the Preston Temple on the way.  We will be staying at the Scotland/Ireland Mission Home for a few days while we work with the Hambeltons.  They will show us around and introduce us to many of the people with whom they are currently working.  They leave on Monday (May 13th) to head home.  We then will take over their flat and car.  At that point...we are on our own as Employement Resource specialists!!  This week I purchased a Garmin GPS and loaded all the maps for the UK so hopefully we won't get too lost.

We are excited, with the proper amount of hesitation...I am confident that we will meet the challenge that is before us if we will rely on the Lord's guidance.  It is great to be part of this new era of expanded missionary effort as the missionary numbers increase throughout the world.