Our time at the MTC has been extremely busy and just as interesting and rewarding. We had a little time on Monday to get settled in our room which is small but clean and comfortable. We have a comfortable queen sized bed, our own bath, and a place to study. After Monday we didn’t see much of our room except to sleep. Training meetings started at 8:00 every morning. With a couple of short breaks we are busy until about noon. After lunch it is back to training meetings until about 4:30. We have just enough time then for dinner and to rest a few minutes before going to language training from 6:00 to 8:00. After that we drag ourselves back to our apartment and are usually in bed by about 9:00 or so. Before the first training meeting, we have to be ready and eat breakfast. All meals are at the cafeteria with approximately 2000 young elders and sisters and a handful of other senior couples. The senior couples often sit together and share quite a common bond as we are almost all strugging to learn a language, learn the computer or other things that put everyone outside their comfort zones. This is even without mentioning the training in missionary lessons and teaching which is in itself quite stressful. The couples as well as the young elders and sisters are preparing to go to all parts of the US and throughout the world. In our small group, there are couples going to Africa, Romania, Poland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Domician Republic, Guatamala and a lot of others I can’t remember. The young elders and sisters must have some instruction on respecting their elders, or maybe they just come that way, as they seem to go out of their way to say hello, often in the language they are learning, put us in front of the food line, take our trays to the dish dropoff and otherwise treat us well. There is just a good spirit here. It is amazing to see that many missionaries all going different directions at different times but everyone knows where they are going and everyone is busy.
Our instructors are recently returned Elders and Sisters who do a marvelous job teaching us how to share the gospel. Sister Faulkner, our “small group” instructor is an extremely vivacious girl whom you just can’t help but love. In the afternoon we have Sister Andelin who is about the same. She also knows France and Platt Nielson. It seem like every time you say you are from Blanding someone knows someone from there and it makes for a good conversation. Both our trainers are extremely knowledgable and a lot of fun to work with. Mom has become the class favorite and has earned high praise both from our trainers and from the volunteers on whom we practice the lessons.
One of the highlights of the week, (or lowlights if you ask Mom) came on Thursday when our instructor told us that pretend time was over and we were going to the call center to take calls from real live people. Mom almost came unglued on that one and tried every way possible to avoid that activity but after substaintial encouragement finally made it and took some calls. The call center is a bank of some 200 computers occupying most of one floor of one of the buildings. As the Church runs spots in various TV markets around the country, sometimes offering free video’s etc. the calls come into that call center or another one in Washington DC. Sometimes it is really busy and other times it slows down a little. Everyone in our group, including Charlotte and I took at least 3 calls and some took 4 or 5. My calls were from people who were genuinly interested in the church. The first time you push the button it is a little scarry but after that it really gets to be quite a bit of fun. The orders and referals are e-mailed to the various missions that night and the contact is made the next day or within a day or two. Its quite a world we live in.
After spending the weekend at Jody’s we came back and are continuing with tutoring about 3 – 4 hours each day and studying the rest of the time. It is not quite as intense as the first week we were here. Our Tutor is a sister who just returned from a mission to southern France about 3 weeks ago. She not only speaks beautiful French but is very knowledgable about the language and why you say what you say. That is helping me as much as it is Mom. If our VISA’s for Benin arrive we are scheduled to leave on Friday March 21.
We have run into Elder Jordan Christiansen a couple of times. He is excited and doing well.