Monday, May 28, 2012

MTC 2nd week

Wow, we are being worn out and we are nowhere close to Mongolia yet. It’s been busy, busy, busy for us. Here are the highlights.

Meeting people. Our group of senior couples consisted of 19 couples (no senior sisters). It was a small group compared to what is scheduled for the next three weeks – an average of 98 senior missionaries each week. The number of senior couples going on missions has increased since the Church capped mission costs about a year ago. We liked our small group because it was so personal.

Ourselves, the Tanners, Sis. Reese, the Stevens, Bro. Carrington
Our District consisted of ourselves, Elder and Sister Stevens from Houston, Texas , to New Delhi, India and Elder and Sister Tanner, transplanted Canadians (recently retired to Arizona) from Alberta going to the Guatemala Central Mission. The Tanners already know their assignment, working with several Mayan Branches surrounding Lake Attitlan, one of the most beautiful places in world and where
Darlene and I honeymooned in 1966. I could see myself serving there. Elder Tanner had previously served a mission in Guatemala a few years after I did.     

The Stevens related an interesting account of how they applied for a Stateside Mission because of care issues with Sister Stevens’ 92 year old father. It seems he had alienated all the children in the family except Sister Stevens who felt she needed to be reasonably close at hand if health or caregiving issues erupted. They were perplexed and concerned when they received their call to India. They accepted the invitation of the Prophet to serve with faith but wonderment.

In the meantime, their son called from Dallas, Texas where he attended a missionary fireside with Elder Callister of the 70s. He talked about senior missionaries and said that the leadership liked to place seniors to serve where they requested.  But sometimes inspiration overrides this. He mentioned how the church had just called a couple to serve in India who had requested a stateside mission.  Their son immediately called his parents that evening, answering their prayer for reassurance that all would be well. Since then a cousin in the family has stepped up to be the principal caregiver in their absence. What a beautiful story and such a “coincidence” that their son would be in that fireside and Elder Callister being prompted to tell about mission calls.
We met very impressive young returned missionary teachers who helped us understand and implement the missionary principles in Preach My Gospel. One of the teachers was Clarissa Thomas who we had previously met in St. Louis. She is a delightful and dedicated young lady. We also had a returned missionary from Mongolia who was one of our District’s instructors. He was helpful to us by giving us great advice on how to learn Mongolian and showing us some great resources to acquire once we arrive in Mongolia.

We also met a delightful newly called Elder from Mongolia who will be serving in South Lake South Mission. We also met a personable young man from Turkmenistan in the Costco parking lot who served with a Mongolian companion in the San Jose California mission. He warmed our hearts when he said, “The trouble with the Mongolian language is that they don’t have enough vowels.” Amen to that.

Elder Oyungerel
Preach My Gospel.  Our eyes were opened this week to the big book on the shelf that seemed a bit too intimidating to read. Now we know what “Preach My Gospel” is all about and is it ever powerful! I had no clue. During the week we had role plays with each other and encounters with investigators (volunteers) in actual teaching situations.

What all of us learned is that the gospel is taught according to the needs of the investigators, using the Scriptures and with the Spirit. Even in these contrived situations, we were guided by the Spirit as the Lord took over our puny lesson plans and turned them into remarkable spiritual experiences.

Preach My Gospel class: the Tanners, Bro. Carrington, Sis. Reese, the Stevens  
Tears were running down our cheeks as well as other senior couples as we learned firsthand how missionaries teach.  I have new and profound respect for young Elders and Sisters and their abilities to teach.  We personally felt how the Lord magnified us through the His words and with Holy Ghost testifying to their truth. I felt it. Darlene felt it. We are no longer afraid of missionary work. It will be a pleasure.

Other MTC experiences. We attended church on Sunday with a Branch consisting of about 30 young missionaries. It was the Branch where the Elders going to Mongolia attend. The 5 Elders sang “Nearer My God to Thee” with Darlene accompanying them. Part of the song was in Mongolian. On Thursday they auditioned to sing at a Sunday night devotional, the Tuesday General Authority fireside or in front on the Senior Couples. They did really well and we see if they get chosen to perform. We'll keep you posted.

Our comrades: Elders Hegland, O'Mori, Parrish, Morley, and Chandler

We also went to church at the Asian Ward on the BYU campus. We attended Mongolian Sunday School class. We took pictures afterward and took their names and addresses of their relatives in Mongolia, many of whom aren’t members. We had instant rapport. The Mongolian people are very friendly and outgoing. 

Tuesday devotional. The MTC fireside this week had Elder and Sister Rasband as the speakers. It was inspirational and informative as Elder Rasband spoke on the importance of virtue in missionary work.  

Elder Rasband served as mission President in the New York mission. On the first day the missionaries arrived, they would take them to the roughest corner of the Bronx to do missionary work. Talk about baptism by fire.

Then they would take them to the Statue of Liberty. Sister Rasband quoted from 3 Nephi 18:24.“Therefore, hold up your light that it may shine forth unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye should hold up—that which ye have seen me do…” Sister Rasband likened the Statue of Liberty to the missionaries going forth throughout the world. What a thrilling, inspiring analogy. 

Paraphrasing what Elder Rasband said…When we forget our worries and ourselves we shine forth the light of Christ.  No one can preach the gospel without the Spirit. We need to retain the constant companion of the Holy Ghost. First of all, passions need to be bridled.  Charity and virtue bring the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.  Second, our thoughts need to be garnished with virtue. The third point was that we need to pray for the spirit continuously. You cannot lift others if you do not stand on higher ground yourself……
We are on a visa delay. We have been transferred to the Family History Mission in Salt Lake City until our visa from Mongolia comes in. We are not anticipating a major problem. This will give us a little more time with the Mongolian language prior to our departure.We will be exposed to the church resources on genealogy and family history - part of our assignment in Mongolia.

The visa delay could be a blessing in disguise. Our estimated departure date for Mongolia is June 24 unless our visa comes sooner. We'll start working at the Family History in Salt Lake City on Tuesday after Memorial Day. We have now experienced in turn an immersion experience in Mongolian, training in teaching English as a Foreign Language, training in ''Preach My Gospel", and now Family History - a great beginning.   

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