Tuesday, June 12, 2012

5th week - Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City Temple

Moving to Salt Lake City. We started off the week by making arrangements to move into some missionary apartments located a block away from temple square. We moved in Tuesday morning by loading up all our worldly possession (at least in Utah) in Rick and Cathy Jones’ Ford Expedition. We’ll have this vehicle to use in Salt Lake City while we are here. Most of the time it will be parked with the exception of times when we need to run a few errands.
Everything is quite comfortable with one exception – no Internet connection. This is one heck of an adjustment as we have grown used to instant checking on emails, news and being connected with the world. Talk about “cold turkey” – we felt like teenagers with our IPods and cell phones taken away from us. Or like real missionaries with nothing to do except our real business – learning Mongolian and learning the research and computer skills we need to contribute to Family History work here and eventually in Mongolia.

We described our dilemma to someone with clout and some made arrangements to Skype for our Mongolian lessons next week after hours at Mission Headquarters. (We had our last face-to-face lesson with Bolormaa on Monday evening.) We can use our computer once a day after work for about an hour. We then found out we can get computer access at the Family History Library in the evenings and on Saturdays. Whew!!!!

 Our new assignment.
We began our week in the Historical Reconstitution and Data Analysis Zone of the mission, located on 6th floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. We were introduced to the missionaries and staff in the department by the Zone leaders, Elder and Sister Koch. They are affable, gracious and supportive of the “visa waiters” and all the world make us feel like we will be an asset to them instead of a bother.

The Zone is engaged with auditing and rolling out the 1940 US Census and they are doing it with remarkable speed. There are a number of special projects going on, including one tracing Norwegian genealogy by examining farm histories. I will be bringing in our family history on farm ownership and occupancy my brother Larry gathered during a trip to Norway in 2006 to see how it might be extended through farm records. 
Elder and Sister Koch with their new "visa waiter"
Darlene was given the assignment of auditing Russian genealogical records a century or two old. It was challenging for her to read old Cyrillic handwriting a century or two old. She is learning a lot. This skill could come in handy in looking at Mongolian records written in Cyrillic. As the week progressed she became better and better at it. She is actually fulfilling a need as some of the Russian work has been stalled because of  resources in the Zone with her skills.

My work, on the other hand, is in Spanish. I enjoy the challenge – I am doing meaningful work and alleviating someone else’s eventual workload but the direct correlation with our Mongolian assignment is less direct. I feel like a “visa waiter.” Our work consists of examining birth, death, and marriage records from original sources and comparing it to the extracted data indexed by others. We actually catch a few mistakes and it feels rewarding when we do.
Our new environment.  We walk through Temple Square every day to and from work. What a beautiful setting at a gorgeous time of the year. On Fridays and Saturdays we see a number of festive bridal parties gathered outside after their temple marriages. The landscaping and flowers are exquisite.

We enjoyed listening and watching a Tabernacle rehearsal on Thursday night. The public and tourists are invited free of charge. It was interesting and relaxing to watch the conductor work with choir to perfect a couple of pieces they will be performing on their Sunday Morning broadcast.
The Mormon Taberacle Choir in concert
Family History Library. We went to the Family History Library on Friday evening. We spent most of our time finding out what resources the Church and Library have on Mongolian genealogical records. We ordered a microfilm that we will be reading next week. One blessing of our being in Salt Lake is our being able to learn what is available or not available about Mongolia online or within Church resources.

We can also do our own personal research with the assistance of staff at the Library. Everyone in our zone is given one afternoon off a week to either attend the temple and to do their own personal research. We will take Wednesday afternoons off while we are in Salt Lake. We were challenged by Elder Speidel to try our fledgling computer skills and come back to him with questions when we train with him again.
The library is open to visitors from all over the world. They come in and missionaries and staff assist them trace their own personal genealogy free of charge. They also have access to the immense collections the church has gathered and has made available online. Patrons are taught basic skills to access these records. What a service!   

Right next door is the Church History Museum. I hope we can take a tour there before we leave.
The last Hurrah at the Missionary Training Center. This Wednesday we used our afternoon off to make one last trip to the MTC. Darlene accompanied the Elders going to Mongolia as they sang “I Need Thee Every Hour” to 408 new missionaries entering the MTC. Our group of five Elders had auditioned and was selected to perform at this meeting. It was an exciting moment for them and for us to be there.
Elders Hegland, Parish, Parrish, Omori and Morley singing in Mongolian to the new missionaries

Each week a new group of  300 - 500 young missionaries enter the MTC in Provo. There are 17 MTC’s around the world. Can you imagine the power of this work? A visiting journalist from the leading newspaper in Sweden was present write about the MTC and the Church’s missionary effort. It was thrilling and inspiring to behold as the Missionaries sang “We are Called to Serve” and “We Are As the Army of Helaman” and to take in their orientation meeting as new missionaries. 
Another reason to be at the MTC was to make contact with the Grosbecks, a senior couple from Mapleton, Utah who  will be going to Mongolia next week.  Darlene compared notes with them on luggage, packing and items to take or not to take to Mongolia. We will correspond with them once they arrive so we will be further prepared for two year sojourn in the country.
Sis. Yedigaryan - Armenia, Sis. Marchetti - Italy, Sis. Arias - Guatemala, Sis. Toches - Honduras  
We also saw four of the six missionaries we trained in English during our first week at the MTC. We grown quite attached to them. They will be serving in the Temple Square mission.

Sunday with the Mitchells.  Last Sunday, June 3, we attended church with Bob and Susan Mitchell. We had dinner afterward with them and spent most of the afternoon with them in their home in Springville, Utah. Bob and I served together in the Stake Presidency (church leadership over several congregations) in Rapid City SD. We shared memories and family news.
Our good friends, Bob and Susan Mitchell

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