Sunday, September 28, 2014

On a Lighter Note

On a lighter note…

We visited what I like to call the ‘projects’ in Rantau Panjang last night because I wanted to learn how to make fried noodles.  After the meal, the husband brought out a cage with an animal in it  I assumed it was a pet and commented innocently, “I didn’t know you could have pets here!”  The reply was a little disconcerting:  “No, that is barbecue tomorrow!”  I was curious, so I Googled it. This is a picture of the animal in the wild and also a coat made out of its scales (made for George III of England…this used to be an English colony). 

The animal is called a ‘pangolin' and belongs to the anteater family.  Apparently, it is a delicacy here!  I can only be thankful that we won’t be at their home tonight.


Sister Bodell

Saturday, September 27, 2014

A Strong Dislike of Motos and More

It's Saturday night, and it's been quite a week! I have developed a very strong dislike for moots here in Malaysia, especially in Sibu. I know they have their place, but they just spring out of nowhere and drivers don't seem to care about any driving rules at all. They dart in, out, in-between, and around cars. Scary! I had a close encounter with one Monday afternoon on our way home from somewhere. It was pouring cats and dogs. A moto came out of nowhere as I was going around a roundabout. He slid right into me. We stopped about 100 feet ahead to catch our breath, ready to take care of business. When we looked back, the moto and driver were gone. No injuries on our part, nor the driver's since he had disappeared. Motos are all over the place. They even take their families on them. I found this picture on the internet so you can see what I'm talking about.

Needless to say, I've been a little gun-shy about driving. I'm getting more relaxed about it, especially after making several trips to the airport to drop off and/or pick up missionaries. I've gone several times this week, even driving by myself. Thank goodness for GPS!

Tuesday we attended our first District meeting. We held it in our home. Sister Bodell fixed tacos for everyone. There were 14 Elders and two senior couples. I love the fact that wherever we go, members'  home or church, everyone takes their shoes off.

Outside our door during our District meeting

Wednesday and Thursday were pretty much involved with the usual day to day of study, shopping for supplies, find our way round the city. I think it was Wednesday night that we went out to dinner with the other senior couple in our district, Elder and Sister Mills. We had a great time talking and getting acquainted. This is their second mission.

We've had several days of rain . . . I should say daily. Sometimes it just pours. Somewhere I have a picture of the rain. I'll include it next week.

Friday night we had dinner with President Gara (Branch 1) and his family. It was delicious. Sister Mina taught Sister Bodell how to make a noodle dish that was excellent, which was served with a purple potato. The potato tasted a bit like a sweet potato or yam, but not as strong. It will be good with apples using the yam recipe from the Lion House cookbook. Looking forward to trying that. We picked up a purple potato this evening on the way home from Seminary. Sister Bodell was asked to say the blessing which she did . . . in Malay. I was asked to give a closing prayer, which I also did in Malay. (We start our Malay training again next week.)

A drawing of Sister and Elder Bodell by Olivia, President Gara's daughter.

Today is Saturday. I drove out to the airport by myself to pick up four Elders. They had been to a new missionary training. I got them home safely and without too much consternation on my part. We went over to the Church at 2:00 P.M. so Sister Bodell could begin teaching piano lessons. She had three students today. That will grow next Saturday. I taught my first Seminary lesson at 4:00 P.M.. There were four students today, along with two missionaries who helped translate for me. The lesson went well, and I felt the Spirit as scriptures were shared by those in the class, even as they read in Malay. I'm grateful for this experience. The District President is supposed to call a teacher from the local membership. I may end up teaching for several weeks.

The Seminary and Institute classes coincide with the local school year which runs from January to mid-November.

Here are some pictures that I hadn't posted yet. The first two were taken at our missionary conference last week. 

Our Zone Conference. How we got front row seats I'll never know.
President and Sister Mains are seated in the center.

The Senior Couples in the Singapore Mission

Tomorrow doesn't really start a new week in Malaysia. Their weeks go from Monday to Sunday so tomorrow is actually the last day of the week, but I'm still on US time. Tomorrow is the beginning of a new week for us.

There is probably much that I haven't included in this blog, but I can't remember what else at this time. It may get included next week.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

It's Sunday . . . A Confirmation and More

I mentioned yesterday that we were able to attend the baptism of a young girl. Her father was baptized not that long ago. He was able to baptize his daughter. It was a beautiful meeting in our chapel here in Sibu. This young lady was confirmed a member of the Church this morning in Sacrament meeting. I had the privilege of participating in that confirmation.

The missionary effort here is amazing. The members love the missionaries and do all they can to refer friends and help the Elders anyway they can. It's not like home where we had one pair of missionaries for the the stake. We have 10 Elders here in Sibu. That's four missionaries for each branch except the Chinese branch which only has one set of missionaries. But the missionaries are all in the same district. The Zone Leaders are also in our district. Actually, the two Malay speaking branches here also have one other set of missionaries . . . Us! There is also another senior couple in our district that works with the Chinese branch. Hopefully we'll see more of them. They also work with the Sibu Jaya branch which is several miles away from us.

We are beginning to get organized. The seminary program needs an infusion of enthusiasm. It's been non-existent for over a month now. We are going to start teaching next Saturday. I don't know if we'll have anyone there or not, but we're going to give it a shot.

Later tonight we'll be off to pick up the ZLs from their meeting somewhere out towards the jungle. We were there last Sunday, but I wasn't driving. It was also dark and raining. I hope we can find where we're going before it gets dark tonight. You have to have an address for the GPS to work very well.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Finally, a Day to Catch up!

And the energizer bunnies keep going and going and going, but today we can catch up a little. As you read from the previous blog, Sunday was a whirlwind of meetings. I apologize that this is such a long blog. Here is a glance at the rest of the week's activities. If you don't want to read to the end, that's okay. However, there are some pictures at the end.

Monday: Rode with Elder and Sister Beus paying bills, running errands, getting our phones activated with new numbers, shopping, repack for trip to Singapore for Missionary Conference.

Tuesday: Up at 4:00 AM so we would be ready to go NLT 5:30 AM to be picked up to go to the airport for the Missionary Conference. President Gara and his family picked up Elder and Sister Beus from their hotel and then came and got us. Sister Bodell rode with the Garas and Sister Beus to the airport. Elder Beus drove the car and me to the airport. 

The flight to Singapore includes a flight from Sibu to Kuching and then from Kuching to Singapore. We're becoming really good at this flying business. We have one more flight this week when we return to Sibu.

After checking in at the hotel, Sister Bodell and I took the MRT (subway) to the stake center for choir practice. There were about 10 senior couples that sang in this choir. The choir was practicing for the Seniors Conference the next day. The song we sang was Though Deepening Trials.  I wish I could sing better, but I was okay.

After choir practice, the senior couples went out to dinner at a great restaurant somewhere in Singapore called Aston's. It's located in one of the many, many, many shopping malls in Singapore. We enjoyed our time getting acquainted with the other senior couples. After dinner we returned to hotel rooms to retire for the evening.

Wednesday: Today was Seniors Conference for all the senior couples in the mission. We started with breakfast at McDonald's, which was just around the corner from our hotel, with several other senior couples. Then it back on the MRT for choir practice to warm up at 9:30 AM. The meetings started at 10:00 AM. There were presentations from new couples (our turn next month) and departing couples (Elder and Sister Beus for one). Talks by President and Sister Mains and presentations to show us what some of the other missionaries are doing. I think we were done by about 5:00 PM. Lunch today was a delicious Mexican meal. The theme for this missionary conferences was Promises. 

Thursday: We didn't have to get moving quite so fast this morning, but we did have breakfast at McDonald's again. I should note here that you don't bus your own garbage. Someone is employed to do that. Bussing your garbage takes away from that person's responsibility. 

Today's conference sessions were specifically for our zone so only the missionaries from our zone were in attendance. The APs conducted and spoke. Elder Plazier, the senior AP conducted and spoke. It was like listening to a General Authority speak. We were greatly impressed by his spirit, his humility, and his ability to communicate his message. The talk was excellent. He could have spoken longer. It would not surprise us if ended up as a General Authority someday.

Pizza was served for lunch today. There were 50 boxes of pizza, one box per set of elders. Fruit and brownies were also served. There were no left-overs! Young male missionaries can really pack it away! 

President and Sister Mains took Elder and Sister Beus and us to a little place called Spizza for dinner. It was a welcome dinner for us and a farewell dinner for the Beus's. After dinner, the Beus's went back to the hotel, and we went with President and Sister Mains to spend the night in their beautiful home. 

Friday: President Mains fixed a wonderful breakfast of blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, fresh strawberries, and orange juice. Delicious!

L to R: Sister Beus, Elder Beus, President Mains, Sister Mains, Sister Bodell, Elder Bodell

After breakfast we had a devotional then an orientation to the mission. After the orientation, President and Sister Mains drove us to the airport for our flight back to Sibu.

It's been a great, spiritual week.  President and Sister Mains are wonderful people. They are not hard to love and follow. We've been blessed by their teaching and their example this week.

We flew back to Sibu with several Elders and Sisters on the plane. It was great to see them interact, not only with each other, but also with those they sat next to on the plane. It seemed that none of the missionaries sat by each other and each was engrossed in a conversation with the nonmember seat mate. Totally awesome to see them at work!

White-Knuckle Driving: We arrived at the airport later than anticipated. It was dark and rainy. I had the dubious pleasure of driving us back to our apartment. Fortunately, we had a couple of GPS units, commonly referred to as missionaries, with us. They're apartment is close to our home so we gave them a lift, and they guided us home. I probably need to remind you that they drive on the other side of the street here. It was a little hairy and confusing. I was very grateful for the Elders and their guidance.

Saturday: The plan today was to catch up and rest up. Okay, we got some laundry done and a little shopping done this morning. We received a call this morning from one of the missionaries asking if we knew about the piano lesson at 3:00 this afternoon, or the language training at the same time, or the baptism at 7:00 this evening. No was the answer to all three questions. So we had to scale back what we were planning on doing for the remainder of the day. Sister Bodell picked up two new piano students. We attended the language training taught by one of the Malay members. This will greatly help our pronunciation, helped the Elders prepare and print the baptism program back at our place, attended the baptism, and then shopped some more afterward. I am beat! Driving at night is not my favorite thing to do, especially on the other side of the street. I am off to bed before we attend two different sets of Branch meetings tomorrow.

Our Arrival Day

Our Arrival Day
L to R: Sister Boyter, Elder Boyter, Elder Bodell, Sister Bodell, Brother Tandiman, President Lai
(Brother Tandiman is the Asia S&I director; President Lai is the Singapore Stake President
and our local go-to man for S&I)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Our Home in Sibu

This is our home for the next 18 months. It was built about 25 years ago by the Chinese. Like most "modern" construction, all the walls and floors are cement!

This is obviously the kitchen area. We have the only oven for about 30 miles around.

These are the living and dining rooms.

Our office

These stairs lead up to a landing before going up to the second floor.

These stairs take you from the landing to the second floor. There are three bedrooms and two bedrooms upstairs.

This is our bedroom.
It's quite a nice house. We will be happy here. I didn't take pictures of the bathrooms. Sorry about that. I didn't want to offend anyone's sensibilities.

More Pictures from Our First Weekend

I thought I'd best post this this morning while it's still fresh in my mind. We actually went with Elder Beus to pick up the missionaries from an area quite a ways out. We ended up at the home of the newly-sustained branch president of Branch 1. He was sustained today. He's been a member of the Church for about nine months. He and his family will be going to the temple this December to be sealed.

I didn't have time last night to post a lot of pictures yesterday so I am up early to do so. (The sound of rain pounding on the roof at 3:30 this morning woke us up.)

 The Singapore Airport as we taxied in

 It may not look like much on the outside, but the inside of the airport is gorgeous.
This is one of the many features they have . . . a koi pond and orchid garden.

 Another view of the koi pond and orchid garden.

 Sister Bodell in her "traveling" clothes.

 This garden is absolutely beautiful!

 You have to look closely, but their is an arch over the pond, in front of a bridge.
Somewhere in the airport is a butterfly garden as well. We may get to see that on one of our trips back to Singapore.

 Sister Bodell with her new friends.

 Typical eating arrangement at the home of members.

This is a great family. The father was just sustained on Sunday as the new Branch President.

Our First Weekend in Sibu

We had an uneventful flight from Singapore to Kuching and from Kuching to Sibu. Both flights were aboard Malaysia Airlines. These are the planes that we took. The first is a nice jet, but the seats were really close together. I let our an unintentional, audible sound when the guy in front of me leaned his seat back! I was stuck! It took me a minute to get my knee un-wedged so I could be comfortable (I use that term loosely!) for the remainder of the flight. The lunch on this flight was pretty tasty. I thought it was better than on the other airlines we used.

The second plane was a little older. Sister Bodell thought it was a refurbished WW II cargo plane. If it had air conditioning, it was non-functional. It was pretty warm, but a quick flight of less than 45 minutes. All passengers were served a chocolate drink on this flight. It was pretty good.

We were met at the Sibu Airport by Elder and Sister Mills. They're a couple that serves in Sibu-Jaya. It was good to see them in their missionary attire. It was easier for us to recognize them than the other way around. We were able to dress down for the flights today. Sister Mills had a cold drink waiting for us. It's call 100 and resembles Fresca in taste. It was very refreshing . . . something we needed. We were later joined by Elder and Sister Beus, the couple we're replacing. Pictures were taken, but not by either of our cameras. Hopefully someone will forward one to us. Elder and Sister Beus took us to our new home. I'll share some pictures of it later.

That night we went to a going away party at the church for the Bueses. It was sponsored by the 1st Malay Branch. There were members of the 2nd Branch there as well. They honored Elder and Sister Beus and showered them with gifts. They spoke, and then the Branch President asked that Sister Bodell and I say a few words. We were glad there were younger missionaries there to translate for us. We were then able to come home and have a good night's sleep. We felt pretty rested this morning when we awoke.

Today, Sunday, was a marathon of meetings. Elder and Sister Beus picked us up about 8:35 and took us to church. We met with the 2nd Branch first. Elder and Sister Beus were asked to share a few thoughts before the speakers. They, of course, spoke in English. The other speakers were mostly speaking in Eban, so we didn't catch much of what they said. There is no Malay Hymn Book so they use the Indonesian Hymn Book. It's a little different, but we were able to follow along. We were also asked to share our testimonies in the 1st Branch. We've been invited to do the same next week in the 2nd Branch.

We met with the 1st Branch after that, and stayed around to meet some of the members of the Chinese Branch that Elder and Sister Beus knew so they could say good-bye. So were at the church from 8:45 this morning to about 1:30 this afternoon. It was a long day, but the spiritual feeling was wonderful. 

Here is a picture of the Chapel and the entryway of the church.

Everyone takes their shoes off before entering the church. They even took them off at the farewell party. I loved seeing one of the branch presidents conducting in his white shirt, tie, suit, and bare feet. I think I'm going to enjoy learning about this culture.

Tonight we're going with Elder Beus to take the missionaries somewhere. It's quite a drive, but this way they won't have to ride their bikes home after dark.

Speaking of after dark, in case you were wondering, the sun rises at 7:00 in the morning and sets at 7:00 at night. It's the same all year long. I guess that's what happens when you're so close to the equator.

Friday, September 12, 2014

We Have Arrived . . . Almost.

I have no idea what I titled this page. I've got several ideas running throughout my mind since we've had a chance to sit down and unwind.

Okay, I've come up with the title for this blog. After hours of flying in planes, we arrived this morning in Singapore. We were met at the airport by a mission couple, the Singapore Stake President, who is also the stake director of seminaries and institutes, and the area director of seminaries and institutes. The mission president was unable to meet us because he was attending a Mission President conference in Hong Kong. After collecting our luggage (We didn't lose any!),  we were taken to the mission office where we were given a couple of briefings; one from the mission couple and the other from the two seminary and institute directors. Pictures were taken. Hopefully I have one here. If not, check back later. Eventually someone will email one to me. We learned from our briefings that we will be extremely busy. There is much for us to do!

After our briefings, Sister Bodell and I were shown where there were a couple of fast food places. We opted for something exotic. We selected Subway. The egg salad sandwich I had was quite refreshing and light.

We're spending the night with the mission couple who met us at the airport. They live in a little home with six bedrooms and an equal number of bathrooms. It comes in very handy when there is a mission conference of any kind.

So, we're almost there. Tomorrow we fly out on Malaysia Airlines for Sibu with a transfer in Kuching. Hence the almost there. Tomorrow we will arrive at our new digs where we will probably be staying for the next 18 months.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

On Our Way!

We are on our way!

It's been a busy day! We got up and started a couple of loads of laundry before getting breakfast. After breakfast we got a load out of the dryer and went to class at 8:00 this morning. Sherrie played the piano for the class devotional. I was assigned the spiritual thought. I found a a quote by Joseph F. Smith which said, "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the gospel." I thought it was appropriate now that we've been through the past week and a half of training.

I should also mention that we said good-bye to a missionary from our stake this morning. He's on his way, too. Off to Mexico.

After class we finished up the laundry, got packed, and headed for the airport, only to turn around because I realized that my glasses were missing! Sister Bodell found them outside the apartment. They had fallen out of my suit coat while packing the car. Whew! We met Aaron at his school and he drove us to the airport. He's going to sell our car for us while we're gone.

We finally made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare. Natalie, Lydia, and Pam met us at the airport to see us off. We also texted with Amanda and Josh and their families before heading for security. We are now at the Tom Bradley International Airport for a five-hour layover. Zzzzz!

Natalie took this picture of us at the SLC Airport.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

MTC - Day 7

Today our lessons in our CES training were on how to teach. There are so many, many ways to teach. I really like Gospel Teaching and Learning - A Handbook fro Teachers and Leaders in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. It reminds me of Teaching - No Greater Call. It's smaller, but on steroids!

We were also introduced to the teacher's manual for the Book of Mormon seminary course as an example on how to teach. Everything is in the manual! The manuals are complete with the "chunks" of scriptures that will be covered, summaries of each chunk with the principle or doctrine taught, and its importance. It includes questions that can be asked as well. I'm looking forward to studying the Doctrine and Covenants this year with the seminary manual. I don't know what the institute class will be . . . maybe the same thing. We'll soon find out what and who will be teaching.

Our last class today was on personal security and safety wherever the missionaries go; things to watch out for; things and places to avoid; watching each other's backs; and so forth. It was somewhat scary, but hey! So is driving in St. George, Utah.

Tomorrow morning are our last classes. We're done at noon. Then it's get the laundry done, get packed, say good-by to the MTC, drive to the airport, board the plane, and begin the flight to Singapore!

MTC - Day 6

Today we began our CES (Church Educational System) training. The trainers are excellent! The class day is shorter than PMG training, but it's pretty much just as intense. We were taught how to prepare a lesson plan by using these steps:

1. Divide the lesson into groups or segments of scripture verses.
2. Write a summary sentence for each group or segment.
3. Write a one line sentence defining the doctrine or principle in each group.
4. Place the groups in order of how much emphasis should be spent on each group.

Tomorrow's lessons will build on what we did today.

Later we were able to visit with Aaron's family. They drove into Salt Lake City where they took us to dinner at the Blue Lemon, a fun little place in the City Creek Mall.  After dinner we drove out to Amanda's place in Heeriman. We have been able to visit all of out children up here since we've been at the MTC. This will  be the last we see family (except for Aaron who will be driving us to the airport on Wednesday) for 18 months. Thank goodness for FaceTime, Skype, and email!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

MTC - The Weekend

Saturday was a good day to just relax . . . no when or where to go. It was pleasant for the most part. I lost my MTC ID. I discovered this after going to the Mount Timpanogos Temple in the afternoon. Not a good way to finish a temple session. Fortunately, someone turned it in back our housing unit. I was very grateful for that.

As I was sitting in the Temple chapel, waiting for the session to begin and listening to hymns being played on the organ, I had the distinct impression that my grandmother (Grandma Jim) was there. I could see her, as she appeared when she was younger. As I closed my eyes to focus more on her, I could also see her husband, my dad and my mother, and my other grandparents. I wish they could have stayed longer in my view, but it was very comforting to see them, knowing they were watching me, loving me.

Sunday morning we attended Sacrament meeting with one of the missionary branches at the MTC. We met a young sister who is flying home Wednesday to Singapore to get her visa renewed. We will probably be on the same flight with her. She seemed most grateful for that. Since this is Fast Sunday, Sacrament meeting was a Fast and Testimony meeting. It was very moving to hear these young Elders and Sisters bear their testimonies in English, which is not their native tongue. Their testimonies strengthened us.

Every Fast Sunday is a mission conference. That was held about 30 minutes after our short Fast and Testimony meeting. Mission conference was a two-hour meeting. The district president, the MTC mission president and his second counselor and their wives were the speakers. The musical number was presented by a young Elder who will be going to South America. He sang The Lord's Prayer. What a beautiful voice he has. Those in his mission will be greatly blessed because of his talent. The two hours went by quickly. There was a great spirit there. Not being a "meeting" kind of person, I am amazed that these meetings have been so uplifting. I can sit through them without needing (wanting?) to get up and move. What a blessing to be here at the MTC!

This evening we attended two more devotionals. The first was departing devotional for all those that would be departing the MTC this week. We will be departing Wednesday so that included us. The MTC President, President Nally, and his wife spoke, as did his second counselor and his wife. We were given instructions on departing and what we should when arrive in the mission field.

After this we attended the MTC Sunday devotional for all missionaries. The speaker was Richard I.  . This was a great interactive talk with three missionaries called from the congregation who bore their testimonies about their conversions to the Gospel and to the Church. It was another beautiful meeting. An additional highlight was the concluding prelude congregational singing. It was We'll Bring the World his Truth (The Army of Helaman).  There are two words changed in the chorus. The chorus is now sung:

We are as the Army of Helaman.
We have been taught in our youth.
And we are now the Lord's missionaries.
To bring the world His truth.

The  third verse also had a wording change. It is sung:

We know his plan, and we will prepare,
Increase our knowledge through study and prayer.
Daily we'll learn and now we are called
To take the gospel to all the world.

You've got to love it.

We have been called to take the Gospel to Sibu, Malaysia. We are excited to go forth and serve. Next Sunday we will be attending church in Sibu!

In closing tonight, I would like to let all those reading this blog know that I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, indeed, the church of Jesus Christ. It is His church. He guides it through living prophets and apostles. He lives. He restored the Church through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. It is the word of God. What a blessing for Sherrie and I to be able to help share this message for the next 18 months!

Friday, September 5, 2014

MTC - Day 5

This is likely to be a longer post than usual. We completed our training of Preach My Gospel today. It was bitter sweet. Today, for me, has been the most spiritual. We did have a role play this morning, but instead of meeting with investigators, we met with less-active members (played by other missionary couples) of the Church. It was a very moving experience. We felt an abundance of the Spirit. It seems odd, in a way, to have the Spirit help you teach in a role-play situation, but there was no doubt that we were blessed today with the Spirit. We learned much about working with other people this week and the importance of having the Spirit when we work with them. It has been a great experience.

A special thank you to the two young men that were our instructors this week . . . Brother Zundel in the mornings and Brother Mostart in the afternoons. Also a special thanks to the volunteers who come each week to act as investigators of the Church.

I must say that what a pleasure it was to work with the senior couples in our district. We named ourselves District 9 because we met in room 9 in the church building adjacent to the MTC. Here is a picture of District 9.

Sister Last, Sister White, Sister Andersen, Elder Andersen, Sister Jones,
Elder Jones, Brother Mostart, Sister Bodell, Elder Bodell

It has been a treat to work with these wonderful missionaries. We wish them well at they travel to Chicago, Washington D.C., and Scotland. 

Later this evening we went to dinner with some of the Baer cousins. It was the beginning of the Baer Cousin Reunions. There were only six of us there, but we had a good time. We had dinner at Milagos, a great Mexican restaurant, in Orem. Others were out of town or had family issues that needed to be dealt with. We will be home from our mission for the next Baer Cousin Reunion. We are looking forward to that. I'm so grateful that we are a family. A special thanks to those who were able to make it tonight.

Tony and Sherrie, Annette, Lise, Mike and Michelle

Thursday, September 4, 2014

MTC - Day 4

Sometimes we feel like walking zombies! We are tired, but feel good. I can't quite figure that out. It would have been nice to have a nap today, but there just wasn't any time for that luxury. We had our second TRC, or role-play today with a different "investigator" and different scenario. We did pretty well with getting acquainted with     today, and started the discussion off pretty well, but we were pressed for time and tried to rush the discussion. Wrong! We learned a good lesson . . . If you run out of time, finish up at the next visit. Tomorrow we have another role play, but this time it's about less active members of the church . . . finding ways to bring them back into activity. We had a dry run today in our district. This is a hard one! Tomorrow is also our last day with Preach My Gospel. 

The following pictures are of all the senior missionaries in our group. This has been one of the larger groups that have gone through in a long time. We are in the first picture. I hope you can identify us. I don't think we've aged that much in the week we've been here. You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MTC - Day 3

Today was another great day. Our role-play went very well. As we were preparing this morning, we worked on the concept of prayer. Turns out that's what we needed to talk with our "investigator" about. Our lesson/discussion went smoothly. Our instructor, Elder Zundel, told us we had done very well. Our "investigator", who is actually a member of the Church was very nice. She is actually a convert. She told our instructor that she felt the spirit during our discussion. It reminder her of the first time the missionaries met with her. We felt very good about what we were able to do. It felt like a real discussion, not just a role-play. Tomorrow we do another role-play with a different scenario.

After our morning session we ate again in the main MTC campus cafeteria. Another good lunch, and bless me, they had BYU mint brownies for dessert. I'm happy. I don't need another one. We're really trying not to eat too much, but who can resist one of these beauties? Eat your heart out, Lindsey!

After lunch we had more class and took the familiar missionary pose by the world map.

We had good classes today. We are looking forward to our last role-play tomorrow. We finish up our Preach My Gospel lessons on Friday. The weekend is ours, and Monday thru Wednesday morning we have CES training. Wednesday evening we take flight from Salt Lake City to Singapore!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

MTC - Day 2

For want of a better word, all I can say about today is WOW! We taught taught in our classes today to prepare us for our role-play for tomorrow morning. We will be teaching "investigators" a lesson tomorrow based on the restoration. Unlike the 5-10 minutes discussions role-played during our Stake Mission Prep class, these lessons will last 45 minutes. There is some feeling of fear and trepidation, but we will go forth and do and learn.

This evening we attended a missionary devotional. The speakers were Elder and Sister Don R. Clarke. Elder Clarke is a member of the First Council of the Seventy. (For my non-LDS friends, the First Quorum of the Seventy is a portion of the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) The meeting began with prelude singing by the assembled missionaries, several hundred of us, possibly even a thousand. What a sound!!!  The opening song was Called to Serve, sung by the congregation. Totally awesome and inspiring. There was also a choir number sung by a missionary choir of a couple hundred missionaries. They sang Where Can I Turn for Peace?  It was beautiful. 

The singing was followed by the talks by Elder and Sister Clarke. One could not help but feel the Spirit which attended this devotional. I'm not a "meeting" type of person, buy I could attend a devotional like this four times a day. Words cannot describe the feeling during this meeting. We are ready to get out and serve. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Welcome to the MTC!

After saying good-by to friends and family yesterday, we drove up to Provo and checked in at the MTC. We were only about an hour and a half later getting on the road than we wanted to be. I guess that's not too bad. The scary part was getting in the car and realizing we didn't have our passports. We   went back in the house and looked for them. We couldn't remember where we put them. Fortunately, our son, Josh, saw them sitting on the counter. Minds were spared much agony! With the car packed to the brim, including Sherrie's harp, which she is renting to someone up north, and with passports in hand, we finally backed out of the driveway at 4:30 P.M. and headed north.

After a couple of stops along the way for gas and food, we arrived at the MTC about 8:15. We met the family renting the harp across the street from the MTC and delivered it to them. Then we drove across the street and checked at the MTC. Everything went well. We went to apartment where a couple of security guards helped up bring our luggage into our apartment. We settled in real fast and went to sleep and slept well. This is home, sweet home.

This morning we got up, cleaned up, and breakfasted with lots of missionaries. We saw Elder Labrum, the son of Brother Labrum from our Stake High Council. He's been here four weeks. It was fun to see him light up when he saw us.

After breakfast we attended orientation meetings the rest of the day, with a break for lunch. Before starting class this morning, we took a moment to take a "selfie" to remind us of our first day.

Just before lunch, we were able to meet our language tutor, Hoku Kubota. This was our first live meeting with her. We've been on Skype with her for six weeks while learning some Malay. It was nice to meet her in person.

We finished our meetings about 4:30 this afternoon, then went to dinner. After dinner we went to the Creamery for some BYU ice cream. After getting our ice cream we discovered they also sold BYU mint brownies. Hmmm, I wonder if we'll make it back there tomorrow? If not, we will before we leave next week.

So, here we sit in our apartment . . . it's only 7:30 P.M., and we are both bushed. Tomorrow will be a busy day with class starting at 8:00 A.M. and going until 4:30 P.M.. It's not as strenuous of a schedule as for the younger missionaries, but when you're not used to it, it's quite fatiguing. Tomorrow we start training from the Preach My Gospel manual. We'll be at it all week. We'll see how this older couple can cope with that.