COB training complete

This afternoon we completed our two days of training at the church office building (cob) with eight other couples. They taught us all about the Self Reliance initiative. We learned about the program, the sessions, the training material and structure. We covered it from beginning to end. We went over the reporting and communication chain and responsibilities of all those involved. It was a lot of information. We were amazed at the organization of the Church and the success of Self Reliance and the Perpetual Education Fund.

For part of the training the international missionaries were separated from the United States missionaries. All were given the area plan for the areas they will be serving in. The highlight for me was being presented and reading the Asia area plan. That is the area that covers our mission. It included the vision, priorities, indicators and implementation plan. As I read that inspired document my mind was flooded with ideas, promptings, thoughts and images. We call this revelation. I began to understand why Kori and I are being called to Malaysia.

Since I did some oil painting as a youth, the best analogy I can come up with is this. A master painter is preparing. He has stretched the large white canvas over the wooden frame and placed it upon the easel. He has assembled all the brushes and supplies to begin his masterful work. He has placed many different colors of paint on his pallet and is now mixing colors together. He has selected his brush and is now beginning to paint. Occasionally I will see a partial, faint glimpse of portions of the final painting, but I don’t know what the final work will be. I have seen his paintings before and I know this will be a priceless masterpiece.

As missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, it is in Jesus Christ, the master painter of our lives, who we place our faith and trust.

MTC Day 5

At breakfast we sat by two fun sisters. One was from south England and the other from Santaquin. They were both headed to Calgary, Canada. The English sister said her brothers were upset because they stayed in Europe for their missions and she got to come to America and Canada. We tried to tell her about Chick-Fil-A. She had no idea what it was. Sad…

Today we had our member teaching experience. They have volunteers come in to allow the senior missionaries to learn about them and to teach them. We had an older brother who had served a mission in the Phillipines with his wife then served a mission in the MTC. His life has been filed with service and ministering to others. What an example to us.

Brother Gibbons in our district taught music in middle school for many years. He and his wife retired to St. George so he could write hymns for the church. He sat down to the piano and nothing. They served a 2 and a half year service mission then had the feeling they needed to serve a full time mission. As soon as they submitted their paperwork, he sat down at the piano and composed 6 hymns in four months. He wrote the music and lyrics. He presented each companionship in our district with copies of 3 of his hymns then sang and performed them for us. There are absolutely beautiful! He will submit them for the new hymn book. I will be surprised if they are not included.

At lunch we sat down by the Russian missionaries. One sister from New Zealand is going to Moscow. The other sister was from Anchorage and the only place she did not want to go on her mission was Russia. Well, guess what, she was called to Siberia in Russia. She has an amazing attitude about it and will be an excellent missionary. The Lord knows where he needs missionaries to serve.

In the afternoon we did some workshops and had some discussions. Then we were allowed to come home. We said our goodbyes to our district and to our other companionship the Cahoons. We trust the Lord will bless them all in their fields of labor.

Our District with Sister Gurney
Elder and Sister Leifsen - Denmark Copenhagen Mission - Assigned to Iceland
Elder & Sister Leary - Singapore Mission - Assigned to Kuching in East Malaysia (Borneo)
Elder & Sist3er Arvonen - California San Deigo Mission - Assigned to Navel Base Military Relations
Elder & Sister Gibbons - Texas Dallas Mission - Assigned to Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Our District with Sister Gurney (afternoon instructor)
Elder and Sister Leifsen – Denmark Copenhagen Mission – Assigned to Iceland
Elder & Sister Leary – Singapore Mission – Assigned to Kuching in East Malaysia (Borneo)
Elder & Sister Arvonen – California San Deigo Mission – Assigned to Navel Base Military Relations
Elder & Sister Gibbons – Texas Dallas Mission – Assigned to Baton Rouge, Louisiana
President and Sister Cahoon – Mission Presidency – Utah Salt Lake City South Mission
Our district with Sister Monroe (our morning instructor)

As we leave the MTC I am struck with a few profound feelings. First, I have seen the army of the Lord with my own eyes. These are faith filled, strong, valiant warriors filled with energy and spirit. They were chosen to be here now and are more than willing to sacrifice all to serve their Father in Heaven. Second, the righteous senior couples we have labored with are “familiar spirits”. It is as though we knew each other before – that this was all planned and orchestrated previously. We share a love for one another and the Savior which is deep in our hearts. Third, Jesus Christ directs this work. He stands at the head and allows us to be instruments in accomplishing His work. Fourth, I received a very unexpected impression during the week revealing to me how hard and difficult it is going to be to say goodbye to the saints in Malaysia. My heart ached – and I haven’t even met them yet. There are many other feelings inside – some cannot be spoken of and others will linger a lifetime.

MTC Day 4

Today we did advanced app training. We learned all about notebooks in the Gospel App. It is a great feature I haven’t had the time to look at yet. This will be a time saver for us. It is quite impressive how the church had done it. We also spent time going over how to follow up with people and what type of questions to ask while teaching. We have spent a lot of time in Preach My Gospel. It is a great resource.

Then we watched a profound video from Elder Bednar about the character of Christ. We found out it is on Youtube if you want to hear it.

Lunch was so much fun. We sat and talked to all 4 sisters going to Hawaii. They arrived in the MTC yesterday. We also spoke with two sisters going to Bulgaria and one cute sister going to Moldovia (the only one). All three were learning Bulgarian. The Moldovian sister is going to learn another language after arriving in the mission field.

After lunch we were back at it. We planned and taught our other companionship couple. It gave us a chance to practice everything we had learned up to that point. It was a bit scarry and nerve racking but went well. They also taught us. Part of the teaching was to challenge them to do something to help them in their gospel living.

One sister in our district passed out two candy bars to each person. Our challenge was to give them to missionaries that looked like they were down or needed a pick me up. Read on.

We also found out we had been assigned to the city of Kuching. We are so excited. That is the largest and most westernized city in east Malaysia. We will be there with another couple.

At dinner we sat by Elder Liu and Elder Yeh. We laughed and joked with them till I could hardly breath. Elder Yeh is a jokster as am I. We had so much fun together even though he could not understand me. Following dinner we were on our way out and noticed two elders sitting by themselves and looking rather somber. We stopped and talked to them. They had been in the MTC for 3 weeks and were learning Persian. They were the only ones learning Persian. There are 3 instructors and 2 elders. They are called to the California Irvine mission. They were given mom’s candy bars.

After leaving the cafeteria we encountered two sisters on the couch. One looked almost in tears and the other pretty somber. One was going to Oregon, the other to Washington DC. I gave them my candy bars.

After that we were off to our Malay tutor, Sister Monroe. She plays on the BYU Women’s Rugby team. It was fun seeing her in person for the first time. We still need serious help with the language. She said Kuching was the celestial kingdom of east Malaysia.

Too much fun
Sister Monroe – our Malay tutor

MTC Day 3

We started the day talking about what it means to be a missionary and who we want to become during our mission. Then we spent the morning preparing lessons to teach our other companionship.

After lunch we received training in the Gospel app. It was interesting and informative. They should probably give it to all the members of the church.

At lunch we met two amazing Elders. We want you to meet Elder Yeh and Elder Liu. Elder Yeh is on the right in the photograph. Elder Yeh is from Tiawan. He is in the MTC learning English so he can serve in the Riverside California Mission. He is assigned to speak Mandarin and English. He is a funny and polite Elder. He is just learning English. His favorite American foods are steak and ice cream.

Elder Liu is from mainland China. Yes – mainland China. He is the only member of the church in his family. At age 11 he told his father he wanted to worship God. His mother was a Buddhist and his father had no religion. He attended a Christian church in China. At age 17, before coming to America, they told him to find a Christian church because people of God would not hurt him and would treat him good. He came to America and stayed with an LDS family and ultimately joined the church. He wanted to serve a mission contrary to his parents wishes. He speaks English very well. He is very polite, kind and confident with a great sense of humor. We all laughed as he told us about the Korean Elders that barely spoke English trying to teach him the gospel when he barely knew English. He is a sharp Elder. I see him is church leadership soon after returning from his mission.

What a wonderful – faith filled- spirtual day.

Elder Liu and Elder Yeh
Where they are from
Where they are going

MTC Day 2

Today we were taught about the doctrine of Christ. We were also instructed in how to extend invitations to people to follow Christ. We also spent time getting to know the other companionship we would be spending time with teaching and learning from. We were assigned President and Sister Cahoon. He is a counselor in the Utah Salt Lake City South Mission. They are amazing people who have lived in several different places including Australia. We have developed a great love for them. They requested to have the MTC experience as they began to serve.

We watched an amazing video from Elder Bednar about following the promptings of the spirit. He shared an experience with President Packer where he gave him 20 marks in Germany and the effect of that simple prompting. We also watched a video from Elder Holland about how important the Book of Mormon is in missionary work. We discovered the MTC has a video library of MTC talks that no one else has access to. They are truly amazing. It’s too bad we can’t get copies.

Just before lunch we met Elder Blackwelder. He has been called to the Singapore mission and is learning Chinese. He still has a month in the MTC but it will be fun seeing him when he arrives in the mission field. He is a great elder.

There are two sisters we want you to meet – Sister Kim and Sister Doru. They were kind enough to let me take their picture. We met them during lunch and had lots of fun talking to them. Sister Kim is from South Korea. Her family joined the church when she was 10. She is a sweet, kind, polite young lady. She is in the MTC learning English as she was called to the California Sacramento mission.

Sister Doru is an opinionated, funny, spunky firecracker. She is the only missionary currently in the MTC from Romania. Her family has always been in the church. She is also in the MTC learning English as she is going to the Pheonix Arizona mission. She speaks excellent English and learned a lot from the missionaries when she was younger. I get a kick out of her. She would not smile for me in the photograph. She said she was ready to leave the MTC after the first week. She has less than 1 week left and is looking forward to get into Arizona.

Sister Kim and Sister Doru
Where they are going
Where they are from
Sister Doru refusing to smile

There were so many senior couples that they took our pictures in groups. Here is the picture with our group.

Senior group photo

MTC Day 1

We arrived at the MTC at 10:30am and were greeted by several young missionaries. We went through all the checkin stations like clockwork. We then attended our orientation meeting and met all of the 72 senior couples. None that we talked to were actually sent to the mission they requested. This number of senior missionaries was a record for the MTC

There was an amazing spirit present as each couple introduced themselves and told where they were from and what mission assignment they received. The MTC President indicated seniors were sent to 20 states in the US and 21 countries around the world. He said every habitable continent would receive missionaries from our group. We were touched to be part of that group.

We concluded the day by watching a profound talk by Elder Bednar. He spoke about the character and attributes of the Savior. Christ is always outward looking and not inward looking.