This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Off the Grid, Spiritual Restocking.

We borrowed Josh and Kim's car and drove to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah on Monday morning.  It felt good to be on our way and somewhere, probably in Salt Lake City, a day counter clicked down, showing 700 days to go.

This is the sign to the entrance of BYU.  "Enter To Learn - Go Forth To Serve"
On the opposite side of the street it says, "The World Is Our Campus".

When I first saw the sign in 1965 I was inspired by the sentiment.  Then as years passed I got a little jaded and thought it was pretty cheesy.  Now, as we set off for Zambia, I have been reflecting that those two mottos have had more influence on me than I thought.

Driving into Provo, this was the sight just across from the MTC.  What a pretty place, just north of BYU campus.  The white building is the Provo Temple at the mouth of Rock Canyon.

 I really didn't know what to expect at the MTC as a Senior Missionary, and was pleasantly surprised.  I know many of my friends are a bit curious so I will dispel a couple of myths.

We drove in and stopped at this sign.  "New Missionaries Stop Here".  I thought it was sort of funny.

At this point we saw only one other couple checking in at the same time.  We were greeted and directed to where we unloaded all our luggage and several young missionaries took it all up to the room.  We had a short orientation of where things were, had our travel plans and shots reviewed and met with the other 35 couples we were to spend the week with.

We were fortunate to stay on the campus.  It might sound nice to be at the Marriott but it is so convenient  and pleasant to be totally immersed in the MTC culture and not have to travel back and forth.

This is the back of the building the rooms for Seniors are in.  I was happy to see that the rumor of queen size bunk beds was unfounded.  :^)  There is only one building for us old folks and sixteen for the younger set.  There is also a huge cafeteria,  post office, bookstore, cleaners, travel office, barber, laundry, gym, many many meeting rooms and a hall that holds 2200.  The grounds are beautiful and the atmosphere makes you feel you are really off the grid.  We parked the car back here and can come and go as we please.  Seniors at the Marriott are welcome to swim if they choose to. 

In fact, one couple told us that their Mission President told them to bring snorkel and fins as he was going to take them snorkeling!!  Now,  I am feeling better than ever about Seniors' rules.  One of the first things we were told was that on page 67  of the missionary rule book it says all the rules for the younger missionaries do not apply to the Seniors.

This is our room.  Bags all over as we are still considering what "might needs" make the final cut.  It is sort of like the Hampton Inn but very, very quiet. 

We ran into Julie Ricks from our ward, she is heading to Ukraine and also Carly Christiansen who is headed to Michigan.  This photo is of Sister Russon, she has been one of our teachers this week.  She is Mark's daughter, and granddaughter of Marion and Sharon Russon who lived in our ward for many years.

 The Senior missionaries have most of our meetings in a chapel that is just through the back gate outside the center.

This streak of yellow in the stairway is Sister Skidmore, but underneath it all she is still Kristi and wants me to burn calories I have worked hard to save.  I know there are elevators somewhere in these buildings but she hasn't let me find them.

Here she is out on a trail we hadn't seen before.  It starts at the mouth of Rock Canyon and is called the Bonneville Shoreline trail.

 What a great view we had of Provo and the Lake.

Wednesday we went out to the front of the MTC to watch a real phenomenon - another weekly arrival of 750 young Elders and Sisters scheduled in timed arrivals and filling 25 curbside parking spots.  They pulled up with parents and family and had teary goodbyes.  A host Elder or Sister grabbed their luggage and became their instant best friend showing them to their room and taking them on a basic orientation.  They truly were an inspiring sight with optimism radiating from them.  The mothers were a wreck, and soon left trusting in the Lord as they never have before.

There are over 3000 young men and women here in Provo at the Missionary Training Center.  They do not all fit in the basic MTC and are now expanding to Wymount Terrace Apartments.  The devotional had to be broadcast to the second location for the first time.  Provo is the largest but there are fourteen other missionary training centers around the world.

We spotted our grandson, Tyler among the 3000 while he was eating with his district.
We had his companion take our photo at the map pointing to where we will be serving.  We will be at about the same latitude just different continents.

There are couples in our group headed to Taiwan, Iowa, Germany, Georgia, Mississippi, Uganda, Hong Kong, Moscow, Anaheim, Riverside, Eugene, Honolulu, Armenia, Winnipeg, Ventura and on and on.  They are so pleasant and I have no idea what any of them did for a living, or what callings they had at church, but they seem like instant friends. 

I am certain it will get harder, that is what I signed up for, but for now, as I told Kristi, "I feel like I am on vacation."

The bottom line is:  We should have been doing this sooner!