Once Kristi and I had turned in our papers for a mission we were planning on a humanitarian emphasis. However, we knew the first week of orientation at the MTC (Missionary Training Center) would be about being member missionaries. We decided that we should read through the basic manual of "Preach My Gospel". That took us about a month and now we are going through the Book of Mormon trying to finish before we leave.
What a change from 47 years ago. Back then I was sent a little booklet of six lesson dialogues that were to be memorized word perfectly. That "perfection" came about six months into my mission and became the total emphasis for two years. Today the missionaries are taught to seek, find and rely on the spirit. Having experienced a "change of heart" is essential before trying to show others how to change their heart.
I also did not have months to prepare physically, spiritually, mentally or socially for the cultural transition that was to take place on such a focused mission.
Forty-seven years ago I was at Kristi's house about eight o'clock on a Sunday night when my Mom called on the phone and said that a "special delivery envelope" was just delivered from Salt Lake City. I took Kristi with me and went home to open a letter calling me on a mission to the North British Mission. It said I was to report in ten days on Wednesday to Salt Lake City with shots and a passport.
It was a fast ten days getting suits, luggage, and passport, and a visit to the two year old Oakland Temple. Fast Sunday was the next Sunday, with no evening meeting scheduled. The word was put out that a special meeting was to be held as my farewell. The very next Sunday, Kristi sang as part of a musical number at the meeting. I had been in England for six weeks when I started to ask myself - "How did I get here"?