Wow! It does not seem possible that almost a whole year has gone by since I posted on this blog. A year away from the mission field but not away from missionaries.
In January I started serving in the Book of Mormon Reading Program at the MTC. It is a program to help missionaries who need some help becoming the best missionary they can by tutoring them in comprehension, vocabulary, study habits and other areas. It is a great opportunity to work with the young missionaries one on one while experiencing the amazing spirit of the Provo MTC. Mary and I served in this program 20 years ago when it was very new but it has completely changed since then as the missionaries do not have as much time for BoM lessons.
Here is a letter I wrote to the BoM Reading program Supervisor. It will give you an idea of the blessings I have been receiving since I started tutoring young missionaries in this program.
Just a note to thank you and my savior for allowing me to tutor elder L. He is teachable, eager to serve, willing to listen and determined to be the best missionary he can be. His story is amazing – he was born into the Church and his family has always been active. In school the LDS youth pretty much ignored him so his friends were mostly non-LDS. But they knew his standards which he never broke. He told me that his friends would not invite him to go to their parties because they knew that there would be things there that he would not approve of.
He also shared with me his feelings about the MTC. He said that when he walked onto a football field and smelled the grass he always got a great spiritual feeling. He says that is how he feels each day he is at the MTC. I noticed that he had marked that he had a hard time focusing on studying and when I asked him about that he said that he never really learned how to study. I think that is why the Lord had me give him the comprehension lesson instead of the planned vocabulary lesson. I am going to give him another lesson on Monday and I will see if it will be the study lesson or vocabulary. I did give him the how to study page from the old BoM manual and told him he should read it and see if that helped over the weekend.
The real reason I want to thank you is that I really needed the spiritual edification that this lesson gave me. Mary knee has not improved and it looks like it is not going to get any better before Thanksgiving. I have been praying that I would not get discouraged and this lesson helped me remember that my Father in Heaven hears and answers my prayers. As Alma 17:11 says I am going to “be patient in long sufferiing and afflictions,” and have faith that He will comfort me and Mary.
In May Mary and I accepted a call to once a month host the senior couples who are going on Welfare missions. I wrote about how that came about in my journal..
I also want to write about how Mary and I became the hosts for the senior welfare missionaries. I had been serving in the Book of Mormon reading program for a few months and decided I would like to be a part time service missionaries. So after some meeting I dropped in at the Mehews to find out how I could apply. Only sister Mehew was there and we sat and talked for a while. I told her about some of our mission experiences and she was inspired to tell me about hosting the welfare missionaries every 4 weeks and then she asked if we would accept the call to do that. I told her that I had to talk to Mary but in my mind I knew we would accept. If I had not gone into see the Mehews – I later found that there really was no need for me to have – sister Mehew probably would have not been inspired to tell me about the program.
One of the interesting things about this is that it is very close to the way we were called on our first full-time service mission at the MTC in 1996.
As hosts we meet with the couples on Friday of their first week after they have finished the PMG training. It is a short meeting just to get to know them a little and tell them about the coming week of Welfare and Humanitarian training. We spend the whole day – from 6 am to 6 pm with them as they travel to Salt Lake for a visit and training at Welfare Square and then to the Joseph Smith Memorial building for lunch and more training. Mostly our duty is to make sure they all get to the right place at the right time and none get left behind. Tuesday through Thursday we are at the MTC at the start of each day to oversee the short devotional and then on Thursday afternoon to give them a few words of encouragement and say goodbye.
Over the last 6 months we have meet over 25 dedicated senior couples who are going all over the world to serve 18-23 month missions. Some will be the only missionaries in the country, some will not be able to wear name tags with the name of the Church on them, and many of them will not be able to do any what is known as normal missionary work. But all will bring relief to those in need and change many people’s lives as they serve.
This is latest group of seniors we hosted who left for their missions in the last week. Starting on the left – elder and sister Jensen – Nairobi Kenya, elder and sister Stroud – Philippines, elder and sister Hansen – Democratic Republic of the Congo, elder and sister Hansen – Bulgaria.
More and pictures to come…