I found our first day at the MTC interesting if not exciting and one problem popped up very early on. We checked in at about 9:50 – among the first group to arrive. After a short wait we were given a packet that contained a number of things, including my license to teach the Gospel and our travel plans. We were shocked to find that instead of heading out on the 18th as we thought, we were scheduled to leave on the 29th! Since we have already arranged for many things to shut down or be shifted on the 18th, I asked where we could see what happened and was directed to the travel office. We could not go right away because we had more processing to take care of but after getting our name tags, had our health records checked, etc., we found time to drop into travel.
The nice folks there called Salt Lake to see why we had been changed but the woman who handled our reservations was not in so we must go back tomorrow. They thought it had something to do with holiday travel. When we later came home, I sent an email to the mission president asking if the change was from his end or if travel had made the change. He wrote back saying that Travel said there were no flights from the 13th to 29th. I could not believe that so I got online and made reservations – non-binding of course – for flights on both the 18th and 19th. Tomorrow I will check in with Travel and see if it is OK for us to leave on one of them. Of course the mission president must also agree but I would think that there should be no reason we could not come then.
After a nice lunch we started the meetings. First we were greeted by the MTC president and one of his councilors. The one comment that I found worth recording was that it was good to see us ready to go out and serve the Lord instead of sitting at home watching our birth certificates expire. Part of the introduction was to have each couple or single sister stand and give their name, where they were from, where they were going and what was their assignments, and how many missions they had served. About half – including us – had been on one or more previous missions. One single sister was going out for her fourth. Among those coming in today the earth was pretty well covered. We – and the Kanes who are also going to Indonesia – were going the furthest but there were also couples going to Croatia and Russia.
The other major part of our training was about how to stay healthy in third world countries – over half of the missionaries are going to one of them. The main point was do not drink, cook or put in your mouth any water that has not been boiled or come from commercially sealed bottles. I am rather glad we sent a package of water purification products to the mission home.
We finished with the day’s training by 4:15 which gave us time to go to the pharmacy to pick up Mary’s prescriptions before we had dinner. Our 35% came to over $1500 – which means that the insurance company picked up the tab for about $3000. Since we are paying $250 a month for insurance, the first year’s premiums were recovered before we even left.
After dinner we came home and watched Extreme Makeover and the Christmas Devotional. I kept falling asleep during the devotional and before it was over I came upstairs to see what other flights I could find to Indonesia on the 18th or 19th. The best one I found – and the cheapest leaves at 9:30 at night and we only have about 4 hours of waiting between the other two flights.
Bob called and we set up Skype. I found out the reason we ended up with static last night was because the plug to the mike got tweaked. When I straightened it up it worked fine. Gordon Creer called and gave me a couple of names at travel who might help us get out earlier.
Tonight we are studying the first chapter in Preach My Gospel about being a better missionary and also the first lesson. Tomorrow we will have a couple of chances to knock on doors and try our approach. I will try to remembe what I always told the missionaries in the MTC – it is not so much what you say but the spirit that you say it with.