Sunday, March 10, 2013

MTC Days 4 through 7

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so let me start by sharing a picture of the plight of the poor daffodil here in Provo, Utah.  I had planned to take this picture yesterday when the snow was still on the ground, but I guess the snow was camera shy because it is still freezing here!
 Friday was our last day of Preach My Gospel Training (PMG). I thought I would be a little relieved because the feelings here have been so intense. But instead what I felt was a deep sense of sadness at the thought of having to leave my new found friends and draw to a close the wonderful growing experiences we had. But before we had to say good bye we had a wonderful opportunity to hear missionary reflections from a Brother and Sister Smoot who had served two humanitarian missions in Tahiti and one CES Mission in Australia. Though their circumstances were oftentimes challenging they inspired us to love the people that were had the opportunity to serve.

Below is a picture of one of our instructors, Brother Bellingham. He is a pre-med student at BYU, originally from North Carolina and engaged to be married to his sweetheart in April. He is also a returned missionary from...wait for it.....the Sacramento, California Mission 2009-2011. He served in Laguna, Carmichael and even Elk Grove in the Waterman Ward and the Cosumnes River Ward! Obviously we can't say enough good about this awesome young man.  His sweet spirit greeted us each morning as he presented his powerful and inspired lessons. As a result he gave us the confidence that we needed to do the hard things that we were expected to accomplish. We miss him already.
Below is a group picture of our little PMG District. From left to right, Sister and Brother Simon, from Carston, Canada, called to serve as leadership support in Toronto, Canada. Next to Brother Simon are the stars of this blog of course, and then next to us is Brother Bellingham, then Elder and Sister Butler from Centerville, Utah who were called to serve in Jacksonville, Florida as leadership support in a small branch there. Last but definitely not least, are Brother and Sister Dominguez, originally from Mexico City, now living in Arizona and on their way to serve in the Mexico City Temple. It just doesn't seem possible that in five short days we met these people for the very first time and now we feel like they have been and will be our friends forever.
Elder and Sister Busath with Sister Cluff, our afternoon instructor. Sister Cluff is also a student at BYU studying Speech Pathology. She is originally from Tennessee and served her mission in Florida teaching the deaf (another one of the Lord's tender mercies for me). She is a newlywed of one year and I think we loved her almost, but maybe not quite as much, as her new husband does :)

Our PMC District with our afternoon instructor, Sister Cluff.
 Sister Cluff and the Butler's. Elder Butler worked as an attorney for a federal judge in Utah before he retired and although Sister Butler professes to be just a "stay at home mom" her strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ taught me much more than she could ever imagine.
Sister Cluff, the Butler's and the Simon's. Brother Simon was converted to the Church at the age of 23 and was a drama teacher by profession. Sister Simon served a French speaking mission in France, is the mother of a large family and is very musical to top it off. The people in Toronto are in for a treat.
The Spirit had been so strong during our PMG training that we didn't want it to ever end.  So we invited "Lambie" to join us as we drove to the Provo Temple in the drizzling rain Friday night. After completing a inspiring session we actually had the pleasure of running into Sister Cluff and had the privilege of meeting her husband. It turned out that he is as cute as she is if that is even possible!
 The day wasn't over yet. At 8:30 that night Elder Busath and I decided to avoid the rush and take care of our laundry needs before we retired for the night.  We had been so busy being spiritually fed for the past few days we soon discovered that to just sit and wait around for our laundry to be done seemed wrong some how. So we picked up a broom, emptied the garbage cans and assisted the student who was assigned to clean the laundry that evening in any way we could.  I think she appreciated the unexpected help and we were thrilled to be doing something for another as our way of giving back a little something in appreciation.
 Saturday morning was our first official Preparation (P) Day.  Since we had already finished doing our laundry, changing the sheets and vacuuming our apartment (2 minutes total) the night before we decided to drive to Salt Lake City walk around temple square and complete a session at the temple. Of course we invited "Lambie" to come along since she apparently loves road trips :) As expected the session at the temple was so uplifting we were hesitant to leave and return to the COLD cruel world outside.  But the weather actually warmed up a little and the peace and serenity found on temple square just made our day that much better. Seeing all those beautiful brides also helped just a little.

 Lambie even posed for a picture in front of the waterfall at the Conference Center across the street from the temple. I think she is getting to be quite the camera bug.

 For lunch we visited the Purple Turtle and of course feasted on the fish sandwiches, potato gems and don't forget the fry sauce. Just a little about the Purple Turtle for those of you who don't know of it's significance. It is a historical monument if you have ever lived in Utah. Everyone who is anyone has eaten there at one time or another.  Elder Busath was introduced to the Purple Turtle by his good buddy, Dave, prior to their elk hunting adventures. Not to be outdone it was a regular stop for "the girls" during Education Week thanks to Janie! So in honor of Dave and Janie we just had to pay homage to our special lunch stop.

For many of you on Facebook,  yes, we actually ate at the Purple Turtle for lunch and had dinner at Smashburger! I know, I know that's a lot of food, but being away from the MTC facility or as Elder Busath lovingly refers to it as "the compound" made us a little crazy and we were seriously in need of some comfort food to fortify us for the coming days.
Ok so it appears that all we think about is food which isn't altogether untrue.  However, we just felt that you had to see it to believe it when we talked about "running" into someone at the MTC cafeteria.  In fact, good news!  We actually "ran into" Jacob Warren here Sunday morning.  Unfortunately we didn't have our camera handy, but he is doing well and assured us that he had already written his parent's.  So if you happen to see Gayle or Paul please let them know that Jacob's letter is in the mail :)
Speaking of Jacob's.  Our son in law, Jake, advised us that the chocolate milk at the MTC is a little like manna from heaven so Elder Busath couldn't resist and as you can see he hardily agrees!
It is a little after 1:00 on Sunday as I post this and we have already been to four meetings and actually look forward to at least two more. I guess I really am a missionary. Our Sacrament Meeting began at 7:30 this morning as Branch #52 and was attended by an intimate group of elders, sisters and a sprinkling of senior couples. An elder and a sister missionary spoke briefly about enduring to the end and then a Sister Taylor from the Draper, Utah area shared her experiences of being called by the brethren of the Church to write a brief history of the area prior to the dedication of the Draper Temple.  She told of the three years she researched and interviewed people for the assignment while still serving as her Stake Relief Society President. (For those of you reading this that are not yet members of the Church, a Stake Relief Society President is responsible for the temporal and spiritual welfare of thousands of sisters within a certain boundary). Sister Taylor then told us of the lessons she had learned just three months prior to submitting the 90 page document for printing. It was Christmas time and she had submitted it to a knowledgeable brother in her ward (congregation) for review and comments. Days passed without a word and then she called him. What she expected was a brief dialogue regarding spelling and syntax but what she got was basically advice in strong words to start over from scratch. Long story short she learned a valuable lesson which included obedience, faith being an action word and humility. Fortunately with the Lord's help she was able to complete the assignment on time. 
Brother Taylor spoke of an elderly? man (60+ years of age), a shepherd by trade who had worked for many years herding sheep, and who epitomized enduring to the end. This man ran in an ultimate marathon in Australia.  A course covering 500 miles over a period of 5 days in overalls and work boots.  Many said he would not finish, but when others slept he ran and ultimately finished first. A modern day tortoise and the hare story and one in which we often need to be reminded of.
*Another small world announcement. The young sister who gave one of the talks this morning in Sacrament Meeting we soon learned is the daughter of an old CHP friend, Duane Samples, who Elder Busath had worked with years ago.  Sister Samples lives in Utah and was recently called to serve in the San Jose, California Tongan speaking Mission.
We also had the opportunity to enjoy the Spoken Word by satellite broadcast and to hear the Mormon Tabernacle choir sing one of my favorite Primary songs, "A Child's Prayer". 
But that is not all!
The Relief Society sisters had the privilege to hear from Sister Carole Stephens, the first councilor on the Relief Society General Board.
*She reminded us, as President Gordon B.Hinckley had; that women are a powerful force for good!
*We have reason for rejoicing as outlined in the Book of Alma, chapter 26, in the Book of Mormon.
*The commandments are for our benefit and that it is our duty to try to be a little better each day. *The Lord has a purpose for each one of us, but we need to take time to ask and then to listen so that we will know what it is that we are to do.
Simply put she admonished us to be obedient with exactness (Alma 57:21) and we would be blessed as promised in the Doctrine and Covenants Section 89: 18-20.
She bore a powerful witness of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of the restoration, and of the Book of Mormon being the word of God.
It was an amazing meeting and I feel blessed having been a part of it.
Sunday isn't over yet so I am sure I will have plenty more to report in the days ahead.  I apologize for the lengthy dissertation's and will try to be more brief in the future. But if you know me you know that I am a firm believer if two words are good ten are even better, sorry.

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