Thursday June 12, 2008
Today, Thursday, we continued our training, focusing on the less-active and the part member family. Each couple took the part of a family we knew and we roll-played being visited by a senior missionary couple. I thought this would be pretty synthetic, but when we began to interview our "family" to learn their concerns and needs it became so real. I imagined what it will be like to work with a Russian family and how we could love and support them in this place we did not understand. This is going to be a real challenge, but our best tool is listening and feeling (not talking & fixing) what they are really saying. I'm looking forward to it.
Our last activity was to man the call center and take calls from people wanting church materials & bibles. I talked to two men, one ordered a bible and another wanted "The Lamb of God." The first was from Atlanta Georgia and the other from Sylvester Alabama and both pleasant people looking for these free religious materials. I offered the second man to have his DVD delivered by LDS Church representatives and he said, "Is that paster Elbert?" I said that it wasn't. They would be two young men representing our church with a message about Jesus Christ. He still agreed to see them so that order was passed on to the missionary department. Fun.
We had our second Russian lesson with Katya, a young Ukrainian student at BYU. She has been teaching us the sounds of the alphabet and today we made words and phrases. Finally we put together the elements of a prayer. This is going to be a challenge since there are 6 cases for nouns and we don't know them. We will just have to memorize the phrases and link them together as best we can. We learned to say, "I am a representative of Jesus Christ", "We are missionaries", and simple introductory phrases like, "What is your name" and where do you come from". It was exciting to be able to read these on the chalk board and say them.
I am just amazed at the care and expense that is expended every day for preparing missionaries. The physical plant is beautiful, the food is quite good, the teachers (mostly 20-somethings) are excellent, the staff is friendly and work hard, and nothing is out of place. I don't know if the young elders recognize how great it is, but I am really impressed.
Yesterday the new missionaries came in and I was unable to take my eyes off of them. Their eyes are so alive and their spirits so high. The smiles, I mean ear-to-ear smiles, are unforgettable. I saw many "seasoned" elders greeting them with a warm handshake or missionary hug in real brotherhood. It was beautiful.
This noon-time, Trisha and Sara came to the MTC and gave me some papers to sign and our first "care" package of berries and prunes. Very much appreciated, not only for the goodies, but to receive the love and care of our family. Trisha is so excited about our being here and Sara is excited but sad about our leaving. So much love from those two. We also got a call from Shannon with her latest on the move to grandma Amanda's and getting ready for her new job at Anthropology. Lots going on.
All in all, it has been a great day and we are still excited about our mission.