Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Alex Olmstead entering the MTC

We contacted Amy Wixom to see what time Alex Olmstead (our neighbor in St. George) was suppose to report to the MTC for his mission to Guatamala.  She e-mailed us and said around 1:25 this afternoon.  Since Don and I are the only two in our digital camera class we took a later lunch and got to see his family drop him off.  Susan (his mother) was wearing sunglasses to hide the tears.  It was nice seeing the whole Olmstead family.  The Spanish speaking Sisters and Elders are in the same building where we have our training so we saw Alex once in one of the classrooms.  He got his mission call about a week before us so we both have been waiting for about 4 months.  I think he was excited to finally be here.

Devotional - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

It was another day of training on the digital camera.  We feel a little more confident with it but right now we have just enough knowledge to be dangerous.  An auditor came from Salt Lake and talked to us this afternoon and then reviewed our work.  Luckily, we passed.

Tonight we had a devotional and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was the speaker.  He admonished the missionaries to be good examples in the mission field and be remain faithful when they return home and throughout their lives.  He is a very powerful speaker with a great sense of humor.  For example, he said that he was so old that he had one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel.  It was fun afterwards to see the young missionaries silently standing outside waiting for him to exit to his car.

We don't know what happened but he said he was very emotional because less than 4 hours ago a missionary had given her life for the church.  We pray that comfort will be with that missionaries family.  (Today we learned that a sister missionary had been killed in an automobile accident in the state of New York)

Elder Holland then answered about five questions given to him by missionaries.  One of the questions was what was his best advice.  His answer was serving a mission, marrying his wonderful wife and continually gaining an education.

You could certainly feel his Spirit during the devotional.  He is one of our favorite General Authorities.

It was another great day at the MTC.

The following is from Don's journal:

Kathy and I just got back from Tuesday night devotional.  The speaker was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  He is one of my favorite people.

He first stated that he loves all of us, especially because we are missionaries.  He stated that more missionary work will be done in this dispensation than all the other dispensations put together.  All the other dispensations ended in apostasy.  This one will not.  He stated that we are carrying on our shoulders the missionary work starting with Adam.  He also stated that we are chosen.  No one in history has done what we are about to do.  He said the Book of Mormon people are depending on us because they were not successful as missionaries.  Today is the day every prophet has dreamed about.  If there ever was a symbol of the church it would be the picture of two missionaries - Honor the church and be the best you can be forever.

Then he answered questions that the missionaries had prepared for him during the day.

1.  What is the most important thing Christ wants us to know?  This is the truth.  That everything He said is true.
2.  How do you invite the spirit? (a)  Dive into the scriptures.  The Book of Mormon is the vehicle to the Spirit.  The Spirit comes by way of the scriptures. (b) Learn to pray.  (c) Don't lose the Spirit.
3.  What the best advice you have every received?  (a)  To go on a mission (b) To get married at the right time, right place, right person. (c) Get as much education as you can.  Be as good as you can at what you do.
4.  What is the greatest gift I can give the Savior?  Give Him your heart.  Your job is to open your mouth.  Your tools will be words.  It must come from your heart.
5.  Why does God love us?  Because we are His children.  Remember that God loves you.  Get the Spirit and don't lost it.

Listening to Elder Holland tonight was very spiritual.  His talk was very spiritual.  His talk was a good testimony builder.  May the Spirit always be with Kathy and I as we serve this mission in New Zealand.  We both pray we will have the opportunity to do missionary work along with Family History work.  We plan to continue to study the scriptures and the Preach My Gospel Manual.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Training Day

Today was our first day of training on the computer (digital camera).  We thought you just took pictures of documents but the process is a little complicated.  However, with practice it should become a lot easier.

The hardest part is calibrating all the equipment.  There has to be just the right amount of light hitting the document and then everything has to be aligned.  At the end of every week a little box called a shuttle is sent to Salt Lake City.  We thought it was sent electronically but it is actually physically sent.

We actually have to log in our hours every week and they have to total 80.  It almost like going back to work but in a very beautiful place.  Hopefully tomorrow will be easier.  Luckily we like each other.  The instructor said a couple of weeks ago he trained a couple that kept fighting with each other.  So far we haven't fought so so far so good.

August 29, 2011

Sunday at the MTC

Today was a little different than any other Sunday we have experienced.  Breakfast was very simple so that fewer workers would have to work on the Sabbath.  This morning we could either have dry cereal or dry cereal with all plastic utensils.  Also at lunch we had only one choice pot roast, potatoes and carrots.  However, they did have ice cream from the BYU creamery.

We were assigned to a branch depending on the first letter of your last name.  Our branch was an American Branch so all the missionaries were from other countries assigned to missions in the United States.  When they blessed the sacrament it was the first time the elders had blessed it in English.

They then had a sister from an oriental country speak and a elder from Chili.  The elder from Chili has a mother who was just diagnosed with cancer but the mother and son both felt like he should serve a mission now.

The elders and sisters than sang the primary song "Armies of Helaman" with accents and the spirit was very strong.

Then for Relief Society they don't have a lesson but they have a song and prayer and then a new sister tells a conversion story.  They then had a special musical number and a speaker.

The speaker was the wife of a former Melbourne, Australia Mission President.  They came home about a year ago.  She looks very young but she served a mission in Peru when she was 21 and her and her husband have 8 children.  She showed pictures during her talk and it looks like most of her children went to Australia with them.  What an experience for those children.

From 5:30-6:30 we had a departure meeting for any missionary leaving the MTC this week.  There were 500 missionaries to that meeting.

Then at 7:00 we went to a fireside.  A counselor in the MTC presidency (President McIff) who was a doctor talked about relieving stress in the mission.  He committed all the missionaries to 20 minutes of exercise 6 days a week.  Don was all excited about that.

At the end we sang Called to Serve.  At first we sang very soft as if we were an army approaching.  Then the second verse was louder until the third verse when we all stood and sang very loud.  There were over 2,000 missionaries in the auditorium singing.  It was awesome.

August 28, 2011

Sunday, August 28, 2011


This past week we were divided into districts and we had 8 people in our district.  So we don't forget who they are we would like to write a little about each one.

Elder and Sister Peck were from Seattle, Washington.  She taught college classes in nutrition at the University of Washington and when she retired they sold their home and will serve in Poland. 

Elder and Sister Craig are from Falls Church, Virginia.  He is a former Marine and they will serve at the temple in Brazil. 

Elder and Sister Black are from Mesa, Arizona.  They each lost a spouse and they have been married for 12 years and this is their second mission together.  They will serve in the Tallahasse, Florida in opening a new Spanish branch.

Don and I are the last of the group. 

P-Day (Preparation Day)

It is great being a Senior Missionary because you still have the opportunity of seeing your children.

Fortunately for us we have Heather, Ethan, Brooklyn and James who live close enough to come and spend the day with us since it is our P-Day.

They came about 12:30 p.m. and we went to BYU and had lunch at the Cougar Eats.  After that we went to a museum on the BYU campus.  Brooklyn and James really enjoyed it.  We then went and walked around the Provo Temple.

We finished the day by eating at Los Hermanos Cafe and getting ice cream at the BYU creamery.  We love our family and love spending time with them.

Outside the main hall is a statue of two missionaries on bikes.  Every time we go to a meal or a meeting they remind us of the importance of missionary work and we are excited to be a part of it.

August 27, 2011

Last day of training on Preach My Gospel

Today was our last day of Preach My Gospel training.  We interviewed a less active (mock) member and then we had 20 minutes to prepare a lesson meeting their needs.  It was hard to prepare that fast.  Some of the senior missionaries are leaving tomorrow.  We will miss seeing them and our instructors.  We had fantastic instructors.  They were Brother Barney (just married in August 2011), Brother Albertson (married just a little while with a 2 month old baby) and Brother Sillitoes (young and waiting for his girlfriend to return from a mission).  It was a great week but a lot of work.

Here are some thoughts for this week.  A new parable I give you "Thou shall be flexible so you don't get bent out of shape."

The young elders and sisters are encourage to "Lengthen your stride" the Senior Missionaries are encouraged to "Lengthen your shuffle."

We also learned a great way to teach the Law of Chastity.  It goes with the song Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes.

     Head - Think only clean thoughts.
     Shoulder and Knees -  Anything in between is off limits.
     Toes -  Stand in holy places
     Eyes - Don't look at pornography
     Ears -  Listen to uplifting music
     Mouth - Speak only uplifting words.
     Nose -  The prophet KNOWS what is best.

We had the opportunity to attend the Provo Temple this evening.  When we came out the sunset was beautiful.  It is great to see God's handiwork all around us.

Testimony is to know and feel
Conversion is to do and become

August 26, 2011

Discussion on the Plan of Salvation

Today we did our final mock discussion.  It was to a 82 year old widow.  We were asked to talk about the Plan of Salvation with her.  She was a wonderful woman and because of that the discussion was easier to present.

This time in the MTC is certainly helping us to grow.  Neither one of us likes public speaking and get very nervous about it.  We are not really knowledgeable about the scriptures so we spend a lot of time studying.

Tonight we had out last computer class.  It was on the Excel program.  We kid that we were sent on a mission to learn more about modern technology.

Tomorrow we role play on dealing with less active members.

August 25, 2011

Teaching of the first discussion

They say there is no rest for the weary.  Well they are right but we think that there is no rest for the righteous.  I think that we have been in retirement too long and we now have to start early in the morning and our days are filled with classes, activities, devotionals and lesson preparation.

Yesterday we spent the whole day in preparation to teach the lesson on the Restoration to a non-member (which was actually a member playing the part of a non-member.)  Then today we went into a room with the investigator who was a man named Gerald Jensen who is 80 years old and gave him the lesson.  This assignment was way out of our comfort zone.  They then video taped us and later reviewed with us what we did right and how we could improve.

The motto they want us to use is that you teach people not lessons so we are to follow the Spirit in teaching

In fact we were to teach the lesson on the Restoration but Gerald said he lost his wife 12 years ago and wanted to know if he would ever see her again.  So we changed our lesson to the Plan of Salvation which was scary because we hadn't really prepared for that lesson.

We have to do another discussion tomorrow afternoon.  The discussions are really hard for us.  We wrote down a goal to use more scriptures in our teaching so we will be busy tonight looking up scriptures that are relevant to the discussion.

The new missionaries came today so we went to the front at lunch to watch the parents drop off their sons/daughters.  The elders and sisters seemed very happy to be here.  The parents not so much.

August 24, 2011

Apartment at the MTC

Our apartment is like a motel room in that it consists of a bed with two desks and two closets and some drawers.  We also have a small bathroom with a sink located outside in a small hall.  The outside hall looks like it would in a dorm.  It is enclosed with doors on both sides.  We have taken a few pictures on Don diligently studying.

Arrival at the MTC

Today Don and I entered the MTC   (Mission Training Center)  in Provo to begin our 18 month mission to Wellington New Zealand in the Records Preservation Department. We were grateful to Ronnie and Ferris for our transportation from St. George to Provo.  Their SUV was very inexpensive.

The MTC is an amazing place.  There are 2,600 young missionaries and 75 senior missionaries at the MTC today.  It is fun eating meals with that many young sisters and elders.

We had orientation today and then tonight we had a computer class.  In the building with the computers are the language classes.  We kept seeing missionaries on couches outside the classrooms practicing their different languages.  You can tell they have divine help in learning the language.

This week we do Preach My Gospel and next week we do training on the special equipment we will use in New Zealand.

August 22, 2011

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mission Farewell

On August 14th Don and I gave our mission farewell talks at church.  We were supported by our immediate family and extended family.  All of our children and grandchildren were here and also Ronnie and Ferris, Bob and Merna, Nate and Catherine, Karen and Pat and Shannon,  Michelle and Bryan and Wayne.  It was also Ronnie's birthday so it was a fun day. She thought we did the lunch just for her.  That's what happens when you turn 65.

The activities began on Friday night when three of our children (Kirk, Heather and Kristina) and their families went to Tuacahn to see Little Mermaid after dinner at Michelle's to celebrate Courtney's sixth birthday.  Then on Saturday night we all went to Tonaquint Park for a bar-be-que.  We thought it would be super hot but the weather was under 100 and it was nice.

Then everyone came to our house after church on Sunday for lunch.  We love having family that is so supportive and it was nice to see family that we haven't seen for awhile.

On Monday, Kirk and Rebecca had to leave which was followed by Kristina and Mark and Kevin and Jeanette on Tuesday.  The last to leave was Heather on Wednesday.  It was super hard to say good-bye to our children and especially to our grandchildren.  Thank goodness for modern technology so that we can talk to them and Skye them and see them grow.

It was fun to do so many activities with our family.  We fed the ducks at the park, went swimming at Sand Hollow Pool, did miniature golf and arcade games, played in the water at the park on Main Street and went to a bounce house.

Family is what life is all about.  We have such a great family that it is fun to get together.

August 14, 2011