Sunday, April 17, 2016

First Week per Michelle

Monday, April 11, 2016
First day at the MTC in Provo, Utah
     After dropping off our suitcases, we paid for our food, and had an orientation meeting with all of the other senior missionaries.  There were a little over 80 of us, mostly couples with several sets of single sisters.  One set of sisters were actually blood sisters who were going as companions to the same mission.  Another set of sisters had been companions at the MTC years ago and were serving as companions again although in a different mission.  Such a variety of missions – CES, MLS, Military support, several medical missionaries, a mental health missionary.  Wow, what a power group.  Scott and I had put our books down on two seats to save them and then went to lunch.  When we returned for the instruction meeting, a single sister was sitting by my seat.  I sat down and noticed that her tag said Hermana Byington.  I started introducing myself and getting to know her a little and realized that she could hardly speak English.  I asked her “¿habla inglés?”  She said, “No, hablo inglés.”  I knew that we had a problem, Houston, and drew Scott into the conversation.  He was able to find out that she really could speak very little English and that she would not be able to understand anything during the meeting.  Scott went to one of the MTC leaders.  He seemed to be unaware of the situation, but quickly called an interpreter to come to the meeting to translate for Hermana Byington.  She had been so anxious, but you could see the relief on her face when the interpreter walked in.  We were probably one of only a few in the group who had been studying Spanish enough to help her and we just “happened” to be sitting by her” - a tender mercy moment!
     Today seemed to be full of tender mercies.  Scott and I got lost trying to find our way back to our room.  All the residence buildings look alike and there are many of them.  In our lost state we just happened to ask one of only two young missionaries going to Nicaragua currently at the MTC for directions.  He had been unable to go to Guatemala because of passport problems and another sister who he knew were the only missionaries of hundreds here at the MTC going to Nicaragua North Mission.  We got acquainted and told him we would be there to greet him in Nicaragua when he got there in May.  We plan to meet the sister tomorrow.  We were able to get her contact information.  Just coincidence – I think not!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016
     Another tender mercy – Yesterday we divided into districts.  Elder and Sister Lems who are going to Australia on a CES mission are our Districts presidents.  The Brinkerhoffs from Utah, the Woods from Saratoga Springs and ourselves make up the rest of the district.  In a conversation with the Woods, we found out that they have two children with cystic fibrosis.  We felt like kindred spirits instantly.  Both have the gene that is the less severe type, but they have had problems with fertility just like John and Isa.  Right now their daughter is finalizing an adoption of a baby boy and hoping that the mother does not back out.  Where have we heard that before?  Just coincidence – I think not! 
Wednesday April 13, 2016
     I can’t believe it has only been three days at the MTC.  We have packed every day full and have been fed to overflowing with all good things pertaining to our purpose which is to invite others to come to Christ.  This morning on the way to breakfast, we ran into Sister Golding, our cute Nicaraguan missionary.  She was heading to breakfast also with her companion from Brazil who is serving in the Salt Lake City Mission and is learning English.  We went to lunch and sat with our Nicaraguan missionaries, Sister Golding and Elder Alofepo.  It was fun to get to know them better.  Sister Golding is from Kaysville.  Elder Alofepo is from Salt Lake.  His ancestry is Somoan hence his name.  They are darling and we love them.  

Friday, April 16, 2016
     We went to a training session where we were missionaries teaching a less active member of the church.  Everyone was paired up and the Bells names were not on the board, so we wondered what was up.  Our teacher then dropped the bombshell that the Bells would be teaching in Spanish with another Spanish speaking companionship.  My heart started pounding so fast, I thought it would leap out of my chest.  I know my language abilities and the thought of teaching a whole 30 minute lesson in Spanish terrified me.   Scott could see my panic and he said don’t worry, I will be there and then I remembered that he wasn’t the only one who would be by my side.  I went into the  bathroom and although I felt like throwing up, I said a short, fervent and sincere prayer and asked for help.  We were paired with the same lady that we had helped on the first day and her companion.  Sister Byington is a native Spanish speaker and her companion had served a mission in Argentina 40 years ago.  We were the missionaries and Elder Bell asked me to pray.  I prayed as I have never prayed before and used the words that I have been learning for the past month and a half.  When I was done, the former Argentinian missionary had tears in her eyes and I asked her what she was feeling.  She said that she was moved to tears by very strong warm feelings.  I testified to her that the Spirit had blessed us during the prayer with His presence and that we now could freely learn.  Things went very well.  Elder Bell did most of the teaching, but I was able to share experiences and testify.  It was a wonderful experience.

Saturday, April 16, 2016
     Today two things happened in this tender mercy category.  We had to get a new big suitcase for our mission.  It has been in the closet for a month and a half and has never been used until we packed for the MTC.  This morning when we were packing for our trip to SLC for the medical training, the zipper broke on the suitcase.  We don't have a car and were riding in the MTC shuttle to SLC so we couldn't run to Park City to the outlet mall where we purchased the suitcase.  Scott called the Samsonite store and they said that there was a store at the Traverse Mountain outlet and that they would replace it if we could get the old suitcase to the mall.  Again we knelt and talked to the Lord about a suitcase.  Carpets and suitcases, who would think they would be a prayer item.  We then went down to the travel office to see if they could help us.  The office is closed on Saturday, but our driver was in the office.  We knocked on the window and he came out and we asked if we could stop at the Lehi mall and he said that he could do that.  We were able to stop, trade the broken suitcase for a brand new one and be on our way in about one-half hour extra time.  If it had broken any day after today, we would have had to buy a new suitcase and trash the other one.  They aren't cheap!
     The second amazing grace we had today concerned our shuttle driver.  He served a mission in Paraguay and has been home for three years.  That is where Scott served forty years ago.  Scott and our driver talked my ears off about their common beloved area of service.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Heavenly Father really does love us each individually.  He knows us by name and wants us to be happy.

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