Hello dear friends and family,
I've waited for days to find a minute to write a little more again. The past two weeks have been a whirlwind and I haven't found one second, but we're riding along in the car on our way to our fourth zone conference this week, so I am making a little time.
First of all I need to let you know that we were given some specific instructions about blogs in our MTC training. I had wanted to have a mission blog that would go out to all the parents of missionaries, but that is not allowed. And- I will have to be very careful about what I post on this blog- no names of missionaries or investigators. But I will try to share some of the wonderful experiences we have.
The MTC was four days of heaven. We spent those days listening to instruction by the First Presidency and nearly all the apostles. The feeling of priesthood power was so strong, I felt at times like the whole building would just float into heaven. We were treated so kindly there- the staff had been instructed to memorize our names with our faces, so we were called by name everywhere we went. We were well fed both spiritually and physically. We were especially thrilled to receive our missionary name tags and put them on for the first time. I've waited all my life to put on a name tag. It was an emotional experience for me.
I'll share just a couple of special times at the MTC. The first night we were there, we were invited to spend an hour with 17 of our missionaries who would actually arrive in the mission before we did. That was a tender time. We just loved them all immediately and could see how eager and ready they were to serve.
On one beautiful afternoon we were directed into the large auditorium where every missionary in the MTC had assembled to hear Elder L. Tom Perry speak for the weekly devotional. The special part was that we got to be there too. Our chairs were down on the main floor with 2000 missionaries seated up and behind us. We all sang "Called to Serve". So touching. We could see some of our Elders and they waved and smiled at us. After the meeting the entire body of mission presidents seated below, turned and waved to those wonderful missionaries and they waved back. Scott and I couldn't talk for minutes because of the feelings that had welled up in us.
I'm not sure how prepared we were after our MTC experience, but we truly did feel strengthened, encouraged and buoyed up. The General Authorities did everything in their power to make it so for us. We love and sustain them and are so snxious to be diligent in doing the work they have given us.
We went straight home from the MTC to our sweet little grandson, Brigham's baptism. We said it was our first baptism as mission president! Then back home to pack up and be ready to leave by the next morning. Let me say here that our mission couldn't have happened without the incredible support of our children who have packed, cleaned, run errands, fed us, taken over the businesses and done a hundred other things to help us to prepare. We know they will have to continue to help us. Thanks kids- we love and adore you and give you our deepest gratitude.
The night before we left was a hard one- our hearts hurt a little at the thoughts of leaving our precious children, so it was good there was still so much to do that kept us busy and occupied.
June 28th dawned bright and beautiful and we got in the car- after many hugs, kisses and tender words. Those last few minutes were a little painful, and I was grateful Spencer just pushed me in the car and said, "Mom, just get in and get it over with." We got in that car and turned our heads and hearts to our mission. We're going to be lonely at times for our dear family, but we know what we have to do, and we accept it, and will give it the best we have to offer.
After the first few hours the trip became pleasant. We stopped in Palisade CO to visit with my sister-in-law, Laurie Haderlie and her cute daughter Isabel. Then on to Vail, CO. We actually stopped in Vail and took a hike with the kids in the gorgeous mountains and cool fresh air- ate a great dinner- slept for the night and started out again. Colorado is having huge fires, which we could see from a distance at times- a little scary. On into very flat, very hot, Kansas! That was a loooooong drive! We stayed in Salina Kansas for the night and the next morning went on into Tulsa.
Tulsa is not flat- rolling hills and very green. But still very hot and humid. We are staying inside a lot! We met with President and Sister Merkley- the outgoing mission president- for only a couple of hours. They are incredible people who have served so well here and are beloved by the missionaries. We just cried when they got in their car and drove away. Those first couple hours alone in the mission home were a little overwhelming. We hardly knew where to start!
What saved us were two handsome and very confident looking Assistants to the President, who came almost immediately and got to work with us. They unloaded boxes and began talking- giving us information about how the whole thing works. We were so grateful.
The next days went something like this:
Sunday- Met with our office staff in the morning to get oriented on what they do. Went to our new ward- they are such wonderful, friendly people. We love our new ward! Worked in the mission office for a few hours preparing for our zone conferences that would start the nest day.
Monday- Our first zone conference! The Tulsa and Tulsa East Zones. Can't even begin to tell you the feelings we had as we walked into a room full of our own missionaries- they were as anxious, excited, and worried as we were. But there is a strong feeling that we are all in this together- an immediate feeling of love and unity. Our meeting went from 9:30am to 3:00pm, with a delicious lunch in the middle, provided by Stake Relief Society Sisters. I left a little early with Abby and Taylor to take them to get enrolled in the new school district so Taylor can begin to play football next Monday.
We didn't get to bed until very late that night- so much preparation for the week's work. We had to shop for the Senior's Conference we were going to have on Wednesday. I am getting used to getting to bed at midnight and getting up before six. Somehow the Lord is blessing all of us to have enough energy to get through our days. Even Abby and Taylor are getting up at 5:30 on the days we have had to travel. We are so proud of them- they've been very patient through all of this.
Tuesday- Same agenda for the Springdale and Rogers Zones- about two hours away. After the conference we drove home and got here just in time to welcome the first of the senior couples who were spending the night with us before our senior conference.
Wednesday- The Fourth of July! It was such a great day! We had 5 senior couples and two single sisters spend the day with us- a conference in the morning and a barbecue in the afternoon. I made my famous ribs! Four young Elders joined us too. These Senior missionaries are the "salt of the earth". Faithful, devoted, outstanding people who have spent their lives in the Lord's service. We admire and love them and are SO grateful for their service in the mission. It wouldn't run without them.
Thursday- Up early and two hours to Fort Smith, Arkansas- beautiful place. Same agenda again for the Zone Conference. I need to tell you that Abby and Taylor have also participated with a power point presentation about our family. Abby and Taylor do a great job and the missionaries seem to enjoy it. President Shumway and I both take a part in it, and the APs provide some excellent training.
So- here we are- a three hour drive to Springfield, Missouri. Another conference here tomorrow and then on to St. Robert for the last. This has been our family mission tour and we probably never will bring Abby and Taylor all around the mission like this again, but this has been a great way to get a feeling about how big the mission is and to learn about all our missionaries.
We love this work- we already have felt the Lord's direction a dozen times- It's His mission, His missionaries and we'll try to follow His direction as we do it.
This has probably been a way too long blog- I'll try to post more often so it won't be so hard to read in the future.
One more thing- we have fireflies! and possums! and Cicadas (they make a loud sound and they are very scary when they fly into your hair!) We're having an ADVENTURE!