Saturday, November 19, 2011

Our time at the MTC

This is the foyer where the missionaries are dropped off at the MTC and the long hallway down to the cafeteria and other rooms of this main building.

We have been in the MTC for one week today.  I remember the day we arrived and said the last goodbye to family - Erlynn dropped us off at the door to our living quarters (the Jacob Hamblin building) at the Provo MTC.  
     We came in and they (some elders) escorted us with our luggage to our room.  It is a very nice room.  It is only a month old.  It has a bed, a table, two arm chairs with ottomans, a dresser, two lamps by each side of the bed on tables, a nice bathroom area where the closet and sink is and with a separate toilet and shower room.
     Everything is very nice and clean.  The bed is very very comfortable with very soft sheets and a comforter.  It is a very comfortable place to stay.  We are happy being here.  
     We only had time to bring in our luggage and use the bathroom before we had to meet the elders who took us to the main building where we checked in.  We first received a packet with important information in it and our badges.  

We sat down with a lady who explained everything that we needed to know to get started.  We had to go to a table where they took our photos and put it on a card that we would use all the time.  The card allows us to enter buildings (we swipe the card in a card reader) at every entrance to any building as well as to get to the third floor of the elevator where we were staying etc.  

This shows our elevator where Larry is about to push the up button.

Then we have a key to get into our room.  It is all done for security purposes.  If you didn’t have a card you can’t access entrance into any of the buildings or when you entered the elevator of our building unless you were a senior couple, you couldn’t use the third floor (by pushing the button) without swiping a card.

    So, we felt very safe here and secure!

   Next we had to go to a table where we checked in with our immunizations records to see if they were complete.  We still have to receive our final Hepatitis shot series.  We went to another station where the MTC Senior Couples Coordinators told us everything that we would need to know to get around, check out, find and go to.  It was complete and made us feel like we knew what we needed to know!
     We then went to lunch.  This is a hugh cafeteria that seats hundreds.  There are three main sections where different food is served.  You can choose what you want from a big variety.  You can eat as much as you want and you ought to see how high the elders can stack their plates.  I now understand how so many of them say they gained weight while in the MTC.   The food is very good!  

We then went to the main assembly room where all of the incoming senior couples meet for a general meeting.  It was a very spiritual meeting.  We started with a song and prayer and introductions to the MTC Presidency and their wives.  We all went around the room and introduced ourselves by telling our names, where we are from and to what mission we are called and to what assignment we have there.  It was great to meet everyone.  Next to me was a girlfriend I had growing up!!  We were so shocked!  Her name is Jody (Powell) Packard.  Also, a doctor from Kennewick is here.  Dr. Chan. He is going to the China Hong Kong Temple.  He is a Chiropractor in Kennewick.
     There were couples going from Costa Rico, China, Russia, Africa, Chile to Peru, Moldova, New Zealand, Scotland, Finland, to many places in the United States to Samoa - all over the world.  I have a list of everyone that was in the group.
     They told us how important our work is and how it is going to bless our lives and the lives of those we serve there.  They told us that we may all be strangers today but by the weeks end we will have found many close friends among the other couples.  It has been a week and I can say that is true.  We have found many close friends and really enjoy their company!
     They organized us into districts with some of the couples (the Elder) being the district leaders  We were assigned to a district with the district leader being Elder Berthrong (he says the opposite of birthright).  We have become close with them.  He was also in the Navy and can share many things with Larry.  They are a lot alike.  His wife and I are very much alike also!

This is our district.  The two sisters on the left are going to New Zealand, the next couple is going to Washington D.C. temple, the next couple is the Berthrongs, (he is our District leader) then there is our MTC teacher Sister Zitting who had gone to Florida on her mission and is now teaching at the MTC, and then of course us.
Elder and Sister Berthrong.  They are going to Chile to be humanitarian missionaries!

     We then went to a meeting where we were instructed about our language training while we are here.  We start that on Wednesday.  Since Larry and I have been tutored at home for about three weeks, we will continue here.
     From 6 p.m. on (after dinner) we had personal time to unpack and get ready for the week.  And what a busy week it has been!  My oh my!

Go with us as we go to our room:

Yes, we walked up the stairs to the third floor because we needed the exercise!  We do have an exercise room but little time to use it, we got up at 5:45 as it was, then breakfast at 7 and classes all day until 8 at night.

This is a little sitting area outside the elevator on the third floor.

This is the hallway to our room

You have already seen pictures of our room!

 This is the exercise room which is a couple doors down from our room

     Each morning we were up at 6, ate breakfast between 7-7:30 and then off to the assembly at 8.  From there it was classes.  That was the schedule every day.  
On Tuesday we were trained from Preach My Gospel (PMG) about how to approach a non member and ask questions to find out their interests and how we could teach them about the gospel:
Created lessons plans for the teaching experience we would have on Wednesday.
Our big group meeting with all of the senior couples was on The role of the Spirit in Conversion and extending invitations.
In our classrooms (with our districts) we practiced on commitment invitations with each other.
Tuesday evening we had an MTC devotional with all missionaries!  It was really great.  The speaker was from the Seventy.
This is the day that most the senior couples dreaded because they were nervous about teaching non members.  Even though they were people who were members who volunteered to come and pretend to be non members, it was a time where they would observe us and then later we would talk about and evaluate with our teacher on how to improve and talk about what we did correctly.  The rooms were set up like living rooms and we knocked on the door and came to meet them and teach them.  We were to teach them the Plan of Salvation.
In our large group meeting we were taught about how to teach people, not lessons.
In our small classrooms along with evaluations we were taught about how to help people make and keep commitments - the commandments.
We had our immunizations.
After supper we had our language training for two hours.

This is Brother Stephenson who is our language trainer.  He is the one that trained us at home through Skype before we came. 

We go to bed every night very tired.
Large group discussion was on the Book of Mormon.
Small group meeting was practicing followup meeting with investigators and helping people receive revelation through the Book of Mormon.
We prepared and practiced for the teaching experience for that afternoon with a less active member of the church.
The thing that I have learned most this week from our experiences of teaching is this:
The only true teacher of the truth is the Savior Jesus Christ.  When we use the scriptures to teach doctrines, the Holy Ghost does the rest.  The Spirit was so strong as we used some passages from 2 Ne to teach three single ladies who had different circumstances in their lives, and reasons why they were not attending church.  As we read the passages together (2 Ne. 4:13-35) they personally understood where their strength and trust should come from. They felt the need to be strong and have faith and trust in the Lord and come back.  They understood what was lacking in their lives and how to fill that need, how to replace complacency with full activity and do it for the right reasons.  
It was a very humbling experience for Larry and I.  I can’t fully express how the experience touched us so deeply and the feelings of the Spirit in the room that day, but know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of love and is to bring us all happiness and peace in our lives.
We had language training again for two hours that evening.
Small group (classrooms) we were taught how to listen to others and learn. How to teach and adapt to the needs of less active members.
In our big group discussions twice this day we learned about working with Stake & local leaders.
We had language training and then we were told that we were to meet with all of the language training groups and would have a testimony meeting.  Larry and I both bore our testimonies in Armenian and that was scary.   It was fun to hear all of the languages.  Most of us read our testimonies.  We needed that support as we are all learning.
We used this day to do our wash, clean house etc.
We were able to go to the store because one of the couples loaned us their car.
Later, Larry and I went to the BYU football game at the stadium.  They played University of Idaho and we won 42-7.  It was fun, cold and we were tired but it was a great outing.
Monday: We started our office training today and it will be ongoing this whole week.  It will be done on Thursday.  At night we still have Language training except for Tues. because of the devotional.  It is humbling to realize the very important assignment that we have to help keep records.  These are records recorded for eternity and the load that we can take off of the Mission President to allow him to do the most important work he has will be rewarding for us.
This are the couples that trained with us for office work in our various missions.  The blond and her husband are going to Moldova (it is by Hungary) and are going for 2 years.  The couple on the right are going to Korea, the couple in the back are going to Indiana.  The brother in the back on the left was one of our trainers.

Tuesday - We heard a talk tonight at the Devotional that was super fantastic.  It was by Tad Callister of the Seventy and he was so good.  We really felt the Spirit and were deeply touched by the things that we learned.  It was on the apostasy and it really helped to learn and understand it in great detail.  
He has done extensive research and much of which he shared is within the scriptures and from many reformers during the dark ages that understood how the teachings of the Savior were changed, the ordinances were changed, the doctrines were changed until they were no longer recognized from what Jesus taught.  Many were discontinued entirely as they were no longer understood or practiced.  Important eternal principles necessary for salvation were not to be found upon the earth.  
It is important to understand the depth of the apostasy to then realize the importance of the restoration.  He even addressed the reason why it took so long from the dark ages to when the doctrines and teachings of Jesus Christ was restored once again to the earth.  Knowing who is in charge, our Heavenly Father, it is interesting to realize what things had to be in place for the restoration to take place.  Technology for printing books, a land where there was freedoms from oppression for religion to flourish (especially recognizing the many reformers who lost their lives because they questioned and/or actively tried to change what was formally accepted among the religions of that day). An example is Tyndale who was executed because he tried to translate the Bible from the original languages.  He was tried for heresy, but his efforts led to the King James version of the Bible, which we believe is the most correct.
Anyway, the rest of this week is getting office training (working with the Church’s IMOS software with the forms and record keeping that includes the referral system, missionary transfers, baptism/confirmation records, finances, vehicle records, spreadsheets, documents, letters to missionaries/parents, newsletters for the mission - etc.
Thursday night of this week as we met for language training we were surprised by a visit from a BYU student who is from Armenia.  We talked with him for an hour and learned so much about the country, language etc.  Finally toward the end, in our conversation he happened to mention that his brother got a call to serve a mission but was waiting for his Visa to go through and had been waiting for about 5 months.  He then said (not knowing where we are from), that his brother’s call was to the Kennewick, Wa mission!  We about fell over in our chairs!  So, we will get the see his brother and visit with him for about a month.  He is not leaving for Washington until the first of the year.  It was a great night.  
Most of the couples will be gone by today.  We are a handful that will be here until Monday because that is when our flight leaves.  We have to leave the MTC around 5 a.m. as our flight leaves at 8:30 a.m.  We met a couple who just got here this week.  They are from Logan and are also going to the Armenian mission.  They are on a different flight until we met them in Vienna.  From there we both have a 14 hour layover and plan to tour around Vienna.  Then, we will fly on the same flight to Armenia, to arrive their at 4:30 a.m.
I am sure we will be very tired.  It will take two days and the jet lag will be something else.  We are happy and very excited to start our mission.
This is the world map and we are pointing to where our mission is in that area of the world.

We love each of you and miss you!

Elder and Sister Eyre

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