Thursday, September 12, 2013

Week Two at the MTC


Some folks told us that they could not see the pictures we tried to include last time, so here they are again hopefully.  These are pictures of waiting with the MTC choir to walk to the BYU campus and eating ice cream at the BYU Creamery.  We received Church Education System training early this week because we may have to teach the LDS Marines some standard church based curriculum geared for College institute.  Most of the training was about how to teach with the spirit and how to develop meaningful  lesson plans to teach the scriptures.  The instructors were good and there was a lot of lively and informative discussion.  After training we went out into town to do a little shopping.  It was not anything exciting, I bought much needed black socks and Lezlie bought a new skirt.  But it was interesting being out in public with our missionary badges on.  Every clerk or person we came in contact said something about it – where are you going on your mission, when will you leave, where are you from, etc.  They all made nice comments and wished us well.  Of course this is Provo, Utah, so we expected everyone to be supportive and friendly.  But it was fun to get out into town for a short trip.  We attended another devotional with Elder Martino about the effectiveness of using members to help with missionary work. The choir sang ( we did not participate as Dan could not sing because of his cold). But it was wonderful to hear it – fantastic choir- really moving to hear so many people. It is truly awesome and unbelievable to see all the amazing young people here- and all of the seniors too- there were about 70 medical missionaries in the class that came Monday- it was pretty amazing. It will be fun to be with just the military specialists.

So we are doing laundry in the basement of the MTC. We are surrounded by 18-20 year old men with name badges in all languages, speaking together in dozens of languages, talking about family, friends,  issues with studying dreams and aspirations for their lives, how to do laundry, which types of  soap work best, best lunch choices and travel plans. It is much different than a normal college campus- happier and more serious at the same time. Peaceful. Sincere. Secure.

We had the first day of our Church Military Relations training, and it has greatly surpassed our expectations.  They are giving us the nuts and bolts of what we will be doing.  Both couples that are giving the training have been on Military Relations missions, so they can answer all of our detailed questions.  It seems a bit ironic that we started our training on the 12th anniversary of the Sept 11 attacks.  In addition to learning a lot of practical information about exactly what we will be doing on the military base, they shared several stories of amazing experiences of senior couples.  There was one particularly touching letter written by a mom that basically said the senior missionaries saved her young Marine son from deep depression and despondency.  I think it will help us do a better job if we think of these young marines as somebody’s son or daughter.  It is kind of funny how much different the atmosphere is in this classroom.  Although the training we have had thus far has been great, things were a little loose.  In this class when the instructor says we have a ten minute break, everyone is back in ten minutes.  You gotta' love these retired military folks!  The curriculum and handouts are laid out in a precise and organized manner, and we followed the planned schedule exactly.  It is a good reentry into all things military… There are 7 couples going at this time- A legislator from Wyoming that owns a cattle ranch and had to find care for his St. Bernard puppy and 150 head of cattle is going to Marines at Camp Pendleton, an 80 year old couple that has been married for 3 months is going to 29 Palms Marine Base in the Mohave Desert, a Korean War Air Force veteran is going to the Little Rock Air Force Base in Little Rock Arkansas, a retired FBI agent and his wife who was a head start teacher are going to an army base in Mississippi, and a Norwegian intelligence officer and his wife are going to Pearl Harbor, and a retired AirForce Colonel is going to Tokyo, Japan to Air Force Base there. I also know that Dave Hedengren from Richland is coming next week and will be going to Alaska. Everyone packed tonight and loaded their cars and we will all meet tomorrow in Salt Lake where the head leaders will give us some briefing and we will get training on the communications systems between bases, and get our military badges etc. We have lunch there and then head east. Hope to get  to Wyoming tomorrow night, then and beyond. Sure wish Chris and Stacey were a little closer, so we could have seen them on the way out, too. 

Our training today was excellent.  It was a Resiliency Training class that we will teach on the base. Bending  without breaking. The first is about strengthening the individual, then the couple, then the children and finally planning for before during and after deployment to help strengthen the family. After that we had addiction recovery program training. We will also probably be involved significantly in that.  It includes any type any type of addiction from drugs and drinking  to pornography, smoking and gambling.

We finished our 2nd day of Military Relations training and also our last full day at the MTC.  We will drive to Salt Lake early tomorrow morning and have our last half day of training at the church office building.  Then we will start driving east.  We heard many touching stories of servicemen and their families.  We talked a lot about deployments and family separations, and we could vividly remember the agony of being separated during our submarine duty years.  It was about the hardest thing Lezlie and I ever had to do.  But we made it through.  So we hope in some small way we can  help some of these young Marine families facing separations.  We were instructed on how to teach a course called Resiliency, a course designed to strengthen families as they face separation due to military deployments.  It was excellent training.  At the end of the day we had a short testimony meeting, which was quite touching.  Every single person talked about how much they had learned and how much they had been touched by the spirit here in just two short weeks.  Although we have only known these folks for a short time, we feel as if we have become closest friends.  It is sad to say goodbye. So we are trained, excited, and ready to go to work.  We just have to drive 2000 miles across the country to get started. 

The training today brought a lot of emotions from being in the Navy back. It is understandable that they require this calling to be to those who have been military. It is something that people cannot understand unless they have been through it. Seeing all the videos today of men leaving and saying goodbye to their families, and seeing them come home, brought  back so many emotions. Anne may barely remember some of Dan coming and going from his sub,  but I think Chris was too young to remember. And Carrie and Aaron only experienced reserves which was not usually too big of a deal to anyone but Dan. We really developed a deep love for these men today as we watched their struggles and stories, and really understand what we have been called here for. I hope we can make a difference in some of their lives. The wife that did the training today had made quilts for the young children of deployed military with the dad or mom's picture all over them. It was really inspiring. 

We visited Dan's high school friend, Sue Bramwell  Heath and her family in Springville tonight. We had never met her 23 year old son, Steven, who had been born with several severe handicaps. He was just the coolest guy and in spite of having challenges speaking, could sign and carry on quite a lively conversation with great humor and amazing spirituality. This was also inspiring, humbling and very enjoyable before we left.

Dan and I both wrote parts of this so it is a bit disjointed.

We have had several storms the last couple of days and reception has been messed up as far as facetime and email. Hopefully will improve when we are on the road, but who knows about Wyoming!  Goodbye MTC. This was an experience we are glad we did not miss.



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