This past week in the MTC (Missionary Training Center) has held a few surprises for both of us. Our room was small but more functional than I had anticipated. We are in the older west wing of building 2M (bottom right photo). Some of the couples in our group had rooms in a newer section that were like very nice hotel rooms, except roomier, but they only had showers. I’m glad we have one with a bath tub & shower instead. 🙂 The only thing we were lacking was an ice bucket (our section doesn’t have them), so we snagged one from someone who was leaving from the other section. Another fun thing is that in the main supply room for the building there is what I’d call a flea market shelf, except that everything is free. There are scales are in that room, and missionaries pull out whatever they need to sufficiently lighten their suitcase before departing and place it on those shelves for anyone who can use it. Last night when I was picking up clean towels the pickings included some good books, a Bose noise-cancelling headphone set, new leather bedroom slippers, hair styling tools and a lot more that I don’t remember. There is also a small store in the building with discounted prices on many of the supplies a missionary would need.
The MTC grounds are beautiful. There are benches and outdoor seating areas everywhere with pergolas, umbrellas and canopies on many of them. There are huge beds of flowers along all the walkways between the buildings, and most of the main walkways have covers to protect the missionaries from the elements (like when it poured down the other night). The campus is also far bigger than I had imagined, with several huge buildings under construction that will expand it even further. I included a picture of the campus with the building we stay in circled in red. The senior couples (some of whom are using canes and walkers!) are all thoughtfully located close to the cafeteria and their classrooms, and there are elevators for them to use as well.
Another surprise was how tight security is here. You can’t get into the campus or any of the buildings without a key card, and there are security measures beyond that as well. I’m glad, though. In these times we live in, this could easily become a target. It makes me feel safe.
Another surprise for me is that I was worried a bit about having the right clothes and shoes, and both of us had misconceptions about missionary rules for couples. We have heard twice that there basically aren’t any rules for the couples. I guess they believe we are grownups and can make good decisions for ourselves. 🙂 We’ve done a lot of walking. I have been glad for every pair of shoes I’ve brought, although I won’t reveal how many!
The laundry here is amazing! Unless I miscounted, there are approximately 86 free washers and 128 free dryers. That means I can get our laundry done this week almost all at once, at whatever settings I want. It was so amazing I included a picture of part of it.
We have been tightly scheduled in classes and meetings this past week, although we were free in the evenings and on the weekend. There was a fireside one night and a devotional another night, which we were glad we attended – they were both outstanding. Some of the senior missionaries were nervous about teaching when they came. I wasn’t, and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the role playing we did and how much I learned from it. I have pretty much always hated role playing, but loved doing it here. I included a picture of our district and our young & talented MTC teacher, Sister Heidi Zundel. The biggest lesson I learned from this week’s classes is that the Lord really can and will put the right words into your mouth when you need them, as long as you rely on the Holy Spirit and keep Christ as the center of your discussions and teaching.
The MTC has been a really tender experience for both of us. It is impossible not to instantly love all these young missionaries around us. They open our doors, let us butt into cafeteria lines (we have that as a privilege), and help us find our way around when needed. We sometimes see them doing service by cleaning areas of the MTC on their preparation days (also known as P-days), practicing their new languages as they walk down the halls, studying everywhere, and going to classes long after we’ve been free to do whatever we want. They work so hard and are so dedicated. I’ve seen a few of them are walking around with braces, or hobbling along with bent or twisted bodies. They come in all sizes and shapes. There are very tall and very short ones, slender and (dare I say it?) fat ones, attractive and plain ones. Some are local, but most are from all over the world. They come in many different colors but all have wonderful smiles. Some of the South Pacific elders are wearing lava-lava’s that are tailored like suit pants – so fun! Most of the time the elders are wearing suits & ties or shirts and ties, and the sisters are mostly in skirts except on their P-days when we see a lot of jeans, shorts and t shirts. Last night as we came back from attending the temple, there was a large group of missionaries in one of the large, shaded, outdoor seating alcoves singing a hymn in a language I could not recognize, but it was beautiful! There truly is an amazing spirit here. I’m so grateful that we have had this experience before leaving.
Next week is our office training, which I don’t anticipate being quite the same, but maybe there will be some surprises in store for us there, as well!