Thursday, August 22, 2013

A visit by an apostle

What a wonderful week we had this past week. We spent the entire week studying Preach My Gospel. What an amazing experience that was. Tuesday, the second day of our training, they had us meet with investigators.....for an entire 45 minutes! That was, to say the least, a bit intimidating. We learned that the people were real people, and the circumstances which brought them to talk with the missionaries (us) were real. Their experiences may have happened a long time ago, or could be current, but they were real. The trainers did not immediately throw us into the pit, but prepared us by doing role plays with us. Can I just say right now that I DO NOT like role plays. Never have. Probably never will.

Our district: Sis/Elder Rowley, Sis Kamarath, me, Garth, Sis Bray, Sis Allred, Elder/Sis Davis

Our fearless district leader - Elder Rowley, and Sis Rowley

Our morning teachers -  Sis Tholl and Sis Bateman
Our afternoon teachers - Bro Sillitoe and Bro Pearson

But, I learned something amazing happens when you role play using real experiences and real people. And when you discuss spiritual things. When you invite the spirit, He comes!! I have always known the Holy Ghost testifies of truth – I have felt the truth of things confirmed to me many times. But usually when I have purposefully asked in prayer. I didn't think I would feel the spirit so strongly during a role play. But it happened over and over. Each time we sought the spirit He was there. It was a most remarkable experience. One I will never forget.

Tuesday night we went the MTC fireside. You have to be a missionary at the MTC in order to be able to attend. We decided to sing in the MTC choir, so practiced for an hour before the fireside (we had a fabulous conductor – Bro. Egget (sp?). We sang Jesus Once of Humble Birth, which is one of my favorite hymns. It was a beautiful arrangement. The choir was 1000 voices strong – all young elders and sisters, with a few old people like us mixed in. It was such fun singing with all those young people. Their enthusiasm is contagious.

The women's section of the choir
The men's section of the choir, and looking down at the podium
The speaker for the fireside is not announced until just before he/she enters the auditorium. Oh, yea....the firesides are held at the Marriott Center because there are too many missionaries now to hold the firesides in the MTC auditorium. The prelude music is sung by all in attendance....hymns...and the words are shown on a giant screen on the far side of the basketball court and also on the JumboTron. Do they have a JumboTron at BYU??? I'm not sure. Anyway..... So, we're singing the prelude hymns, and who should walk in, but Elder Richard G. Scott. I love that man. He called Garth to be a stake president. We love that man so much. 

Elder Scott gave a wonderful message. I took good notes :) There were a few things that really stood out to me. Shortly after beginning he said that those who had been called to speak a foreign language had an extra burden, that they would be asked to do things they had never done before, so they should pray for the gift of tongues. He said the language would come through faith, study, and use of the language. Through faith and the gift of tongues they would be able to learn more quickly. He said, “I invoke a blessing on those who have a need to learn the language.”

Near the end of his message he said, “with Apostolic authority I pronounce a blessing on those learning a new language,” and blessed us with the gift of tongues.

Wow!!! We were overwhelmed with feelings of humility and thankfulness. If anyone needs help with the language, it is me. So, Garth and I are going to do what Elder Scott said to do: study, speak Tongan, and exercise our faith!!! I know if we do those things we will learn the language and be able to speak it, hopefully, like a Native by the time we come home.

At the end of Elder Scott's talk he looked out over the audience and told us all he loved us. And as he walked off the stage he stopped numerous times, waved, blew kisses, and said, “I love the missionaries. I love you.” Just before he was out of sight he stopped, cupped his hands around his mouth, and very loudly called out, “I love you.” A few voices from the audience quietly responded with an “I love you” in return, then a few more joined in until the voices of the entire congregation reverberated throughout the Marriott Center. The great love that Elder Scott feels for the missionaries was clearly felt by all in attendance. I hope he felt our love for him in return.
Tongan sisters who were sitting behind me in the choir

Another highlight of this past week was watching as 940 new elders and sisters arrived at the MTC Wednesday. The MTC has 100 missionaries scheduled to arrive every 15 minutes. The new missionaries arrive through the front door, are assigned to a host/hostess, are checked in and are on their way to receive their missionary packets which include handbooks, name tags, etc., orient to the campus, etc., and the next batch of 100 is ushered in the front doors. It's an amazing process to watch. By Wednesday afternoon they're off and running.

We had a great weekend, too. We spent Saturday with the Hollist family at a reunion in Layton, which was lots of fun; Monday evening with Bill and his family at Kim's family reunion at Heber Valley Camp (very beautiful, and lots of good food), and the weekend with Ashley, Tyler and Sarah. 
Thomas Grover headstone in foreground, Hollist family graves behind surrounded by family members - Farmington Cemetary
We said good-bye Tyler, but get to see Ashley a little bit next week as she is staying in Provo for another week, and we'll get to see Sarah when she comes to see us off at the Salt Lake airport next week. Lots of good-byes to other family members and friends. It is hard to say good-bye, but we're excited to be helping with the Lord's work in Tonga, and can't wait until we get there.
Family picture in Layton - missing Joanna and Brielle

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