Prior to departing for Colombia on the 21st, we're attending the Missionary Training Center ("MTC") in Provo, Utah, one of fifteen such Centers throughout the world, ranging from Auckland, New Zealand to Manchester, England. At any one time, there are about 3,000 young missionaries at this MTC, staying for from three to thirteen weeks, depending on their assignment. If they are to speak English, three weeks; if Mandarin Chinese, thirteen. Instruction is given in 50 different languages. In addition, there are about one hundred Senior Missionaries (Rats! Have I crossed the "Senior" line?!) preparing for two weeks for their assignments. In our group, those range from British Columbia to Indonesia to India.
Although the accommodations for the young missionaries are somewhat Spartan (and yet better than most will experience out in the world), the folks here at the MTC rightly suspected that us Seniors needed something a bit softer. We have been privileged to be the first occupants of a new facility, and I admit that I have taken Paula to much crummier hotels.
The cafeteria is geared up to feed 2000+ starving, vigorous 19-year-old young men.
The fare is actually very good, but the portions are served up to the majority demographic, and after the first day, we realized that if we continued in our ruinous dietary ways, we'd have to buy new wardrobes upon arriving in Colombia, and we sadly backed away from the Guacamole Burgers with Bacon and the onion rings.
Our time is spent learning about our duties, studying the Gospel, organizing, eating (see above), and in the very little time left over, visiting briefly with our fellow "Senior" missionaries, who are a pretty amazing bunch. They come from all walks of life, cowboys to toxicologists.
Paula has been taking Spanish in the evenings. You'll notice her laughing in the picture; she has no clue what the instructor just said, and is trying to make him think otherwise.
We have realized that we are about 15-20 years younger than the average in our group, and are about ten years younger than the next youngest. During the reasonably frequent breaks (c'mon, the "Senior" thing), Paula recharges her solar batteries in the beautiful fall sun.
The first snows have fallen on the surrounding mountains, and the weather has been gorgeous.
In order to Battle the Bulge, we've been walking each morning, since we're without bicycles. However, because we do so at about 5:45 AM in order to have the time, those pictures turned out kind of dark.
Someone told us that to celebrate the first graduating class, they bronzed two of those first missionaries.
I couldn't get Paula to believe that one either.
It has been an interesting and fulfilling week. We continue to feel called of the Lord on this assignment, and this feeling has been nothing but amplified while here in the MTC. I feel greatly privileged and blessed to have Paula as my companion. Being with her 24/7 has been a great pleasure...so far.
We hope that you are doing well! We'll try to continue to post at least monthly, and look forward to hearing from you.
Elder & Sister (Dave & Paula) Henderson