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Friday, November 9, 2012

At the MTC

Elder Wendell and Sister Linda Gubler

    And so we finished the first week at the Missionary Training Center (MTC.) What a wonderful experience! So many things have happened. I think we're ready to get to work in South Africa. We have taught "investigators" and "less actives", we learned to prepare lessons and then teach by the spirit, not the plan. We have been "less actives" and "investigators." We have made amazing friends. What an experience!

    The first day at the MTC, we got settled in our room, in the Jacob Hamblin building (how great is that?), found out the basics of the MTC and got our mission badges. After lunch, we had an Orientation Meeting. We met the MTC Mission Presidency and the missionary couple supporting Senior Couples. During the meeting we all introduced ourselves. (There are 58 Senior Couples this week) We used to think that South Africa, Johannesburg, was a really unusual mission. Not so much. We met couples who were going to the Philippines, Thailand, Myanmar, Turkey, Germany, Chile, Honduras, Madagascar, Australia, Romania, Vanuatu (just below Fiji), Taiwan, and Rawlins, Wyoming (where there are 22 bars and 9,000 people.) We were divided into districts and Elder Gubler was designated the District Leader. (His duties were limited to calling on district missionaries to give prayers.) Our District included Elder and Sister Shupe (serving in Madagascar as Mission Nurse and assistant), Elder and Sister Burt, (serving in Rawlins, Wyoming as Leadership, Members Service Missionaries), and us (serving in the South Africa, Johannesburg mission, serving at Office Missionaries, or whatever we are assigned.)


Elder Gubler, Sister Thurston, Sister Gubler
     Day 2, we met our teachers. What wonderful young women! Sister Thurston, our morning teacher, had us roll-play getting to know a nonmember. Boy, were we awful! If I had been pressured like that I would have run away. Luckily, Sis. Thurston lovingly taught us the correct way to work with investigators. We learned to be quiet and listen as well as gently ask questions. Imagine our surprise when we found out that we would be teaching our first "investigator" the next day.
In the evening we were able to attend a fireside given by Elder W Craig Zwick. The best part of the evening was listening to his grandchildren sing "I'm trying to be like Jesus". Totally angelic! The second best was listening to all the missionaries singing "Called to Serve".

   Day 3 The MTC has volunteers come to the Teaching Resource Center (TRC) so that the missionaries can teach them. Talk about terrifying for the volunteers. I can only imagine how it was to be bombarded with a fire-hose dousing of information! Hopefully, we didn't damage anyone's testimonies! Sister Thurston was so kind when she evaluated with us after the "investigator" experience! Needless to say, we were pretty humble after that experience! .
   
Sister and Elder Gubler, Elder and Sister Burt, Sister Fillmore, Elder and Sister Shupe
    Day 4, whew! By now we were much more ready to teach "nonmembers" again. We learned to listen, pause and really think about what was being said. The hardest part was to not speak for more than 2 minutes at a time, MAX. Everyone of us had a totally different experience this day. We were more humble, much quieter and much more thoughtful. Sister Fillmore, our afternoon instructor, was very kind and gentle as she had us roll play being investigators and as well as teaching each other. After classes and dinner we were at my sister Sandy's house to check on her and spend the night after her surgery she had that day.

    Day 5. Today we got to teach "less actives". Luckily, each companionship was able to teach another companionship. We got a turn to roll play as well as teach. It is much harder to know how to approach less actives than nonmembers. I am so glad that we had this experience because I could feel how pressured less actives can feel. It reminds me of a saying my grandma used to have on her refrigerator, saying "Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care." We need to feel a deep love for the people we teach and that can only happen by getting to know them. 
    
    One of the most touching experiences we witnessed today during the teaching experience was when two companionships were roll playing "less actives" and being taught by the missionaries. As we started into the room, Sis Thurston stopped us to tell us what was happening. Years ago, one couple had been less active and the elder in the other companionship had been their Bishop at the time of their reactivation. Here were 4 people in the MTC together because of a Bishop reaching out to this less active couple. When we walked into the room, tears were streaming down their faces. What a feeling of love.

Stories for the week:
     I had a "Wendell" Week. I had someone tell me how familiar I looked to them. (Ok, so they didn't know me but I did look like someone they knew...) Wendell got turned around in Provo and I was able to direct him around (extremely unusual. Wendell is amazing at directions.) But, my favorite experience happened this way:
    We had to check our Travel arrangements at the travel office. I noticed the name tag of one of the women working there. Interesting. Her name tag said Sister _______. Oh my, it was a very different name I had only seen once before. I asked her if she was related to the ______'s in Orem. She asked if it was so and so. I told her that I didn't know his parents. She looked at me shocked and said "What is the name of the person you know?" I told her and she said, "He's my husband! How do you know him?" Me, "uh, I dated him in high school." Awkward! Oh well, It was a Wendell Moment for sure and it happened to me.
  
    And, so ends the first week at the MTC and the end of the missionary teaching training. Next week we will be learning our responsibilities, learning the computer and learning how to manage mission monies.