Sunday, July 31, 2011

Tomorrow is DEPARTURE day!

We are off to Finland tomorrow!  It is somewhat melancholy to leave this wonderful place called the Missionary Training Center.  The food and accommodations have been so marvelous, but mostly it is the profound spirit of love and kindness that prevails here.  To see daily the 2600 missionaries here training (hundreds come and go each week - there are 52,000 serving around the world), mostly young people of our future world, fills our hearts with the hope we find in Christ.  They are so vibrant and filled with the desire to do good!  This two weeks has been very memorable for us.

We have had several very spiritual experiences and are so grateful. There were two incidents with young missionaries that we knew from Cedar City and Kanab that we had wanted to wish well. But, with hundreds milling around the cafeteria and the numbers on the sidewalks it was difficult to track down any one individual.  I discovered a new visual sickness..."name tag blur".  As they wiz by I would try to read their name tags to see their names and the language it was written in, especially looking for those we knew and those who were headed to Finland. (We knew there were fourteen training at the MTC assigned to Finland.) After a few days of scanning and a few headaches...I gave up never seeing a single one.  So, that said, we are at breakfast one morning and we sit down at a table and there right to my right, sitting right next to me, is one of these beautiful young men we wanted to see, Cody Nielsen.  We hadn't seen Cody, who is from Cedar City and lived just across the street from us when we lived there, for several years.  He looked so handsome and grown up!  He seemed very happy and we were able to wish him well on his mission to Idaho.  Then next we had the Bettridges in our Senior group from Cedar City (who we came to love) and they mentioned that a young missionary had arrived from their son Rand's ward (our old ward...20th ward).  We believed it was one of the Chesley's sons.  That very next day, there he was at the table right next to us...I spotted him and before I made it over to shake his hand he said, "Hello, Sister France!"  We felt being able to see them both was quite amazing in the enormous confusion of the dining hall.  Then, we had it happen one more time!  Betty, our daughter, told us of another young lady from Kanab, a Sister Belva (Shelley Stewart's sister) who had also just arrived.  To our amazement that very day she came right up to our table and we were able to give hugs and best wishes.  These experiences were so personalized, we felt the Lord's hand in them!

We were able to have a very nice visit with Michelle and Craig Garvin, friends from Prescott, Arizona.  They learned we were here at the MTC and came to visit with us.  While we were meeting them at the intersection in front of the MTC front gate...a young lady jumped right out of her vehicle in front of us, barefooted and calling our names. "Sister France! Brother France!"  A midst the hugs and hellos, we were able to recognize her.  It was Brittany Duerson!  She used to live in our neighborhood in Cedar City. She is a beautiful grown up woman now, married and off to medical school in Iowa soon.  We met her handsome husband and learned they were both just graduating from BYU.  It was amazing that as she passed through the intersection, she saw us at the light and recognized us!  We all agreed as we reminisced together that we were very grateful she had not been killed, jumping excitedly out of the car in the intersection. Another amazing thing!  What are the odds that she could have even seen us from her moving vehicle?  We certainly were in the right place at the right time...  

Here are a few photos taken at the MTC.  The gardens are lovely and they are enhanced by these bronzes.

Our formal office training was complete on Thursday.  It went very well and we both feel that we will be able to contribute in the mission office.  The more we learned about what will be expected of us, the more confident we felt.  Here are some photos of the instructors we had...all young people who were students at BYU and returned missionaries.  I learned some amazing things about Microsoft Word that I wish I had known years ago!  We are never to old to learn new things, especially with young people like these to learn from.  Of course, we were given many opportunities to tell about our own families, our own life experiences and learn about the others in our classes.  This is also a photo of our seniors group.  People who are all headed far and wide to do work for the Lord!

We have had a relaxing weekend. We had our final language training with Garrett Hybarger, our language tutor, on Friday evening.  His patience and knowledge were blessings for us!  A delightful young man, his spiritual messages to us were as important to us as his language training. He served in Finland and has only just returned a few months ago so he was able to answer many questions we had about the country.  We attended a testimony meeting with a room packed with senior couples traveling all over the world and learning languages (or I should say trying to we are!) to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Elder France (Gar) was able to bear his testimony in Finnish which tells you how hard he has been working at the language.  I was able to say the opening Finnish. On Saturday we did our laundry and walked to the Provo Recreation Center and swam, then walked back.  After dinner last evening we were able to walk to the Provo Temple and do a session there. It is a beautiful temple in a beautiful place!

After attending church today we were able to watch Music & the Spoken Word in the Lorenzo Snow auditorium.  The Mormon Tabernacle Choir can surely stir the soul. ( Mormon Tabernacle Choir ) We will attend a departure devotional at 5:30pm.  This afternoon has been spent packing and weighing our bags. Whew!  Each one weighs 49.5 pounds...Ha!  Just one half pound under the limit of 50 lbs.  Then we are off to Helsinki, Finland from Salt Lake City to Washington D.C.  We have a few hours layover there and we will get to see Gary, our eldest son who is on an FBI assignment there, and then we will be off to Frankfurt, Germany.  An hour or so layover there, then on to Helsinki...arriving Tuesday at 4:00pm.  It will be good to get to work...enough already with all the preparations!  We are ready to go...keep us in your prayers as we will you all!  We love you all!  Especially to our children and grand kiddoes we send kisses and hugs and thank you for all your love and support!!!  May the Lord watch over you and bless you...

1 comment:

Vacation Rental Owner said...

Yahoo! Can't wait to hear you are safely in Finland, we have been thinking and praying for your safe travels all day! Love the photos, keep them coming!!