Missionary Update

Dear Friends and family,

We arrived at the missionary training center in Provo on Monday, April 5th to begin a hectic week of training.  (Our daughter’s birthday)  There is no place like this on earth.  There are more than 2,000 young men and women here from anywhere on earth you can think of  – The Marshall Islands, Kiribati, all over Europe and Asia – and they are being sent to nearly every place on earth you can think of.  There were about 80 Senior missionaries like us here this week, the most anyone can recall at one time.  We have met and formed lasting friendships with many of them.   One couple we have gotten to know is from Wasilla, Alaska. They know and love Sara Palin and they are going to work in the Boston Temple and are told that they will be in the same ward as Mitt Romney.  The young men are taught to respect us as they hold doors for us, let us go ahead of them in the food lines, and often pick up our dinner trays.  They stop eating and stand up when a lady, young or old, comes to their table.  Oh, for the days when ALL young men were taught such things.  The food is good here.  If you don’t like the entree there is always lots of fresh fruit and salad.

We had snow here the first two days but it has been nice since. In the first day’s meetings one sister asked what we would be willing to lay on the altar for our mission as Abraham was willing to lay his son, Isaac.  Jim and I talked about it that evening and remembered what Neal A. Maxwell said that the only thing we can lay on the altar is our will because everything else already belongs to God anyway.  This may not be the mission we imagined for ourselves but we are willing to go and try to do what the Lord wants us to do.

Our language tutor is a sweet young lady from Latvia.  She has helped us a lot and we were able to share our testimony in Russian at a meeting on Friday evening. Miracles still happen!  Another miracle is that I awoke at 3:00AM Wednesday morning with a raging sore throat and felt terrible.  Jim found two young elders who are headed to our mission in Russia who gave me a blessing and by Saturday I was completely well.  A cold like that usually lays me low for weeks.

The meeting that has had a great impact on me was Saturday when we met for the first time as humanitarian missionaries.  The couple that conducted it are fantastic.  They spoke very graphically of crude toilet and sanitary conditions in third world countries where some are going.  They gave us pointers on how to take care of ourselves (like carry toilet paper with us) and they urged us not to judge the way people live.  They used a quote by Rudyard Kipling saying we cannot judge because we do not know what battles they have fought and what they have had to overcome.  They also warned us against the temptation to take money out of our own pockets and give to help.  The danger is that we become the bank where everyone comes to make a withdrawal and then we are only giving out fish and not teaching how to fish for themselves.  So much more I could say about their presentation and this week but no one wants to read a book.

Thanks to our sweet daughter in law who had to run around Monday and get our record of immunizations because we forgot it and to our friend Linda who is handling all of our business at home so we can concentrate on what we are doing here.

Love, Elder and Sister R