Monday, September 28, 2015

Small world, large world

It has been brought to our attention that perhaps not everyone in the world knows where the Samoan Islands are.  Perhaps the following picture will help.  This is the famous map in the MTC where many missionaries point to the country to which they have been called to serve.  Walking down the hall in the MTC, we immediately recognized the map we had seen so many times before in pictures taken by other missionaries.  (After this map was created, the International Date Line got moved a few hundred miles to the east, thereby putting Samoa on the same day as New Zealand and Australia.)

Erin is in town for the big “Comic Con” in Salt Lake City.  She is here in Utah watching the teenage girls of a friend of hers who is on a short vacation with her husband.  Last night she and the girls she is watching and Scott and Madisen came down to Provo and we all went to dinner.  One of the girls in the back is dressed like a Hogwartz student; Erin is Wonder Woman (she has a cape on her back). It was great having two – or rather, three, counting Madi – of our children with us here in Provo. After dinner we went to the BYU Creamery for ice cream.  Delicious!

The fireside, or devotional, Sunday night was very interesting.  The speaker was Stephen Allen, general director of the missionary department of the Church.  He has helped make or produce a number of LDS-related films, including “Mr. Krueger’s Christmas,” one of my own favorites, starring Jimmy Stewart.

Brother Allen encouraged missionaries to keep mission rules. He gave the following example of the kinds of trouble they could get into by not following the rules. He told of a couple of “really dumb” missionaries who sat up late one night talking about stuff, when one of them announced he knew how to make a bomb.  As I understood the story, to prove the point, they went out and bought certain chemicals and stuff from a hardware store and actually made 10 small bombs. (Making bombs, by the way, is most definitely against mission rules!) They took one outside a good distance from any other houses and set one off.  And it worked!  And it made a big noise! And it attracted the attention of the local chief of police who lived not far away! And the police came to their door. And the police searched their apartment and found 10 bombs. And the police found a big map on the wall with pins on the wall showing the sites of the missionaries’ contacts, about 10 of them. And the missionaries all went to jail for a while until the matter could all be cleared up.  Stupid, yes, but what a great story.

Brother Allen also cautioned the young elders that just because a young sister missionary smiles and says hello, "that does not mean she is in love with you."  He told the missionaries to "lock your hearts" for the next 18 or 24 months.  He quoted from the Doctrine & Covenants 4:2,  "Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength."

I bought a hat to keep the sun off my nose, so as to not discolor the patch of skin on my nose that the doctor transplanted from the side of my face.  I kind of like the hat; Alicia says it will take some getting used to.

This picture was taken across the street from the MTC.  Erin had brought us some hamburgers and we sat on a bench and ate together.  It was nice to see her one last time before we depart for the Islands.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Our Gang at the MTC

Pictured here are some of the 90 senior missionaries now in the MTC.  They will be serving all around the world, from Norway to New Zealand. [Left click on the picture for a detailed view.]

At the MTC - We are loving it!

Pictured here are the McBrides on the right: the Davenports on the left, who are going to be serving in the Nauvoo, Illinois, Mission; Sister Cope on the front left, going to Winter Quarters, Iowa; our instructor Sister Eliason front right.

From my journal entry of Thursday, September 24, 2015:

Today we had another role-playing exercise. When we told our "investigator" (a local Provo volunteer), that we were in Provo only a short time, and that we were on our way to Samoa to be missionaries, our "investigator" said she had lived in Samoa as a child. Naturally, we assumed she was just playing the part. But when she rattled off a few phrases in excellent Samoan, I knew that part was real.  Naturally, I figured our trainers knew of her background and had chosen her specifically for us. But when I asked, they assured me they had no idea about her childhood before I told them about it.  Indeed, this was the first day this woman had ever been a volunteer “investigator.” They had known nothing about her childhood. (Yes, I am aware that today is Pampa's birthday.)

As interesting as that was, it can't begin to compare with what happened later in the missionary "lesson." We were discussing the fact that we have a Father in Heaven, and that He loves us, as we are all His spirit children, and that He has sent us to Earth to gain a body and have earthly experiences. At that point our investigator looked at us in all seriousness -- and I could tell this was not a pretend question -- and asked, "If what you say is true, and He is such a 'loving' father, then why does He allow His children to suffer so much?"  I stumbled around a bit, trying to offer a reasoned, appropriate answer.  The look in her eyes said she wasn’t buying it.

Then Alicia cut in:  "As a mother, you were willing to go through the pains of childbirth. You experienced it, and yet you were willing to do it again. And, I know some mothers have had a situation where the baby hasn't turned, and the doctor had to go in and manually make that happen, and the mother has experienced even greater, excruciating pain to give the baby a better chance at a safer birth.  When it was all over and they had the reward of a healthy baby, they were glad that they had paid the price that it took.  In the end, they knew it had been worth every minute of it.  Our earth life is like that.  God will reward our suffering and the unfairness of life if we endure to the end.  It will have been worth it.” 

And at that point the woman's countenance changed. Her eyes became moist. And she said, "I understand that. I had a baby that hadn’t turned, and the doctors had to make it turn. What you have said makes sense to me.  This helps me tremendously.”

After our closing prayer, the lady confirmed for us that that actually had happened to her, that it wasn’t just part of the role she was playing.  She thanked us, paying special tribute to Alicia’s insight. We parted, knowing that something pretty special had occurred that morning.

[Alicia writing here:]  On a lighter side of things, we have two missionaries here in the MTC that are very tall.  One is 6’9” and the other is 7’2”.  One is going to France; don’t know about the other.   At the same time we have a few missionaries who look like they are only 14 years old.  I asked one of them where he is going – Russia.  What faith and trust it takes to send a boy who is 5’4” and looks 14 into such a scary place.  I admire the faith of the missionary and his parents who are letting him go.

I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed the MTC experience.  I don’t have a worry in the world.  My life is planned out from the moment I get up and until I go to bed.  I don’t even have to concern myself with food.  It is all prepared for me.  The people are wonderful and the classroom lessons informative. Special speakers and firesides and evening trips to the Temple.  It is great!

[Maurice here:]  There is one problem, however, at the MTC.  For some reason I can't explain, it is getting harder to button my suit coat and my shirt collar.  Can't explain it at all.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

So many wonderful experiences!

It was great seeing a Samoan couple here in the MTC who served with my sister Darla on her temple mission, Elder & Sister Timoteo. They are on their way to their mission in Oakland, California, where they will help strengthen the Samoan saints in that area.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Day One at the Missionary Training Center

We arrived at the Missionary Training Center Saturday, September 19.  We have now been here for a day and a half, and already we have had more wonderful and noteworthy experiences than we can recount.  Tonight, for example, we attended a devotional where Lloyd Newell, announcer for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s “Music & the Spoken Word,” was the speaker. As good as he was, the part of the program that was most moving was when the 2,000 missionaries in the audience sang “Redeemer of Israel.” It was amazing how powerful, how beautiful, and how well it sounded.

We watched a filmed address by Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, titled “The Character of Christ,” wherein he bore a strong witness of the reality of the Atonement.  He quoted the late Elder Neal A. Maxwell who said, “There could have been no Atonement without the character of Christ! [I.e.,] without Jesus’ perfect character.”

We were struck also by the beauty and the story told in a painting (about 12 feet long) by Liz Lemon Swindle which is on loan to the MTC.  We can’t reproduce here either the music by the missionaries or the talk by Elder Bednar, but we can show here one of the scores of paintings hanging throughout the Center.  This particular picture [click to enlarge] made us feel good to think that there were times in the ministry of the Savior that he and the original Twelve could sometimes laugh together at something funny someone had said.

Another highlight of our day was meeting in Sunday School with the other senior missionaries who are here for training.  Our lesson was on "tender mercies," where we were invited to share stories of not just the blessings, but the tender mercies we have experienced in our lives. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

We Get Set Apart

It is now official.  On Sunday, September 13, 2015, Maurice Henderson McBride and Alicia Ann (Speed) McBride were set apart as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to serve in the Samoa Apia Mission.  Roanoke Stake President Kevin Bohon conducted this ordinance.