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.