Farewell and MTC

chris 19 going on a missionThere used to be a tradition in the Church to have special Sunday services essentially dedicated to a departing missionary, where the missionary’s parents, maybe a church leader or two, and the departing missionary spoke in church. The missionary usually decided on the program, with the Bishop approving the list. That was the case with me. This tradition has been wisely discontinued. While it was great to have a service that I could invite non-LDS friends to and have that forum to explain why I was doing this, that same purpose can be accomplished in private, and a "special" service placed too much emphasis on the missionary themselves rather than the Savior they were supposed to be serving. I provide this intro for this post because the first thing I found in my box of letters was the program from that Sunday service. Names changed or omitted, of course:

Opening Hymn: How Great Thou Art
Opening Prayer: my scoutmaster
Sacrament administered by the Priesthood
Speakers: my sister, my mother
Musical number: "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" sung by a male quartet.
Speaker: me
Closing hymn: I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go  (naturally)

I thought that some of the announcements and news in the program was interesting:

– Be sure to see the new video "What Is Real?" tomorrow night at 7.30. An excellent missionary topic on Channel 7, KIRO-TV.
Brigham Young University School of Management based in Provo, UT, has tentatively agreed to conduct faculty and student exchanges with Moscow’s state university in the Soviet Union. One soviet professor will be coming to BYU this October. Moscow state university, meantime, is waiting on permission from its government for regular exchanges to begin. If the exchange takes place, then joint research could include ways to improve Soviet management style and ways to improve the Soviet economy.
– A missionary for the Church has been killed in a bicycle/car accident while serving his mission in Japan. Officials say the 19-year-old Elder was apparently riding his bike up a hill when he came to a blind spot, then collided with a car. He was a former basketball star for the Ricks College basketball team.
– The Primary is celebrating its 111th anniversary.
– The 42nd temple of the church was formerly dedicated Saturday, August 19th, at Lake Oswego, OR. The temple will serve some 90,000 members in 29 stakes in Oregon, and four stakes in the Vancouver and Longview areas in Washington.
– Some 55,778 visitors visited the tabernacle in Salt Lake City, setting an all time July record.

Next I found the travel itinerary for my flight to Provo, date: Sep 6. I had forgotten that I’d spent my 19th birthday in the MTC. Also a letter from the MTC president to my parents saying how to reach me, etc. Finally, my first letter home. There’s mention made of a previous letter, but I can’t find it.

Mom and all, (9/7/89)

I’m supposed to write a short on tonite before P-day on Saturday. Things are incredible. Incredibly hectic, incredibly spiritual. I feel tired. I feel GREAT. My energy is returning to me as I follow the rules and soak in the missionary spirit.

One elder described it pretty accurately when he likened this experience to "It’s a Small World" at Disneyland. You get into a car, and little manicans (sp) wave at you, you’re just guided thru and entertained. Here, they soak us with so much information that we don’t have time to check and see how we’re doing – we mostly just sit, listen, participate, and enjoy.

There is already developing a cameraderie among the district (12 elders and sisters I’m grouped with) – after one day. My companion is somewhat trying – the eternal cynic type and a real sports fanatic – but I’m trying to love him for the desire he has to do what’s right.

I’m excited, I want to be in England now, but after some roleplaying with discussions today, I need more time here. 

You probably noticed I forgot my pills. Eeek. Send them now (no prob yet….) I also forgot soap, shampoo, towels… I can’t believe I forgot towels. I guess it wasn’t on the list, so it didn’t get packed. I bought two towels and stuff with the money that I was under-budget on shoes.

mission 001They didn’t have the ones you put on hold, so I got the Dexters that look exactly like them and the salesman liked better. Also only  $80. Got overshoes for $15, looks like they’ll do. They tried to sell me a coat for $150 that looks pretty good, but… I doubt I’d have room with all the books I’m receiving. I may be shipping some stuff home before I go to England on the 25th at 7.54 AM (TWA).

My companion lived in the Coventry area for a couple years and says they have usually better coats at comparable prices. So, I’m waiting unless you tell me to jump on the $150 one.

I need immunization proof for my MMR (measles/rubella) or I can’t go. Nice, eh? You might call and ask exactly what they want/need. They accepted the proof I had of the Td booster.

Things are well, more on Sat. I love you. Thank you for all you’ve done to get me here (that’s to the whole family of course).

Call Tiffany for me. Give her my address, tell her I love her and that I should be able to write her this weekend, but letters may be more frequent in the field… it’s so busy here.

Time to get to bed. I love you all, Elder Chris

Mom and all, (9/9/89 – my 19th birthday)

Ha. Joke’s on us. It’s so busy that I didn’t have time to mail the first one. This one, I will.

Forget calling Tiffany (unless you want to anyway), I’m writing her today. I got your card, thank you. I’m getting mail!! One of the few that got mail on my first day (from Kate).

My district is great. Our classes are spiritual and a lot of fun. We play football together, went to the temple as a district together. It’s great. My companion is still a challenge – add to the previous qualities "insecurity." Dangerous combination.

I can’t make this too long. Know that I love you all. I’m recognizing the Spirit in new ways, subtle and significant. I’m realizing that I’ve known more and been more than I’ve given myself credit for. My teachers are helping me recognize and bring the Spirit in the discussions – it’s more more simple and beautiful and prolific (?) than I realized.

Got everything I need now, and getting in the routine. I’m also realizing I have a lot to learn about myself and teaching. But, all is possible.

Thanks again, Love, Elder Chris

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