Tag Archives: MTC

The 25th Anniversary of Starting My Mormon Mission…

It has been 25 years, today.

mtcprovoJuly 3, 1991…I was 19 years old and my parents and brothers and I were at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, saying our goodbyes. They were going to drive off and leave me there…

I had never lived away from home up to that point since my first year of college was spent at a local college. I don’t think I had been east of Utah in my life. Being the oldest, our family had never sent a missionary off. I was nervous. I’d imagine my parents were nervous. This was new territory. After a short presentation by the staff and leadership of the MTC, I hugged everyone, cried, and walked into a hallway with hundreds of new missionaries while my family walked back to the car with hundreds of families in similar situations.

First thing I learned as a missionary: I loved my family.

Then I hauled my bags to my room. Then I met Elder Evans who I would grow to love like a brother. Then I met the other missionaries going to my mission, and a few others going to other missions. I spent about three weeks in the MTC, learning, studying, playing basketball, eating (and immediately using the restroom), praying, praying…And eventually traveling to Texas where I served as a representative of my family, my church, and my Savior in bringing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to anyone who would listen.

It has been 25 years since I embarked on that adventure. I served for two years. I’ve had 23 years to think about it. Here are some of the things I learned:

I learned that I could get along with anyone. I didn’t have to just stick with my friends like I thought I needed to do in high school. The mission president could stick me with any missionary companion and it wouldn’t be long before we were laughing and joking and working together. I even had one companion who didn’t speak any english (and I didn’t speak his language). We got along great!

I learned that I could work hard. I didn’t grow up on a farm or as an olympic athlete. It is doubtful that I would be remembered in high school as any other than an average worker. But very quickly I learned that I could go all day, so to speak. We were up at 6:30 AM, out the door by 9:00 AM, and gone all day until 9:00 PM that evening. And I liked it. I really enjoyed it. It was tiring, and could be discouraging, but we found ways to enjoy just working.

I learned that my intestines didn’t like 32-Bean-Soup.

I learned that my Samoan companion punched a lot harder than I did.

I learned that when you sense that a dog is going to try to bite you, it is because it really is going to try to bite you.

I learned that not everyone likes Mormons.

I learned that there was beauty and truth and great people in every religion.

I learned that there were incredible people who weren’t religious at all.

I learned to enjoy the friendship that developed with other religious leaders.

I learned that I enjoyed attended the Jewish Synagogue, Catholic Mass, and Baptist worship meetings.

I learned to let rejection, disappointment, and frustration bounce right off of me.

I learned that I could choose to be happy regardless of my circumstances.

I learned to get off of my bike, get out of my car, and get out of my routine to help strangers with no expectation of repayment. A person didn’t need to listen to our message to receive our help.

I learned to follow those quiet promptings, impressions, and feelings that come from a loving Heavenly Father.

I learned that obedience isn’t limiting or oppressive. Following the council of leaders doesn’t require that I become un-thinking or un-feeling. Just the opposite. And blessings and protection seem to follow.

I learned that Joseph Smith did, in fact, see God the Father and Jesus Christ. And that there was a lot to learn about that experience and from that experience.

I learned of the power of the word of God and the special relationship between the Bible and the Book of Mormon.

I learned that Jesus Christ really did live and die for all of us. He was resurrected and lives today.

I learned that God knew me very personally, and knows me today.

There’s certainly a lot more. Lessons were learned everyday. Over the last 23 years, since returning home and moving on with life, I’ve also learned that those two years as a missionary were not the best two years of my life. They set the stage. The mission ended up teaching me the patterns I would need to understand to make the next 23 years wonderful.

I will forever be grateful for parents and church leaders who encouraged me, but didn’t force me to serve as a missionary. I could have not served in that way and everyone would’ve loved me just fine. I had friends who didn’t go as full time missionaries and they were loved as much as me. So I learned that being a missionary didn’t make me any more special or loved by others or God.

But I’m grateful I went. I would go again. We’re encouraging our children to serve as missionaries because of the blessings and lessons that come. Those two years were critical in becoming who I am today.

Be encouraging…

BJM

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How Do the Apostles Really Feel About Digital Scriptures?

XTPDA-0-0_LargeFirst of all, I’m not privy to the meetings the members of the Quorum of the Twelve attend, and the minutes aren’t published. So I don’t know what they talk about amongst themselves. Over the last few years I’ve heard all kinds of opinions from members of the church regarding the proliferation of digital devices with scriptures loaded onto them. People’s views range from “I’ll stick to my sturdy hardbound scriptures, thank you very much” to “I’ll never go back! I love studying my scriptures on my iPad!” and everywhere in between. I’ve heard some people worry that missionaries won’t be able to use digital scriptures in the mission field so they’re being hobbled by using them in high school. Others feel like the note-taking freedom on a digital device trumps anything the hardbound version can offer.

There are pros and cons for each, but I’m interested in what the Brethren think. What do they see? A couple things to keep in mind:

1. The LDS Library app is an official app from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Those ideas are under the direction of the Twelve as well as the Seventy.

2. There are anecdotal stories of members of the Quorum of the Twelve going paperless (or nearly) as they move to iPads. Elder Bednar used his iPad profusely as he addressed Church Educational teachers a few years ago. Apparently he did a similar thing in the MTC this last Christmas. A sister missionary who is able to blog her experiences from the mission field shared this experience:

And then I got to sit second row in a historical devotional! They passed out 200 cellphones into the auditorium full of missionaries and then displayed a number to which we could text in questions we had. Elder Bednar had a “magic iPad” that would display all the questions that were texted in and he’d would simultaneously answer the questions as they were being sent in. The phones were passed around as the meeting took place and the entire devotional was in “question and answer” format. I loved it. (Sister Calea Bagley)

3. The password to most wifi signals in most LDS buildings is widely known by church members with no real effort on the church’s side to hide it.

4. On a related note, a few members of the Twelve have recently started using Twitter.

And then there was this recent thought by Elder Ballard as he addressed the young adults in a CES Fireside:

I know that many of you have your scriptures and other Church resources on your phones and tablets. And I’ve even heard that some parents and Church leaders are concerned about this newest development, but I am not.

He went on to teach:

The Church has always adopted advances in technology to help push the work of the Lord forward. We began sending our missionaries on sailing ships in the 1830s, but we adopted the advances offered by steamships in the 1860s. And then we embraced airlines as the best means to get our missionaries to their assignments throughout the world in the 1960s.

History does repeat itself in the most interesting ways. In the past, Israel preserved the words of the prophets on scrolls. At some point, the early Christians adopted the codex, the early version of the modern book.

Here we are 2,000 years later, and you young people are reading your scriptures on smartphones or tablets—reading them as Jesus did when He was given an Isaiah scroll to read from in Nazareth. (Ballard, “Be Still, and Know That I Am God”, 2014)

People are free to use their preferred set of scriptures. But I thought it would be interesting to see a little of what our church leaders have expressed so that we stay balanced in our view of how the scriptures can be studied.

Be Encouraging…

BJM