Monday, April 30, 2007
New call at the MTC
Yesterday--Sunday, April 29--Margaret and I began our service at the Missionary Training Center in Provo.
Here's the story: On Monday, April 16, the day after being released from my ten years as a counselor in the Provo Utah Central Stake, I got a phone call from President Breinholt, a counselor in the MTC presidency. We scheduled an interview for the next day. Margaret and I came to the MTC on Tuesday morning and spent almost two hours, which included a call extended to me to serve as a counselor in a branch presidency. (The missionaries at the MTC are divided into branches that average somewhere around 40 missionaries.) For some reason, I was feeling rotten that day, and I was concerned about how this call would affect time with my family. But I knew it would be a good thing; Margaret was very excited about it and rightly knew that we could actually involve the family in some ways; and I knew I would end up saying yes if I took time to think about it more. So I just said yes right then. President Breinholt was wonderfully kind and understanding and helped us get acquainted with the MTC and with the call.
Friday of that week I found out I would be serving in branch 46, a French-Tahitian language branch, with Ron Eliason as branch president and Kuinisi Matagi as first counselor. Brother Matagi is originally from Samoa, served a mission in Arizona speaking Navajo, and met his wife (a Tahitian who speaks French) in Hawaii. Currently there are just 17 elders and 2 sisters in the branch, but more are coming on May 9.
It turns out that this new call is about as heavy as the one I've had previously--maybe more so, since there are fewer Sundays free (like virtually none except near Thanksgiving, Christmas, and when I'm out of town). But the call is more focused. And I'm very excited about it. It will be a wonderful opportunity to stretch, grow, learn, and I hope contribute. And since Margaret and the kids can be involved to some extent, I think it will be an opportunity for all of us to grow and grow closer to each other.
In a nutshell, I'll be spending about 7am-4pm every Sunday at the MTC, along with Tuesday evenings (about 6:30-9:30pm), some Wednesday evenings (when new missionaries arrive for our branch), and an hour on Thursday evenings when both Margaret and I will (separately) visit missionaries in their residence halls.
A little over a week ago, on Sunday, April 22, I got to sit with my family in sacrament meeting in our home ward--the first time, I believe, in almost ten years. Except when we're on break for some reason from the MTC, we won't be sitting together again for a while.
Yesterday Margaret, Julie (our 18-year-old daughter), and I went to the 8:00 a.m. sacrament meeting where I was sustained. Margaret and I bore our testimonies, along with the outgoing counselor (Brother Curtis) and his wife--actually they're being transferred to a German-speaking branch. I was then set apart by Brother Breinholt, after which I got to participate in a series of meetings (priesthood, district meetings, branch council) and interviews. I got acquainted with all the missionaries--they're a great group and are heading to several missions: Montreal, Canada; Paris, France; French West Indies; and Ghana, meaning the French-speaking areas of West Africa. Meanwhile, Margaret went to Relief Society and a special meeting for wives of branch presidency members.
I'm a bit overwhelmed right now, trying to figure everything out and especially to be spiritually fit for the service. But I'm happy to be embarking on a new chapter of my life, especially since I'm doing it--or a lot of it--with my sweet companion Margaret.