OK--I resisted (blogging) for three days. I want to report that Margaret and I have been loving our work at the Provo Missionary Training Center. We've spent two Sundays there. Julie has come to the 8:00 a.m. sacrament meeting (a miracle in itself), and Misha came with us last Sunday to eat dinner with the missionaries. On our way through the cafeteria to find the missionaries in our branch, we saw President Boone (MTC president), Brother Breinholt, and their wives and introduced Misha to them. Seeing our son in his Sunday almost best, tall, good looking, and with longish hair, President Boone said, "We love to see future missionaries." Misha's future mission (he's now fifteen) was also a topic as we ate with the missionaries.
I'll tell more about the routine later, but just two notes for now, one on new missionaries, the other on visits to the residence halls.
We had only 19 missionaries in the branch until Wednesday, when a new group of 15 arrived--12 elders and 3 sisters headed to the Canada Montreal and Switzerland Geneva missions (plus one to the West Indies). We spent several hours with them Wednesday evening helping to orient them.
Probably my favorite duty so far at the MTC has been visiting the missionaries in their residence halls. We've done that twice now, the last two Thursday nights. (I think it was after our first visit that Margaret said, "This is the funnest calling we've had.") Last night, after dropping Margaret off at the sisters' hall, I went to visit the elders, chatted with them, asked how the new ones (and the older ones) were doing, and then joined them for a hymn and a prayer. I also shared a scripture--and they asked me for news "from the outside world." I mentioned the Romney-Sharpton controversy (in vague terms) and said one thing I was happy about was that, on CNN, representatives from both major parties had defended "the Mormons." (On a side note, I especially liked James Carville's attitude; the Republican representative was good too, but when asked if Mormons were Christians, he hummed and hawed a bit, while Carville said, "I would point out that the preferred name, I think, of their church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They certainly say they're Christians. I believe them. . . . they certainly do believe in Jesus Christ" [click here for more].)
But what the elders really wanted to know is how well the Jazz were doing. (If you don't know who the Jazz are, consider moving to Latvia--when we visited there in 1996 and mentioned we were from Utah, a young Latvian said, "Oh, the Jazz!") I had heard they had won two of their recent games, but I wasn't helpful beyond that. I promised to do better. As Margaret and I drove home, I found out she knew all about the Jazz's latest game, having heard the whole story while working with her co-documentary makers earlier in the day.
The highlight of the evening was probably the hymn I sang along with the elders, one I had never heard before, though the music is familiar (from Dvorak's New World Symphony). Called "Souviens-toi, mon enfant," it is unique to the French LDS hymn book. Here are the words:
Souviens-toi, mon enfant: Tes parents divins
te serraient dans leurs bras, ce temps ne’st pas loin.
Aujourd’hui, tu es là, présent merveilleux,
ton regard brille encore du reflet des cieux.
Parle-moi, mon enfant, de ces lieux bénis,
car pour toi est léger le voile d’oubli.
Souviens-toi, mon enfant, des bois, des cités.
Pouvons-nous ici-bas les imaginer?
Et le ciel jusqu’au soir, est-il rose ou gris?
Le soleil attend-il la neige ou la pluie?
Conte-moi, mon enfant, la couleur des prés
et le chant des oiseaux d’un monde oublié.
Souviens-toi, mon enfant: A l’aube des temps,
nous étions des amis jouant dans le vent.
Puis un jour, dans la joie nous avons choisi
d’accepter du Seigneur le grand plan de vie.
Ce soir-là, mon enfant, nous avons promis
par l’amour, par la foi, d’être réunis.
It's an absolutely beautiful hymn, evoking eternal memories and reminding us of eternal possibilities. For a translation, or my attempt at one, click on the comments.