We Had 5 Wonderful Spirit-Filled Days at the MTC
Dec. 31st—Our 1st full day at the MTC. It was wonderful, marvelous, a spiritual high and we are so excited to finally be with all the missionaries.
First morning we met with all the Senior missionaries and the Mission President and Branch President of the Senior Missionaries:
President - Pres Martino
1st Councilor - Pres Gilbert
2nd Councilor - Pres Rahlf
Bro Swenson - Exec Sec
Bro Nielson - Asst Exec Sec
Bro Gines - Branch President
Bro & Sister Kramer - Councilor in Branch Presidency
Bro Webb - Senior Missionary Training
President Rahlf compared Senior Missionaries to the space shuttle. The space shuttle doesn’t have enough fuel capacity on it’s own to get into space. It needs booster rocket to help it. Senior couples provide the lift, thrust and boost to get the gospel off the ground.
President Martino told all the Elders to take their wives by the hand and look into their eye. Then he said, I want to introduce you to your new senior companion. (Mark said he already knew this!)
President Martino also told us that the MTC would be a spiritual sanctuary, a holy place and it was. He also told us that our young MTC instructors are spiritual giants, and they were. We are assured that the Church is in good hands.
President Martino told a story of a young sister missionary from Mongolia who was assigned to serve in South Korea. She was a very talented, intelligent sister and was already fluent in 5 languages when she came to the MTC. The stay for missionaries in the MTC for Asian languages is 9 weeks. This sister had been studying Korean for 4 ½ weeks and was working hard and doing extremely well. President Martino got a phone call from the missionary department and he was informed that the Church was opening the Turkey mission for sisters and that they wanted to reassigned this sister from Korea to Turkey. When President Martino called her to his office he explained what the Missionary Department wanted her to do, she simply said, “I guess I will just have to learn my 7th language.” President Martino then explained that he had been instructed that she was to travel to Turkey with the other Elders that had been assigned to Turkey and they were half way through their language training. She was a little nervous about that. She now had only 4 /2 weeks to learn Turkish. After the second week she could read Turkish. After the 4th week President Martino saw her in the hall and she pulled him aside. She said, President Martino, the Elders are worried about me. She said they are worried that I am going to beat them!! After 1 year in Turkey, because of political problems in the country, this sister was again reassigned. She finished her mission in her home country of Mongolia. Again, we are assured that the Church is in good hands!!
At the end of this 1st morning we were assigned to districts.Our district consisted of 4 couples – us and 3 other couples:
- Elder and Sister Bradford from Maryland- Assigned as our District Leader. They had 8 kids and 35 grandchildren. Served first mission in the North Adriatic Mission and served the whole time in Bosnia. They were going to Paris, France but had not received their assignment yet. He is fluent in French, he served his first mission as a young missionary in France 50 years ago, his wife is trying to learn the language.
- Elder and Sister Black from Salt Lake City Utah (they lived on “D” street above the temple in a home that had been in Sister Black’s family since the Saints arrived in the Valley. Her street was filled with many of her relatives). There assignment was to a Church ranch in Texas. They were to help with maintenance. They have served quite a few other missions, most of them 6 month missions. One of their missions was to Hawaii and Elder Black wrote and taught a entrepreneurial class and help coach the men’s basketball team. Brother Black played on the University of Utah 1966-67 team that went to the final four in the NCAA.
- Elder and Sister Nath from Minnesota. Elder Nath had served in the military.6 kids – 1 girl, 5 boys and 7 grandchildrenServed their first mission in Omaha in the Visitors Center..They were assigned Salt Lake City Headquarters Mission, she will be working in Family History and he will be doing Security.
We were assigned companions (another Senior Missionary couple) Elder Edward and Sister Mayumi Lee from Highland Utah. I think we really may have been paired with the best couple here this week!
We were to get to know them by sitting with during meals and any joint classes and talking with them at breaks.
Elder Lee was born in mainland China, near the coast close to Japan. His family wanted to leave China, but it was very hard to get papers to get out of China, so his parents thought of a way to “sneak” him out of China. His grandfather was living in Hong Kong at the time and came to China for a visit. Elder Lee’s grandmother did not come to this visit on purpose as part of the plan. When it was time to go home, Elder Lee’s grandfather took him to the border with him. Elder Lee was only 3 at the time. His grandfather just told the people as he was leaving the country that his wife was very sick and wanted to see her grandson, but that he did not have papers for him. Somehow the person checking papers said ‘OK’ and let him go. He lived with his grandparents in Hong Kong with the thought that his parents and 3 younger siblings would come later. The rest of the family did not make it out of China for at least 30 plus years after that.
Elder Lee lived with his grandparents until he was 10 years old, then he went to live with his grandfather’s sister who lived in Hamilton, Montana (near Missoula). Can you imagine moving from Hong Kong to Montana and add to that he knew no English. He came in the middle of a school year and he went to 1st grade (remember he is 10 years old). He said he caught up pretty close to his peers his age within 3 years.
Elder Lee’s conversion story started with a road trip with his college buddies. They made a big loop through California and came back up through Utah and stopped at Temple Square. Elder Lee really felt the spirit. He went back to Montana where he was now attending college and took the missionary discussions and joined the church. He then attended graduate school in Arizona.
Sister Lee was born in Japan and had a great desire to learn English. She remembers taking English classes since 4th grade. She learned the language fairly well but struggled with conversing and understanding especially when she had a chance to speak the Americans. Her senior year of college, her parents paid for her to go to school in Arizona which turned out to be the same University Elder Lee was attending.
One of her English teachers was a member of the church and introduced her to the missionaries. She was baptized and met Elder Lee shortly thereafter in a Young Single Adult Ward. They started dating and the rest is history.
They have 2 daughters and 2 sons. Their mission assignment Japan Fukuoka where Sister Lee’s mother and 2 siblings still reside. Sister Lee is fluent in Japanese, but Elder Lee speaks not Japanese but he will have a good translator and is praying for the gift of tongues!!
While getting to know them, Elder Lee shared an incredible story about his family history with us. As soon as family history was introduced to him, he had the desire to find out about his ancestors. Since he had never really lived with his parents, he realized that he had a lot of work to do. Elder Lee didn’t even know how his mom and dad met. His Grandfather was living at this time in the Bay area in Chinatown. So he decided he would go and find out what he could from him. He didn’t really speak much Chinese; he could remember the word for Father, but not Grandfather. In his broken Chinese he asked about his Father and then his Father’s Father. By the time he got to his Father’s Father’s Father, his Grandfather started to figure out what Elder Lee was trying to communicate. His Grandfather held up his hand and stopped Elder Lee and then went into his bedroom. Elder Lee could hear a lot of rustling around and his Grandfather came back with a 2-inch book that listed all of the Lee family genealogy – miraculously, his Grandfather offered the book to Elder Lee to keep. It turned out there were over 20,000 family names in the book.
Elder Lee also had a similar miraculous experience finding a book of family history names on his mother’s line.
On Day 2 – Tuesday, January 1, 2019 – Happy New Year in the MTC
We met our young returned missionary teachers:
Brother Thatcher – who was from Arizona and had served his mission in Portland, Oregon
Sister Modersitzki – who was from Alpine and served her mission in Tokyo, Japan
Sister Monroe – who was from Gilbert Arizona and served in Omaha, Nebraska
We were both really impressed with these young returned missionaries. There is no doubt they had strong testimonies of Jesus Christ and the power of His Atonement. Did they chose the best to teach the Senior Missionaries? I think so. These teachers helped us understand our purpose as missionaries, gave us tools and ideas to accomplish our work, but most importantly brought helped us Come unto Christ inviting the spirit to whisper truths to our hearts. We grew to love them in the few short days we had with them. (just so I can keep this in a place where I can access again..Sister Modersitzki email is : firstname.lastname@example.org
One of the highlights of our 5 days at the MTC was singing in the MTC choir for the Tuesday night devotional. The selling point for singing in the choir is that you get to be entertained and taught by one of the best choir directors in the world. Brother Ryan Egget was phenomenal in leading a choir while teaching profound doctrines of Jesus Christ. He has spent his life as a seminary/institute director and I would love to take a class from him. The song we sang was “Jesus Once of Humble Birth” which teaches about the 2nd coming (which I had never before noticed). What wonderful truths he shared about the 2nd coming and what a heavenly spirit we felt as a 400 member choir sang “Now Their King Their King He Shall be Known! “ Any young missionary that we spoke with who has participated in the choir has the same opinion about singing with Brother Egget! Our advice for anyone heading to the MTC, sing in the choir!!
Every missionary that gave a prayer or taught or performed would first say their name and where they were from and their mission assignment. Plus we would talk to Elders and Sister in the cafeteria or in the halls as we met them. Some of our favorite:
-A young Elder from South Korea who was assigned to Billing, Montana
-A young Elder from Roosevelt Utah who knows Kirt Christensen’s niece, Brook, who is assigned to a German mission.
-Sister Saunders: She is from Czech Republic, but spoke with a British accent. She told me her father is from England, her mother from the Czech Republic. Growing up she only spoke English with her father and only spoke Czech with her mother. Her mission assignment was to Bulgaria.
Another highlight was seeing and feeling the life size murals in the new building on the south side of the MTC campus. The murals were a combination of painting, computer animation and lighting. They are breathtaking, meaning when you first see them it takes your breath away. My favorite was the sons of Mosiah heading into the land of the Lamanites. It made me think about what they may be thinking, but I have the advantage to know the end of the story. As I go on a mission, I hope my end of the story is as wonderful.
Mark like the picture of Esther. She stood before the king to plead for her people knowing that there was a possibility she could be put to death for speaking out. The things the Lord asks us to sacrifice are small in comparison. We must be bold and stand up for the Lord.
Wednesday night as we finished our day and were in our nice MTC Senior room, Mark exclaimed, “oh my! Our mission will be changed!” He had received information forwarded to him from Kirt Christensen, which said that in July the boundaries of New York Utica mission would be realigned. As of this date, January 8th, 2019, we still don’t know for sure what this will mean for us, but have heard rumors that perhaps we may just be combining with the New York Rochester mission. We will update when we know for sure!
The last day in the MTC we heard an amazing story from Sister Tromlette. As she was preparing to go on her mission her mother was invited to give away a book of Mormon. Her mother decided she would BE BOLD and give a copy of the Book of Mormon to her next door neighbor, Bill. Sister Tromlette’s family had invited Bill into their home and to ward functions. He had come to their home a few times but always declined to come to anything at the church or any big church events. With some trepidation, Sister Tromlette’s mom rang the doorbell and shared a Book of Mormon with her testimony written in it with Bill. He took it and thanked her. The next day there was a knock at her door and there stood Bill with her Book of Mormon in his hand. I came to return this book, he said. Sister Tromlette’s mom was heartsick. The writing in it is too small for me to read, he continued. I went down to Seagull Book and bought one with bigger print. Bill ended up taking the missionary discussions. This happened just as Sister Tromlette left for her mission to the Priesthood Restoration site in Pennsylvania. When Sister Tromlette arrived in the mission field, her head was filled with all of the information she had learned and memorized about the Restoration of the Priesthood that she would be sharing with visitors to the Church’s visitor center at the site, but was informed that she would not be serving at the site. The mission president wanted to see if there would be a difference if the sisters went to a proselyting mission before they started at the site and Sister Tromlette was going to be his “test” sister. She was a little disappointed. However she had a wonderful experience and met a single sister with a child that was prepared to hear the gospel. As it turned out Sister Tromlette and her parents were hearing the exact same missionary discussions with Bill at the same time that she was teaching the sister in her area. She and her parents thru email would share stories of their experiences of seeing someone accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. The stories were so parallel in fact, that both Bill in Utah and the sister in Pennsylvania accepted the invitation to be baptized and were baptized on the very same day? Therefore what? We see the Lord blesses us when we chose to be obedient! Who was blessed most? This missionary family or the ones who accepted the invitation to be baptized?
The adorable MTC instructors performed a skit on the last day starring Elder and Sister Happy. (Sister Monroe, one of our instructors was Sister Happy) They were portraying Senior missionaries and made good natured fun of “old folks”
-Sister Happy asks Elder Happy, who is the first prophet to go thru the MTC?
He thinks and thinks about it and can’t decide. She said, It was Moses, you know he went thru the empty sea!!! And they both laugh at how funny they are (just like senior missionaries)
-As they are arriving at the airport heading to their mission, Elder Happy hands his camera to a stranger and asks, “Will you take a selfie of us?” Sister Happy says, “oh no, dear a selfie is us taking a picture of ourselves, you know “selfie”. Oh, he says as he turns to the stranger again, “will you take a “youie” of us!
-As this “senior couple” was getting on the airplane, Elder Happy said, “why is this bag so heavy? Sister Happy: I brought 400 hundred copies of the Book of Mormon. That’s how many passengers are on the plane today. Elder Happy nods his head and then decides to act. He took out a Book of Mormon and handed it to a person across the aisle and said, “Will you hold this book for me?” Then turned to Sister Happy a gave her a “high 5” and said, “Well there is one book down!”
We said goodbye to our MTC friends and began our trek to New York (the field that is white “with snow” and already to harvest on Friday afternoon (January 4th 2019)