Monday, January 3
Today was the first day of CES/SI training. Several new senior couples have joined us for this training. They will do Preach My Gospel Training next week. We had excellent classes on how to make our lessons interesting and how to involve the students in the learning process. It was fun to be learning something specific to our assignment. Our primary assignment is to be missionaries and our additional assignment is to work with the Centers For Youth and teach Institute. It's interesting - we will primarily be doing our secondary assignment - but it all ties together as missionary work.
What a treat to have Cheryl Fugal and her husband report to the MTC today. She was a teacher at Timberline Middle School with Devon.
This evening we had a treat! Emily and Marianne came to the MTC for a visit. Since they couldn't go beyond the lobby we went to Olive Garden for dinner and then visited in the MTC lobby for a while (actually they helped me download some "stuff" on my IPad). It was great to spend time with them!
Tuesday, January 4 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY CAROL
Was up most the night with fever and stomach flu - UGH! I don't think Devon got much rest with my ups and downs to the bathroom. I stayed in bed, missing morning class, but was able to attend the afternoon class. The CES instructors are so good - very valuable training on preparing and teaching our Institute lessons. I think this has been my favorite part of our MTC training and has given me confidence that I can be an effective teacher.
The best news today is that our Visas are here, so we will be leaving as scheduled on January 10. The only change is that we fly out at 4:50 pm instead of 8:30 am, and we have a direct flight (10 hr 35 min) from SLC to Paris, France. From there it is just a short (1 hr 30 min) flight to Birmingham. This seems better to me than the previous 3 hour layovers in Dallas and the Netherlands.
Wednesday, January 5
Last MTC day. Today's classes introduced the internet reporting system for Seminaries and Institutes, discussed other possible assignments we may be given (depending on the needs in each area), and studied a talk by President Eyring about having confidence in our ability to do the work we have been asked to do. We ended with a very spiritual testimony meeting. We have developed a special bond with those whom we have shared the last 10 days - amazing people all! We each have some level of concern for "what is next" as we are about to depart for remote places all over the world. I think the common feeling of uncertainty is one element that has bonded us so quickly. But the most important element is the testimony of the work we are about to begin and faith that with the Lord's help we can do it. So with tears in our eyes and hugs for all, we bid farewell. Oh how I would love a reunion with these wonderful people when our missions are complete!
We are back home for a few days, and ready emotionally for our mission. Catie fixed a wonderful supper for us tonight....and BYU beat UNLV! All is well.
Thursday, January 6 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY BARBARA
Busy day - laundry, went to the bank to get forms and review instructions on how to make wire transfers, picked up the prescriptions we need to take with us, calculated deductions for tax reporting for last year, picked up shoes at repair shop, remeasured bags to be sure we don't exceed the size limit, sorted and organized papers/info given to us at the MTC, started folding clothes in prep for packing, and Devon got his final haircut from his favorite barber, Dan.
This evening Daryn and Catie took us to dinner at Mi Ranchitos - a belated birthday celebration. That's what happens with December birthdays, but we don't mind at all!
Friday, January 7
Another full day of mission preparations. We started the packing and the weighing process. We are each allowed 2 check in bags not to exceed 50 pounds each; plus one personal item (lap top), and one carry on not to exceed 40 pounds. Preliminary weigh-ins look good - whew!
Tonight was our last Sisters' evening night out with Barbara, Linda, and husbands. Dinner and conversation was great. But.....can't say the same for the Pinochle game. The guys skunked us - 3 games to 0! Still it was wonderful to just spend time together.
Saturday, January 8
More packing and errands, although we are mostly ready. Seems the flu has returned - sore tummy and no appetite. Hope this passes quickly! All the Utah families came over for "Pizza and Pop" tonight. It was great to see everyone one last time before we leave - actually a little sad to say good bye. Everyone has promised to email and we will set up our internet phone land line in Birmingham as soon as we can. Jenna brought the new baby's ultrasound pictures over - some in 3D. She's a cute little thing already and still has 17 weeks to go.
Sunday, January 9 - HAPPY BIRTHDAY NATALIE (12) AND GWEN D.
I must admit that at times over the last few weeks I have felt the stings of adversity's arrows in the form of doubt in my ability as a missionary, worry about "things" and people left behind, finances, etc. - but today he continues to zap me with the flu. Was unable to go to Church - a big disappointment! So many good people I wanted to say good bye to. Not much I could do about it - really needed to get feeling better for our big flight tomorrow. So today was rest, fluids, chicken noodle soup - what I would tell any patient who called me for advise.
We did go out to Lori's for dinner and birthday celebration for Natalie and Katelyn this evening. Lori fixed a great dinner and I was even able to eat a little - hope my appetite returns tomorrow. Natalie started Young Women's today and is on cloud nine, Katelyn was her usual, charming 3 year-old going on 15 year-old self, and Hayley played the piano beautifully for us. It was a great way to spend our last evening.
I feel ready, though admittedly tender at heart, to leave tomorrow. I'm taking my favorite companion with me and the love, prayers, and well wishes of so many people. That's a great comfort!