Thursday, February 23, 2012

Chapter 8: The Eye of the Storm- Part 2/5 A new prophet, a new world.

I don't remember much about the day I entered the MTC, but I do remember the family lunch at the Golden Corral somewhere in Orem.  I remember "the big meeting", the one where you sing "Called to Serve" with three or four hundred other new missionaries, and five minutes later, you say goodbye to your parents and siblings.  That was pretty intense. I think that was the first time I ever saw my dad shed a tear.  

Luckily, Reed was there with me the whole time.  As a new missionary,  you get a sticker to put on your name tag. It was just to show that you were new, and which group you were in by color.  Everyone called them "dork dots". The other missionaries who had already been there always pointed and laughed at the new missionaries wandering around aimlessly, looking for their bags or their study materials.  

My dork dot was green.  

2,500 missionaries cycle through the MTC every few weeks.  At any given time, there are around 50,000 Mormon missionaries in the field throughout the world. On bikes, on foot, or even in cars (spoiled), the missionaries carry the message of Jesus Christ to everyone that will listen.  It's becoming kind of a common site in most places. Thanks to the new musical by my boys Matt and Trey, our missionaries have been given even a bit more fame.  

The Missionary Training Center is an amazing place. Just about 100 different languages are taught. There are strict rules and lots of studying.  It's the first place in which a missionary really has to learn to live with a companion.  

1st rule of the MTC: Stay with your companion.

Okay, anyway.  I loved the semi okay food, all the devotionals, meetings, language study, scripture study, etc.  Our instructors were inspiring, and the opportunities we had to listen to apostles and church leaders in an up close and personal setting was really once in a lifetime.  

I remember when I was eating lunch in the cafeteria and Reed was eating lunch with L. Tom Perry. That was kind of cool. 

Well, the weekend before we were to ship out to Chile, we went to the Saturday night movie.  It was Joseph Smith, Prophet of the Restoration.  Awesome movie, gets me every time.  Right before the end of the movie that night, they shut it off.  This was January 27, 2008.  

They brought the lights up, and we were all wondering what the heck was going on.  President Madsen got up to speak, but I already knew what had happened .  President Hinckley had passed away.  That was intense.  Walking back to our dorms, the whole MTC was dead silent. That was pretty weird. 

A few days later, on the bus to the airport, the new Prophet was announced. President Thomas S. Monson.

It was a pretty unforgettable time.  

Then we got to Chile.  It was about a million degrees when we got off the plane.  Everyone spoke spanish, the cars were different, and we were all totally lost.  

My first night in Chile, I slept on the floor of a dilapidated apartment in the Bio Bio sector of Concepcion.  I didn't have any of my clothes or luggage, and I used half of an old mattress as a pillow.  There was all sorts of fungus and mold on the wall in the kitchen, the windows were broken (although they still had metal bars, which didn't make me feel much better).  I hadn't eaten or slept in about 30 hours, and I didn't sleep that night either. 

Early day, had to catch a bus to Temuco, then another bus from Temuco to Carahue.  I didn't sleep that next night, either.  

Okay, at this point, I'm actually getting bored talking about each part of the mission. I think from now on I'll stick to a few highlights, and then call it good.  No one really likes reading mission travelogues anyway. 

Long story short, it went like this:

Temuco Cautin- Carahue Branch
San Coronel- Camilo Branch
Temuco Nielol- Nielol Ward
Nueva Tolten- Gorbea Branch
Angol- Victoria Branch
Talcahuano North- Talcahuano Centro
Lebu- Canete branch/Tirua Branch

Somewhere between Carahue and Canete, I became a different, better human being.  I always tell people, that half of my heart will always be somewhere in the south of Chile.  I hope I never get it back. 

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