Friday, October 24, 2014

Week Two: Missionary Medical Training in SLC

Well, we checked out of our room at the Provo MTC, Mission Training Center, last Saturday.  What a sweet experience we had during these few days there. So much youthful enthusiasm to be found among these young Elders and Sisters, learning to be Gospel Representatives across the world.  We felt such devotion, love, commitment and Spirit while there.  We felt quite sad to leave.  We met so many wonderful, experienced, devoted Senior missionary couples there also.  We can only hope to be as wise and humble and charitable as them. 

After an enjoyable afternoon with our son Peter in Orem watching the new Church-produced film, Meet the Mormons, we drove up to SLC and checked into our hotel room at Marriot, where we would spend the next nine days in additional education and awaiting our departure for Indonesia. This week would be filled with intensive training in the LDS Church's eMED system for monitoring and assisting global missionary health.  It is a wonderful resource for education, documentation and communication for all authorized medical providers.  Slightly too reminiscent of EHRs (arrrgh!), but thankfully much less intrusive, complex, and dictatorial, plus absolutely no billing pages !

Here is a typical classroom scene, this picture showing the last day during our "test".  The Petersons from Richfield, Utah, are off to Johannesberg, South Africa to serve as Area Mental Health Advisors. They have a big job ahead of them, assisting many missions and missionaries all the way north to Sudan.

Kathy knew she was in trouble when they flashed this warning during some of the presentations.

It took only hours before repentance was sorely needed.  We went with the Chabras, our new wonderful friends from the Roseville, California area, on their way soon to Uganda, Ethiopa and Rwanda to serve as Mission Medical Advisors, to a superb local Italian Restaurant, Cucina Tuscana, for a marvelous meal of pasta and Osso Bucco and Venetian style hot chocolate, thick like pudding. Here Kathy is getting a local epicurean tip about ordering the veal.

The Chabras, Deepak and Debra.  Dee is a retired Kaiser urologist, and Deb a recently retired Med-Surg nurse.  Such fun and happy people.  We love them.  Deb and Kathy have the exact same birthdate, down to the year even. Very similar temperaments.  We have shared many wonderful evenings and meals at Lambs Grill and Cheesecake Factory and PF Changs, and MTC devotionals, and small group learning sessions, and gym work-outs, and Temple sessions and shopping trips together.  We have shared testimonies and faith and conversion stories together.

Last Sunday we made a trip back down to Provo to attend the Departure Devotional at the MTC for all Missionaries soon departing for their missions across the globe.  This was followed by a devotional for all MTC attendees at which Chad Lewis, now retired All-Pro receiver for the Philadelphia Eagles and Returned missionary (Taiwan) and his wife spoke to the point that we have missionary opportunities around us everywhere.

On Tuesday we again drove down to Provo to pick up our 18 months worth of prescriptions from the BYU Student Health Center Pharmacy and to purchase some additional small gifts for our soon-to-be Indonesian friends. We also attended the evening Devotional along with the new "crop" of Senior missionaries.  Elder Godoy of the Quorum of the Seventy, from Brazil, spoke to all 2000 missionaries there as though he were a father speaking last words of counsel to his son leaving on a mission for two years. He used Alma 26 as his text.  The wonderful irony of this was that his own son was in fact in the audience, training now to serve in Italy.  It was very touching.  And we learned, reassuringly so, that our Indonesian language skills need not be perfect to feel God's spirit and love, as he spoke to us in his best English. The Holy Ghost is our translator.

This evening we spent some precious hours with some of my siblings at a local restaurant.  Below are my sister/superhero "Chuck" aka Jen and her wonderful husband Skip. Not pictured are my fantastic sister Deb and her SO Gary. We had such a nice time laughing and reminiscing together.  I am so blessed. I found out things about my sisters I did not know before.  One cares for prophets, and one doesn't tolerate (with extreme prejudice) bullies.

Below is a touching picture hanging in an Adventist hospital we were introduced to this week. Christ is the Great Healer.

Last Sunday morning we attended Music and the Spoken Word at the historic Mormon tabernacle on Temple Square.  It is the longest continuously running radio show in the world.  It is broadcast every Sunday morning across the world.  It was a beautiful musical program, including "Press Forward Saints", "Have I Done Any Good" and "Glorious Everlasting". We then drove to South Jordan and attended the homecoming sermon given by Matt Williams, my nephew, just home from his two year mission in Texas.  He is a fine young man.  We enjoyed a nice meal and get together with Dave and Grethchen and their extended families, and I was able to visit with all of my sibs except Kathryn who is in Oakland, CA.

Here is a blast from the past.  My son just sent us this photo from 1999 during construction of the Medford Oregon Temple.  Our sons, Marc and Chris, were serving the Lord in Honduras and Dominican Republic.  The angel Moroni is the golden statue atop every LDS Temple and reminds us of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the prophet Joseph Smith in the 1820's by an ancient prophet in America by the name of Moroni who revealed metal plates which were translated and came to be known as the Book of Mormon. It reminds us that God still speaks to us, His children, as he has since creation. The heavens are not closed. It tells us that He loves us.

Anyway, the weeks are flying past quickly.  How happy we are!  It is wonderful to have my wife and eternal companion with me, helping and supporting each other.  We feel unified in faith and a common purpose.  Tomorrow we are attending the Temple here in SLC and in the evening will be visiting some old Indonesian friends and missionary companions in Farmington.

We continue to study Bahasa Indonesia, realizing that in a mere 5 days we will be in Java!  Please pray for us, as we do for you.  Banyak kasih (Much love) !

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Being in the MTC is being in the Celestial Kingdom With Telestial Food!

Words cannot describe the experience we've had in the Mission Training Center (MTC) this week. The daily uplifting meetings and group trainings were incredible!  We learned to teach with emphasis on personal spiritual preparation and an emphasis on listening, teaching to needs, teaching with simplicity for understanding, and so forth. We learned that "preparing a lesson" really means "preparing me."  

Even though the cafeteria food was definitely made for 19-year olds, the spiritual food was beyond explanation.

This is me holding Lily and Kinsley before the Stake President set us apart as full time missionaries for the Church on October 9th.  Did I mention that I miss my grand-kids yet?

This is our small District of eight missionaries, flanked by our young Returned Missionary instructors, Sister Frandsen (Russia) and Sister Moore (Peru).  Thanks also to Brother Floyd (Ohio) and Sister Tutt (Vancouver Canada).  What remarkable, dedicated, cheery, humble people.  We love our District companions, the Hagens (Houston Texas), Sister Walton (Ecuador), Sister Hall (Independence Missouri), and the Chabras (Kampala Uganda). The first day I was asked by the MTC president to bear my testimony in our initial Senior Missionary meeting with all 25 couples.  This was a humbling and rewarding experience.  Keith was called as our district leader!  He did a great job and also took care of several sick missionaries and helped out an elderly sister.  I also had fun leading the music several times this week!  WOW, slow tempo is NOT a problem in the MTC!

Happy Birthday Peter!  We went to Tucanos (Brazilian Food) on Wednesday and enjoyed hanging out with our son after a very busy day in the MTC. (We are lucky we're senior missionaries and have different rules than the young Elders!)  We also saw the movie "Meet the Mormons" with Peter today (after a Chick-filet lunch).  It was AWESOME!!  I recommend it to all of you. (Stacy, there is a clip from "Fletch" that you would like).  It is very well done and shows the impact of the Church in the lives of six remarkable individuals around the world!  Not too many dry eyes in this full length film.  Grab a friend and go see it.  You will feel the Lord's spirit.

We also visited with Keith's former missionary companion, Ralph Zobell and his wife Janet.  Wow does this guy know his Indonesian!  He teaches Indonesian to the missionaries via Skype.  He reminded Keith a lot about the language and taught me a lot of important things (like not to use your left hand or point with your finger in Indonesia, etc).  Ralph and his love of Indonesia and all things Indonesian is inspiring.

Guess who we ran into in the MTC cafeteria?  Yep, David Burt, an Elder off to Brazil from our home ward, Medford 1st!  I made him give me a hug...I hope he didn't get in trouble for it.  Oh well, it was probably worth it because I was able to send a picture off to his mother, Lisa!

This is a picture of the Wasatch mountains right before going into our Tuesday devotional where Elder Larry Lawrence of the Seventy spoke.  This was an incredible devotional!!  Elder Lawrence spoke about the battle the Saints are fighting against the adversary.  It was also awesome to hear hundred's of Elders and Sisters sing in the choir.  It sounded like they had been practicing for months, not days.

Below is our full Senior Missionary group for the week.  We have had an amazingly diverse, richly experienced and dedicated group with whom to train.  You all have remarkable stories to tell. Thanks to all.  We love and support you in your calls to serve the Lord across the globe. 

Tomorrow we get to attend the weekly national broadcast of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on SLC's famous Temple Square.  Keith's Dad George always used to lead the choir silently, but with embarrassingly noticeable hand movements in the congregation!  Who knows, maybe he really is using a conductor's baton now...

Love to you all.  We miss and pray for you.  Thanks for following along with us.  

Monday, October 13, 2014

We've Arrived at the Provo MTC

Well it's Monday morning October 13, about 8 AM. We arrived in Provo at the MTC after a wonderful, Very early departure from Medford airport Saturday morning. Thanks to all the friends and family there to wish his farewell. It is wonderful to feel loved and supported.

It was a busy final week of preparations. We worked hard to finish all of our last-minute packing details and getting the house wrapped up. We had many family activities and dinners out with friends which were most heart warming.  

Thursday afternoon was a glorious and beautiful southern Oregon fall day. Warm, golden sunny, and perfect for riding a bicycle, which is precisely what I did for a few hours. How wonderful it was to let the miles will under my bicycle tires as I listened to scripture on my head phones and let the wind rush over me. It was idyllic.

I have a genius son-in-law who is able to help me transfer all of our contacts over to our iPad. Thanks to Chris. Electronic, mechanical and technical acumen is certainly not in my skill set. I find them really to be more of a trial of patience. 

My brother John was kind enough to pick us up at the Salt Lake airport and has loaned us a vehicle for the two weeks we will be here. We checked into the Provo missionary training center, the MTC, Saturday afternoon. The accommodations are small and fairly spartan but reasonably comfortable. Security here is high. We have to pass through a security gate, and multiple key cards and  keys to access our room. The MTC is definitely safe for world war Z. Nevertheless the atmosphere here is quiet and calm and very conducive to learning and spiritual growth. With the exception, that is, of the cafeteria at meal time. You can imagine thousands of hungry young men and young women standing in the cafeteria line waiting for shrimp and steak and sloppy Joes.  I saw a young Elder yesterday with at least Six bowls of cold cereal in front of him at his dining table. We had some nice meal experiences yesterday, having breakfast with a young Elder companionship going to Mongolia soon, and some senior missionaries going to Albania, Tonga and elsewhere. We attended Peter's YSA  branch Church yesterday at BYU held in a dance studio in the PE building. A very nice service. We arrived at the conclusion that there is definitely no reason why Peter should not be dating!  Many lovely young ladies here.

Yesterday evening we drove to Salt Lake City where we had a lovely evening with my brothers and sisters at my sister Debbie's house. Some great desserts, lots of fun conversation, and games. Home by about 9 PM for the usual evening rituals of scripture and Indonesian language study, prayers and in bed by 10:30 or so. A queen size bed is definitely a bit of a challenge, but we are accommodating. My wife loves my snore guard. As for me, not my favorite.

We actually begin our MTC training today at 10 o'clock. The first five days are studying the church doctrinal teaching manual called Preach My Gospel. We have already read this for ourselves, but it will be fun to apply it in some real life practice teaching situations this week.

Wednesday is Peter's birthday, and we hope to be able to spend the evening with him, although we will be missing All you can eat ice cream night at the MTC. Not such a big deal for Kathy!

What a pleasure it is to be able to spend this year and a half without distractions of work and home. We love our home and family,  and I miss my patients so much. We miss the casual comforts and pace of retirement at home, and our life now is certainly very structured for us. Nevertheless we feel blessed by the Lord's Spirit to be able to learn and study and become effective tools in his hands. And it is wonderful to be focused on this target yoked with my lovely wife and The Lord.  How much we have enjoyed our time with our family at home this summer. We have been able to spend several days or weeks Individually with each of our children and grandchildren, and it has been wonderful. We treasure these memories and have lots of pictures to prove it.

We are grateful if you have chosen to follow along with us on this blog during our mission journey. Our blog entries will be a bit inconsistent, certainly not every day, but we hope to have one or two blog entries every week. We will try and keep them entertaining and informative, and include lots of pictures! Please feel free to make comments, ask questions, or email us through the linked email accounts. We will try and respond and answer your questions. How fun it would be if you could actually join us on this journey in Indonesia! Maybe you will!

We are excited to actually get to work with the wonderful people of Indonesia. Training is good and we are enjoying this time, but eagerly awaiting our life in Java.

Much love, 
from  Keith and Kathy Williams