From a quick e-mail on Saturday [9/27]:
It’s crazy that I´ve been here for six weeks already. It seems like an eternity, but it also seems like I only got here yesterday. Also, I’m not sure the next time I’ll be able to email, since I don´t know when my next Preparation Day will be.
It’s nice they let me email a little bit today. Yesterday we had a lot of classes on working with members, using the key indicators, and other information we need to know for preparation in the field. We packed a little today and will finish that on Monday.
I’m sort of excited to go (I’m nervous and excited all at once.), but I’m not looking forward to getting up at 1:30 in the morning to be at reception by 2:00 (since our flight leaves at 6:00 am on Tuesday morning). We’re thinking of going to be at 9:30 Monday night so we can get at least four hours before the trip. Uggghh.
Tuesday Morning [9/30] Telephone Conversation from Dallas-Fort Worth Airport:
Hermana Kathleen’s dad answered the phone. He later said he was impressed with how Kathleen was concentrating so much on how she was now better able to serve others with her increased knowledge of the Gospel and the Spirit and her ability to speak Spanish. She admitted that she was now beginning to dream in Spanish (a sure sign of internalizing the language). She felt confident that though she has a long way to go with her listening skills and vocabulary, she knows without a doubt that the Lord will make up the difference with her Spanish knowledge when she has the opportunity to teach the Gospel.
After Dad’s conversation with Kathleen, then it was Mom’s turn. “When I first got on the phone with her and said her name, Kathleen didn’t respond. I asked her if we were still connected. She responded that she was able to control her emotions while talking with her dad, but when she heard my voice, she began to cry. Her statement reminded me of President Hinckley. He told of the many experiences of when his children called home. They politely asked him how he was and then asked, ‘Where’s Mom?’ He always thought that was funny. I guess, now, I’ve experienced that a little with my own daughter.”
Monday night Kathleen said her last goodbyes to her friends in the Mexico MTC. The only missionary in their district not going to the Utah Provo Mission was leaving for El Salvador. The hermanas wanted to give him a hug, but instead shook his hand—“tough” Kathleen said, but obeying missionary rules is vitally important to them all. She said she was very touched by the hermanas in her zone who came to say goodbye. Kathleen and her companion had been trainers and friends to these hermanas—helping them in their transition to the MTC and supporting them in whatever concerns they had about intensive Spanish immersion, as well as any personal worries. She was grateful she had remembered to have a notebook handy for the elders and hermanas to sign and make a few comments about their experiences with her and the MTC.
Kathleen said their flight from Mexico City left on time and they arrived on time at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport. She was a little nervous about going through customs, as she had about $100 worth of items she purchased while in Mexico, but when she found out she as a citizen could bring in $800 worth of purchased items, she felt better. She went through customs rather quickly.
Arriving in the United States was odd, as most everyone was speaking English. When individuals spoke to her, she sometimes responded in Spanish. How strange and great it was, she said, to meet LDS members in the airport (I guess we’re everywhere). She guessed the missionaries stood out to them and everyone else with their clothing, nametags, and overall differences. When the members asked where the missionaries were going, Kathleen responded Provo. “Oh, to the MTC?” “No, to the Utah Provo Mission.” “Oh, I didn’t know there was one.”
Kathleen told us how she was looking forward to some quick shopping in Provo—getting a warm coat and other winter items. We had sent her a box with some woolen skirts, jacket, scarves and bedding, so she has those items. But buying a winter coat in Texas! Not a good idea. She needs to buy one in Utah for the Utah winter.
She mentioned she was anxious and excited to meet her mission president and his wife, experience her first interview with him, learn of her first assignment and new companion, and definitely gain some needed sleep.
She said how sad she will be to be parted from Hermana McDermaid—with whom she has been a companion since Day 1 of the Mexico MTC. Perhaps, she said, they might be companions again before their missions are finished.
Because the temple had been closed in Mexico City, she hopes to be able to attend the temple in Provo. Kathleen has gained a great love of the temple since her first experiences of baptisms for the dead when she was twelve. The temple is her favorite place to be. (How exciting for her that two temples will be dedicated in the Utah Provo Mission during her time there: Payson and Provo City. Perhaps she will be involved in the open house and dedications of those two.)
Unlike here in the mission field, she said she and her new companion will be assigned to a stake rather than a ward. She wonders how that will work.
In the middle of our conversation, her cat Chip made a fuss, allowing Kathleen to hear him with his loud meows. Kathleen was sure that Chip was saying hello to his old friend (perhaps so, as she has a real connection with him).
I asked her what she will remember most about her experiences in the Mexico MTC. She responded with the following:
- I have almost forgotten how to spell my first name. Instead I’m finding myself writing “Hermana.”
- I will remember the special video Elder Bednar has made only for the missionaries at the MTCs. He is teaching the missionaries about the differences between the characteristics of Christ and the traits of the world. Elder Bednar uses the image of Cookie Monster to represent the world—his insatiable appetite for instant gratification. I thought it was funny to use Cookie Monster, but I guess the image works for the symbol of the world.
- I have loved learning how to apply the scriptures in new ways. The Spirit has whispered to me how the stories and doctrine can apply in almost every situation and to every person.
- I will always remember the Mexico MTC as a loving and precious temporary home. The people were so gracious, patient, and kind. I love them and miss them already.
SO HER NEW ADVENTURES IN THE UTAH PROVO MISSION BEGIN!