The "First" of the Lasts

Alden and I spend the weekend of April 12-16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland visiting our daughter, Suzette and her family.  We haven't been back since September so it was so good to visit with her and Christopher, but it was the greatest to play with the grandchildren (kleinkinderen).  Jackson and Claire are growing so fast.  Claire is a fountain of information---almost TMI. She had us all in tears from laughter Sunday at lunch. Jack is thoughtful and aware.  He gives Claire room to be her, but keeps track of her also.  'Little' brother Max has just a delightful way about him.  While the other two played somewhere else, he turned on the talking, singing, and I really enjoyed Max.  He just goes about being happy and busy.

They took me to the airport on Monday morning.  The three kid-lets strapped in their carseat waving good bye to me.  I climbed back into the car for one last kiss and hug from each of them.    As I gave Suzie a hug and kiss I said in tears, "It's going to be harder than I thought to tell my grandchildren good bye for three years."  The family will fly to Utah the last week we are in Flowell, so I'll get to see them again for a short time but it will be three years before I go back to visit them in their own home--in their own environment. The twins will be 6 1/2 and Max 5 1/2 when we return.  By that time, we will have been gone half their little lives. 

New reality.  I'm starting the "first" of the last goodbyes that are coming.  Heavenly Father, please bless my heart to be strong.  We will go, we will do, we will build that ship of curious workmanship in The Belgium Netherlands Mission.  Hemelse Vader, Dunk U voor ons zending.  


Temporary Name Badge

I wondered if we would get name badges at the MTC, and if we did, would they look like the regular name badges.  Well, here is what they gave to us to wear.  I am so surprised  with the great respect we are given when other senior couples or the Elders and Sisters read our badges.  I am again humbled by the magnititude of our call.  Everyone is so very happy and excited for us, and I feel so unworthy and lacking for this calling.  But Alden's mother keeps reminding us that "Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies".  And we know this is true and He will.  We haven't done anything special to be blessed so abundently, and we are truly "dunkbaar voor onze zegeningen".


Wow! What a Week!

L to R.  Zuster Robinson, Zuster DeGroot, our Dutch Tutor,
and President Robinson

We just finished our first full week at the MTC in the Language Immersion Program.  We spent from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday through Friday in our own little 'cubicals'.  We had a two hour session in Dutch every morning and another in the afternoon.  We also had the opportunity to have Dutch speaking members volunteer to work with us.  We each had an hour session in the morning and another in the afternoon.  I had the opportunity to skype with an older couple in Arizona for one hour and we read the Dutch Boek van Mormon together. They were a great help in sounding out and pronouncing words.  Another 85 year old sister came to help me read.  When I told her what I wanted to do, she agreed and for an hour she helped me to read through part of 2 Nephi. She did great. The next day she came back and told me a miracle had happened during our study the day before.  She said she had not read the Dutch Boek Van Mormon is years and also, she has macular degeneration in one eye and cannot see the first two or three letters in words.  She was sacred when I asked her to read from the Dutch Boek Van Mormon, but she didn't want to disappointment me, so she tried to do her best.  Well, on her way home afterward, she realized that for one hour she was able to see all the letters in every word and had not had trouble reading any Dutch word.  She called her only daughter to tell her and her daughter, Judith, said she was going to write about that miracle in her journal.  For that family, it was remarkable.  I believe miracles happen there every day.  Alden had the opportunity to study with a volunteer from Alaska.  So much work went into setting up our schedule and getting the volunteers and tutors.  What an amazing process to help us become fluent in Dutch!  We worked on a computer based language learning program and then the rest of the day was personal studying and reading.  Well, except for the lunch hour and the dinner hour.

We were so pleased to find Elder Tuttle and Elder Robison at the MTC.  We found one another at the cafeteria.  We saw at least one of them every day.  President especially enjoyed seeing two fine young men from his Priests Quorum excitedly going about the labors of a missionary.  They both glow with 'the work'.  We also met many wonderful senior couples during our lunch and dinner breaks.  One couple is going to St Petersburg, Russia, another couple to the Washington DC Temple, another couple was going to Estonia.  Another couple on their second mission are headed to Ohio.  It was a 'cosmic pick' when we sat down next to a couple as to where they might be called to serve.  Both Alden and I commented on how happy EVERY SINGLE senior couple looked at the MTC.  There is a glow about everyone.  We met several newly called mission presidents that were doing the same thing we were doing--immersion in language weeks.  No one was working on the same language!  And yes, all the wives were in the same situation as me!

We will continue to skype twice a week for our language until May 7 when we will return for another week of immersion. I truly believe after three weeks like this and all the continued tutoring, I will feel comfortable enough to bear my testimony, pray, and have simple conversations when I arrive in Holland.  To speak spontaneously with others, well, that will continue to take work.  Right now, I need to write it down, correct it and then practice it 100 times or more.  :)  Everyone promises that 'IT WILL COME'.  The promise I put my faith in is the promise from the Heilige Geest that it will come. 


Small Miracles

Well, after a visit with Dr. Grose on Friday, March 30, it appears that everything seems on track for a full recovery.  We did another blood test and a little adjusting with some medication.  I'm good to go, at a moderate pace however.  Now just to build the blood and energy level back to my 'old' self which of course will be my 'new' self.

My first day trip out and about was on Saturday, March 31, 2012.   All newly called Mission Presidents are given tickets for the General Conference prior to their departure.  So, with tickets in hand, we attended Saturday afternoon's session of conference.  It was so good to be out and about again.  We attended the session where the MTC Missionary Choir was singing.  We saw Elder Robison (aka Nate Robison).  We doubt he saw us in that vast audience.  As I listened to them sing for the session, it took my breath away to realize this is the kind of dynamic Elders and Sisters that we will have the opportunity to serve with in the Netherlands.  Perhaps one or two of them were headed to Belgium/Netherlands Mission. It was a two-sided feeling.  I felt an overwhelming gratitude for such an opportunity to live and serve with the choicest of the choice, and an overwhelming sense of my weaknesses, imperfections and inabilities to be called to fulfill that responsibility to live and serve with the choicest of the choice.  I pray every night for the Spirit to bless us with the capacity to climb the mountain and 'build a ship of curious workmanship'.

We had the delightful experience of meeting the newly called Mission President for the Provo Utah Mission,  John A. and Debbra K. McCune from Caldwell, Idaho.  We enjoyed and laughed as we got to know one another and shared "stories" about our calls and agreed to look each other up in June at the MTC.  Later Alden and I talked about the experience and agreed we are in for some wonderful experiences with some wonderful and faithful members to the church.  We feel so far out of our league, but dank onze Hemelse Vader dagelijks voor onze zending.