Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Before Getting To The MTC

At the October 2002 General Conference Priesthood session Pres.Gordon B. Hinckley says no farewells at church or big open house gatherings after sacrament meeting for the departing missionary. It can be found at:
I was wondering how that must feel to a mother of a child leaving to serve for 18 months to 2 years of their life. I would hope any mother whose child leaves to serve a mission would not be desensitized to wanting a goodbye of some sort for their child. A concept that I really believe not a lot of Polynesians are likely to follow in the church, much less try to understand. Our whole way of life revolves around music, dance, speeches and festive meals. There's no real special occasion that needs to be happen for a 'gathering'. That should happen every Sunday to begin with for a Samoan household. I personally feel that your family should not wait until your funeral to celebrate your situation.
I think living in Minnesota away from all our extended family and friends we grew up with and have formed lifetime bonds with and being away from the daily Polynesian interactions has prepared our little family for the task of NOT being able to be too festive when saying goodbye to someone leaving for a while. A big gathering that includes music, dance and speeches is a different story though. As I have mentioned, their is NO special reason for a 'gathering' in our home. Those gatherings have happened in our home on Sunday afternoons as far back as I can remember. I have pictures from when I was a baby showing these 'non-special occasion' gatherings on Sundays after church.
I do like the idea of a small gathering of the people you are closest to. It somehow seems more personal that way. I thought of the missionaries that might be lone members, new members or without family support and how it is very considerate to their situation. What about those missionaries leaving whose families are not equipped financially to fund an open house or celebration? The thought of keeping that type of milestone in your life special and celebratory is really all in the way you look at it, I suppose. I know my father in particular is thankful for Pres.Gordon B. Hinckley's revelation on this subject and considers it 'cost efficient'.

Here is an except from an Ensign article by Marvin K. Gardner, December 1979 speaking on mission prep:

I asked Elder Vaughn J. Featherstone, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and a managing director of the Missionary Department, what kind of preparation he’d like to see every new missionary have.
“A prepared missionary,” he said, “(and I’m talking about lady missionaries as well as elders) is one who has developed a sweet relationship with the Savior prior to his mission. In fact, that should be the thing that motivates him to serve. And he should go because he wants to—not because he feels pressured into going. He ought to really have a desire to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in whatever mission he may be called to.”
The prepared missionary has also done some studying before entering the field: “He ought to be familiar with the scriptures,” said Elder Featherstone, “hopefully having read at least the Book of Mormon and studied the others. And he ought to be familiar with the missionary discussions—they are available, and almost anyone can get a copy if he desires.”
Elder Featherstone recalled that when he was mission president in Texas, one new missionary, Elder Brad Hunsaker of Salt Lake City, had all eight discussions memorized when he arrived—and that was back when those going to English-speaking missions spent only four days in the Salt Lake mission home. “Since he had used his time wisely before coming on his mission,” said Elder Featherstone, “he didn’t have to spend that first two or three months memorizing the discussions. It put him leaps and bounds ahead of others.”
Familiarity with the discussions is an advantage even for missionaries going to foreign-speaking missions—since their Missionary Training Center experience will concentrate on memorizing the discussions in another language.
A prepared missionary, according to Elder Featherstone, is also one who has learned to work and has a lot of ambition. He should have earned most of his own money. He ought to be in good physical condition. And he should know how to sacrifice—“he ought to realize that there will be no swimming, no horseback riding, no television—those kinds of things—that music will be restricted, and that he’ll have to control his budget.”
He also ought to be emotionally prepared for his mission, Elder Featherstone said, “meaning that he has cast off his introverted feelings and is not afraid to go out and meet people. He needs to decide that he can get along with a companion twenty-four hours a day, and that he will accept counsel, constructive criticism, and responsibility.”
All of this kind of preparation can occur before he ever enters the Missionary Training Center.

*today's tip: Volunteer your time and efforts to something bigger than yourself. Everyone's small effort makes a difference. I'm donating blood this afternoon to the Red Cross.