Friday, July 31, 2009

Finishing up at the MTC - letter from Delwyn

July 31, 2009

Thanks to all those who replied to last week’s email report – we loved hearing from you. I’m hoping we’ve gotten the email glitches worked thru so that we’re sending it to all the family.

This week here at the Provo MTC has been focused on training specific to our assignment to work in the mission office. The church has a relatively new system called IMOS that’s been developed for the needs of mission offices so that’s what they’ve been teaching us. It’s internet based so we had to have our church membership numbers and confirmation dates to get accounts set up – we assume that’ll carry over to Spain with us. We covered finance which includes the allowances given to the missionaries each month, the paying of rent and utilities for the apartments, adding and deleting the housing units in the rent pool and tracking the expenses of the mission president and mission office. We covered the tracking of mission vehicles – maintenance and repair of each vehicle (and I get the sense that there’s a high volume of repair incidents wherever there are cars), the process for authorizing missionaries to drive and the focus on safety. We’ve been told that our Bilbao mission has only three cars so, if we’re assigned to do that, it shouldn’t be much of a time burner. While the elders were being trained in vehicle care, Flo was being taught how to handle investigator referrals and how to use MS mail merge functions. We had some training for Microsoft Word and Excel and Outlook and they spent a little time covering the task of ensuring that missionaries are taking care of their apartments, zone conferences and missionary transfers. Most of it was pretty interesting and something we expect to use but old brains fill and weary quickly so I’m glad they didn’t give us much more.

But it seems like the number one thing we did this week (much like last week) is EAT! Breakfast isn’t a piece of toast and glass of skim milk – nearly everything they have looks and tastes good (the pink grapefruit I tried one morning probably shouldn’t be labeled grapefruit) so we feel obligated to reward the preparers by partaking (we’re missionaries; we don’t want to offend anyone!). Lunch comes every day, starts between 11:30 & noon and we’re driven by the same motives we had for breakfast. Dinner starts at 4:30, always presents good variety and nearly everything I tried tasted good. We nearly always sit with one or more senior couples so it’s a good time to become better acquainted and build friendships. I find it quite interesting that, in 10 days, couples here could build friendships that we hope will endure beyond our missions – someone has already suggested we try to have a reunion in two years (not sure who’s going to pull that off). There are some very ordinary people going to some very difficult assignments and I admire them very much.

Except for Tuesday evening when Elder Dellenbach came to the MTC devotional, we continued to have a Spanish tutoring class each evening and we think it’s helped us a lot to see our tutor face-to-face for instructions (even though we're still taking baby steps with the language). Mario’s a very personable young man and it was a little hard to say goodbye last night knowing it might be the last time we’ll see him.

We’ve spent most of today (Friday) packing, doing laundry, cleaning and taking care of administrative things with plans to leave on a shuttle to SLC to spend the weekend with Gene & Lynda. They’ll take us to the airport on Monday morning, our flight’s scheduled for 9:50 and is due in Madrid on Tuesday morning. We’re excited to be involved in this great work; they keep telling us they could easily use double the number of senior missionaries they now have so we’re certainly made to feel needed.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is true – that should be a powerful motivator to each of us to try hard to live it. May each be blessed.

Elder & Sister Belnap

Thursday, July 30, 2009

1st Letter from the MTC

Hi everyone, this is Danette Collins (Delwyn & Flo's daughter). Anyway, I believe they gave many people their blog address to keep tabs on them. I think there are more people wanting to know what is going on than get their letters, so I asked our special missionaries if I could post their letters on their blog for people to read. Mom said - here is their 1st letter, written by my incredibly funny father...ENJOY!

Our first report… We left home shortly after our meeting block on Sunday (19th), Jace & Kay came with us to bring the car home so, when we got to the airport, we parked in the garage, checked four bags (and paid them $80), met Chad & Trisha & kids near the security lanes and visited until time to go in; we made it thru the shake-down without losing anything, got on the Delta Connection plane that was mighty cramped (a down-sized airliner with overhead bins so small we struggled to get our carry-ons into them) with two seats on each side of the aisle. We flew close to schedule, our luggage was first off the plane and Gene(Delwyn's brother) picked us up shortly after we arrived; Lynda fed us very well, we visited with Scott & Stacy, Chris & Marci and Dick & Karen for a while then got to just sit around talking with Gene & Lynda before climbing into a good bed.

On Monday morning, Gene & Lynda hauled us and our 200-300 pounds of luggage to Provo where we were greeted at every turn by someone acting like they expected us and were given keys and instructions for getting to our room 318. Flo & Lynda checked the room before we hauled the bags to the third floor – someone was already there. I don’t know how many keys they have to each room but they seem to be plentiful. We went back to the office, got an assignment to room 315 and moved in there – thanks to Gene for helping schlep those 50# bags up lots of stairs in some heat. They dropped us off at the check-in area as they left, we paid for our room & board and got plastic cards and instructions for our first day. Had some lunch and spent the afternoon in orientation and classes, had dinner and went home to read assignments in Preach My Gospel before falling asleep.

Tuesday thru Friday were focused on developing teaching and support skills using materials from the PMG book. We did lots of role-playing with each other and with others in our ‘district’ but also had multiple sessions with volunteers from the area who drive here to meet with us while we give planned discussions for typical situations (new & old investigators and new converts) – ours were kind to us most of the time. At Tuesday evening’s MTC devotional with Elder John H Groberg, Pres. Breinholt got a loud round of applause when he announced that the ban on shaking hands here was lifted. I’d have been willing to come much earlier if they’d just told me they needed me here to take care of that! Thursday afternoon Elder Ed Pinegar came to speak to us – he’s an interesting and humorous speaker. Wednesday thru Friday we had Spanish tutoring sessions for two hours in the evening so our bedtime got to be pretty late by the time we’d done our reading of PMG and completed Spanish assignments. We tried getting up at 6:30 the first morning but that made it too rushed to get to class on time so we’ve been getting up at 6:00 and the days have been pretty long.

Today we didn’t have a pressing schedule so we tried to sleep in – you know how that goes, we didn’t get much sleep after 4:00. We had breakfast and walked up to the temple where they gave us our temple clothes for free – keep paying that tithing folks; it’s for a good cause! After the temple we were stopped in the main building by a pair of young missionaries who wanted to try their Spanish lesson on us so we did that; after lunch we did our laundry (again we didn’t have to pay) and brought it back to the room, finished folding and putting it away then I vacuumed the floor while Flo cleaned the bathroom. We wanted to check some things in the bookstore so we went to the one here at the MTC – it was closed. We wanted to walk anyway so we decided to find the one on the BYU campus – it was a pretty long hike before we found it. We checked out some things but didn’t buy much then hiked back to our room – worked up a sweat coming back up the hill. We’re not supposed to be in the main building where the cafeteria is except we’re dressed in missionary attire so we changed clothes and had dinner sitting with people from Missouri that are on their way to the Ukraine as welfare missionaries. They’re a quiet, soft spoken couple so we have a lot in common and they came to our room a bit later to bring address information and we sat for quite a while visiting and getting acquainted.

That’s about all we have to report for this week. It’s easy to feel the spirit and get excited to be in the mission field. We have training specific to office work next week, plan to leave Friday to bum off Gene & Lynda again thru the weekend and catch the plane to Spain Monday morning (we’ve been told we’re booked on Delta Air, flight 235, LV: SLC at 9:50am, AR: Atlanta at 3:37pm, LV: Atlanta at 6:55pm and AR: Madrid at 9:35am on Tuesday; we don’t have tickets yet so anything is possible) and get to Spain the next morning. We don’t have any information beyond that. We hope all’s well with each of you – we’re still praying for you so keep praying for us. We’ve easily determined that we’re the worst Spanish speakers of hundreds we’ve met here. - Belnaps

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Our mission

This is when we opened our letter for our call to the Spain Bilbao Misson.