Bold Adventurers

Elder Reed and Sister Vicki Fanning, LDS Senior Missionaries

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July 17, 2017

We were up again at 5:30 am.  After breakfast, we had Seminary and Institute training just in case we are asked to teach Institute.  We had three trainers, two women and one man.  The man was really hilarious.  He kept us awake.  We learned how to find principles in blocks of scriptures.  We then decided how critical it was to teach that principle according to the needs of the students.  We also identified a way to have the students apply the principle.  It was much the same as the training we received before our last mission.

We have heard from people many times in the last week how sacred the ground is that the MTC is on.  We feel the Spirit so strongly here.  There is a feeling of peace that is so thick you can almost cut it with a knife.

We received an email from one of the Senior Couples who are Military Relations Specialists in the California San Diego Mission.  There is a meeting next Monday at lunch for the five Military Relations couples serving in the Mission.  We had to respond that we would be unable to make it since we will not arrive in San Diego until Monday afternoon.  They will be reshuffling the assignments between the five couples.  We are not sure what changes may be made.

We also got an email from the Mission office.  There will be a meeting with all of the senior missionaries and the Mission President on August 7th.  We will be able to make it to that meeting.

We bought some Freezer Gel water bottles on Friday when we were out running errands.  We discovered today that they keep the water cold for only a couple of hours, even after putting them in the freezer overnight.  We were also unable to get the straw to suck up any water in Sister Fanning’s bottle.  We looked online and found that both problems are widespread.  We decided to take them back to Walmart.  We will get new bottles when we get to California.

We went to bed early again.  We are having trouble staying up until even 10 pm.

July 16, 2017

We had a very unusual Sunday.  Breakfast was only cold cereal served in paper bowls with plastic spoons.  There was a minimum of preparation and cleanup on the Sabbath.

Sacrament meeting started at 8:30 and lasted for an hour.  We met with the International Branch.  We were to sit in the back, and stay quiet.  The young elders and sisters were told earlier in the week to prepare two talks on separate topics.  Then two are chosen through inspiration to give a talk, one on each subject. A member of the Branch Presidency and his wife were also speakers.  After Sacrament Meeting, the senior elders and sisters split into Relief Society and Priesthood groups for a discussion on tender mercies.  The young elders and sisters went back to their districts for Relief Society and Priesthood.

We went back to our room to rest for a short time before lunch.  After lunch, we went back to our room and napped.

Dinner was at 4:30.  We went to choir practice at 5:15 to practice the new song for the Tuesday devotional.  After choir practice, we moved from the bleachers to the floor so we could have more comfortable seats. President and Sister Martino (MTC President) were the speakers.  Both are converts, and they told of their conversions.  They then told us about their lives and how many people were in the Church because the missionaries found and converted them.  It was interesting how many people were influenced by their baptism.

We got back to our room about 8:30.  We went to bed early.

July 15, 2017

Sister Fanning did not feel well this morning so she slept late.  She slept 15 hours last night. We did our laundry as soon as we were up and dressed, which was late morning.  The laundromat at the MTC is free; you only have to provide your own detergent and supplies.  We took over 2 hours because the washer for the socks did not spin out very well, and the clothes were very wet.  We took everything back to the room and hung up the clothes.

We left the MTC to have lunch with Cindy.  She was the mother of a sailor in Lemoore and a convert to the Church. She moved to Provo about the time we came home from our mission. We had a nice visit with her.  She told us that her daughter is coming home from deployment to the Middle East and will be stationed in the Seattle area.  Cindy will move to Seattle after her daughter returns to help take care of her grandkids.

We stopped at the store for a couple of things.  We bought some water bottles that we thought would work well.

We spent some time tidying our room.  Sister Fanning did some computer work and wrote some blogs.  We again went to bed early.

Cindy’s grandson took the picture so it was a little blurry.

July 14, 2017

Today was another early day.  We started with an experience teaching a member of the church.  The members are volunteers who come to the MTC to give the senior missionaries practice.  We had 15 minutes to get to know Brother Benson.  He told us about his family and work experience.  His wife died five years ago.  He then left the room, and we had 10 minutes to prepare to teach a 20-minute lesson. We felt inspired to teach him the same lesson that we had taught the Donovan’s because he also had a daughter who was less active.  We had a really good experience teaching him and could really feel the Spirit.  We were glad that we taught him the lesson that we did.  We noticed that he kept a notebook of all of the lessons in which he participated.  He was determined to learn from each of his experiences.

We spent some time after that discussing our teaching experience with the District.  We spent some time talking about Chapter 9 in Preach My Gospel on How to Find People to Teach.

After lunch, we went back to the new training buildings to meet as a large group.  We started with a presentation by Elder and Sister Hawkes who are serving their 10th mission.  They started early serving a mission as a young family at a Church school in Samoa.  They had two children when they went on their mission, but returned home with four children after 8 years in Samoa.  It was fun to learn about things they did on their missions.

We also had a large group meeting on Enduring to the End.  We all felt that we had endured a very long and tiring week. We finished earlier than usual, about 3:30.

Sister Fanning could not keep her eyes open, so she lay down for a nap about 5:30.  She woke up at 8:30 and thought she had slept straight through until morning.  She was so tired that she was able to go right back to sleep.

July 13, 2017

We had a 5:30 am wake up today.  We always seem to have some prep for training before we go to breakfast.

This week we were able to visit the new training buildings for the young missionaries. They are beautiful.  On every floor of one of the buildings there are floor to ceiling murals that are backlit.  They are amazing.  They will be doing public tours starting next week.

We had more technology training this morning.  They want to make sure the senior missionaries know how to effectively use smart phones and tablets.  We practiced using the technology in lesson preparation and missionary work.  We sent videos out via text and posted to Facebook.

We did the follow-up with our assigned couple and taught them another 15 minute lesson.  We expanded on the lesson yesterday and taught about hope.  We had a very good experience.  We became friends with the Donovan’s.

We next discussed working with Ward and Stake leaders.  We also did some case studies and discussed solutions to problems and challenges.

Elder Fanning went to the evening training for Military Relations.  Sister Fanning stayed in our room and rested.

We went to bed as soon as Elder Fanning returned from the training.

Picture in front of a backlit quote in one of the new training buildings.

July 12, 2017

This morning was another early one.  After breakfast, we started with a large group meeting on having Christ in Our Teaching.  Our teacher was Brother Arslanian.  He is the grandson of the Weber State coach, Sark Arslanian.  He was coach when we went to Weber State back in the early 70s.

We met with our teacher Sister Nelson and discussed Christlike Attributes and the Role of the Book of Mormon.  We had a role-playing teaching experience with Elder and Sister Croft.  We felt inspired to be a couple we knew from our last mission.  He was a medic who lost his testimony while serving in Iraq.  We did not know that the Crofts also have a son who is in the same situation.  After the role play, we were able to share some Military Relations resources we used on our last mission.  There are no coincidences in the Gospel.  The Spirit knows who we are and what we need.  It was a very special experience.

We also had several hours of technology training.  They focused on using phones and tablets to download videos and tag information in Gospel Library.  It was very helpful.  They divided the group between Apple devices and everything else.  Since we had a new I-Pad, we both went to Apple training.

At lunch, we like to sit by the young elders and sisters and chat with them.  We sat down by a companionship of sisters.  One was named Sister Price.  It just happened that Sister Price is the granddaughter of the Merrill’s in our ward in Pocatello.  Her mother owns the dance studio where our granddaughter takes lessons.  Sister Price knows Marissa.

After that, we had about 10 minutes to prepare to teach our assigned couple, the Donovan’s.  They have a daughter who has left the Church.  So our topic was having faith and enduring to the end.  We used a conference talk by Elder Bednar, a couple of scriptures, and Preach My Gospel. We had to teach a 20 minute lesson and leave them with an invitation to act.  We asked them to find a quote or conference talk on hope, and to read the complete article from Elder Bednar.  Interestingly, they addressed the same topic we had since we also have some less-active children.  Their lesson was different from ours, although it addressed the same issue.  Their invitation to us was to read a story that Elder Holland had shared at the MTC a couple of weeks ago.  He told the story of a family from Pocatello who had a son who left home and joined a motorcycle gang.  He ended up in southern California.  His brother, who was born after he left home, served a mission in California, found his brother, and invited him to return home.  The brother returned home and became active in the Church.  It showed how many people had been influenced by the Holy Ghost to get the brothers in the same place at the same time.

We finished with a self-evaluation of our teaching and some instruction from our teacher on Teaching Skills.

After dinner, we had some Military Relations Computer Training.  The other five couples were beginners on computers.  We spent a lot of the time just sitting.  Elder and Sister Sparrow wanted us to help, but with Elder Fanning’s eyes and Sister Fanning’s legs and feet, we were not much help.  Sister Fanning’s legs and feet have been painful and swollen from so much sitting and walking. She decided to try elevating her feet during training tomorrow to see if that would help.

We got back to our room at about 8:30 and went to bed, exhausted.

Our group of 105 Senior Missionaries.


July 11, 2017

This morning we were up at 5:30 am.  We were given an assignment at the end of training yesterday.  We were to get to know another assigned senior couple.  We arranged at breakfast to meet them at lunch.

Last night we drove to the BYU Bookstore during dinner time to buy an I-Pad.  We were told that we needed an Apple product to be able to prepare the reports in the mission field.  We had the tech service at the bookstore set it up.  However, not being Apple users, we continued to have some problems downloading software and running the I-Pad.  So Elder Fanning made a couple of trips to the IT Services for the MTC.  He finally got it up and running.

The first thing we did this morning in training was to meet our teachers.  We have these young returned missionaries who are excellent gospel teachers provide our Preach My Gospel training.  We have a different teacher in the morning and afternoon.  Sister Nelson, our morning teacher, went on a mission to Montana.  She is so upbeat and positive and always has a smile on her face.  One of the Elders asked her if she ever had a bad day.  She thought for a moment and then said that she didn’t think so.  She has been married for six months and is smitten.  She told us that she won the lottery where her husband was concerned.  Our afternoon teacher is Brother Echo Hawk.  He went on a mission to Argentina and has been home for six months.  He is from Pocatello, and is Larry Echo Hawk’s grandson.

We started our training with the district and discussed the following topics:  How to Begin Teaching; Identifying Needs and Meeting Needs with Doctrine; and Invitations.

We had lunch with our assigned couple – Elder and Sister Donovan.  They lived in Portland Oregon for the last two years, and before that, just outside of San Diego.  They will serve a Humanitarian Mission in the Georgia Tbilisi Mission.  We arranged to meet for dinner.

We finished the afternoon training with a large group meeting on The Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion.  One of the young teachers led the discussion, and it was wonderful.

We then had missionary group pictures taken of the senior missionaries.  There are 107 so it took four pictures.

We had a quick dinner with the Donovan’s.  We went to the large auditorium for choir practice.  The choir has hundreds of missionaries.  There are two one-hour practices before the song is performed at the devotional on Sunday.  We practiced Where Can I Turn for Peace and Day to Day. Day to Day is from the Swedish hymn book and was requested for the closing song by the devotional speaker.  The choir learned it so the congregation could follow along with only the words.

After choir practice, we stayed in our seats for the devotional.  The speakers were Emeritus General Authority Elder Bruce C. Hafen and his wife, Marie.  We finished about 8 pm and walked back to our room on the other side of the MTC.  We were again very tired and went straight to bed.

Below are the details of the assignment we got yesterday.

Our District and Teachers from left to right:  Brother Echo Hawk, Elder and Sister Fanning, Elder and Sister Blocker, Elder and Sister Ethington, Elder and Sister Croft, Sister Nelson.

July 10, 2017

This morning we had to be at the MTC between 10 and 10:30 am.  We stood in line with the other couples to receive our badges, schedules, key cards, travel funds, and other necessities. We then took our car to the loading dock of the senior missionary lodging building so young missionaries could unload everything and take it to our room. Then our young sister missionary guide took us to volunteers in other areas so we could pick up our missionary training materials, pay for our meals and lodging, and have a quick orientation by the Senior Missionary Coordinators, Elder and Sister Braithwaite.

We ate lunch at the bounteous cafeteria at the MTC.  Unlimited food, of many types was offered, for every meal.  There were gourmet salads and wraps, meat and potato meals, hot sandwiches and burgers with fries, soups, ice cream bars, desserts, drinks, and even a place where a missionary could make his own peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

After lunch, we had a meeting and welcome from the MTC presidency.  We had an overview of the training we would receive this week.  We had group training on teaching repentance and baptizing converts.

We were then organized into districts.  Our district was Elder and Sister Croft, Elder and Sister Ethington, Elder and Sister Blocker, and us.  Our District Leader was Elder Fanning.  We were then released for a short break before dinner.

After dinner for family home evening, we watched a video of Elder David Bednar’s talk at the Sunday evening MTC devotional, on December 25, 2011.  He spoke about the attributes of Christ. The talk is not available anywhere else.  It was very good.

We got back to our room about 7:30.  The room is quite nice and even has a couple of upholstered chairs that have pull-out footstools.  We spent some time unpacking and organizing everything.  We were very tired when we went to bed.

Our district (from left to right):  Elder and Sister Croft, serving in the Hawaii Honolulu Mission as housing coordinators at BYU-Hawaii; Elder and Sister Fanning, serving in the California San Diego Mission as Military Relations Specialists; Elder and Sister Ethington, serving in the Michigan Chicago Mission as mission nurse and office couple; and Elder and Sister Blocker, serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission as Young Single Adult Center Coordinators.

July 9, 2017

Today we went to the Clark’s homecoming in Pleasant View.  Jeff Clark served as our Mission President in the California Fresno Mission.  The talks were wonderful.  They had all of the missionaries who served with them come to the front to sing Called to Serve for the rest hymn. There were between 80 and 100 missionaries — elders, sisters, and seniors — singing.  It was very moving.

We went to their home for lunch afterwards.  Jeff and Bonnie’s children did a wonderful job of organizing the parking, food, and photos.  We sang Called to Serve as a “thank you” to the Clark’s after lunch.  This was the same way the missionaries thanked anyone who served them in the California Fresno Mission.   We were able to see many of the young and senior missionaries with whom we served on our last mission.

We went back to the hotel to checkout and repack the car.  We had a late checkout, but the desk clerk failed to record it properly.  The maid went to our room before we got back and reported that we had checked out and left all of our belongings.  They wanted to know if we were going to come back and get our things.  We got the problem settled and left the hotel about 3:00.

We stopped to see Sister Fanning’s best friend in Roy, Utah, and had a nice visit.

We stopped in Salt Lake to have dinner with our son, Reed; our daughter, April; her friend Erica; and our granddaughter, Marissa.  April was in Salt Lake to pick up Marissa after her flight home from visiting with her father in Denver. We had a nice visit with our family.

We arrived in Provo about 8:00 and checked into our hotel.  We again went to bed early.

Pictures of Jeff and Bonnie Clark (President and Sister Clark) and the missionaries singing thank-you, the California Fresno Mission way.

July 8, 2017

The moving crew arrived about 9:00 this morning.  We were so thankful that so many people showed up.  We had three of the men from the High Priests’ Quorum and one from the Elders’ Quorum.  Three of them brought trailers.  We also had four missionaries come to help.  Our daughter, April, and grandson, Quinn, also came to help.  We picked up a couple of dozen donuts, which the packing crew appreciated. We were able to get everything packed in an hour and a half.  Everything went to the storage unit, and April went to “direct traffic” to make sure that the things we are taking to California got put closest to the front of the storage unit.

After everything was moved out, Reed, April, and I finished cleaning the little house we were renting. We locked the doors and dropped the keys off at the property manager.

We had a late checkout at the hotel.  We finished packing everything at the hotel that we were taking to the Missionary Training Center (MTC), and April and Quinn came up to the hotel to help load the car.  We got on the road to Utah about 4:00.  We were tired, but happy to be on our way.

We stopped for some dinner in Ogden, went to the grocery store, and got to the hotel about 8:00.

We went to bed early since we were so tired.

April took this picture of the moving crew trying to fit everything in the storage unit.

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