Sunday, January 26, 2014

The MTC and the Omaha Landing

2 December 2013

Hey Mom,

No worries about the messages; I am safe and sound in the mission.  It's wonderful to know that you're back home safe.  London sounds like an amazing city; I look forward to reading about it. (We spent Thanksgiving Week in London, visiting our daughter, who was studying there.  Yes, we went to London a week after depositing our son in the MTC,  We are horrible people.)

Elder Deveraux (his MTC companion) is from American Fork, Utah and he and I are no longer companions.  They gave all of us new missionaries our new assignments on the night of Thanksgiving.  But I'll back up to the last time I emailed you, which was 12 days ago:


 That Wednesday (November 20) was our P-day in the MTC, which was why I was able to email you.  We did a session in the Provo Temple that morning and finished out our day by welcoming the new missionaries in our zone. (Sam served as a Zone Leader in the MTC, and helped with new missionary orientations.)  We took them on a tour of the MTC complex (where to eat, where to work out, where to buy stuff, where to pick up mail, where to get haircuts, and so forth).  Our classes at the MTC consisted of studying the lessons of Preach My Gospel, role playing (one companion or even the teacher would take on the role of investigator and we would teach them), Gospel discussions, personal and companion study, and so forth.  Most of us were ready to get out in the field and were counting down the days to our departure date: Wednesday, November 27.

MIssionaries heading to the Provo Temple

 We got up at 1:30 that morning, showered and dressed, and left for the Travel Office.  We were on the road by 3:15 or so and arrived at the Salt Lake airport at around 4.  Our flight left at around 6 and I managed to give a pass-along card to a young man named Chase.  I met a nice couple on the plane, but I'm sorry to say that I can't remember their names.  They were friendly and members of the Church.  The husband served his mission in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  We slept most of the flight, which was from Salt Lake to the Minnesota Twin Cities.  We then got on a connecting flight to Omaha; I struck up a pleasant conversation with a new missionary seated next to me.  His name was Elder Larson and he was from the Sandy, Utah area. 

The Omaha Airport.  I kid.  I'm a kidder.

Omaha, Nebraska

President and Sister Weston, Nebraska Omaha Mission

We landed in Omaha and were greeted by the Mission President, his wife, and the Assistants to the Mission President (APs as they call them.)  Elder Deveraux had a good friend who was one of the APs and they were almost inseparable the entire almost day-and-a-half we spent in their company.  The vans soon filled up so my MTC district leader, Elder Herde (pronounced Hair-duh) from Provo, Utah, and I rode with the Mission President and his wife to the mission home.  They were nice and we had a good conversation.  We had lunch, orientation, and dinner in the mission home and they put all of us new missionaries in a La Quinta close by.  

Winter Quarters Temple, with Pioneer Cemetery in foreground

The next morning was Thanksgiving.  We had breakfast in the Mission President's family's home, and went to the Winter Quarters Visitors Center.  I was wondering if you, Dad, and/or Grandma C. had family names that might have been buried there. (We don't.  My wife's family made it to Utah, and my early Mormon ancestors got their feelings hurt and beat it back to New York in 1846, where they joined the Church of Christ and we waited 122 years for missionaries to come knocking on our door.)  It was a thoughtful and sober experience.  In the downstairs portion of the center, we had Thanksgiving dinner and a little Christmas program put on by the more experienced Sister Missionaries.  Afterwards, we had Testimony meeting and were given our new assignments.  Elder Deveraux was assigned to an area in the Omaha Zone and I was assigned to the Glenwood area in the Council Bluffs Zone.  The missionary jargon works something like this: an area is basically a ward or a branch, a district is a little bigger than that, and a zone is like a stake.  You're given a trainer who'll be your companion for 12 weeks and just basically show you the ropes of the area.

It may take more than one day...

The morning after Thanksgiving, we went to the mission home and met our new companions.  My trainer is Elder Quayle from Pocatello, Idaho and he's alright.  We loaded up the truck and headed east across the Missouri River to Council Bluffs.  We picked up a few things at a Wal-Mart and drove to Glenwood, a little town southeast of Council Bluffs.  We went to the apartment, I unloaded my stuff, and we got to see the area/Glenwood Ward, which is huge; a lot of little towns scattered amongst the bluffs and cornfields.  Elder Quayle is younger than me and has been out about 10 months.  We met a few members, helped a member with his truck most of the day Saturday, visited a few members on Saturday, went to Church on Sunday, visited a few more members, found a potential investigator, and here we are on P-day in the Glenwood Public Library.  
Glenwood Public Library

Downtown Glenwood

I've got to get going, but I'll check in again next Monday.  There are a few letters coming your way.  I'm sorry, but I was wondering if you could send me the comforter please....All mail must go through the Mission Office, so here it is again:

11027 Martha Street
Omaha, NE 68144

I look forward to hearing from you again.  Thank you, love and love,
Elder McMurray    

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