It was great having family and friends with us last Sunday in sacrament meeting as we gave our farewell talks. It was extra special to have all of our five children with us that day. We missed having some of their spouses and three Georgia grandchildren with us, but they had conflicts with work, school, and distance. They were in our hearts all day long.
Then on Monday morning (the 20th) we spent four days in Salt Lake for Medical Training. It helped us understand more about Pat's duties as a nurse specialist in the Pittsburgh mission. We also learned about what some of our other responsibilities might be. We were impressed at how well missionaries are watched over and what an extensive network it takes to administer the missionary program of 80,000 plus missionaries currently serving.
Our training was organized and presented primarily by the Drakes.
What a dynamic couple! They have served in various capacities in many countries including Bolivia, Peru, and (most interesting to us) the Polochic Valley of Guatemala. It was great to see their slides of the villages where Kent spent 18 months of his mission several years before they were there. We could remember seeing some of the places they talked about from when we were there to pick up Kent after his mission in 1991.
It was interesting to meet the seven other couples in our training class from very diverse backgrounds and places. At least one spouse in each couple had medical background as a doctor, nurse, or mental health counselor. We got to socialize at lunch and between classes with them. We heard of some amazing conversion stories and also stories similar to ours about the adversity that came into their lives the minute they started preparing for their missions. It made us realize that Satan wasn't just after us alone!
The destinations of the other couples were Ghana West Africa, Johannesburg South Africa, Jakarta Indonesia, Philipines, Uganda Africa, and San Jose California. They all sound exciting, but it made us realize how happy we are with Pittsburgh--although San Jose wouldn't be too bad either!
In our classes we talked a lot about the conditions that cause missionaries to have to come home early and what missionaries can do to prepare emotionally to serve. It seemed that one of the most important things is to learn to be flexible and use good coping skills to handle stress. Guess we'll soon see how prepared WE really are.