We are all awaiting Lauren's first letter/email. So while we wait I will write about the first few days in the MTC. While the MTC is different now than when I was a missionary in 1979 and when I was a MTC teacher upon my return from missionary service in Japan, I know it is a special place.
Here is the missionary schedule as written in the Missionary Handbook followed by every missionary:
6:30 am Arise, pray, exercise (30 minutes), and prepare for the day.
7:30 am Breakfast
8:00 am Personal study
9:00 am Companion study
10:00 am Begin proselyting (or language study for 30 to 60 minutes)
... You may take an hour for lunch and additional language study and an hour for dinner . during the day. Normally, dinner should be finished no later than 6:00 pm.
9:00 pm Return to living quarters (unless teaching a lesson; then return by 9:30 pm), and plan for the next . day's activities (30 minutes). Write in your journal, prepare for bed, pray.
10:30 pm Retire to bed.
In the MTC, the daily schedule is different, but the rising time and bed time is the same. I just recall being pretty exhausted for the first month.
As a language teacher in the MTC, the first day was my favorite, but it was pretty high energy. I worked four hours each morning and on the first day I didn't speak any English. It was a wild game of body language and foreign language communication. I looked forward to the first day, but it took a lot of energy. It was a lot of fun for me as a teacher and a lot of fun for the missionaries if they had the right attitude. it is so intense that if they were not spiritually and emotionally ready, they would have difficulty. As a teacher, I had to be prepared spiritually and emotionally, too.
When we receive Lauren's first letter, we will know her preparation day. Each week, the missionaries have part of one day to write letters, do laundry, do shopping, get haircuts, etc. In the MTC, they don't go shopping unless absolutely necessary. Laundry facilities and barbershops are there, too.
Sunday schedules are also different in the MTC with worship and evening cultural classes or guest speakers. Each day is pretty full.
Here is a recollection from Lauren's departure at the airport: As Lauren made her way through the unusually long security line, we all waited for any opportunity to see Lauren. As she approached the security check point, it became increasingly difficult to see Lauren. I decided to walk to the far side of the room to see if I could get a better view. As Lauren passed through the check point she turned to wave to the family. Lynette and the other children waved excitedly. Then Lauren signed "father" in ASL, asking "where is Dad?" Lynette pointed in my direction and Lauren turned and saw me and waved goodbye. It was a poignant moment for me. Saying goodbye to a child for 18 months can be an emotional time.
With no cellphone I couldn't even check to ascertain she made it to the gate or arrived safely in Utah. After arriving home I looked skyward and saw an airplane. It might have been hers. The timing and direction of flight was about right. Emily and I watched until we could no longer see the plane. For the next two hours I checked the flight status and saw that her flight arrived 9 minutes early at 8:55 am Mountain time. After about 35 minutes I called the shuttle company to see if they could tell me if Lauren checked in on the 10 am shuttle. I breathed a sigh of relief when the receptionist said she was all checked in. This was probably more difficult for me than for Lauren. I later learned she arrived at the MTC on the shuttle with four other missionaries. LOL. I checked. She made it!
Some have asked about the musical presentation preceding Lauren's talk in church on Sunday. This arrangement of O Lord My Redeemer was done by Lauren's brother, Travis. Travis wrote the harmony parts and adjusted the dynamics for our voices and for the emotions and messages he wanted us to convey. For Travis, it was more than just getting up and singing. He and Lauren discussed and tinkered with the arrangement until Saturday night. I am so impressed with Travis. He patiently worked with me and I just tried to do whatever he asked. Deborah Hale, who accompanied on the piano, is really amazing, too. It was fun to sing with my talented children.
The Brazilian Visa website is still showing no progress on Lauren's visa.