Our day started out at about 3:30 am. I am sure Lauren is pretty tired now, but she is on her way to Utah. The security checkin line was sooooooooooo long. We were wondering if she would make it in time, but we saw her make it through security. Normally, we could just call her on her cellphone, but she can't take her cellphone with her so we just trust she made it onto the flight. On a weekly basis, or as her email messages arrive, we will be posting her letters here.
So what happens today? She should arrive in Salt Lake City at about 9 am. She'll collect her bags to make a 10 am shuttle from Salt Lake International Airport to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. She will be dropped off at about 11 am. She is scheduled to enter at noon, but I am sure they will take care of her. She will go through an orientation today and where she will be assigned an MTC companion. Then the work begins.
You will hear or read the term "companion" a lot. I will try to help with translating the missionary terminology as it appears, but feel free to ask if you don't understand something. Latter-day Saint missionaries are always with a companion, except on transfers. A "transfer" is a move to a new location. Transfers typically occur every six weeks. Sometimes Lauren will be transfered to a new location. Sometimes she will receive a new companion who will transfer in while her old companion transfers to a new location. Lauren will likely have between 8 and 12 companions during her 18 month mission. Lauren now holds the title of "Sister Missionary" and will be known as Sister Yoshimoto. Male missionaries hold the title "Elder" so when you hear the term "elders" it refers to the male full-time missionaries and the term "sisters" typically refers to the sister missionaries. I write "typically," because "sister" also is the title held by female members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Male members are called "brother," because we are all brothers and sisters as children of God.
Serving a mission is a personal decision. It has to be. It is by no stretch of the imagination a vacation. A mission is hard work. I suspect this will be as difficult a time as Lauren will have ever experienced. Sister Yoshimoto has already learned that she can do hard things and be happy. This time as a missionary will also bring Lauren some her best and happiest experiences in life. As she dedicates her life to God, she will grow as a person. She will still be Lauren, but she will grow spiritually, emotionally, intellectually and be a much more rounded, mature individual when she returns. You will see that growth as you read her letters. We invite you to check back often.
While she is in the Provo Missionary Training Center (six weeks or until her visa arrives, whichever comes first), you may write to Sister Yoshimoto very easily. She will only read email once a week and will probably not be able to respond at length. Sister Yoshimoto can, however, read short letters every day. Let me tell you how to write to her. (1) On your web browser, go to http://dearelder.com. This is a private service for family and friends of missionaries. (2) At the dropdown box, select "Provo MTC -- FREE." (3) Click on the "Write a letter" button. (4) Fill out all the fields for your information. (5) Provide the following information for Lauren: Title=Sister, First name=Lauren, Last name=Yoshimoto, Unit#=240, Mission code = BRA-TER, Estimated MTC Departure Date = JUL23. (5) Enter you email address for a confirmation of your letter. (6) Type your letter. There is a 7000 character limit. (7) Press send. Letters that are sent by 12:00 noon are printed and delivered to the MTC the same day.
Missionaries love to receive letters. We encourage make your letters supportive and uplifting. Avoid the drama to help Lauren maintain her focus. I am certain Lauren would love to hear how you are doing and what is happening in your life. You are special to her and a big part of who she is. Your positive letters will definitely help her through this transition and will also help you to understand what she is doing. We can vicariously experience this adventure through her letters!
More later! The adventure begins!
8:20 am: She should have already arrived in Salt Lake City and I suspect she is collecting her bags and hunting down her shuttle. Her flight arrived safely at 8:59 am Mountain time.