DOG & CAT DIARIES

I have many friends, including lots of dogs and a few cats. MEE is allergic to both (most especially allergic to cats), so we don’t chat much about my furry friends. But I found something I think you might enjoy (she might even enjoy it) … excerpts from the diaries of one of my dog friends and then excerpts from one of the cats. See what you think. I hope you at least smile!  It wasn’t easy getting this information!  Pigs are usually noticed when they’re snooping/snorting around . . . .

THE DOG AND CAT DIARIES

EXCERPTS FROM A DOG’S DIARY:

  • Day number 180 through 185

8:00 am ‑ OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

9:30 am ‑ OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

9:40 am ‑ OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!

10:30 am ‑ OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

11:30 am ‑ OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

12:00 noon ‑ OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

1:00 pm – OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!

4:00 pm ‑ OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

5:00 PM ‑ OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

5:30 PM ‑ OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!

  • Day number 186

8:00 am ‑ OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

9:30 am ‑ OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

9:40 am ‑ OH BOY! A WALK! MY FAVORITE!

10:30 am ‑ OH BOY! A CAR RIDE! MY FAVORITE!

11:30 am ‑ OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

12:00 noon ‑ OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

1:00 pm – OH BOY! THE YARD! MY FAVORITE!

1:30 pm ‑ ooooooo.  Bath.  Bummer.

4:00 pm ‑ OH BOY! THE KIDS! MY FAVORITE!

5:00 PM ‑ OH BOY! DOG FOOD! MY FAVORITE!

5:30 PM ‑ OH BOY! MOM! MY FAVORITE!

EXCERPTS FROM A CAT’S DIARY:

  • DAY 752 ‑ My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape, and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture.  Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.
  • DAY 761 ‑ Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded; must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair… must try this on their bed.
  • DAY 765 ‑ Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body… an attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was… Hmmm. Operation Mouse not working according to plan.
  • DAY 768 ‑ I am finally aware of how sadistic they are. For no good reason I was chosen for the water torture. This time however it included a burning foamy chemical called “shampoo.”  What sick minds could invent such a liquid!  My only consolation is the piece of thumb still stuck between my teeth.
  • DAY 771 ‑ There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the foul odor of the glass tubes they call “soda..”  More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of “allergies.”  Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.
  • DAY 774 ‑ Am convinced other captives are flunkies … may be snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than happy to return. Obviously a half‑wit. The bird on the other hand has got to be an informant, and speaks with them regularly. Am certain he reports my every move.  Due to his current placement in the metal room his safety is assured.  But I can wait … it is only a matter of time…

 

A WARNING

DANGER:  CARROTS CAN KILL! – Did that get your attention!

(I know I’m just a tiny little pig, but “I get around,” and when I realized how important this warning was, I felt I should share it. l think it illustrates that you can use “facts” but twist them so that you make something seem truthful which really isn’t)

NEARLY ALL SICK PEOPLE HAVE EATEN CARROTS.  OBVIOUSLY, THE EFFECTS ARE CUMULATIVE.  AN ESTIMATED 99.9 PERCENT OF ALL PEOPLE WHO DIE FROM CANCER,  A RUPTURED APPENDIX, AND OLD AGE HAVE EATEN CARROTS!  ANOTHER 99.9 PERCENT OF PEOPLE INVOLVED IN KNEE AND HIP REPLACEMENTS AND AUTO ACCIDENTS ATE CARROTS WITHIN 60 DAYS OF THE INCIDENT.  SOME 93.1 PERCENT OF GANG MEMBERS COME FROM HOMES WHERE CARROTS WERE SERVED. AMONG THE PEOPLE BORN IN 1889 WHO LATER DINED ON CARROTS, THERE HAS BEEN A 100 PERCENT MORTALITY RATE!  STUDIES HAVE SHOWN, BASED ON RECENT LABORATORY TESTS, THAT RATS WHO WERE FED 500 lbs. OF CARROTS PER DAY DIED WITHIN 3 WEEKS.  MANY BUNNIES HAVE BEEN EXAMINED POST-MORTEM AND WERE FOUND TO HAVE EATEN CARROTS (MR. MACGREGOR DECLINED TO BE INTERVIEWED).  ALL SURVIVING CARROT EATERS BORN BETWEEN 1920 AND 1930 HAVE WRINKLED SKIN, BRITTLE BONES, FAILING EYESIGHT, AND FEW IF ANY OF THEM STILL HAVE THEIR OWN TEETH.  VIRTUALLY ALL PEOPLE WHO FEEL DISCOURAGED FOR AT LEAST 45 MINUTES A WEEK ARE KNOWN TO HAVE EATEN CARROTS SOMETIME DURING THEIR LIFE. (OH, AND THERE’S A CURRENT STUDY OF PEOPLE WHO SPEND A LOT OF TIME WITH FACEBOOK, BLOGS, TWITTER, TWEET, TWOTTLE, PINTEREST, PINCUSHIONS, ETC., SEEING IF ANY WHO ARE “ADDICTED” EVER ATE CARROTS!!)

 

CARROTS

PIGS04

 

MERIT BADGES!

Oh, I can hardly believe it, but I have earned not one, but TWO MERIT BADGES! Yes! I know you’re going to want my autograph the next time you see me! HA HA. It’s WENDY again! I had written to her about how excited I was that I figured out how to change my picture and the backgrounds on Facebook, and that I felt like I should have earned a merit badge. Well… she sent back not just one, but two. Take a look! One for computer excellence (I’m not really that good) and one for blogging (I think it’s a “beginner’s” badge, don’t you??). OH! This just makes my day!! My week!!

MeritBadgeComputer     MeritBadgeBlogging

ON GROWING OLDER

I never thought I’d be 75. I never thought I’d experience getting older. I didn’t even think about it when I was a lot younger. I was completely healthy (except for hay fever and motion sickness) and could do about anything I wanted (like sports, running, climbing, jumping). I remember my Mother telling me, when she was at about the age I am now, that one of the things she missed most was running. She was one of the healthiest, busiest, most productive persons I’ve ever known. And she missed running.

I remember being at BYU High School one afternoon, waiting for someone to come and pick me up (we lived in Mapleton, so I couldn’t walk home from school like I’d been used to for all my years in Cedar City). I was standing in front of the building which used to be next to the beautiful library on University Avenue (which was part of B.Y. High). I was looking at things people had carved in the bricks, and I clearly remember thinking “1958 will never seem like ‘way back when.’” (Oh really?). I got bored of waiting, so I took a rock and scratched “MEE 1958” on one of the bricks. You can’t see it… the building’s gone.

I don’t think I felt any major changes until I was about 40. I’d had health problems on my missions – all in hot, humid places (Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Philippines [twice], and Indonesia. Mostly allergies and asthma. Worse each mission. I guess that’s why I was surprised to be asked to go to Africa, and to have a “yes” response when I asked Heavenly Father if that was really what I was supposed to do. More “hot and humid” – we lived in a rainforest area. I had to be sent home early. “Feet first.” More about that someday maybe.

Some of you know that I’m working on a book about aging. Some of my research and rough drafting experiences are “way too close to home,” if you know what I mean. The working title of the book is Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Hips (which makes me laugh!I love titles!)  When I first started noticing these little surprises of nature (like how much stronger gravity is as the years go by) I thought I’d document it. The aches and pains, the hearing loss, the inability to take the stairs two at a time (it has become increasingly challenging just taking one at a time). No leaping tall buildings anymore. Eyesight is still OK (and I’m exceedingly grateful for that). I’m not ticked off about anything (but oh how I wish I could still hear well), and I’ve never been one who says I’m “29.” I’ve lived every year, all 75 plus, and I’ve filled them as full as I could, and it doesn’t bother me at all to tell someone how old I am. (I do remember that for the first 40 years I was often mistaken for being 5 or more years younger; that’s a pleasant memory… it’s not as fun as being mistaken for even a year older than I am, ha ha). And by the way, I know someone 80 or 85 or 90 is going to snort when they read this… oh well…. It mattereth not.

ANYWAY… all this is a preface to what I’d like to share about growing older. (A very long preface, isn’t it – it’s longer than the quote I’m sharing). I don’t know who wrote this, but I didn’t. I found it and cut it out (before I was being careful about attribution). I hope you enjoy it. (I wonder if the one who wrote it would have enjoyed writing a blog).

Lord, Thou knowest better than I know myself that I am growing older, and will some day be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking that I must say something on every subject on every occasion. Release me from trying to straighten out everybody’s affairs.  Make me thoughtful, but not moody; helpful, but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom it seems a pity not to use it, but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends left at the end. Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details, and give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains – they are increasing and love of hearing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by. I do not ask for grace enough to enjoy the tales of others of their pains, but help me endure them with patience. I do not ask for improved memory, but for growing humility and a lessening cocksureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. And teach me, O Lord, the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken. Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not want to be a saint; some of them are too hard to live with, but a sour old person is the crowning work of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places, and talents in unexpected people, and give me the grace to tell them so.

OLD-06   OLD-14OLD-04

 

 

UNUSUAL BOOK TITLES

As you read, think of these being made into movies, and have fun thinking of who the star or stars would be (As if you had time for such nonsense!!)

This is from a Washington Post Invitational contest.  Readers were asked to combine the works of two authors, and to provide a suitable description of the merged book. The prizewinners (and some of these are SO clever!):

MACHIAVELLI’S THE LITTLE PRINCE – Antoine de Saint‑Exupery’s classic children’s tale as presented by Machiavelli. The whimsy of human nature is embodied in many delightful and intriguing characters, all of whom are executed.

GREEN EGGS AND HAMLET – Would you kill him in his bed? Thrust a dagger through his head? I would not, could not, kill the King. I could not do that evil thing. I would not wed this girl, you see. Now get thee to a nunnery.

WHERE’S WALDEN? – Alas, the challenge of locating Henry David Thoreau in each richly‑detailed drawing loses its appeal when it quickly becomes clear that he is always in the woods.

CATCH-22 IN THE RYE – Holden learns that if you’re insane, you’ll probably flunk out of prep school, but if you’re flunking out of prep school, you’re probably not insane.

2001: A SPACE ILIAD – The Hal 9000 computer wages an insane 10‑year war against the Greeks after falling victim to the Y2K bug.

RIKKI-KON-TIKI-TAVI – Thor Heyerdahl recounts his attempt to prove Rudyard Kipling’s theory that the mongoose first came to India on a raft from Polynesia.

THE MALTESE FAULKNER – Is the black bird a tortured symbol of Sam’s struggles with race and family? Does it signify his decay of soul along with the soul of the Old South? Is it merely a crow, mocking his attempts to understand? Or is it worth a cool mil?

JANE EYRE JORDAN – Plucky English orphan girl survives hardships to lead the Chicago Bulls to the NBA championship.

LOOKING FOR MR. GODOT – A young woman waits for Mr. Right to enter her life. She has a loooong wait.

THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL LETTER – An 18th‑century English nobleman leads a double life, freeing comely young women from the prisons of post‑Revolution France.

LORNA DUNE – An English farmer, Paul Atreides, falls for the daughter of a notorious rival clan, the Harkonnens, and pursues a career as a giant worm jockey in order to impress her.

THE REMAINS OF THE DAY OF THE JACKAL – A formal English butler puts his loyalty to his employer above all else, until he is persuaded to join a plot to assassinate Charles de Gaulle.

THE INVISIBLE MAN OF LA MANCHA – Don Quixote discovers a mysterious elixir, which renders him invisible. He proceeds to go on a mad rampage of corruption and terror, attacking innocent people in the streets and all the while singing “To Fight the Invisible Man!” until he is finally stopped by a windmill.

OF THREE BLIND MICE AND MEN – Burgess Meredith has his limbs hacked off by a psychopathic farmer’s wife. Did you ever see such a sight in your life?

PLANET OF THE GRAPES OF WRATH – Astronaut lands on mysterious planet only to discover that it is his very own home planet of Earth which has been taken over by the Joads, a race of dirt‑poor corn farmers who miraculously developed rudimentary technology and regained the ability to speak after exposure to nuclear radiation.

PARADISE LOST IN SPACE – Satan, Moloch, and Belial are sentenced to spend eternity in a flying saucer with a goofy robot, an evil scientist, and two annoying children.

THE EXORSTENTIALIST – Psychological thriller about a priest who casts out a demon by convincing it that there’s really no purpose to what it’s doing.

Smiley

 

A quick, clever response

An older woman came into a grocery store and told one of the clerks she wanted to bu y half a head of lettuce.  He went towards the back to ask a manager of the fruit and vegetable section if they had such a thing.  His comment went something like this:  “There’s a crazy old lady out here who wants half a head of lettuce.”  He then realized to his great alarm that the woman had followed him and had overheard his comment.  He quickly added “And this dear lady would like the other half.”  That settled that, but then the manager said something like “You appear to be a bright young man, and you think quickly on your feet — where are you from?”  He said “I’m from Canada, where they have great hockey teams and homely women.”  The boss said “My wife’s from Canada.”  Quickly the youth asked “Oh — and which team is she with??”

Head of lettuce

Go figure

MEE TALK from 2008

You’ll recognize that there are some things which have changed since 2008. But I still hope this might help you if you want to include some things about missions and missionary work in your family home evenings, family councils, one-on-one visits with your family members, and so on.

THURS – FRI, 01-02 MAY, 2008 – BYU WOMEN’s CONFERENCE

MARY ELLEN EDMUNDS – FRIDAY, 02 MAY, 2008 – “LET THEM GO”

Once upon a time in a home near here there was a little boy born. He was given the name of Kinnison John Edmunds. Or, as he puts it, Kinnison John the Beloved Edmunds.

It’s been almost 19 years since Kinny was born, and I’ve loved watching him grow into a wonderful young man.  He’s tall.  Around 6′ 2″.  Blonde hair, blue eyes.  He kind of reminds me of a young Peter O’Toole (in “Lawrence of Arabia”).

I offered to do for Kinny what I’ve done for other nephews, nieces and a few close friends –  what I call a “Mini MTC.”  It’s not really an MTC… we don’t eat Fruit Loops or anything.  If they choose to do this, we can do it several ways.  Kinny chose the long way –  we began shortly after he turned 18, and we meet each month.  We get so close to each other!

One of our coming “lessons” will be a field trip to Costco so I can find out what his favorite treats are … just in case he goes somewhere where I can send a package now and then.  Of course I’ll include MINT BROWNIES in every box!

A few years ago I was working with a nephew who was pretty shy, so in one of our lessons I had him going out of the house and knocking to get back in, over and over and over.  Each time I was “someone else.” The neighbors were watching, not quite sure why I kept sending him out and making him knock to get back in. By the end I could almost hear them hollering “Let him stay!”

These are unforgettable experiences.  I’m glad my brothers and sisters let me do this with and for their children and grandchildren.  Again, we get so close to each other!

ANYBODY can do this.  Even if you haven’t gone on a mission.  A mother or father could certainly do it, or an brother or sister, aunt or uncle, grandparents, or a neighbor . . . .

Mostly we get together and discuss the gospel and missionary work.  We read scriptures together, sing hymns, and study Preach My Gospel. We share our feelings and experiences.  We pray.

There are, of course, formal missionary prep classes which are wonderful – Encourage your son or daughter to participate.

I’ve had the blessing of being involved in missionary work for most of my life, serving several missions and being involved in training, particularly at the MTC.  What an incredible opportunity!

I love missionary work!  It is a work of MIRACLES.

And one of the greatest miracles is what happens to the missionary, and to loved ones.

A mission helps a missionary become who he really is, who she really is.

These miracles begin right in your home, long before your son or daughter enters the MTC.

And the miracles happen to the WHOLE FAMILY, not just the one who happens to be serving full-time.

As PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY said:

There is not a home from which missionaries come that will not be enriched and blessed because of their service in the cause of the Lord. What a wonderful thing this great program is. How grateful every father and mother ought to be who has a missionary in the field. What a wonderful service it is.  (Sandy Utah Cottonwood Creek Stake conference, 3 Dec. 1995)

 

Your son or daughter could be called to any of 348 missions in 120 countries around the world.  Woweee!

Here’s the good part:  Our Heavenly Father already knows where they’re going and when and WHY.  He already has people “stationed” all along the way to take good care of them, to be their MENTORS and FRIENDS.

BE ASSURED that where your son or daughter (or parents) are called is not a “dart-board” decision.  A call to represent Jesus Christ is not a haphazard thing!

EVERY SINGLE MISSIONARY is NEEDED and IMPORTANT.

About 250 BABIES are BORN every MINUTE.  That’s around 353,000 a day, or almost 130 MILLION A YEAR…. The REALITY is: Many more people are BORN IN A DAY than join the Church in a YEAR [close to 280,000 in 2007].

The population of CHINA is approximately 2.5 BILLION. We could put all 53,000 missionaries in CHINA and they’d never see each other!  “There is work enough to do ere the sun goes down!”  So keep them coming!  Your SONS, your DAUGHTERS, your PARENTS.

There is NOTHING they could be doing which could have the same influence on their life and their eternity…. and on YOU and your family.  LET THEM GO!

Ah, the blessings and challenges of sending sons and daughters and parents on missions.

And preparing them the best you can at home so that the MTC isn’t a complete shock.

It will be SHOCK ENOUGH even with all you can do… trust me!  The getting up early every single morning, having a companion “24/7,” the haircut, the intense study, doing your own laundry . . . .

No wonder some of us get homesick!

Even though I hope you won’t pass this along, I’ll share a ridiculous joke that’s been told through the years by missionaries: What’s the difference between the MTC and prison? In prison they can watch TV and use the telephone.  There is so much left out of that comparison!  (The prisoners also get visitors)

Seriously, it’s impossible to compare the MTC to anywhere else. It is (they are – there are many MTC’s in the world) one of the most unique, holy, amazing places on earth.

So how do you help prepare your missionary so that the MTC is a “review” and not a “revelation?” KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING!

Virtually every mother (or father) is trying in some way to create a good home where children are safe, where they’re loved, and where there are spectacular attempts at regular family home evening and family council, scripture study, and prayer.

This little talk of mine is NOT meant to be filled with reminders of what you’re NOT doing, but to say THANK YOU for all you ARE doing.  And, by sharing a little bit more about the MTC, perhaps I can help you can find some additional ideas.

[WORK]

One thing you can continue doing is to help your children learn the value of WORK.  From the first day missionaries arrive at the MTC, their mission has begun.  They WORK, and they work HARD.

The training is intensive. This really IS a call to FULL-TIME SERVICE for the LORD.

 

As President Ezra Taft Benson said, “One of the greatest secrets of missionary work is work….”

And, as PRESIDENT THOMAS S. MONSON has said: Missionary work is hard work.  Missionary service is demanding and requires long hours of study and preparation, that the missionary himself might match the divine message he proclaims.  It is a labor of love but also of sacrifice and devotion to duty. (Thomas S. Monson, “Who Honors God, God Honors,” Ensign, Nov 1995)

This mission will likely be one of the hardest AND most rewarding things your son or daughter will have experienced yet in their life.  It’s harder than telemarketing or construction work.  Even harder than baby-sitting or calf-roping!  It’s a labor of love with the emphasis on LABOR.

It requires the best one can give physically, mentally, socially, and certainly spiritually.

And it certainly involves SACRIFICE.

I’m not just talking about giving up TV, i-Pods, cell phones, and such.  Some set aside school, promising careers, and time with grandchildren.

Speaking specifically of young men, President Gordon B. Hinckley said:

I know that our young men are under a great obligation to qualify themselves through education to fill positions of responsibility in the world.  Their time is precious.  But I do not hesitate to promise that the time spent in faithful and devoted service as a missionary declaring the Master will only add to their qualifications for positions of responsibility in the future.  Regardless of the vocation they choose to pursue, they will be better qualified in their powers of expression, in their habits of industry, in the value they place on training, in the integrity of their lives, and in their recognition of a higher source of strength and power than that which lies within their native capacity. 

(Gordon B. Hinckley, “He Slumbers Not, nor Sleeps,” Ensign, May 1983)

I TESTIFY THAT THIS IS TRUE.

Here is a list of some THINGS WHICH ARE NOT HANDED TO THE MISSIONARIES ON THE DAY THEY ENTER THE MTC:  (So they need to bring these with them)

– A desire to serve diligently

– A bright countenance

– A multi-function testimony pill (They have those???)

–  THINGS WHICH MISSIONARIES DO RECEIVE WHEN THEY ENTER THE MTC:

– An additional hair cut (if needed)

– Wonderful teachers

– A loving branch president

– A companion whom they’ll be with “24/7″

Companionship is one of the most pervasive aspects of missionary life: a missionary never labors alone. The need for good relationships between companions is critical, and, although it can sometimes be a challenge, it usually leads to lifelong friendships.

– Missionaries are also given a BADGE which has their name on it and the name of the Savior; and most of us cry when we come home and it’s time to take the badge off . . . .

[ABOUT THE PROVO MISSIONARY TRAINING CENTER]

As you probably know, the LARGEST Missionary Training Center is the one here in Provo, Utah.  It can hold several thousand missionaries at a time.  50 LANGUAGES are taught.

 

There are close to 20 OTHER MTC’s throughout the world, including in Argentina, Brazil, Japan, England, Mexico, New Zealand, Ghana, the Philippines, Spain, and South Korea.

The Provo MTC is like a little CITY.  There is a post office, a travel department, the largest laundry in Utah County, a barbershop, bookstore, copy center, gymnasium, health center and dry cleaner.

There are THREE CAFETERIAS at the MTC with a combined seating capacity of 1,200 missionaries, serving approximately 8,000 ‑ 10,000 meals per day. In one month, missionaries consume over 430 pounds of potatoes and 2.5 tons of breakfast cereal (can you say “Fruit Loops”).  They drink 400 gallons of milk per day.  In fact, in order to adequately feed its missionaries, the MTC requires the full effort of a 300‑cow dairy!

[DAILY SCHEDULE]

The daily schedule is FULL.  It includes a lot of time in the CLASSROOM, studying the gospel, scriptures, and language as needed.  There is time for meals, exercise, and personal study.

There isn’t time for “hanging out,” and they won’t be sending text messages during classes and meetings.

There are weekly devotionals and firesides, with a General Authority almost every week.  What an amazing opportunity!

Each week on their Preparation Day they have the privilege of going to the Provo Temple.

Some will sing in the CHOIR!  Yes!  Your son or daughter may actually SING once they become a missionary!  The choirs have several HUNDRED missionaries in them!

[SUNDAYS and MEETINGS]

I’ve attended hundreds of Sacrament and other meetings with the missionaries through the years. I used to wish that YOU, the MOTHERS, could be right where I was, watching and listening as your sons and daughters did incredible things.  I listened as they spoke of their parents and families with tears running down their faces.

I got goose bumps as they told of spiritual experiences they were having – of help from the Holy Ghost in everything from companion relationships to overcoming homesickness to pronouncing new words to deepening testimonies.

Sometimes they’d say things like they wish they’d studied The Book of Mormon and Preach My Gospel more and played computer games less.  Sometimes they’d say they wished they’d told their parents how much they loved them more often… or at all.

[REFERRAL CENTER]

Many missionaries in the MTC have the chance to serve in the REFERRAL CENTER.  They answer and make calls in response to TV ads and pass‑along cards which offer free church videos, Bibles, and copies of The Book of Mormon.  Each year, there are over HALF A MILLION CALLS!! The thing I love about this experience for the missionaries is that it is REAL!  The person on the other end of the line isn’t ROLE-PLAYING!

One of my favorite experiences about this referral center is when an Elder told me of talking to someone in Ohio who was interested in the Church but didn’t know how to get there.

His companion, who was sitting right next to him and could see his notes, tapped him on the shoulder and said “My parents moved there 7 days ago and live really close to this man – they’ll pick him up and take him to Church!”  And they did!  Incredible!

During the more than 20 years I worked at the LTM and the MTC, I had a feeling which never went away.  Every single day I went to work –  every single day of the thousands of days – I felt the same thing: A deep desire to be worthy to mingle with those who had been set apart as representatives of Jesus Christ.

SOME IDEAS which I won’t have time to comment on:

–  Promote family discussions OFTEN, including at the dinner table, during Family Home Evening and Family Council

–  Include brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins in preparing and supporting your missionary.

–  Cultivate a spirit of joy and optimism in your home

–  Encourage your children to study another language in school … maybe YOU can be studying one too.  Or at least use some PIG LATIN around the house… OODgay UCKlay!

–  Once you find out where your missionary will be serving, if language learning is involved, LABEL things in the home in that language

–  Be involved in SERVICE together as a family

–  Exercise together and individually.  Could you get your son or daughter to go on a walk with you?  Think of things you could share . . . .

–  Share your deepest feelings with your family

–  Include the HYMNS in family discussions and activities.  Read the PREFACE of the Hymn Book together as a family.  Have family members take turns choosing a hymn for Family Home Evening, and have them tell why the hymn is meaningful to them

–  Have your home dedicated if you’ve not already done so

–  Encourage your children to keep a journal.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have an account written by a 14 yr-old Joseph Smith about the First Vision….  Right soon after it happened….

–  Encourage your children to take notes in meetings

–  Invite guests to dinner who can share positive, helpful suggestions about missionary work in general and where your missionary is going

–  Let your future missionary help prepare meals; send them simple recipes from time to time

(Idea # 37 on what you can eat WITH Peanut Butter)

–  Teach your children the blessing and importance of pondering – of thinking deeply about things which matter most

[LETTERS]

There is a POST OFFICE at the MTC, and communicating with family is a source of great comfort, support, and encouragement for the missionaries. Over 4,000 LETTERS and 500 PACKAGES arrive every single day!!  Make sure some of those are for YOUR missionary!

[PACKAGES]

As you can, send a package now and then.  Mom used to go to places like D.I. or the Dollar Store and just send crazy things.  Oh how those packages lifted my spirits!  She’d send old aprons, rat traps, macaroni and cheese mix, stupid toys …  When I was in Africa, she sent a Tupperware catalogue… she thought it would be so nice if the women in the bush could have a Tupperware party.  She made me laugh.  She lifted my spirits and helped me hang in there.

MAIL is like MANNA when you’re away from home.  Most of you have probably experienced this, so you KNOW….  There is nothing quite like seeing your Mother’s or Father’s handwriting on an envelope, and you know there is so much LOVE, ENCOURAGEMENT and SUPPORT inside!

Get the whole family involved.  A great Sabbath activity is writing notes to missionaries (not just your own, either).

Comment on what they’ve written.  Support them in their goals.

By the way, how would it be if YOU had some missionary experiences of your OWN which you could share with your son or daughter??

I received a letter from my FATHER every single WEEK every single time I was away from home….  And I have saved every one of those letters.  They’re priceless!!

Both my parents wrote letters in a way which helped me know they weren’t expecting me home until I was finished.

My Mother, for example, wrote things like “I’ll be fasting for you every Wednesday… this is just between the two of us” (Sorry, Mom… now everyone knows about that).

She also wrote and suggested that we both read my PATRIARCHAL BLESSING each Fast Sunday and then share in our letters any thoughts we had.

[A LETTER FROM A DAD]

I had thought I’d share some excerpts of letters I received from my parents, but I’ve chosen instead to share part of a letter which one of my companions in INDONESIA received from her Dad.

The mail had come; we’d heard the man on the bicycle shout “POS!” and toss a few letters through our window and we heard the sound of them hitting the floor. (I can still remember the ANTICIPATION each day as we ran to scoop the mail off the floor, hoping at least one would be addressed to us)  My companion seemed VERY surprised about one envelope and took it in to her bedroom.  Soon I could hear her SOBBING.  I went to see if she was OK, and she handed me the letter to read.  This is the ONLY LETTER her father EVER wrote.  I wish I could give you a copy so you could see the sweet spelling just the way he wrote it: [No editing]

Dear Daughter:

This is your Dad.  How are you and how was the trip.  I thought I would right and tell you some of the news and some that isn’t news like how much we all love you.  I wanted to tell you how much I loved you when you leeft but I was so chocked up.  I couldn’t say anything.  You know it is a lot easery to let go of your boys when it comes time than it is your girls for a Dad.  Maybe some day you will know what I mean. I hope you are well and happie.  Your Dad is if you are.  It is hard for me [to] right without crying.  I guess that’s my problem.  I have always ben so hard on the outside, but no buddy knows what goes on on the inside so far as my family goes…. I have your car all waxted and polished and hope I can keep it that way for you…. Will I guess thats all for now except I love you more than life itself.   Your Dad   

WRITE LETTERS TO YOUR MISSIONARY!  And start when they’re in the MTC!

Do NOT tell them you wish they were home . . . even if you FEEL IT . . . make your letters POSITIVE, and SUPPORTIVE.

“We’re so proud of you.  You’re where you are supposed to be. We miss you, but we wouldn’t cut your experience short for ANYTHING.”

[MY FIRST MISSIONARY JOURNAL]

My first mission was 2 years long (“back in the day”), 1862-1864, and my journal contains almost 800 pages of incredible experiences . . . .  I began in TAIWAN, then was transferred to HONG KONG, and then spent about 15 months in the PHILIPPINES.  What if I’d only gone to PAGE 75, or PAGE 312 or even 650…. I hate to think of all I would have missed!!

And I feel the very same way about all my missions.

They were SO HARD … and they were SO WORTH IT.

What if PRESIDENT HINCKLEY had not finished his mission … if he had not responded to his father’s letter about forgetting himself and going to work (when he felt like he was wasting his time and his father’s money).

Listen again to the way Elder Ballard described the blessing of serving as a missionary:

The Lord has no better place to get acquainted with you than when you serve him in the mission field.  When you are serving your mission, he will send you on errands to act in his name.  He will give you experience with the power of the Holy Ghost.  He will authorize you to teach, to convert, and then to perform the sacred ordinances of salvation in his name.  He will come to know you.  He will come to know that he can trust you and can rely on you. 

(M. Russell Ballard, “Prepare to Serve,” Ensign, May 1985)

What are some other things you can do to help your missionary prepare?

ENCOURAGE AND PROVIDE EXAMPLES OF MEANINGFUL PRAYER

We can all make our prayers more meaningful.

SHARE YOUR FEELINGS WITH YOUR CHILDREN

Do your children know how you feel about the Savior?  Do they know how you feel about Joseph Smith and the Restoration?  About The Book of Mormon?  The Temple?  President Monson?

About the Sabbath and the Sacrament, about missionary work?

Don’t just ASSUME that they know how you feel about the truths they will be testifying about.

Let them know!  Tell them!  Don’t give them any reason to WONDER how you feel, or IF you do have deep feelings about all they’ll be teaching.

Won’t it be wonderful when they say to an investigator “My Mother told me her feelings about all of this, and I know she knows it’s true.”  (Sounds like the stripling warriors, doesn’t it).

These are some of the most important things which will make the MTC a REVIEW and not a REVELATION!

One of the strong recommendations I can share, besides daily scripture study and discussion, is the wonderful tool Preach My Gospel. This is an incredible tool for ALL of us, and especially for missionaries.  Include it in your Family Home Evenings and other activities.

THE SPIRIT

One of the strongest suggestion I’d like to share today is the one I’ve saved for last: Helping your missionary FEEL and RECOGNIZE the SPIRIT.  Although the MTC has excellent facilities and an outstanding training curriculum, missionaries feel that the SPIRIT of the MTC is their best learning and teaching aid. That’s one of the main differences between the MTC and the MANY other language institutes and programs in the world.

In August of 1991, a young woman entered the MTC to prepare for her mission in South America. She was a convert and the only member in her family.  She and her mother were VERY close, and it was confusing to her mother not to be able to chat on the phone or come for a visit.

She became convinced that her daughter had joined a CULT and was very upset.

The lady missionary explained all this to the MTC president, who contacted the mother and invited her to come for a visit.  I had the privilege of taking her on a tour of the MTC, and I’ll never forget it.  We went in several buildings, looked at classrooms, and I answered a LOT of questions.

We finished the tour in the lobby of the MTC which looks down on a long, wide hallway outside the CAFETERIA.  I timed it so that the missionaries were arriving for lunch, and the hallway was FILLED with white shirts, ties, and LIFE!  She turned to me and asked, with emotion, “What am I feeling??”  I asked her to describe it, and she said she’d been feeling something since she first arrived, and she pointed to her heart.  I told her it was God’s Spirit, and that was what the missionaries were feeling too, and it was the reason they were working so hard and being so good.  Her heart was softened, and she has been pleased with the positive changes in her daughter’s life as a result of her mission and her activity in the Church since.

Missionary work is HOLY work for sure, and as your son or daughter (or YOU) have the privilege and responsibility of declaring to those they meet that they come representing JESUS CHRIST, the SAVIOR and REDEEMER, it is a sobering and wonderful thing and leads to earnest prayer, deep humility, increased faith and courage, and sweet pondering.

Most of the missionaries haven’t been on earth for even 20 years, so they haven’t had a chance to develop all that Heavenly Father has gifted to them….  But you’ve sure given them a good start!!

Their mission is THEIRS.  No one else has served this one. They can make it whatever they want it to be, and you can help.

And so … LET THEM GO.  Your son, your daughter, your parents … Let them be about their Father’s business.  DOCTRINE and COVENANTS 88:118-119

And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.

Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God;

That’s the SPIRIT of the MTC, and I pray it may be the SPIRIT of our HOMES.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

“Mini-MTC” OUTLINE

OUTLINE

(Sprinkle the following liberally with examples, illustrations, personal stories) And if you decided to use any of what I’ve shared, ADD TO IT… make it your own. There are “tons” more good ideas than just those I’ve shared. Off you go!!

BEST RESOURCES: Scriptures, Preach My Gospel, Ensign, books, talks and articles by Church leaders (especially the 15), positive examples from returned missionaries, your own feelings, illustrations and testimony.

The “Mini MTC” is something I’ve been doing for family and a few close friends for many years. The idea came because I wanted to share something of what I had experienced – I wanted to help these loved ones be better prepared to make a decision about serving a mission and better prepared to serve.

I’ve looked through this outline, and it seems inadequate. I “fill in a lot of blanks,” just because I’ve done this so many times. Someday maybe I’ll take the time to make this more complete.

In a separate post I’ve included a talk which I have during the BYU Women’s Conference (in case anything in there will be helpful).

A mission is one of the most challenging and wonderful experiences you’ll ever have in your whole life.  It’s harder than babysitting or calf-roping!

WHAT WE WANT TO HAVE HAPPEN:

We want the Spirit to make us aware of some things which may not yet have caught our attention – some principles and ideas which will be meaningful… which will make a difference for you as a missionary.

When you return from a mission, sometimes people want to evaluate your whole experience with one question:  HOW MANY BAPTISMS DID YOU GET??

That is an ignorant and narrow question, when you think about it.  Encourage others to ask you a better question so you can give a better answer about your mission.

WHAT IS THE MISSION OF THIS CHURCH?

Moses 1:39 – Bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

D&C 18:15 (p. 29)  “Great shall be your joy with him in the Kingdom of my Father” –

We want to help families RETURN HOME.

What is it we can promise people will happen as they come into God’s Kingdom on this earth?  (Peace, happiness, contentment, hope, temporal and spiritual well-being, etc.)

And they WAIT – they have a “longing” for HOME somewhere inside.

EACH ONE KEPT HIS OR HER FIRST ESTATE! So missionary work is about REMINDING people, and the Spirit has a zillion great ideas about how to do that!

One KEY to being an effective representative of the Savior: THE SPIRIT.

He helps people REMEMBER.  You say and do things the best you can, and then let the Spirit do His work.  ELDER GENE R. COOK: The trouble with most teachers is they think THEY are the teacher.  

EMPHASIS: Teaching with/by the SPIRIT! (There’s no other way to teach truth!)

THE HOLY GHOST

PARLEY P. PRATT:

The gift of the Holy Ghost quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, enlarges, expands, and purifies all the natural passions and affections, and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use.  It inspires, develops, cultivates, and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings, and affections of our nature.  It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness, and charity.  It develops beauty of person, form and features.  It tends to health, vigor, animation, and social feeling.  It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man.  It strengthens and gives tone to the nerves.  In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being.

PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON:  The Holy Ghost causes our feelings to be more tender.  We feel more charitable and compassionate.  We are calmer.  We have a greater capacity to love.  People want to be around us.  We are more Godly in character.  As a result, we are more sensitive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and thus are able to comprehend spiritual things.  When we have the Spirit, we will love to serve, we will love the Lord, and we will love those whom we serve. 

LESSON/TRUTH: You do the very best you can do, and He/They will help with what you can’t do. Honest!  Just remember, though, that the Holy Ghost does not work with “gimmicks.” You may be prompted to say a particular thing to a particular person or family and then NEVER say it again your whole mission!  That’s one of the HUGE differences between working with the SPIRIT and trying to “sell” something.

SIX THINGS WHICH ARE FUN TO TEACH

(And “fun” isn’t quite the right word – but these are things which are TRUE, and the Holy Ghost will add His witness to yours!)

1 – GOD IS REAL. WE ARE HIS CHILDREN. JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD. HE IS OUR REDEEMER, AND OUR ADVOCATE WITH THE FATHER. THE ATONEMENT IS THE CRITICAL PART OF OUR HEAVENLY FATHER’s GREAT PLAN OF HAPPINESS.

Document: “The Living Christ”

Share verses of scripture, excerpts from talks, and testimony

2 – SCRIPTURES

3 Nephi 10:14 (p. 427) …he that hath the scriptures, let him search them….

SPENCER W. KIMBALL (Ensign, November 1979)

Become scholars of the scriptures – not to put others down, but to lift them up.

(You may not convince anyone else, but you’ll convince yourself)

  1. TOM PERRY (Ensign, May 1985)

The scriptures that are never read will never help us.

ELDER CARLOS E. ASAY (Ensign, November 1985)

When we search the scriptures, we sit at the feet of prophets.

PRESIDENT MARION G. ROMNEY (Ensign, November 1979)  –

Prayer and searching the scriptures are companion aids in both obtaining and maintaining spirituality.

PRESIDENT HOWARD W. HUNTER (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], 212): Our modern-day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our Church magazines an important and regular part of our personal study. Thus, general conference becomes, in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the Doctrine and Covenants. 

THE HYMNS (Read the First Presidency preface – A reminder that the hymns are to be used much as we use the scriptures.

PATRIARCH BLESSINGS are our personal messages from our loving Heavenly Father

3 – TEMPLES

The blessing and importance of being in the House of God. Personal revelation, comfort, peace, safety.

PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON: I promise you that, with increased attendance in the temples of our God, you shall receive increased personal revelation to bless your life . . . .

(“The Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants,” Ensign, May 1987, 85)

ELDER BOYD K. PACKER: Our labors in the temple cover us with a shield and a protection, both individually and as a people. . . . Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs . . . both spiritual and temporal.     

(Boyd K. Packer, The Holy Temple, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1980, p. 265, 182)

4 – A LIVING PROPHET

We raise our right hand to sustain 15 as Prophets, Seers, and Revelators

ELDER DAVID B. HAIGHT: When we sustain the President of the Church by our uplifted hand, it not only signifies that we acknowledge before God that he is the rightful possessor of all the priesthood keys; it also means that we covenant with God that we will abide by the direction and the counsel that come through His prophet. It is a solemn covenant.

(Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 17; Ensign, Nov. 1994, 14–15).

Can you imagine how tickets would disappear if it were announced that MOSES would be speaking in the Conference Center??  I testify that it is true with all my heart!

There IS a Prophet, alive now, who can say with authority:  “THUS SAITH THE LORD!”

Doctrine & Covenants 107:91-92  And again, the duty of the President of the office of the High Priesthood is to preside over the whole church, and to be like unto Moses – Behold, here is wisdom; yea, to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church. 

The living Prophet can do anything that any Prophet has ever done – if God asks him to!

5 – FAMILIES CAN BE TOGETHER FOREVER

The Family: A Proclamation to the World (A rare document – very few have been issued). This was shared by President Gordon B. Hinckley during the General Relief Society meeting on 23 September 1995. Think of the all-out attack on the family in the years since then!

Teach others all the things which can strengthen a family (and which have strengthened your family) including Family Home Evening, Family Prayer, Family Scripture Study, Family Council.

PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL: “We have no choice…but to continue to hold up the ideal of the Latter-day Saint family.  The fact that some do not now have the privilege of living in such a family is not reason enough to stop talking about it.  We do discuss family life with sensitivity, however, realizing that many…do not presently have the privilege of belonging or contributing to such a family.  But we cannot set aside this standard because so many other things depend upon it.”  (General Women’s Mtg, 1978).

This is one of the truths you teach which will be of great interest to families who have lost loved ones – this truth that FAMILIES CAN BE TOGETHER FOREVER!

6 – THE GOSPEL HAS THE ANSWER TO ALL OF THE PROBLEMS IN THIS WORLD…

ALL OF THEM!  The FULNESS of the GOSPEL contains ALL that is TRUE.

PRESIDENT SPENCER W. KIMBALL: “May I remind all of us that if we will live the gospel and follow the counsel of the leaders of the Church, we will be blessed to avoid many of the problems that plague the world. The Lord knows the challenges we face. If we keep his commandments, we will be entitled to the wisdom and blessings of heaven in solving them.”

(“A Deep Commitment to the Principles of Welfare Service,”Ensign, May 1980, 92).

PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON: “I testify to you that we have the answers to the problems of the world. We know where we’re going. We’re on our way, and the Lord is directing His work through a prophet of God with special witnesses bearing testimony to the divinity of [our] Lord [and Savior], who is the God of this world, under the Father. We cannot fail in this work”

(“Keys to Successful Member-Missionary Work,” Ensign, Sept. 1990, 7).

The FULNESS of the GOSPEL contains ALL that is TRUE.  (We don’t hear people bear testimony about how thankful they are for the PARTNESS of the gospel, but for the FULNESS)

KEEPING A PERSONAL JOURNAL and TAKING NOTES

These will be treasures to you in the coming years in ways you cannot now imagine. Take notes in meetings. Start now. “Over-document” – Where are you, what is the occasion, who is speaking or teaching, what is the date (the full date), what are you learning and feeling? Write in the margins of your scriptures (with documentation).

MENTORS: You will meet some of the most important teachers/mentors of your whole life on your mission.  They will add SO MUCH to your life (here and hereafter), and to your WHOLENESS.

There is much more to a mission than just trying to baptize people. We must help them do to DO all that is part of the covenants they make at baptism. We teach so much WHAT, and we need to add enough HOW-TO so that there aren’t so many who fall away. Sometimes people quit participating because they become discouraged. There were so many promises of peace, joy, happiness, etc. before baptism, but some feel that once they are baptized they’re not important anymore. The help ceases. We’ve got to have a whole lot more HOW-TO if anyone’s going to make it HOME.  It’s helping people CHANGE – go through a CONVERSION process.  That doesn’t just mean PART of who they are and a LITTLE of what they do.  It’s EVERYTHING!

PRESIDENT EZRA TAFT BENSON  (Ensign, July 1985, p. 4): The Lord works from the inside out.  The world works from the outside in.  The world would take people out of the slums.  Christ takes the slums out of people, and then they take themselves out of the slums.  The world would mold men by changing their environment.  Christ changes men, who then change their environment.  The world would shape human behavior, but Christ can change human nature….  Yes, Christ changes men, and changed men can change the world. 

ELDER NEAL A. MAXWELL   (News of the Church, Ensign, Sept 1987)

The measure of our success is how many have really “come unto Christ.”  The adverse indicators are: how many are unbaptized, unordained, unendowed, unsealed, unnourished, uninvolved, and unrighteous.  There is plenty for us to do together.  In fact, we cannot do the Lord’s work effectively unless we do it together.

We go on a mission to HELP THE PEOPLE HELP THEMSELVES and EACH OTHER. The goal is help bring them HOME – back to their Heavenly Parents kind and dear, and so many other loved ones…  Through their SAVIOR.  Through the TEMPLE.  Through COVENANTS. We invited people to COME UNTO CHRIST and to STAY.

SHOW HOW, don’t SHOW OFF – “DO AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE!”  The THREE BEAR THEORY: Not too much, not too little, but “just right.” These principles apply as we help people to help themselves and each other (rather than trying to do everything FOR them). Do WITH, not just FOR.  You’ve had a lot of experience – you know how to do many things that others don’t yet know how to do.  So you can almost imagine your letters home:  “Wow, Mom, they really need me!  I can’t imagine how they’ve gotten along without me!  I’m giving talks, teaching classes, giving blessings, leading the singing . . .”   And so you get ready to leave a branch and the people say:  “We don’t know what we’ll do without you!” THAT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT! Serve so that when you leave they can say:  “Thank you so much for coming.  You can go home now – we don’t need you anymore.  But look at all you’ve taught us!  Look at all the things we couldn’t do before, but we can do them now because YOU showed us how!  You let us learn our duty!  You let us LEARN BY DOING!”  One question which can help you with this is to sincerely ask yourself: “Who should be doing what I’M doing?” Serve so that you can go back in 10 years and find that you’re still there – in those whom you have helped do something that they’ve never done before. Little “clones” of you!

ENCOURAGEMENT helps more than you can imagine. What would it mean to a Deacon if you talked to him?  A Bishop?  Your president? What would it mean to a Beehive girl?  A Sunbeam?  A companion?  Sit by people in meetings who might need you to be with them (don’t always gravitate just to those who are “fun to be with,” or whom you know best).

REPRESENT THE SAVIOR – Never forget that the purpose of your mission is to represent Jesus Christ, to teach of him, to be an example of Him (of His attributes of kindness and perfect love) – increasingly you will find yourself asking “What would HE do,” and, just as often, “What does He want ME to do?”  You will do things which you would not ordinarily do – but you’re not ORDINARY anymore.  You never were.  You’re SET APART! And even if you feel nervous because you consider yourself to be too shy, remember that where you’re going, they don’t know that! So just pray for help to go forward as if you’re not shy, and you’ll be a powerful, loving, effective missionary.

This is YOUR mission.  Hundreds and thousands of missions have been served since all this began with a prayer offered by a 14 yr-old boy.  But not THIS mission!  This one’s for YOU!  No one else HAS served this one, and no one else WILL.  It’s YOURS!  Make it what you’d really like it to be.  You can.  You will.  You’ve got to.  God bless you in this high and holy and sacred calling.