Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Finally at the MTC!

Our plane ride to Utah was very short and we were driven by shuttle to the Missionary Training Center (MTC). It has changed tremendously in the past 22 years since we took our son Miguel there. It is now a secured facility, with drop-down gates and security guards to monitor who enters them. However, once inside the doors we felt the immensity of the Holy Spirit and the work that is done within those hallowed walls.
All who greeted us and saw to our needs were kind and courteous and so helpful. We appreciated that most especially since we were new to this atmosphere. Miguel has always said he loved being in the MTC and knew that we would too.
We were quickly processed and taken to lunch, which we had missed due to the hour of our flight. After lunch we received our missionary badges and room assignment. We were taken to a common room to receive orientation, where we were introduced to the group of senior missionary couples who had preceded us and finally we were all assigned Districts - our District Leader was Elder Noel. Elder Noel and his wife were assigned to Siberia! All this took up the entire afternoon and we were dismissed to dinner and afterward went to our rooms for the rest of the evening. Bright and early the next morning (and every morning after that) we reported for breakfast at 7:00 AM, then classes from 8:00 AM to Noon each day with our assigned morning instructor, Brother Wozniak. Then we would go to lunch and return to classes with Sister Cluff in the afternoon. Our classes consisted of the use of "Preach My Gospel", and on Thursday we were given assignments to teach "investigators" in a room set up like anyone's living room. We performed this assignment twice on Thursday, in the morning and afternoon. Because we flew out Friday morning to Cyprus for our designated mission assignment we did not get to do this again.
Our flight to Cyprus began by rising at 2:30 AM on Friday morning and departing for the Salt Lake City Airport via American Airlines. Accompanying us was a young sister missionary (Sister Christianson) who was on her way to Houston, TX for her mission. We parted company with her at the Dallas Airport because we were flying on to Florida. We then RAN to meet our next flight to the Miami Airport. We arrived in Miami Airport and literally RAN to our next flight on British Airways for London's Heathrow Airport, where we boarded a 747 for our flight across the Pond (the Atlantic Ocean). This flight lasted for about 9 hours. When we landed at Heathrow we found we had to catch a bus to the other side of the airport, which was about a 25 minute ride - we had to stand the whole way. This took us to the area where we would board our flight for Larnaka, Cyprus. When we arrived at the waiting area to fly to Larnaka we were surprised to have to board another bus to drive us out on the tarmac to the plane - this took another 10-15 minutes of driving. We boarded a British Airways 767 and flew another 5 1/2 hours to Larnaka.
When we deplaned we found we were met by three sets of senior missionary couples from Cyprus, including Elder and Sister Niebuhr whom we were replacing. They drove us to Avis Car Rental in Larnaka so Tony (Elder Vargas now) could get his name on the Nicosia, Cyprus car rental agreement. Afterward we were off to Elder and Sister Christiansen's flat in Larnaka to fellowship with the other missionary couples, we had some refreshment and then off we drove to Nicosia, about a 45 minute drive from Larnaka. Elder and Sister Niebuhr brought us to our flat which is located at: 11 Triptolemou Flat 303 1087 Nicosia Cyprus So don't say you haven't got our address now! This flat (they are not called apartments, but flats) was formerly Elder and Sister Niebuhr's - they moved themselves into a hotel just across the street from our flat so we could settle in since they were going home Thursday. The Niebuhr's have been so generous and kind to us. They filled our fridge and pantry with food and even all the necessary toiletries, as well as cleaning products for the flat. We were so impressed with this. And I might add right here, we will NEVER be able to thank them enough for everything they have done for us. We of course will follow their lead and provide the same for the missionaries who will replace us in a couple of years.

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