mission memories revisted…

The joys of packages in the MTC (Alicia kept them coming regularly for the entire two months I was there)…Can you guess which holiday this was for?

It’s seems that my life just doesn’t slow down. Thankfully, there are moments, in the chaos of it all, that slow me down a little now and then. This weekend, spending time with my sister and her husband, was one of them. The last two days, spent with my friend Patricia before dropping her off at the Missionary Training Center today was another.

Patricia flew into Salt Lake Monday evening. She looked a little shell-shocked at the airport. She left her family and friends in Phoenix (that’s how we know each other) to head on a mission in upstate New York. We spent Monday evening, and Tuesday evening, and most of today, actually, discussing the ins, outs, ups, and downs of the mission.

It brought back so many memories. I can’t believe how long ago it was and I can’t believe how fast it went by. Patricia’s excited to be a return missionary (i.e. be able to say that she went on a mission), but she’s not so sure about the 18 months between here and there. (Time out – Oh, how I wish I were Cameron Diaz with Jude Law taking my face in his hands to kiss me…I’m simultaneously watching The Holiday…two days with a missionary who can’t watch t.v. or movies makes you really value entertainment).

Back to Patricia…it was so fun to have those moments to think about my mission and share (I’m sure Patricia was so glad to get away since my mouth was running constantly) all of the little tidbits of wisdom I picked up along the way; like, to not waste her preparation days writing letters all day long, (Jude Law is so pretty and what is it with a British accent that just makes me swoon?) or to remember that she, Patricia, was the one called on a mission and not some version of what she thinks the ideal missionary should be.

I remember thinking so many times on my mission, “I wish that I could work as hard as Sister so and so” or “I wish I was as focused as Sister so and so” or “I wish I knew the scriptures like Elder so and so”, etc, etc, etc…and I could go on and on and on. It was such a great day, when I was sitting across from a wonderful woman at her kitchen table and realized, after sharing a perfectly empathetic moment, that only I could be me. I know…very profound. “Thanks for stating the obvious,” you say. We waste so much of our lives trying to be what we think we ought to be, instead of just being ourselves, the best that we know how.

I won’t weary you with all of the other wonderfully tedious reflections, but it really was a fabulous experience (the mission…and the reflecting). I have been slightly self-indulgent with the pictures to follow. I think there are about 20. They are the classic MTC and airport pics (along with some not so classic ones) from my mission. All of the reflecting and pulling out of the photo albums inspired me to share.

The classic “dork dot” picture…(New missionaries get this little orange dot on their tags so that everyone can spot them a mile away…it hasn’t changed in since my sister left on her mission 11 years ago.)

And the map picture….

Followed by the companion picture…And the picture by the sign…My district in class…Gotta love the bunk beds at age 21. I guess they went well with Soeur (“sister” in French) Padilla’s Winnie the Pooh that you can see in the background…and I wonder why we didn’t get along. Hmm…
Doing our “service” hours, cleaning the dorms…Flexing for the camera (Hermana Lafferty, a friend from before the mission who was headed to South America somewhere, and I ran 3 miles every morning…the only thing that kept me from gaining the MTC weight)…
That, and the All-Bran that kept me regular…(Yes, I realize that might be too much information for some of you. Yes, I was 21 and obviously super mature, as evidenced by posing “see-food” style for this picture. And yes, I still eat it like that, milk and All-Bran combining only in the mouth.)
The “we’re hugging without touching” pose…
And my most favorite companion ever, Soeur Olsen…aka Vicky Sattler.

I don’t know that this is classic, but we had blossoms in February. This was after we went from a threesome to two companionships. Oh, the drama…The Andersen’s at the airport(minus the oldest and his wife and, at the time, two children), acting all serious and stuff (obviously this was pre-9/11, as they are at the gate with me)… And that’s where the serious ended…

The Andersen’s plus the grandmas…

The three musketeers…can you guess who’s the oldest???Apparently, Dorothy didn’t think Justin on my back was such a good idea. Something about my back???

And the classic (so classic, it could be a scene right out of the next low-budget, Mormon movie–I’m not talking about the ones the Church produces) “hug goodbye at the gate” pose…

And off I go to SwitzerlandExcept for my layover at JFK, where I was able to spend a little (a very little) QT with Sydne (the next best thing to my mom), Ashley, and Daphne.

And then I was a real missionary…and I finally got rid of the bubble bangs, only to be replaced by a headband, extra weight and some serious frumpiness, ha ha ha.

One last thought about the MTC and missions. I love the whole drop-off experience. It’s emotionally draining and heart wrenching, but I love it. It’s so amazing to look at all of these young men and women who are willing to take two years or 18 months out of their lives, without a vacation, or even a day off during the whole thing, to go out into the world and teach people about God and pay for the whole thing, too. I mean, you can’t help but get emotional. I love it. And then to see all of the moms and dads and brothers and sister so sad to see their son or daughter or sister or brother leaving…there is so much love in that one room, it is completely overwhelming. The best kind of overwhelming there is.

So, it was a long last thought. That’s how my mind works. And with that, I’m off.

2 thoughts on “mission memories revisted…

  1. oh man, it’s such a relief to hear that there were other people constantly comparing themselves to other missionaries. i remember being in an interview with President Allen and I broke down and said, “i’m sorry i’m not as good and Sister so and so,” and he just looked at me like I was some kind of space alien and assured that he certainly didn’t expect me to be anyone but Sister Clifford. A good lesson to learn at a young age…

  2. And a lesson that gets repeated over and over again whenever I forget it. I only need to be me.I hated when President Allen looked at me that way…I still get a little nervous around him because of those looks. 🙂

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