We are at the Hotel ready to go to the Airport in the morning. What a Great Week we have had. We had CES training (or S&I) on Monday, Tuesday and 1/2 of Wednesday. Then Wednesday afternoon we had security training. They do want us to be aware, careful, and safe. They really did a great job. Thursday and then Friday we were in Salt Lake at the Joseph Smith Building, then at the Church Office Building for PEF (Perpetual Education Fund) training. Wow! is all I can say. What an inspired program. President Hinckley announced the program 10 years ago and all we can say is that we know it is an inspired program, and the good it is doing is fantastic. Approx. 50,000 people have now been able to upgrade their education and the payback rate is about 93%. That's quite a record.
The CES training was also Very Well Done. We were taught by the best and we hope to not disappoint anyone and to be able to study and work to become worthy of their trust. We have our work cut out for us but since we have done more training in more areas than we thought, we aren't sure what our job descriptions will be when we get there. They seem to be changing or maybe it is just evolving. Time will tell.
Tomorrow we fly to Chicago, then to London - arriving there at 9 a.m. on Tuesday. We don't leave there until 7 p.m. and fly for about 10 hours to Johannesburg, then after another layover - on to Lusaka, Zambia, then arriving the afternoon of September 21. We think we'll be a bit tired of travel for a while.
We visited Nate and Julie for the last 4 nights - very busy time for them - Soccer every night and Saturday.
We had our own obsession going on - the weighing of the bags time again. We had to eliminate quite a few things - mostly books from our bags to make room for other things that we'd bought or been given. We hope we are learning for coming home, but aren't dwelling there. We were glad to be there and rest a bit before the long haul. Ellis and Glenda hope to visit us at the airport in Johannesburg. That should be fun.
The MTC has grown into an amazing place. There were 2800 missionaries there with our group. There were 78 senior missionaries went in with us. Some as young as 50, 2 of which were going on missions while their youngest children were in the field and hoped to be arriving home about the same time. That was cool. Dan and Debbie Heninger were in there with us. It was good to visit with them - we even got to go to the movie 17 Miracles. We planned to buy it and take it but forgot. We broke into districts and the Heningers were in our district so we visited more. They're going to be Great Missionaries in Romania. The next week there were 80 seniors coming in and the next week they didn't know what they were going to do with 120 senior missionaries. They are responding to the call of last October. More and more seem to be either new at early 50s or older and on their 3, 4 or 5th mission. It does seem to get in the blood. The young ones will make the best missionaries (they have experience but also energy). We know though, that we will be fine and will find the energy to complete the assignments given us. We know the Lord wants these people helped and taught so that they can take on their own leadership roles and help the church to be self sufficient. We will try to help in anyway that we can. It is His Work and He is in charge.
We are trying to attach our MTC picture and I've deleted this once already trying to remember where it is. I'm going to try again. If I lose it again, I might end for the night and try again in the morning. We're going to sign out now and will post again after we have arrived and have the Internet.
Love to all of you, you are the greatest people we know.
Elder and Sister Shields