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Companions - Notes on Home MTC

November 18, 2021
Most people know that missionaries run around in pairs. Some of my neighbors have seen this version of a companionship lately. Let me explain.

During Covid, the church did a pivot and changed the missionary training experience from in-person to virtual. During this process they realized there were a few cool benefits that were worth continuing even after the pandemic. So the new version of missionary training begins at home with an Elder or Sister doing full-time training with a companion online. Then they transition to in person after a few weeks. 

My oldest son began on November 8 with training at home. When they are in class or working together, they are meeting and making friends with other missionaries in their district. My son's cohort has four young women and four other young men, for a total of nine kids all going to Finland in January. BUT when they're not actively working or studying together, I'm his companion. All of the places I'd normally go, he comes with me when he's not in class. Every morning and then again after school, you'll see me walking with my missionary because he's not in class during those times. He's still my son so it's cool. If you see a missionary walking around with a non-mom lady, red flag! One of the mission rules is to not be alone. "Companionships exist so missionaries can look out for each other." (from 10 things to know about Missionaries.)

The first couple of days of walking Amber to school, I was nervous for this son of mine to be wearing a white shirt and tie and nametag. There's a handful of people in the South who super-don't-like our religion. And I was hoping that people wouldn't think we're too weird. After all, I'm not wearing a white shirt and tie. I still look like this on the way to school at 7:30am. I'm glad to report that people are still friendly and say hi when we smile and wave. I'm grateful.

Some of the details are hard. I'm not going to sugar coat it and say it's all peaches and cream. My schedule changed completely because I'm trying to accommodate when he's in class and when he's not.  For example, let's say he's in class from 9:30am-12:30pm, and then class again from 1-2pm. Then a break until 4 when there's a 20 minute teaching practice. Then a break again before dinner, and then class again from 7-10pm. He's doing at least 8-9 hours of study and work, but not consecutively, and the schedule varies from day to day. 

He's living a set of really strict rules, but the rest of us are still doing normal school or work stuff. Some families choose to have the whole family following mission rules and maybe that's the ideal. But we're kinda average and happy just to have him around for a little while longer. As a mom, I'm realizing how many "lasts" are happening. Friday will be the last day we walk to school with little sister. It's like ripping off a bandaid REALLY slowly. But each of these days has been a bonus.

I've been watching a transformation in my son day by day. Not gonna lie, the first day was a detox from video games and movies and other stuff that's now forbidden. But even on that first day, there was a subtle change. After ten days, I'm here to tell you that this new version of my son is better, different... incredible. Because this blog is public, I'm not willing to share all the details of his journey because it's his. My main purpose here is to give a heads' up to the moms that are right behind me in this process.

Probably the first question from some of my friends is this: Do you have to do Home MTC? No, if it sounds too wild and crazy, there are other options. I've had friends that sent a son to live with Grandma and do the virtual MTC from their house. Another friend had her son go to work with dad and use an empty office nearby. That works too. 

In a few more days, the Home MTC portion of training ends and he starts work in Provo, UT. Right next to BYU campus, there's another school filled with young missionaries. We call it the Missionary Training Center (go here if you're super curious for more details), and you'll find hundreds of clean cut Elders and Sisters learning Spanish or French or Finnish or whatever. There's another MTC campus in Mexico (go here for more details), and many of the English speaking teenagers assigned to serve throughout the United States will go there for top-notch Spanish instruction.

November 17, 2021

These super beautiful and super tasty brownies came from a dear friend. The detailed lettering and the northern lights frosting were so cool. But more than that, their love and support meant so much to us.

November 28, 2021

And then I blinked, and Home MTC was over and he's off on his way. I take back every dumb complaint, because those two weeks were a really cool window into my son's new life as a missionary. It was fun to see him between breaks, to hear him practicing Finnish, and to eat lunch with him or watch him play with little sister. 

We spent two days driving to Utah, and then had an early Thanksgiving feast with all my siblings and parents on Sunday night. It was fantastic. Having that time with family is a favorite memory. 

Tuesday morning we hiked up American Fork Canyon.

After our hike, we said goodbye. We knew the dropoff would be quick, so we took some pictures at the Provo temple right across the street. 

I was kinda surprised that our final farewell was in the underground parking garage at the MTC. There were dozens of other missionaries there to greet and cheer and welcome us. 

And then we cried as we drove away.

His district has P-day (preparation day) on Wednesdays, so that's the day missionaries are allowed to call their families. We were so excited to hear from him the very next day. Thanksgiving was Thursday and he called us again while we were driving! They did a cool service project that day, for more details about all the meals they packaged go here. So far so good. It sounds like things are going well.


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