What a wonderful week we are having again. A zone Conf. on Monday and the our first Return and Report. This is a wonderful meeting when the new missionaries who have only been out 2 1/2 weeks come back for some training and to report on how they are adjusting.
This time we had the 5 Sisters and 5 Elders who arrived on July 10th. They are Sisters: Baxter, Bennett, Ferry, Banks, and Murray and Elders Gillihan, Scott, Brogan, Jones, and Karren. They are our first group that is completely under our care. When they arrived they receive some training, but they are so overwhelmed that it's good to have them back after they have had some time to learn the schedules, meet their trainers, and experience some missionary life.
They began arriving at about 7:45 a.m. and we have fruit and bagels while they visited since many of them had not seen one another since the MTC. They really enjoyed getting together and sharing experiences. We went downstairs to the meeting room and started at 9:00. They all sang "Called to Serve" the anthem of all missionaries and sounded wonderful. Pres. Albright welcomed them and gave a short greeting. Then each of the office workers gave training on their area. Cars, Safety, mail, how to do referrals and they got packets with lots of information. Then our Assistants gave their training. Elder Gifford talked about setting goals in the mission field. WAGs- Wildly Aggressive Goals. Setting smaller goals to help reach the bigger goals. And Elder Ganaway taught about Studies. He emphasized 3 things: scripture memorizations, a Study journal, and standards of excellence . He said he only had 1 goal for his mission: to be able to go home and hug his dad and tell him " I did my very best and have no regrets". Both Assistants are master teachers and are shinning examples of everything they teach.
After the training, the new missionaries each gave beautiful testimonies telling about their first couple of weeks and how they had grown and challenges they had faced and what they had learned. All of them have grown closer to Heavenly Father as they have learned to lean on Him more as they have felt homesick and faced trails in just 3 weeks. They are all going to be great missionaries. I feel a special bond to them since we arrived at about the same time and are growing as missionaries together.
Then Pres. Albright and I each had a presentation to encourage and motivate them. We showed a video clip from the movie: Facing Giants' which shows the courage to persevere to reach the final goal even when things are really hard. And a video of the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the unknown Soldier, which encourages devotion and commitment even when things are tough. It was a wonderful meeting. But the highlight was the testimonies and stories of things they had experienced in just 3 short weeks. Most of them expressed how very happy they had been even when rocks were thrown at them, people said unkind things, and literally slammed doors at them. They still felt happy and had "learned more in 3 weeks than in my entire life". One specific story told by Elder Karren. He and Elder G-C were at the library on Pday to write emails and they saw a man reading a French magazine. Since Elder Giraud-Carrier is from France he decided to approach the man. When he visited with him, he said he had taken the lesson in the Ivory Coast, but his parents would not allow him to baptized and so he told himself that when he got to America he would let the first missionaries he met baptize him. WOW. So they set up an appointment to begin visiting with him. What a miracle.
The pictures are of all the new missionaries mingling for breakfast and during the training.