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|Approaching the MTC|
Apr. 21st, 2007 at 11:49 am
We are pleased to present the following guest post written by Margaret Young:
I am in the process of becoming a former blogger. I haven’t fully extricated myself, but it’s happening. The main motivation for this is that my husband has been called into an MTC branch presidency, serving with missionaries headed for French and Tahitian-speaking missions. (This means I will now learn French.) We will begin serving next week. I simply will not have time for blogging, though I will post an occasional comment, I’m sure.
Meanwhile, I’ve finished transcribing the fifty+ tapes of interviews a group of us have done for an upcoming documentary called Nobody Knows: The Untold Story of Black Mormons. I’ve had my mind on that documentary and how best to shape it, but also on the missionary program, and have found lovely points of convergence. I want to share one snippet from an interview with an African American man in Atlanta, talking about the missionaries:
“The thing that had the most transforming effect on me was—I saw young white missionaries from Idaho and Utah and a few from California and the surrounding states come into that ward. This was an inner city ward, and when I saw these youngsters coming, shift after shift, and going into these neighborhoods that I felt uncomfortable going in, it verified in my mind again here’s the truthfulness of the gospel—for these young people to take two years out of their lives and put their lives in jeopardy, and some of them were mugged and robbed at gunpoint, and yet they kept coming. I was blessed, I was retired, I had a working car… I put a lot of miles on that automobile with the missionaries going into the ghetto so to speak, going in where the drunks and pimps and prostitutes hung out. Before the missionaries, I wouldn’t have gone there, I would’ve been scared. But when I saw them go, I knew I had to go. And that entrenched me into the Church, and by the grace of God nothing can take me out of the church because of their commitment.”
That’s quite a statement. And it’s true. I have yet to send a son or a daughter on a mission, but I know much of what missionaries are asked to give up and to confront, and I know that they often become capable of courage and dedication beyond anything they have known before their missions.
I love being with missionaries. I love the power that’s present in a gathering of pure, good, consecrated young men and women. I love their radiance.
My parents, who served as Mr. and Mrs. Mission President in the Baltic States, said that a mission is the kind of “hard” you can’t really describe or even really prepare someone for. One of my assignments at the MTC will be to meet with the sister missionaries in my branch once a week. My role will be certainly be one of nurturing. (And though I can tease brutally on a blog, my primary instinct is maternal. I doubt I’ll be doing any teasing at the MTC—and I know I won’t do any arguing. It wouldn’t fit. I suspect I’ll wipe a few tears and give encouragement and maybe tell a joke or two to lighten things up. And I will also be working on learning Preach My Gospel in French, because I want to go through what they’re going through.)
I am thrilled to begin this new assignment with my husband. I have taught young men and women at BYU for over twenty years, often meeting them just before or just after their missions and introducing them to creative writing and some difficult literature. Now I get to see them in this glorious phase of growth, where I don’t come with a syllabus or a grade roll, but just an open heart and ready arms. I can hardly wait.