We got to talk to Jeff on the phone today. He called home from the airport before his plane left. I was at work, but I was able to talk. I also conferenced in Neil so that the 3 of us could all talk together. I made a few notes so that I could write about some of the things that he said.
Jeff loved the MTC. He had a great district and they loved to play practical jokes on each other. The night before they flew out, Jeff sprayed shaving cream on everyone's hands while they were sleeping and took pictures. Then he tickled their faces until they recahed up and smeared shavin cream all over their own faces. Jeff said that about 500 missionaried arrive to the MTC each week and he estimated that there were around 4000 there at one time. Jeff said that the teachers there are really awesome. They are using a new system of teaching where they bring in actors from BYU and have them play the role of investigator and then the Elders practice taching them. Jeff struggled with the role-playing concept in the beginning but as he learned to teach with the spirit, he became better at it. He is still looking forward to having actual people to teach though.
Jeff's district also had some hardships while they were in the MTC. One of the boys brole his ankle while playing basketball at the MTC. They took him to the hospital and when they did the scan of his ankle, they found a cancer in one of his bones. Jeff said that it was a miracle because thy found it early enough that he will just have to have some treatment and then he will be able to continue his mission in about 6 weeks. If he hadn't broken his ankle they would not have found it this soon. Then this same Elder had his uncle die while he was in the MTC. Jeff was able to give him a blessing so that he could feel at peace. Also, another Elder in his district found out that his 19 year old brother overdosed and died while he was in the MTC. Jeff was able to give this kid a blessing too and it was a spiritual experience for both of them.
There were 13 Elders in his district all going to St. Louis on the same day, so they nicknamed their flight the Apollo 13. Jeff said that he has been able to help a lot of the Elders in his district deal with some of their emotional trials such as the deaths above, but also with things like some of them had left girls behind and a lot of them were stressed out with the schedule that they have in the MTC. Jeff said his motto is to make every companion his best friend and help them as much as possible. Jeff also hasa kid in his district named Elder Romney going to St.Louis with him. I think he said that his mom is Mitt Romney's sister.
Jeff also mentioned that they have a bunch of recorded talks from the church general authorities that are special topics just for the missionaries in the MTC. He said that Jeffery R. Holland is his favorite speaker now. Jeff also got to go to the Provo temple a few times while he was in the MTC. I have never been to that temple before, but Jeff said that it is really pretty. He said that there is a very large chandelier that rotates slightly when you look at it and that it is very pretty.
Jeff had heard that St. Louis is pretty bad for crime, Pick pockets are very common so he asked us to send him a belt that we saw in the missionary stores here that has a zipper hidden on the inside of the band. That way he can keep some money in their and not get robbed as easily. Also, he said that a portion on the East side of his mission has been closed from having missionaries due to the crime and danger in the area, but they are re-opening it as soon as his dictrict arrives from the MTC. I hope all the missionaried serving there are kept safe!
Neil had to get back to work, so he got off the line so I called up to may parent's house because the rest of the kids are staying up there with them for the month of June. Jeff got to talk to all the kids and his grandparents, so that was good for him to. The kids were really excited to hear from him!
We don't know what area he will be assigned to, but I will post again when we get a letter from him and know where he is at. He will get any letters or packages sent to the mission home, so you can write him at that address. It is posted on this blog under the "write to Jeff" tab at the top of the page.