The MTC--Amazing Place, Amazing People

Today is our last day at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah. We've only been here five days, but it seems like we've been here a month. What a busy few days it's been, filled with a wide range of emotions and experiences.

Monday, our first day at the MTC, reminded me of the first day of a college semester. Seventy-three senior missionaries arrived that morning--thirty-six couples and one dear, intrepid sister who is heading to South Korea. We checked into our "dorms," collected a lot of paper work, stood in a lot of lines, attended orientation--Yep, pretty much like the first day of college. Standing in lines and waiting for meetings to start gave us a lot of time to meet the others in our group. The conversations always started with three questions, "Where are you from?"  "Where are you going? and "What is your assignment?" The amazing thing is that always as I'd get to know the people, I'd think, "Well of course that is where you are going and what you will be doing. It's perfect for you!" Just a testimony of the inspiration that goes into missionary callings.

One couple we met standing in line that morning is the Kendells, who are going to South Africa. We enjoyed visiting with them in line and then again when we sat behind them as we waited for orientation to begin. At one point in orientation they had us each pair up with someone besides our spouse to discuss some topics. I paired with Sister Kendell. Bear in mind, we had on face masks and were wearing name tags that had our married last names and no first names. As we were talking, Sister Kendell said she had grown up in Meridian, Idaho until her senior year of high school when her family moved to Middleton. 

I said, "I grew up in Meridian too."

She asked when I was there and I told her when I graduated from high school. She said she graduated a year ahead of me.

I said, "You'd be my sister Jill's age. Did you know Jill King. I'm Dayle King."

Her face lit up and she said, "Yes I remember Jill, and I remember you too. I'm Starla Harris."

At that point we took off our face masks so we could actually see our faces, and then we could recognize each other. Not only had Starla and I both grown up in Meridian, we were in the same ward! What a fun reunion that was, and how fun it's been to continue to visit with her and her husband over the past few days. What great people!

We met another couple from Idaho that first day, the Ringles from Burley. In orientation, we all stood up and introduced ourselves and said where we were from. At the break, I went over to Sister Ringle and asked about the progress on the Burley temple. I got a hint of her delightful sense of humor when she replied that construction hadn't officially started, but they weren't going to have to do any excavation for it because everyone in town was going out to the site and getting a jar of dirt.

We felt an immediate connection with the Ringles as fellow Idahoans. We sat with them at meals and visited with them at other times that first day and the next morning. Tuesday afternoon in class we were told that we would be paired up with another couple who we would be doing several practice activities with during the week. We were told a room number to go to meet our couple. We arrived first and were sitting at the table waiting. There was a partition between the table and the door, so we heard the door open but couldn't see who it was until a head poked around the partition, and there they were, our new friends the Ringles. We did activities with them for three days, which feels like about three weeks in MTC time, and came to know and love them like old friends. Brother Ringle is a retired seminary teacher, and they are headed to El Centro, California to start a seminary program. The kids in that area are so lucky!

For our classes, we were divided into districts. Three other couples were in our district with us. The Chuntzs are going to England to work with Young Single Adults. The Rackliffes are going to Texas to work with seminaries and institutes. The Gerbers are going to Oregon to be caretakers at a church camp. We had such fun getting to know these wonderful people. Each day we had morning classes with one teacher and afternoon classes with another. On the second day, we got a new afternoon teacher because the one we'd had the day before was sick. When the teacher came in, he asked where we were all going. Elder Rackliffe replied, "We're all going to Texas," because in the previous class we had worked so well together that we jokingly said we should all go on our missions to the same place and keep the district together!

Tuesday we knew my grand-nephew Clayton Graham (my sister Sharlynn's oldest grandchild) was arriving at the MTC. We haven't seen him since he was really little, and thought it would be fun to see him at the MTC. I told his mom to tell him to look for a Sister Searle who looked like his grandma.We looked for him at devotional that evening, but it was a large crowd and everyone was wearing face masks. We searched the crowd for him for quite a while, but then gave up and headed back to our room. As we walked the thought came to me, "This would be a good time to go see the murals." A building at the opposite end of the campus from our room has murals of scripture stories. One of our teachers had suggested looking at them at night because they have lights in them that stand out more when it's darker. Ron agreed to go look at the murals, so we turned around and headed that way. The first mural we went to was in the lobby of one of the building's entrances. Just as we got there, a group of young elders came in through that door and headed straight for a stairway. I looked at them and realized the last one in the group was Clayton. I called out, "Elder Graham," which stopped him. Then I took off my mask and said, "Do I look familiar?" It took him a second, but then he realized who we were. It was so fun to see him, and such a tender mercy. If either of us had been in that spot just a few seconds earlier or later, we would have missed each other.

I don't know that I can adequately describe my MTC experience. My emotions have run the gamut from feeling overwhelmed to having the time of my life. I've gained deep spiritual insights and have had my soul fed. It hasn't all been easy, and there have been times I've wondered what I'm doing here, but overall it has been a wonderful experience, and I've gained friends that will last the rest of my life.


  1. I remember Starla at Meridian High. What a great connection!

  2. Help and this is great I wrote a big note not sure it got

  3. Call it old age and not good at this. But your letter brought many memories back to me. Tgey where all good ones. Thank you for sharing. We also met great people and are still friends We made a email thread that we all responded to each month and got to enjoy each other missions. We are still friends and visit back and forth. One was like you had He grow up in Shelley but lived in Arizona.

  4. What a tremendous experience,, I was smiling, nodding enthusiastically, tearing up, and in general just loving every word,,, thank you, and as our family always ends our notes,,
    Onward and Upward❣️

  5. Good luck! We look forward to hearing more of your mission adventures!

  6. great post what program are you using for your blog? I like it a lot..
    Thank you for sharing. After we get our apartment all set up and food, we will sit down
    and share what's up with us.
    Elder Cook of the 12 came to our first day on the mission and spoke at a Mission Conference. It was a day to remember


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