Monday, 27 July 2015

First Area - Epsom

Whilst Elder Reynolds was in the Missionary Training Centre, he was cared for by President and Sister Preston

I asked President Preston for his thoughts about being the President at the Missionary Training Centre and his responsibility for the Elders and Sisters entrusted to his care.

He was kind enough to send the following response:

“The MTC is just where we want our son (daughter) to be, a place where he can learn how to teach others about Jesus Christ”. This is a comment we hear frequently as proud parents drop off their son or daughter, or e-mail, or message us via facebook, to comment about this very significant time in their family’s life. And each week hundreds of families repeat this farewell scene as their sons and daughters embark on an 18 or 24 month journey as missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a global force now numbering a record high of more than 85,000. Because it is a very demanding lifestyle, one devoted entirely to teaching others about the Saviour and helping those in need, each missionary’s first stop is at one of the Church’s 15 Missionary Training Centres (MTC’s), where they spend 2 to 9 weeks in training. Those not learning a language which is foreign to them stay just 2 weeks before departing for one of the Church’s 405 Missions around the world. It is our hope in the England MTC based in Chorley, Lancashire, adjacent to the Preston Temple, that these marvellous young people will feel reassuring peace and a sense of purpose here. For many of these, mostly 18 or 19 year olds, the MTC is their first experience living away from home, and inevitably there can be feelings of inadequacy and homesickness. However our experience as MTC President and wife is that from the moment they arrive, the Elders and Sisters feel the safe and serene atmosphere, as they immerse themselves in the curriculum taught here, and feel the love, care and interest of fellow missionaries, teachers and MTC staff, who surround them from the moment they walk through the doors. Plus, of course, the Holy Spirit, which pervades these hallowed rooms and hallways, lends comfort and reassurance to all who enter here. We consider it a marvellous and sacred privilege to be entrusted with the care of this modern ‘Army of Helaman’ as they begin their adventure of testimony, faith, hope, selflessness and charity.

So, Elder Reynolds has now left the Missionary Training Centre and has arrived in the England London South Mission. He met his Mission President (President Gubler) and his wife (Sister Gubler) and has been assigned an area to work in. A more senior missionary has been assigned with him to work in this area.

Elder Whitehead has been on his mission for 13 months already and is the District Leader. He comes from Salt Lake City in Utah. At this point we only know that he is the second eldest in his family. His older brother served his mission in the Germany Berlin Mission.

Elder Reynolds indicated that he didn't have much time to email us this week but here are some extracts from what we received:

Yeah, I'm sorry if this e-mail is a bit brief! Its been a bit hectic! Yeah, I now have my trainer, Elder Whitehead, he's been out for 13 months, so he's quite well experienced! ... I'm loving it in Epsom, I started in a rubbish flat but then we moved down the road to a much nicer flat! Haha! But then it got interesting when we moved everything in! Haha! ... The area is pretty good! We cover Epsom to Bookhom to Redhill and Banstead and all in-between! So we can travel around quite a bit! We went into Redhill on Friday when it was chucking it down with rain! Haha! We caught two trains to get there! (email received by his mum)

First of all, when I first came down, the flat was just like any other missionary flat but then we moved into a much nicer flat! We are the first ones! Haha! Yeah, it is just me and Elder Whitehead in the flat! We have two bathrooms! We walk a lot but also use public transport when it is needed! We have needed to use the train to get to Redhill. It is quite a big area, we have just absorbed another area, so it has got over twice as big!
This week we have a dinner appointment everyday apart from today and Thursday we have two! So yeah, we are fed! Haha! But this is quite a good week, it doesn't happen often, on average maybe three at least! Consistently we are teaching at least seven, but we have 20+ investigators! (email received by his dad)

From the emails and his photos he is clearly enjoying himself. Very proud of him. 

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Missionary Training Centre 2

Elder Reynolds in the England Missionary Training Centre from 9th July 2015 to 21st July 2015.

Here are a few photographs of his MTC group. Missionaries from all over the world going to a variety of missions around the world.

As you can see from the photos, it is not always a very serious setting. President and Sister Preston have overall responsibility for those entering the Missionary Training Centre and provide an environment ready for learning.

We haven't heard from Elder Reynolds this week due to his Preparation day being the day when he actually travelled to the England London South Mission. No access to the internet on the mini bus.

So what preparation has gone into Elder Reynolds getting ready for a mission:

He is required to live worthily. To be a representative, it is necessary that he is obedient to the commandments, including the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, Tithing and regular attendance at church.

He has studied the scriptures. Not only did he read the scriptures at church and at home, four mornings a week during term time, for four years he attended and graduated from Seminary. An early morning scripture study course for youth between the ages of 14 to 18. It started at 06.15 and finished at 07.00. About 10 to 15 other youth attended this at the chapel in Ashton under Lyne. During this period he got himself up and ready for the day. Following this lesson he would go to school/college/work. During these four years he only missed a handful of lessons.

Hopefully in subsequent emails, Elder Reynolds will provide a bit more information regarding others in his photographs.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Week 1. In the MTC

We had spent the last couple of days looking through all of Elder Reynolds' belongings at home, he was trying to decide what we were getting rid off as well as what needed to go into storage until he returns back home. Siblings claimed various items of property including clothes (some obviously too big) and mobile phones that he wouldn't need for the next 2 years.

It had already been a rather emotional morning as he said his goodbyes to his two younger brothers and younger sister before taking them up to school. We packed his suitcases into the car and set off listening to the Especially for Youth CD in the car as since his setting apart the night before meant that he was having to live by mission rules meaning that he was not to listen to secular music. We picked up a few last minute items including a CD case and a charger for his speakers as he had forgotten to pick his up on the way out of the house. We then continued our 45 minute journey.

We arrived at the temple site at about 10.35 a bit later than we had hoped due to the diversions we had taken. Upon arrival we took the opportunity to have a leisurely walk around the Preston Temple grounds. The day was absolutely glorious day. Lots of sunshine, the gardens looked beautiful.

We then picked up Elder Reynolds' luggage from the car and walked down to the Missionary Training Centre (MTC). His belongs for the next 2 years packed into 2 large suitcases and a shoulder bag.

We dropped Elder Reynolds off at the Missionary Training Centre at 10.50. Only missionaries are allowed into the Missionary Training Centre itself so we had to leave him at the door.

The only communication for the next 2 years is via email.

The first of these was on 9th July 2015 at 21.10

Hi Dad,
I don't have long but just want to let you know that I'm loving it in the MTC, played football today and met one of my companions: Elder P from Germany! We'll be meeting Elder S tomorrow! Right, got to be off!

Seeya in a bit!
Love you Lots!
Elder Reynolds

And so the adventure begins.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Missionary Training Centre

This is a Blog regarding the experiences of Elder Isaac Reynolds. He has been called to serve in the England London South Mission for a period of 2 years from the 9th July 2015.

The purpose of this Blog is to enable others to keep up to date with the experiences that he will have over this next 2 years. It will be written on his behalf by his dad with extracts from emails received (with Elder Reynolds' consent) and hopefully with some photographs of areas where he serves. People's names (other than Elder Reynolds and his family) will be anonymised unless specific permission has been given for their information to be included in this blog. It will hopefully shed some light on why he has chosen to serve a Mission.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have a lay ministry which means that those who have responsibilities within the church are not paid for their service. This means that they work in regular jobs in addition to serving in the church.

Elder Reynolds has saved for his mission and with the help of some family and friends, will be self-sufficient for this period of 2 years of service.  He submitted his application to serve without having any idea as to where he may be sent.

England London South Mission
There are currently over 400 missions around the world. With over 85,000 missionaries from many countries around the world. He knows of others that have served in various locations including friends and family serving/served in Greece, South Africa, Haiti, Las Vegas, Utah, Colorado, Botswana/Namibia, Arizona, Spain as well as various destinations in the United Kingdom: Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Manchester, Scotland and Ireland. To the side is a map of the area where he will be serving.

During this 2 year period Elder Reynolds will always need to be with another missionary (his Companion). In order to remain focused during this time, he will not go on dates, watch television programmes, listen to popular music and will only have contact with his family by weekly email and a telephone call on Mothers' day and at Christmas. He will work 7 days a week and will only have 8 hours a week (P-day/ Preparation day) to email family/friends, do shopping, cleaning, laundry and have time for a bit of relaxation.

On the 9th of July he will enter the England Missionary Training Centre in Chorley. He will stay there for 2 weeks prior to going down to the England London South Mission.

With the help of a number of family members, Elder Reynolds has been putting away books, clothing, videos and music that he will not be using for the next 2 years and packing up his belongings for the next 2 years.