Getting on the plane to Denver, Colorado was easy. Arriving at the airport was easy. Trying to find the checked bag that I didn't know had been sent all the way to Salt Lake was hard. I spent 20 minutes waiting for my bag to come down the carousel, then 30 minutes in line at the baggage claim counter trying to get someone to help me figure out what had happened to it. When I finally got down to the counter, the lady there took about 5 seconds to figure out that my luggage was already en route to Salt Lake. The only problem was that I wasn't- I had to get back down to the gate. I went down to security, but they couldn't let me through without a new boarding pass. I then ran to the ticket counter clear at the other side of the airport, but the plane had already left by the time I got there. So, they printed me a new standby ticket. I immediately went to a phone and called the missionary travel office and the shuttle bus station, and told them the situation. I was told just to wait for the next flight- 4 hours later. Then, I waited. And waited. And waited some more. I read through a huge chunk of the missionary reference library. Finally, the plane arrived and boarding started. Unfortunately, the plane was already overbooked, and the airport officials were asking if anyone was willing to wait an extra few hours. I waited anyway, and lo and behold, 2 standby seats were open! But then, there were also two other standby passengers, who took both. So I recalled the MTO and shuttle bus, and this time I got a whole new ticket that wasn't standby. Then there was nothing to do but wait more. But eventually, after 8 hours at that airport, I finally got on a plane and on my way to Salt Lake.
The shuttle bus was...interesting. I had to wait 40 minutes for the next bus, and when I got out to the curb for it, I was a little surprised to find that it was actually a minivan. Sure, it had a nice paint job, but when you're cramming 7 full-grown adults into one, with their luggage, things got a little tight. Nevertheless, I made it to the MTC after another long while in the van.
At the MTC, things got fun fast. The second I walked in the door and checked in, I was handed a phone and told to call home. I got David, and he said something along the lines of Mom being about ready to have a coronary because the only thing that the church had told her is that I wasn't at the MTC. Understandably, she was a little worried 8 hours after that when I still hadn't checked in. I promised to give her all the details later, something I am doing right now.
When I got up to my room and got set up, I met my companion, Elder Whaley. He's a cool guy! I share the room with him, Elder Jacob Jensen, and Elder Tessimale (I hope I spelled that right). They are all fun guys! Elder Jensen spent over a year in the military, and the rest of his life on a ranch. Elder Whaley's background is eerily similair to mine- about a year flipping burgers as a crew trainer at McDonald's, learned the trumpet (I took lessons a few years back), and a whole bunch of other stuff.
Life at the MTC is pretty strict in most ways. You have to be dressed up to use the dining hall! To go to any devotionals or big meetings, you have to wear a suit. Fortunately, classes are relatively laid back- just a white shirt, tie, and slacks. There's not too much you can do in casual clothes- this email is one of the very few, so I'm capitalizing on that. Once I get a cable for my camera so I can send pictures, I will. The dorms are pretty spartan- one desk, four chairs, 3 bunk beds, and a few cabinets and dressers. I still haven't unpacked, and I'm probably not going to at this rate- time in your room is pretty limited. You pretty much have a little time at night, and that's about it. There's a load of flu precautions- apparently, 700 missionaries were quarantined not too long ago because they all came down with it. There are hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and get this- at the MTC, you can't shake hands! All the leaders here are leading by examples, but that rule is by and large ignored by most of the missionaries. Come on, that's half the reason we came here.
There's a whole lot of classes to take- sort of. It's all one classroom, but you have morning and afternoon 3-hour blocks. Both are about the same sort of thing- learning to feel the spirit and use it to get inspiration about your investigator(s), so you can teach them better. I love the missionary purpose- to bring people closer to Christ by helping them to receive faith in Jesus Christ and his atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end. I'm just thanking my lucky stars that I don't have to learn a language- the missionaries that do stay in the MTC for 6 weeks, not two.
I can't wait to head out to India! I still don't have my visa or passport back from whoever I sent them to, so I'm likely just going to have to hang out in Idaho or Utah until I get my visa. I've heard that they are notoriously hard to get, so I'm not holding my breath...
This place is so awesome! I can't wait to get letters from everyone (hint hint)! Have fun!