About The Country Wife Blog

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Mission: Bonus Post with video

Here is a video of the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah in case you have not yet seen it.

There is an open house happening until the end of August.  As missionaries in the MTC, we could have felt a little bit like we were in a fish bowl because there were crowds of people coming through the buildings and walking on the sidewalks looking at all the missionaries going about their business, including while we were eating our meals.

The video is about 8 minutes long. It gives a little flavor of the Provo MTC.

You will notice early on when the family is walking down the corridor with the elders there is a map on the wall on your left as you are watching.  That is where almost all missionaries have their photo taken while they are pointing to their mission location.  Dear One and I did that, too.

Looking at the video where the cafeteria is shown, well, it was just about never that empty when we went in to eat our meals. (With 2600-2800 missionaries eating together, it just about could not be that empty!)  The young elders and sisters go in on a specific schedule, every ten minutes a new group enters.  Lines, lines, lines!  But often the young missionaries would allow, or even encourage, the senior missionaries to step to the front of the lines.  Nice kids.

The view from our window as missionaries gather to get on the bus.

Later in the video you see the young missionaries getting onto buses to take them to the airport to head out for their assigned mission fields.  That bus in the video is out front.  I think that may have been for the video because mostly the buses filled with missionaries underneath our residence window.

It was very touching to me to watch them prepare to go out and really "do it".

Monday, August 28, 2017

Munchie Monday: Black Beans and Brown Rice. In the Instant Pot!

With the Instant Pot now in the apartment kitchen I can go to town cooking!

The first things I cooked were brown rice and black beans, two of my favorite foods.

Brown Rice

In Instant Pot I put 1 cup rice with 4 cups water and set the rice timer for 15 minutes.  I let the Instant Pot release pressure naturally for 10 minutes but could not wait any longer and finished it.

I drained the rice in a colander afterwards. It was perfectly cooked.  No more of the 40-minutes-to-cook-brown-rice, ending with glue-y stuck-together rice!  So good.  I mixed it with a box of the Rice-a-Roni Broccoli and Cheese mix.  With a little soy sauce.  It was good.

Black Beans

As soon as the rice was out, I drained some black beans that had been soaking for 24 hours -I had expected the Instant Pot on Wednesday, but with the office closed for Zone Conference...no Instant Pot could be received.  Anyway, I drained and rinsed the beans and tossed them into the pot with 4 cups water, 2 Tablespoons chili powder, 2 Tablespoons minced onions, 1 Tablespoon cumin, and 1 Tablespoon granulated garlic.  I pushed  the Beans/Chili button and let it go.  The beans came out soft and luscious!  And so flavorful.

Dear One had already eaten a bowl of the rice.  I put the black beans on top of my rice.  It was great as is but we had some picante sauce in the refrigerator so I put that on to get some more vegetables in.  I took some for my lunch the next day.  So good.

We also had a salad with spring mix greens mixed with "Sweet Kale Mix" which is finely chopped kale, green cabbage, Brussels sprouts, a little red cabbage, (these last greens sliced so finely as to unrecognizable!!  which is a very desirable thing in our home.) as well as some tasty pumpkin seeds with some poppy seed dressing. Very nice salad.  Dear One enjoyed it.  Ignorance is bliss!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Mission: First Week "In Field"

Having now spent our first full week serving our full-time mission, I can say that we have learned a ton!  And there are probably a mega-ton more to learn, just to get up to speed!

One thing I learned as the president's/mission secretary is that there are categories of missionaries.  They are Pre-MTC, MTC, In Field, In Other Mission, and Other.  Pre-MTC is missionaries who have been called to serve but who have not yet arrived at the Missionary Training Center.   MTC and In Field are obvious.  In Other Mission is when missionaries have been assigned to a foreign country mission and who have finished their training at the Provo MTC and are still waiting for their visa to arrive so they can get to their missions.

 In our mission we have one missionary who was assigned to a mission in Portugal but has been serving here for three months.  He is really doing well.  He had a baptism last week and at the transfers this month was assigned to be a trainer!  He is doing really well.

Just like in any group, there is lingo one must learn.  Transfers is a big deal here.  Every six weeks missionaries may be moved.  They are not always moved. In fact, some missionaries stay in the same area for multiple transfers.

Transfers were the week before we arrived so I really do not know at all what it is like.  I just know that the office is closed and all the senior missionaries are at the stake center where the transfers take place. (Stake centers are larger church buildings which may house several wards or branches which are what Latter-day Saints call their individual units/congregations.). Missionaries who are moving to a different area in the mission arrive with their two suitcases having removed ALL of their stuff from the apartment where they previously lived with the current companion.  The next Transfer Day is, I think September 25th.  I will know more then...

On Wednesday Dear One and I went to Zone Conference.  This is a time when all the missionaries  in a particular zone meet together with the mission president, his wife, the assistants-to-the-president (AP's) who are experienced missionaries with more leadership responsibilities and others to receive instruction and inspiration.  Also to have a nice lunch provided by an assigned Relief Society (the women's organization in the Church which is for all women 18 and over).  In our mission three zones meet together.  There are 9 zones in the mission so three meet each day on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of zone conference week which is the week after transfers, I think.

This zone conference was really good.  We arrived in good season, meeting up with some of the other senior missionaries and meeting the Area Medical Director who was very nice.  His wife had a wide roll of masking tape and a Sharpie pen.  Missionaries would come in and hand her a pair or pants or other item of clothing, state their name which she wrote on a length of masking tape, then head into the chapel. She put the tape onto the clothing item and put it on the growing pile on the couch in the foyer behind here.  I finally realized that she was accepting mending jobs for the missionaries.  She spends all Zone Conference day mending for the missionaries.  That is truly an act of love because she does not get to receive any of the inspiration the rest of us get as we sit in the chapel basking in the Spirit.

This time the topic was Personal Revelation and Inspiration.  You might think this would have been a person preaching over the pulpit but that did not happen at all.  There were several Powerpoint Slides on the topic and the AP's and the mission president and his wife and the Sister Training Leaders all led parts of the discussion.  Everyone had the opportunity to participate.  We also each received a journal for recording our own moments of person revelation and inspiration.

The talk that was the basis for the conversation was:

How to Receive Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life by Elder Richard G. Scott.

It is really worth reading.  In our "personal revelation and inspiration" journals was a list of scriptures to read which describe feelings, etc that we receive as we have promptings.  President wants us to record our inspirations from the Holy Ghost and the scriptures and feelings we have so we can recognize those promptings/inspirations/revelations.  He hopes we will share some of them with him when we have personal interviews with him.

We had a lovely lunch:  Hawaiian Haystacks and orange melons of some kind.  Fortunately brownies were brought around afterwards!  Dear One did not eat the chicken sauce on the rice, nor did he eat most of the toppings.  I ate the sauce and all the toppings...onions, tomatoes, olive slices, and several others.  Neither of us ate the melon but we BOTH had a brownie!

On Friday Elder A, the Supplies and something else which escapes my mind right now missionary, senior missionary, brought in these lovely roses.

As far as for us, it was a great week as far as kitchen  goes.  The basics really are here in the kitchen but I am so accustomed now to some luxuries that I had to made some purchases.  On Thursday an Instant Pot arrived.  YAY!!!  Immediately I cooked some long grain brown rice and black beans.

On Friday we went to Best Buy where we indulged in a small Samsung television for our Netflix habit.  If you have any good suggestions of shows to watch, PLEASE let us know.  We are using up all the episodes of "our" favorite shows.

On Saturday this country wife/senior missionary decided to bite the bullet and spend some (well, a LOT) of her retirement funds on a few more kitchen tools.  I will report them as they arrive.  Today we purchased a 12" Lodge cast iron skillet and an Anchor Hocking butter dish and three-part glass set which I thought was a loaf pan, 8 by 8 pan, and a 9 by 13 pan.  Instead the 9 by 13 pan is 10.5 by 14.5.  I guess the brownies will be rather thin...

We also went to a farmers' market and found some rather limp kale, some beautiful bell peppers, and some cherry tomatoes.  Being organic, they rather set back my small stash of cash.  After cutting off the ends of the kale stems and putting them in a glass of water, they look happy now.

Thursday, August 24, 2017


It is totally surprising how much we use the internet.  Today the internet people came and installed all the parts to make it happen.  We had thought to do it ourselves but then chose to have "them" do the installation for a big price.  Dear One said he would not have been able to do it since it entailed scaling around outside.   Son #3 could have done it but...not here!

Just a short note:  being "in field" is wonderful.  It is also exhausting so far.  Lovely people all working together to support the mission president and all the young missionaries.  (There are nearly 200 of them!). I expect pretty soon we will not be so tired at the end of the day.  I start looking at my watch around 7 PM and longing for 9 PM when I can in good conscience go to bed.  The last time I went to bed before 9 there was a knock at the door just a few minutes shy of 9, so I am trying to stay up.

Soon I plan to put up some pictures of the trip across our magnificent country.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Mission: The Second Week, AND ARRIVAL!!

The second week went in a blur!  The days were filled with training on various office systems which we will be using.  It was totally new and different.  Windows computers with unknown-to-us software packages.  There will be a steep learning curve when we arrive in Oregon, I am afraid.  But with Heavenly Father’s help, and help from the Elder and Sister already there for a few days,  perhaps we can keep the egregious errors to a minimum.

On Tuesday evening for the General Authority fireside we were privileged to learn from Elder Neil L. Anderson, a real joy.  After the fireside which was broadcast to fourteen other Missionary Training Centers, Elder Anderson and Sister Anderson descended the podium and shook hands with many Elders and Sisters.  That was such a kind thing to do.  Eight of their grandchildren from about 5 or 6 years old to teenagers were there on the front row to be with their grandparents.  Elder Anderson asked them to shake hands as well.  So lovely.  One little boy and his older sister or cousin came our way and shook our hands.  That was as sweet as greeting Elder Anderson!

Elder Anderson spoke of the flame of faith and reminded us that the responsibility for keeping the flame bright rests with each of us individually.  We can keep the flame bright by putting ourselves in Our Father’s hands, remembering to pray that we can be an instrument in His hands.  I love that. 

It was bittersweet to have our time at the MTC end.  Senior couples that we had been associating with in our district, at meals, large group meetings, and at firesides peeled off as their training was completed.  Depending on what service they were assigned their training either continued or was complete.  Several of “our” couples left on Friday or Saturday the first weekend.  Others left during the week.  Our “assigned couple”  left on Wednesday.  It was hard to let them go.  Sister L. had picked up a bad cold so we could not even hug goodbye.  Our friends who are going to Tonga leave on the 21st!

Some the missions people will serve are military relations, Church Education System to serve college students with religion classes, humanitarian service, self-reliance training, family history in several different ways such as filming records or training how to do family history work (I would have enjoyed that assignment!), teaching on the religion faculty at Brigham Young University-Hawaii, serving in the Polynesian Cultural Center in various ways, also help local units of the church in whatever ways the local leadership needs. Plus there were three other couples assigned to work in the mission office as we were.   There are others that I heard of but they have slipped my mind.

Places these couples will be serving  London, England, Scotland/Ireland, Romania, Turkey, Japan, Indonesia, Philippines—several couple there, Cambodia, Guam, several missions in Canada,  many missions in the USA, Mexico.  And others!

On our penultimate day we packed up our luggage and put everything expect my medical equipment and overnight bag in the car.  Before breakfast the next day we loaded the last of that into the car and left our room tidy and the trash empties.  We managed not to leave any of our belongings there.  Then off to breakfast, class, and lunch then the final training.  That day was an office simulation where we received assignments to do a sampling of all the things we would be doing when we actually arrive.  The men had more things to do so the sisters finished before lunch.  Dear One and the other men had an abbreviated lunch and were back at it.  They finished by 2:00 or 2:30 and we were on the road headed out of Provo before 3 PM.

That night we stayed in Twin Falls, Idaho in the last king-sized bed for a year and a half!  The room was in a Shilo Inn.  Very nice place, except the refrigerator froze the baby carrots we had gotten to munch on in the car the next day.  Oh, well. I can cook them when we get to Beaverton, I guess.  With a tiny bit of butter and honey they should be pretty good when cooked…

Our last night out we stayed in La Grande, Oregon.  If you are looking at a map you may think we are wusses to only travel a few hundred miles.  Well, I guess we are.  Those 12- and 14-hour days to get to Utah are not something we really want to repeat unless absolutely necessary.

The only “bad” thing that happened on our whole trip (unless you count the frozen carrots) is that at the last motel I managed to leave my cell phone charger.  Not smart at all.  I still have not managed to get a solid answer on how to get it back.  It looks like it will cost $40 to $50 to get a new one so I want to get the other one mailed to us.  Maybe on Monday I can get through to the office.  The receptionist was folding sheets when we got there which answered our question about why no one answered the phone there the two times we called during the day to verify our booking.

As missionaries, we wear a name tag with our name and the name of the Savior on our clothing.  As we have been traveling we have had opportunities to witness to people of the Savior because of those tags.  It is wonderful. 

And now we have arrived!  The other office couple and the mission nurse were at our apartment having helped with cleaning after the new carpet was installed that morning.  They helped carry our stuff up the SEVENTEEN stairs to our apartment.  I made 4 trips and called it good.  Each of the others did about that many and Dear One did at least one more after everyone else had stopped.

It is a two-bedroom apartment with an open kitchen-dining room-living room.  There is a little deck and storage room off the living room.  There is a washer and dryer!!!!  Yay!!! I am so grateful for that.  Almost as soon as our new friends left, I put our dirty clothes going.  Well, no. Actually after they left we climbed back into the car to go get a Costco membership (they have a pharmacy) so we could get bedding, laundry soap, and some food.  After that we went to WinCo and got some more food then went back to the apartment, put away the food, cooked the frozen pizza and made a salad with refried beans on top, made the bed and crawled in.  Barely after 9:00 I was asleep.  I don’t know about Dear One.  We had just finished our prayer when there was a knock on the door. I did NOT feel compelled to put clothes back on and go out to chat with the Elders. They live somewhere in the complex and came to offer to let us follow them to Church in the morning.  That was nice of them.

Church was good.  How can it not be?!  We came home for a quick leftover pizza, veggie burger, and salad lunch then I went to bed to read and nap again.  Still have time change issues. I used to wake up early at home in Vermont.  Now early is REALLY early.  I hope to get caught up with the time zones soon.  Maybe the eclipse will change everything!

At five o’clock we went to the mission nurse’s home for a wonderful dinner which she prepared:  chicken chili which was wonderful, some great bread roll twists that had Italian seasoning and garlic on them, a fabulous salad with I adored, and for dessert some peanut butter cookie dough-marshmallow-peanuts-popcorn-and white chocolate drizzle bars.  They were decadently sweet and delicious.  Dear One accepted one to take home.  Elder and Sister J took the remainder to the office, which we got to go see as the was an emergency phone call from a set of Sister missionaries. They had locked their keys in the car…

So off to the mission office we went along with Elder and Sister J then rode along with them to rescue the sisters.  Beaverton is considered out in the country.  I just shake my head in wonder at this “country”.  It is not Vermont!  NO AT ALL!!  Two Costco’s within fifteen minutes.  Trader Joes and Whole Foods Markets as close.  Many apartment complexes.

Well, we will learn how to get around.  Eventually.  I must say it will be a challenge to go grocery shopping with Dear One.  We have totally different views of so many things.

This is so long.  I am sure no one is still reading, but if you are:  we don’t have internet yet. I hope I can post this using the internet on our cell phone.  The daily updates are probably a thing of the past.  Tomorrow we don’t go into the office until 1 PM because the other office people are going to head south to where they can see the totality of the eclipse.  I will just watch from our balcony/patio.  I remember the last one while working in Hanover—the way the leaves looked, the shadows.  I am sure we will see that from where we are.

Maybe Dear One can get internet for us soon.  I have loved having internet wherever we went because motels always have WiFi.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Mission: First Week--The Week's End!

Breakfast, then hurried off to the temple.  It was amazing to attend a temple session that was completely filled with worshipping brothers and sisters, many of them young missionaries who walked up Temple Hill to be there.  There are few full sessions where we regularly attend the temple.

After the temple and walking around the beautiful temple grounds, we went from the sublime to the ridiculous!  When we had been in Layton, Utah before entering the MTC we had gone to Target to do some minor shopping.  (I wanted to find a small purse which would hold my wallet, handkerchief, a pen and small notebook, and my brand new good cell phone, instead of the really fabulous purse I had purchased three months ago which I could fill with so much stuff that I was bowed down halfway to the ground...). I did find such a purse for about $20 plus tax.  It did work but after I had purchased it, all of a sudden I kicked myself:  I thought, "I should have gone to D. I. (Deseret Industries,  a Utah version of Goodwill.). I begged Dear One to stop in there on our way out of town the next morning. He was willing since it gave him a chance to find another tie or two!  There I found a perfect, really perfect, purse for $2.00!  And no tax since it was a donation.  I resolved not to use the other purse but return it as soon as possible.  This was the day.

At this Target, which was about fifteen minutes from our room at the MTC, we were able to quickly return the purse then looked around for some 'rescue food' to put into my purse for when blood sugar issues arise.  This time we got small crackers with peanut butter in them rather than the sweet granola-like bars I had previously gotten.  We also found some luscious nectarines.

Back at the room we rested, studied, and read and wrote some emails.  And did a little, (very little), planning for menus in Beaverton.  It is amazing how easily we slipped into the someone-else-doing-everything-about-food-except-eating-it routine!  We will have to snap out of that rather soon!  It has been nice, though.  Son #2 said we would love the food the first week or so, but after that (he was here eight or nine weeks learning Portuguese prior to going to Campinas, Brazil on his mission a long time ago) it would get old.  I think I know what he means....

On Sunday breakfast was a cold one:  cereal, milk, a few pastries, a little fruit.  I tried the Rice Krispies but held the dispersal bar down for about 3 seconds and filled my tray with cereal!  Yikes!  I scooped up the rest of them with a cup.  It was way more cereal than I have eaten in all my life.  The good news is that I was able to put Almond Breeze Unsweetened Almond Milk on top.  Also a small amount of mandarin orange slices gave it a little sweetness guilt-free.  Still, I ate the whole thing since I have such a time giving in to wasting food.  Now it is waisted...too bad.

Church was at 8:30.  Two of the young missionaries spoke briefly, then there was a lovely mixed octet singing parts in the languages of their missions.  The Provo MTC is the language training mission for all Asian languages and many other languages as well, such as Tagalog, Tongan, some of the Spanish and Portuguese, Norwegian, etc.  I base some of this on the fact that we met missionaries going to the places.  After the musical number there were two more speakers.

One of the sweetest experiences here was that at mealtime a group of maybe ten Elders either from Tonga or going to Tonga stood near the entrance of the building where the cafeteria resides and range a wonderful Tongan hymn of gratitude while clasping each others' shoulders.  Stirring, truly.

There was a "Departure Fireside" for all the missionaries who would be leaving the following week.  Because that would be us, we attended.  There were 710 young missionaries in attendance and the 35 Senior Couples who were the remaining part of our group.  The speakers were inspirational and encouraging.

The MTC Mission President and his wife spoke to us, then left immediately, though before they left, they told us we would want to be there for the regular Sunday Evening Fireside for sure!  Two more speakers after that encouraged us to remain strong, obedient, and true to our Father in Heaven and the Savior, Jesus Christ, now just while on our missions but throughout the remainder of our lives.  I think everyone there committed, or re-committed themselves to that end.

When we got to the fireside an hour later we learned that an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ was going to speak to us!  It was Elder M. Russell Ballard!  We were so happy.  Dear One had been in a meeting with him in Massachusetts many years ago for training which was wonderful.  Elder Ballard and his wife entered the room where there were nearly 2000 missionaries singing the prelude music.  When we saw Elder Ballard, everyone quickly but quietly arose out of respect for the man, and for his calling.

Sister Ballard arrived in a wheelchair.  It was sweet to see the loving kindness of those who assisted her up the steps to the stand where she sat beside her husband.  She did not address us, but her presence was a blessing and example to all.  Elder Ballard told us that we need to lock our hearts--and leave the key at home-- so we could focus totally on the Savior as we are giving our missionary service.  This was mainly for the young missionaries, but the same goes for senior missionaries who have concerns that need to be left alone for the duration of our missions.

We were so glad to hear the message and the stories he told.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Mission: Week One, Day Five

This morning after breakfast we had our Teaching Member Experience.  It was so lovely.  A little tummy-tightening at the thought of teaching our first real person, but when we got in there and met Mary Anne, we totally gained confidence.  She was so nice and kind and interesting.  We spent ten minutes getting to know her then we had fifteen minutes to plan a lesson.  We had semi-planned last night but were waiting to meet her before finalizing that plan.

Because she had some of the same family issues and concerns that our missionary couple had, and which we had, we were able to use the bare bones of our previous lesson and flesh it out with even more specific thoughts and suggestions and discussion.  At the end of the lesson we said goodbye with tears in our eyes as we had in that very short time felt great love for this sweet kind lady.

After our district of four couples all completed their TME we met back together to talk about the experience and evaluate ourselves.  The final step was to receive an evaluation from our trainer who was to have met with Mary Anne to get her comments on our teaching.  As it happens, Mary Anne was having difficulty with her asthma.  She had volunteered to do the CME with another senior missionary couple prior to meeting with us, and being in the small divided room was difficult for her and she had to leave before evaluating us so our trainer just spoke with us about her impressions of how we did with our other assignments throughout the week.  Well, we were okay with that.  It seemed to us like the lesson went smoothly.

Following lunch we all met as a large group, the last time we would be all together as some missionary couples were leaving later that afternoon, and others were leaving over the weekend for their areas of labor.  Still others, about half of the 65 couples were staying for some days the following week for additional training for their specific assignments.  (We were one of those couples.).

During that final meeting we talked about what we had learned about sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with others, wherever we were and in whatever situation we found ourselves.  We were encouraged to be missionaries for Jesus even after the conclusion of our full-time service.

We also talked of "enduring to the end".  This is something that many Christians think about and talk about.  There is a short article by Dieter F. Uchtdorf  in the July 2016 New Era magazine that we referenced that was really good.  A section that I really enjoyed reading and cogitating over is:

"...enduring to the end is not just matter of passively tolerating life’s difficult circumstances or “hanging in there.” Ours is an active religion, helping God’s children along the strait and narrow path to develop their full potential during this life and return to Him one day. Viewed from this perspective, enduring to the end is exalting and glorious, not grim and gloomy. This is joyful religion, one of hope, strength, and deliverance."  

For myself, I hope that I can help others along their way to return to the presence of our loving Heavenly Father one day.  That will bring me great joy.

Weekend is here.  As Senior Missionaries, we have the time free to do whatever we need to do.  Some people went to visit local family members.  Others stayed at the MTC to do laundry, relax, and practice what we have been taught all week. Still others, like us, planned to attend the temple Friday evening or Saturday.