Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Amazing how two people can go through the same experience and come out of it with opposite reactions. I was in the old Mormon SLC mission home for a week in October, 1966, and then in the Language Training Mission (Spanish) in Provo for 3 months. It was an intensely personal time when I wrestled with the Spanish language and the cultures of the countries to which I was assigned, the missionary discussions, my testimony, the scriptures, the dynamics of getting along and working with other young men and women my age, examining my motives for going on a mission, and learning from General Authorities and church leaders that to me had been just voices on the radio and faces in magazines. Gary Pullins (later to be the BYU baseball coach) was our district instructor. He was a top-notch human being and an example to me that endures to today. I was able to play my violin and sing with the missionary chorus in the Salt Lake Tabernacle, visit the Salt Lake City and St. George Temples, get to know companions from Utah, California, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and Guatemala. We cheered Virgil Carter from the missionary zone when Virgil Carter passed for 599 yards against UTEP. The language training aspect was rigorous and set the stage for further work with Spanish including translating an 18th-century violin instruction book for my Master's degree thesis and teaching Spanish in the public schools. Friends made in the LTM who later served with me in the mission have been live-long companions, including being roommates later in college and one, the best man at my wedding. We laughed, cried, worked, played and studied together with an intensity that was new to me. This was one of the happiest, most challenging and productive periods of my life. I would do it again in a heartbeat.