Sunday, March 15, 2009

LTM (Language Training Mission)

I loved every minute at the LTM (Language Training Mission). Just prior to my mission all English speaking missionaries spent a few days in Salt Lake City somewhere and the foreign speakers spent two months somewhere on BYU campus. I went to the new training center but it was still under construction when I arrived and they had barely started bringing the English speakers there for three weeks. They still didn't have enough sister missionaries to fill an entire building so I'm sure I was one of the few missionaries who stayed in a co-ed building in the LTM (or future MTC). I'm not sure when the name changed but I don't believe it was too long after I was there that the LTM became the MTC (Mission Training Center).

I don't remember my schedule all that well but I clearly remember that the cafeteria was "all you can eat" and that alone made the place great as far as I was concerned. I know we had physical education every day and we ran a lot. I also remember they measured my body fat at 8% and they measured your strength by having you grip these hand grips. I'd just finished a summer building houses so my hand strength was off the charts. We got up at 5:30 every morning and were in bed by 10:00 every night. We had several hours where all we did was read the scriptures (I loved that) and the rest of the time was split between Dutch and studying the discussions. We always used to joke that the only difference between the LTM and prison was that in prison they have visitors hours. My companion was Elder Jenkins from up state New York. We got along well.

While I was in the LTM they were receiving many visitors from the US government and many other institutions trying to figure out how the church could teach new languages to so many people in such a short time. They would come and observe how we lived and studied and then they would go an try and replicate it at their own facilities but they could never make it work. They could copy our hours and our curriculum but they just couldn't copy the spirit that was there. We lived in large brick dormitories with tiny windows or no windows at all but the spirit was ever present and I could have easily spent the rest of my life there. It was a beautiful place. Once a week we got to go to the temple and I think once during my time there I made a trip to the barber but other than that we never left. The only exception was when we went to a BYU football game. One end of the stadium was filled with missionaries. It was a great experience but I have no idea who played or who won.

All too soon my time at the LTM came to an end and I was on a bus to the airport. This was the first time in my life that I'd ever been on an airplane. I was quite excited. We flew from Salt Lake City to JFK in New York and from there to Brussels Belgium. The AP's (assistants to the president) picked us up in a little bus and we were off to Antwerpen. I thought I was pretty smart at this point. I could say a lot of little phrases in Dutch and I was quite excited for the opportunity to use it. My first opportunity came when we went to get food at the little hotel (more like a bread and breakfast) where we were staying. The guy serving the food handed me my plate and said, "alstublieft". I knew that the word meant "please" but I couldn't figure out what he was saying please for. Did he want money? I didn't have any. I panicked for a moment but eventually he kind of waved me off in frustration and probably figured I was an idiot which is pretty much how I felt. I eventually figured out that in Dutch they just say "alstublieft" more like we say thank you. It is just a polite way of saying, "there you go". Things didn't get better after my first exposure to real Dutch. I couldn't understand a word they were saying. I was beginning to wonder if I'd been taught the right language. It sounds so much different when a Dutch man speaks Dutch than when an American speaks it.

I was now in Belgium and I was very excited to meet my new companion and get to work.

Asthma is worse in children today because they don't contract Hepatitis A anymore. Hepatitis A was a comparatively mild disease but it made people who were genetically susceptible to asthma immune to it.


Lynn said...

Okay I am still stuck on "Only 8% fat". WOW!

Great trivia!

Justin, Kira and Evan said...

that trivia is VERY interesting!!! I love reading your history dad!!!! Really, thank you for this blog!