There won't be an email this week because Isaac is traveling out to his mission on his Preparation day. But, even better than an email, Isaac got to call me today when he got to the Salt Lake airport. He'd been in the MTC for 12 days but said it felt more like 3 hours. He was excited by what he'd accomplished at the MTC; teaching seven "investigators", serving as a zone leader (his duties included instructing an elder on the importance of body deodorant), giving a few blessings to other missionaries, and visiting the Provo temple. 17 missionaries from his district left the MTC together to fly to his mission. He's been told that when he arrives in California that he will spent the night at the home of the mission president before meeting his assigned companion and moving in to his apartment. It sounds like the mission home is going to be a full house with 17 missionaries arriving on the same day!
Each mission is presided over by a mission president. He and his wife are asked to serve for three years to manage the mission. The process of becoming a mission president is not like that of becoming a missionary. A missionary begins the process of going on a mission by approaching his priesthood leaders, expressing a desire to serve, and filling out the required paperwork. A person can not ask to be a mission president; it is something that comes from inspiration through church leadership. One day your phone rings and you find a church leader wants to meet with you. An interview or two later, you are invited to give up three years and move to your assigned area. Dode's uncle was asked to serve in Mexico City a few decades ago. He, his wife and all the kids moved down there for the three years. In July Dode's cousin and her husband will be leaving in order for her husband to serve as a mission president to the Africa Uganda Kampala mission.
The mission president is responsible for training and overseeing all the missionaries serving in his mission. He meets regularly with them to see how they are doing, he offers pep talks and council as needed. He is also the person Dode and I would call if there was an emergency at home (like a death in the family) that we thought Isaac needed to hear about from us in person instead of in an email. The home the mission president and his wife live in is called the mission home. 17 missionaries arriving at once, being served dinner and breakfast and spending the night in the mission home must be interesting.
There is also an office for the mission. All of Isaac's letters and packages go here, then they are delivered to the missionaries scattered throughout his mission. There is usually a retired couple serving a mission who serve in the office with the mission president, overseeing the logistics of the apartments that are rented for the missionaries, cars the missionaries drive, mission finances etc. Dode's Aunt Viv and Uncle Dave are serving a mission doing that in Maryland right now. A few young missionaries are also asked to serve in the mission office for part of their mission, they are called Assistants to the President.
Isaac and his companions ended up having extra time at the airport when their flight was delayed two hours. Isaac had a couple really nice things happen to him while at the airport. He ordered lunch at one of the restaurants and when he tried to pay, he was told that someone else had already paid for his meal. A little later, he was watching over everyone's bags while the other missionaries got food and made phone calls and someone came up and handed him $100 and told him to buy a meal for his companions and himself. He was absolutely blown away that people would be so nice to him.