By the time this posts, Claire will be en route to her next adventure: the “official Missionary Training Center.” She will be in rigorous classes for eight more weeks from there, learning more Mandarin Chinese, and delving into the scriptures and gospel study. Most importantly, working on her foundation with Jesus Christ. We have been so busy basking in her being here that I haven’t posted about some pretty big business around here: an official missionary and how the “Home MTC” works.

So let’s get down to business.

Claire’s “setting apart” as an official missionary

When you receive your mission call, most of the hullabaloo is about where in the world you will be serving. It could be anywhere in the whole wide world, so it’s a rush to get that assignment! But not only does it let you know where you’ll be serving, that mission call also assigns a date when you will begin your mission service.

The night before that service officially begins, you get “set apart” with a special blessing from one of our church leaders.

After all the pre-mission prep work, it was a special afternoon the Sunday before last when we headed in for Claire’s blessing. Love that our big kids could join in over Zoom as well as we sat around that big table and talked about some of the feelings we’ve had as Claire has been preparing. “Big” kids included. Oh I loved the feeling in that room.

Claire was blessed multiple times with patience as she begins this journey. She’ll need it as she learns this new language and will be on a steep learning curve with everything else too. But most of all I love that she was blessed with love and compassion, and a special bond with Jesus.

Grateful Josh was there, as well as our good Bishop and Stake President we love so much.

We found an empty classroom after the blessing and sat there for a little bit, with the big kids still on the phone. We all talked about what hit us the most in the blessing. Love this family of mine.

The eve of quite a grand adventure on the horizon.

We made a little “Home MTC survival bucket” with a bunch of the things Claire might need during that week of at-home preparation.

The next day, bright and early, Home MTC began.

What is “Home MTC”?

What in the world is “Home MTC” you may ask?

Home MTC started during the COVID pandemic. Before that, missionaries from all over the world would head to Missionary Training Centers. There are many of these MTCs all over the world, but the biggest one is in Provo, Utah. The MTC is where many lessons and training is done.

But since Covid closed MTCs down, missionaries learned to train online. Grace did home MTC the whole six weeks she was in the MTC since we were in the middle of the Covid shut-down. We sent her straight from home into the field. And she rocked it.

Over time, the people over missions in the church found that this Home MTC business definitely had it’s benefits. Families got to be more involved. It made for an easier transition into missionary life. Missionaries got to know their companions virtually even before they met them in person.

Because it worked so well, I think the majority of missionaries spend the first week of their mission training at home. And I have to agree that it is pretty awesome.

How Home MTC has gone for Claire

Our set-up

We “set up shop” in the game room.

I loved this so much because it’s just right off the kitchen and I felt like we got to be more involved that way.

Claire had a LOT of classes, from morning until evening, with a few small breaks.

Dave, Lu and I were on her case enough about when those breaks would be (so we could hang out), that she finally wrote us up a schedule near the end:

Let’s get a better look at that:

There we go.

Those classes were long and hard, but Claire came out glowing from each one of them.

Chinese progression

I love that she came out after the first day and could say this in Chinese:

I know Chinese speakers will laugh at that, but we were pretty amazed with what a couple hours can do.

After day three, this is how she sounded:

Pretty good if you ask me…but I’m not the best resource since when we lived in China for that semester I only learned how to say “thank you” and “turn right.” HA!

The classes and Claire’s companions

Usually you have one companion as you study and live life as a missionary. Claire lucked out and got two. One of them is a girl she almost roomed with for part of her freshman year of college. Since there was a glitch in the apartment system, that didn’t happen, but they’ll get to be roommates after all in the official MTC.

Missionaries are divided into districts and zones. Claire’s district only has seven missionaries in it (quite small), and they are all sisters (no elders). That was actually pretty fun for her.

I love that Claire let us sort of join in on some of the “big” classes out in the kitchen.

Loved hearing a little of how it was all going.

One night at dinner we we missed the window of her break so she joined us during class which turned out kind of funny.

Home MTC family bonding

Another great benefit of adjusting to mission life at home is that we got to be together as a family in a different way. Claire joined us for our early-morning devotionals before Lucy had to leave for school each day.

Dave and I snuck her out for super-quick dates in between classes:

Claire was around to help Lucy study for tests:

And also got to be there for her after-school snacks.

…and we made card games a nightly thing…of course.

The big kids FaceTimed and were involved from afar which was so sweet.

We went through Max’s box of missionary stuff over FaceTime which was fun too.

Max and Abby sent this most thoughtful gift that made Claire and I both tear up…she’s going to miss that Murphy girl like nobody’s business.

I love that they thought of such a perfect gift to ease the heartbreak.

Love that I found her studying like this one day after the gift was given:

Bo, of course, got some special time with our missionary too:

Sometimes much to her chagrin…Ha!

Dave and I got to hang with this girl too.

My favorite times with her though? Not pictured. When she nestled her way between us on our bed. and we had some pretty great conversations. And when we stood around the kitchen counter, her filled with new questions and wide eyes about all she was learning.

Home MTC food

…wasn’t so bad. Ha! We got to eat all Claire’s favorites, including this new one we’ve had on repeat over here ever since we discovered it at the reunion this summer (I posted the recipe) before. SO easy to put together for a quick snack any time!

Packing up and “lasts”

Lots of feelings around all this coming in a separate post. My brain and heart are too foggy right now to think clearly. Not ready for this.

Packing up for Claire's mission

A couple of my dear friends took Claire out to breakfast, and our dear neighbors decorated our front door.

We went through Dave and my “Mission keepsake” boxes too…and played more games.

The night before last we held our traditional “Pies and Ties” missionary send-off with Dave’s whole family.

Much more about that and why it’s called “Pies and Ties” in a post of it’s own coming soon.

Oh there has been so much more.

So much more joy and also wringing of hands. Worry and awe.

But for now I’ll just leave with gratitude.

So much of it as we send this girl off into the “great unknown.”

Except that it’s really not the “great unknown” because we believe with all our hearts that God’s got this. She just needs to reach out and let Him guide her through.

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  1. I LOVED this, what a special time for your family and especially Claire!
    Iโ€™ve heard that home MTC is so special.
    I canโ€™t believe how much Claire looks like Grace with darker hair too !!!

  2. Ahhh! So fun to see! Thanks for sharing all these great moments with us! She is going to be a fabulous missionary! Hang in there Mama! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Ok, I totally teared up at that picture of your daughter holding the pink bunny. Oh it will be hard to be apart from family for so long but the reunion will be so sweet!

    That’s such a neat blessing to have a Chinese-speaking mission again in the family! The grandkid(s) are going to love going through the family memorabilia for years to come ๐Ÿ™‚

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