Alex Fuller's Mission to Japan

Alex at MTC From June 2006 to June 2008, Alex is serving
a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints in the Japan Tokyo
South and Japan Nagoya Missions.
(click pic to enlarge)

Friday, June 23, 2006

Trek to the MTC

What an emotional week this was! Alex and I (his dad) left Lenexa, Kansas on June 19, 2006 on a journey to Provo, Utah where Alex entered the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on Wednesday, June 21, 2006. Here are the highlights of the trip:

On Monday, Alex finished any last minute packing he needed to do and fit everything into 3 suitcases plus a small bag just for the drive to Utah. The three larger bags are the ones Alex will be taking to Japan. They only weigh about 125 pounds altogether! Alex will develop strong muscles moving his luggage from city to city!

After loading up the car and double checking he had everyhing for his 2 years away from home, Alex hugged everyone goodbye.
Two years is a long time, so there were quite a few tears as Alex said goodbye.

After a quick check of the map to see where we needed to go, we jumped in the Mitsubishi Eclipse to ride in style. Off to Japan! But first we needed to get Alex to Provo, Utah where the MTC is located.

Luckily, the night before, Dad had found a place selling gas for only $2.69 a gallon. Little did he know that on the way to Utah, he would have to pay $2.99 a gallon at one place in Nebraska! Holy Cow! The car needs gas, not milk!

So with liquid refreshment in hand, we set off for our journey. Alex will not be driving much or at all in Japan, so he enjoyed driving the high performance sports car one last time. In fact he enjoyed it too much...

When we reached I-80 in Lincoln, Nebraska, we quickly found that the speed limit across most of I-80 is 75 mph. So we were cruising along about 80 mph and all of the sudden a convoy of NASCAR trucks carrying race cars passes us. Taking advantage of the opportunity, Alex joined the convoy and practiced "drafting" behind Tony Stewart's truck. At times we were going as fast as 100 mph. Those NASCAR trucks don't stop for anyone!

And there was much rejoicing!!!

But lo, the NASCAR trucks had bigger gasoline tanks than we did so we had to stop and fill up our "race car." See Alex here in fine form as he tops off his high performance machine with regular unleaded "racing fuel!"
Alex and Grandparents After filling up completely, Alex attempted to set a world record on how far the car could go on a tank of gas. Without realizing he was on empty, Alex breezed right through Evanstan, Wyoming and by the time I awoke from my nap and saw the gas guage, it was too late to go back. The only hope now was that a gas station existed within about 25 miles or we would be spending the night in the car. With great faith we climbed and decended hill after hill until finally the lights of Coalville, Utah were seen and we coasted into an unmanned 24-hour gas station. Whew!

Alex and Grandparents After finally arriving in Utah at 4am Tuesday morning, we stayed in Salt Lake City at Bonnie Black's parent's home. Thank you very much to the Blacks! The next morning we arose, after sleeping in quite late, had lunch at Arbys and went to see Alex's great grandmother, Madonna Hopkins (aka Grandma Donna). Grandma was so pleased to see her oldest great-grandson. We talked and laughed and hugged and kissed goodbye! We love you grandma!

Alex and Grandparents Next on to Bountiful, Utah to see Grandma and Grandpa Fuller. They were also overjoyed to see their oldest grandson. They had been able to spend a couple of occasions with Alex while he was attending BYU, so they picked up right where they had left off last time they saw Alex and talked about missions and Japan and the MTC and all kinds of good stuff! They also took Alex and I to the Sizzler Steak House for dinner. Yummy! After that, we were off to our next destination...Provo, Utah, home of the MTC.

Finally, Tuesday evening we arrived in Provo, Utah. We got a hotel room and spent one last night as father and son together before the mission experience would begin. Alex checked the map one more time to see how far away Japan was. The answer was: VERY FAR! We slept well that night, the adventure was about to begin. A two year adventure! Two years of hard work, new places, new faces, spiritual experiences, maturing, success, frustration, sadness and true joy.

Alex and Grandparents At 10:30am the next morning, we left the hotel and drove to the MTC. We had arrived. Alex's mission had begun. We pulled up behind a line of other families bringing their son or daughter to begin their mission experience. We met missionaries going to New York, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Italy and other places. We met the MTC mission president. The welcome was warm and the feeling in the air was one of anticipation, apprehension and commitment.

Alex and Grandparents Upon registering at the MTC, Alex was given the name tag that he will wear proudly for the next two years. Two of the words on the name tag we could read. As for the rest, we'll let you know later. They say it says "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," but Alex wants to verify that. Luckily, one of the main purposes of the MTC is to help Alex learn Japanese. Stay tuned!

Alex and Grandparents After pictures were taken we entered a conference room where we gathered with other families and missionaries. We watched "Mormonad TV Spots" as we waited. When the meeting was called to order, the mission president and his wife spoke to welcome the missionaries and assure parents that their children would be well cared for. A short video was shown and then it was time for father and son to say goodbye. We were coached to make saying goodbye like pulling off a band-aid. The quicker it is done the less it hurts. Alex and I hugged a hug to last for two years.
Alex and Grandparents I told him I was so proud of him. We told eachother how much we loved the other. And then I went out one door, and Alex went out another door. Luckily as I rounded the corner to leave the building, I looked down the hall and saw Alex one last time. I called to him, "I love you Alex!" He waved and said, "I love you too dad!" I turned and made a beeline for the car, started it up, and began to drive back to Kansas.

Alex and Grandparents Alex has been so eager to begin his mission. For the next two years, no matter where he is, the MTC, Tokyo or some other city in Japan, he will arise at 6:30am and retire at 10:30pm. He will be searching for people to listen to the "good news" of the gospel and he will invite them to "come unto Christ." The mission field is open for Alex. It is open for more than 50,000 missionaries worldwide. I will miss my eldest son, but I am so very pleased with him. He's not perfect yet, but he's an amazing example to me! What a blessing he has been in my life! Now he gets to bless the lives of several people who live in Japan.

Alex and Grandparents As I drove back towards Kansas that night, my mind was drawn back to the many wonderful memories I have of Alex. Over the next two years, many things will happen in his life. To keep up to date on this adventure called "Alex Fuller's Mission to Japan," I invite you to return to this site often. If you receive a letter or have news to share from Alex, feel free to post it here. Thanks to all of you who have been and continue to be a support in Alex's life!

Special Note: While driving back from dropping off Alex at the MTC, the right rear tire on the Mitsubishi Eclipse blew out near Grand Island, Nebraska. It was 4am. A Nebraska highway patrolman helped me put on the temporary spare tire. I stopped by a couple of 24 hour auto service centers in the area, but none had the tire I needed. I finally decided to drive the remaining 300 miles on using the small, temporary spare tire. When I pulled into the driveway at home in Lenexa, Kansas, the small little tire had held up well. Much to my dismay, the left rear tire was in shreds with steel belts exposed. I took the car to the tire dealer who said that he was shocked the tire lasted as long as it did. The rear wheels were drastically out of alignment which is what caused the tire damage. When I told them where the car had been over the last few days, they said I was extremely lucky to make it out to Utah, let alone make it back home without both tires totally failing. I guess the blessings of having a missionary have begun. The Eclipse is now aligned with two brand new rear tires. It will be nice to drive a "race car" while Alex is in Japan.


At 3:55 PM, Anonymous Bonni Black said...

I have to thank you for the note you left at our house that was really nice of you. I'm glad you made it home ok, even with adventures. But, you're right the blessings of having a missionary have already begun and you will be amazed at how much the Lord is watching out for you and your family. It was really fun to meet you and your family. Thanks for your hospitality, I can tell Alex gets many of his attributes from you. I have to thank you for sharing your son with me. He is amazing and his mission president is lucky to have him. He will work wonders.

At 4:33 PM, Blogger Alex's Dad said...

Thanks Bonni! Haven't heard from you in a while! What's up?


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