I had the wonderful opportunity to talk with Joseph while he was in the Seattle airport waiting for his flight to Japan. He told me that there is no policy on missionaries calling home from the airport but the wife of his branch president in the MTC told them (from her perspective as a mother) that they'd better call home. Since I was in Boston, he called my cell phone but he also called home and talked with Daniel for a few minutes.
Joseph was a little nervous about the language but was also extremely excited to be on his way to Japan. He was traveling with a group of 6 or 8 elders going to Fukuoka and said they'd be arriving there late in the evening - in time to go to bed for the night. Here is a brief run down of some of the things he talked about:
Joseph said they been told that the Fukuoka mission is considered the "Hawaii" of Japan. That sounds like a pretty nice description, especially compared to Daniel's mission where the missionaries are known as the "frozen chosen."
He indicated that he was aware that, although he'd never been a hard worker in school, his experience studying in the MTC had motivated him to really put a lot more effort into studying which he is sure will help him when he goes to school after his mission.
For those of you who might be wondering, he said that he met and talked with David Archuletta a couple of times and that he is a really nice and very humble guy.
I asked Joseph about singing in the choir for General Conference and he said that they had to fill out an application that asked about their previous choral experience. He was the only one in his district or zone that was chosen and able to have that opportunity. He also said that leaving the MTC for that day was really great but kind of strange and that leaving the MTC to go to the airport gave them all a taste of culture shock. Everything in the MTC is so intensely spiritual that going out into the real world was kind of strange. Joseph loved the MTC and said that the time there went by incredibly quickly.
In the MTC they have auditions for those who would like to use their talents in meetings and devotionals. Joseph suggested that Joshua be prepared with something to audition with when he goes on his mission. I'm sure that advice would apply to any of his friends who are going to the MTC in the near future. He said that David Archuletta had sung for one of their meetings and when Daniel was in the MTC, he wrote that Elizabeth Smart played the harp in one of their meetings.
I also thought it interesting that the missionaries are instructed that they are not to initiate a gospel conversation while traveling on the airplane to their mission. Of course they can talk about it if the other person initiates the conversation though.
If you were aware of the April Fool's joke, I asked Joseph about that also. (If you don't know about it, ask Cameron, Daniel, or Katie. I'm sure they'll be happy to explain.) I told him that some of us thought it might be kind of mean but he said that he knew right away it wasn't for real even if the invitation did look pretty professional.
Joseph has always had a very positive perspective on life and he is certainly taking that with him to Japan as a missionary. Of course, like all missionaries, he loves to receive mail and will appreciate letters from everyone who takes time to write. As soon as I have an updated address, I'll post it on this blog.