Saturday, December 29, 2007

MTC Missionary Orientation

The last two years we took two of our daughters to the MTC in Provo so we have experienced the orientation in 2006 and 2007. We anticipate doing it the next two years in 2009 and 2010 followed four years later in 2014 and then four years after that in 2018. In preparation for a visit you should consult their MTC: Missionary Training Center Provo, Utah website. The site is divided into four main areas: Missionaries, Volunteers, Prospective Employees, and Employees. Under the Missionaries section is link for What You Know.The What You Know section answers the common questions: What preparations are necessary before entering the MTC; What should I bring to the MTC; What supplies and services will the MTC provide; How will my expenses be handled; May my family come to the MTC; May I have visitors to the MTC; May my family deliver packages to the MTC; Do I qualify as a student on my parents' health insurance; Is it possible to receive immunization at the MTC; What about travel from the MTC to the mission field. The MTC is located at 2005 North 900 East,Provo, UT 84604-1793. Its phone number is (801) 422-2602.

Missionaries are called most weeks of the year to report on Wednesday. There are usually four hundred to eight hundred called each week. Missionaries serve there for between two to twelve weeks. I think the only weeks that callings don't occur are on the week of Christmas or if a holiday falls on Wednesday. Missionaries can get a free meal from several of the local restaurants the day before or on the day they report to the MTC. Their family members have to pay. A few restaurants that I know who give a free meal include Burger Supreme, Chuck O Rama, Brick Oven, Chillis, Olive Garden, and Macaroni Grill. Most restaurants will give you one if you ask so don't be afraid to ask.

When you drive in to the compound you are directed to park either to the North or South side. They stack the cars when all the spots are occupied so be prepared to wait if you are parked in a line for about five or ten minutes after. At the front the missionary and his bags are unloaded by a group of volunteers. The missionary and family members gets out of the car while the driver takes it to the lot. The missionaries are directed to a baggage area where their bags are left. It is good to agree to meet at a certain spot after the bags are dropped off. Most families then go up to the sign in front of the complex to take pictures. There are so many people doing it that you have to be polite and only take two or three pictures or the other families get mad. In order to get everyone in the shot you ask someone waiting to take your picture. Then it is fun to have your missionaries picture taken with some of the older volunteers or on the sidewalk in front of the complex. Next you enter the MTC. Missionaries enter through a couple of doors on the left and families a different couple of doors on the right. The missionary is given their name tag with color dots signifying where they are going. My wife and I run in ahead so we can take our missionary's picture as she enters. Then we get a shot of their name tag being put on and their standing with their arm around the volunteers. Shots of us with our missionaries with their name tag on. You take several pictures in the lobby with the picture of Christ. Once the name tag is on and you start walking down the corridor to the room no more picture taking is allowed. You follow the long hallway down to the meeting room as volunteers direct you. The hand out large amounts of Kleenix to crying family members.

There are usually five or six one hour orientation meetings starting at 10:30am and going until 3:30pm. They stagger the sessions since they use a couple of large meeting rooms that are constantly turning over. Only close family members such as parents, grandparents, and brothers and sisters are invited. You are supposed to keep your group small to no more than four or five. The fewer the better.

The actual presentation once in the room lasts about thirty minutes. They show Home Front Commercials on TV screens scattered in the large hall to occupy you before the program begins. An opening and closing prayer are given by one of the new missionaries chosen randomly. There is usually some kind of rousing hymn like Called to Serve to start out. There is a short talk by the MTC President and his wife followed by a short video which shows missionaries throughout the world with a few remarks by President Hinckley. The MTC president usually says something like "your missionary will be taken care of, and that he or she will would return even better than we left them." His wife talks about not worrying about your missionary and the MTC experience. One of them says that families should depart fast like pulling off a band aid. Most families cry and the missionaries are reluctant to leave their families but it takes about five minutes after to clear the room. I even shed one single tear the first time when my oldest went. Parents go out one set of doors and missionaries go out their own set of doors. More tissue is passed out as you come out the door. Then you wander down the hallway and exit. You walk to your car and leave.

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