Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The LDS Missionary and the MTC Experience

There are seventeen LDS Missionary Training Centers (MTC) in the world. The largest MTC is in Provo, Utah where "About 80 percent of missionaries are trained at the Church's largest training center. It is home to an average of 2,700 missionaries at a time or 24,000 over the course of a year." Every week about five hundred missionaries enter one of these centers.

On 26 October 1978 in Provo, Utah, the Missionary Training Center, previously the Language Training Mission constructed in 1976, began training all missionaries. Eventually due to demand in other areas of the world other centers were opened.

A good general description about the role of the MTC was written by Richard O. Cowan and is entitled the Missionary Training Center. Wikipedia has a pretty thorough description about the Missionary Training Center. A mission president is called to each one for three years just like mission presidents in the other 345 missions.

Marvin K. Garnder describes the Provo MTC as "The Missionary Training Center is the first stop for newly called missionaries of the Church. Located in Provo, Utah, some forty miles south of Salt Lake City, the MTC is an impressive network of sixteen buildings—four classroom buildings; ten residence halls; a bookstore and health center; and an administrative complex housing offices, meeting rooms, post office, cafeteria, gym, and laundry. Situated at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains, the MTC has a spectacular view of 12,000-foot Mount Timpanogos. Brigham Young University is only a short walk away." Teachers at the Provo Utah MTC teach 49 languages.

The seventeen missionary training centers are located in

* Argentina Buenos Aires
* Brazil São Paulo
* Chile Santiago
* Colombia Bogotá
* Dominican Republic Santo Domingo
* England Preston
* Ghana Accra
* Guatemala Guatemala City
* Japan Tokyo
* Mexico Mexico City
* New Zealand Hamilton
* Peru Lima
* Philippines Manila
* South Africa Johannesburg
* South Korea Seoul
* Spain Madrid
* USA: Utah Provo

The Provo MTC has its own special site. I tried to find sites for the other sixteen centers but have been unable to find any.

The Provo MTC's site declares: "At the Church's Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, young men and women as well as retired men and women from around the world come together to prepare to serve the Lord. The purpose of the MTC is to provide an atmosphere of peace, love, trust, confidence, and respect in which missionaries can prepare for missionary service." You can learn about the MTC experience by reading information on the site. There is instructions for both missionaries and parents.

On the psychological element Randy L. Bott in Prepare with Honor states:

Before long, the date arrives to report at the Missionary Training Center (often called the MTC). After the orientation there, the parents go out one door and the missionaries another, and the training begins. Somehow the suits feel foreign, the ties seem tight, the wake-up calls come too early, and the classes are intense. You study twelve to fifteen hours a day and follow a strict schedule. When fatigue has set in, one of your MTC instructors decides to teach another hour on language training. A few prospective missionaries turn in their badges and choose the easy course. Sure, it will be embarrassing to go home, they think, but the people at home just don't know what the MTC is really like.

Day after day, you are asked to go beyond what you are sure is your limit. Others may call it quits, and you may even consider quitting yourself. But you are no quitter. You set your jaw and decide you can take anything for three weeks (eight weeks if you are learning a foreign language). There are spiritual highs almost daily, and the food (although not like Mom's cooking) isn't lethal. You learn to love your companion and roommates. But about the time you start getting the hang of it, your time at the MTC is over.
The farewells at the airport are not as bad as that first day at the MTC." (Randy L. Bott, Prepare with Honor, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1995, pp. 5-6).

When a missionary enters the MTC they receive training. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism says:

" The prospective missionary generally is allowed several weeks to prepare before reporting at an appointed date to the nearest Church missionary training center (mtc). Often the newly called missionary receives a letter from his assigned mission president with specific recommendations for the climate and mission service rules. Missionaries who already are fluent in the language of their assigned mission typically stay in an MTC for three weeks. Otherwise, they receive several weeks of intensive language and cultural training included with their courses in scripture study and methods of teaching the gospel.

Missionaries in an MTC also attend regular inspirational meetings and study classes. One day a week, they may attend a nearby temple and also write letters and take care of other personal needs. Sundays are devoted to attending regular Church services and studying the gospel.

At an MTC and in the mission field, missionaries are divided into administrative units called zones and districts. Single missionaries are assigned companions of the same gender who are studying the same language or going to the same mission. Married couples, of course, serve as companions to each another. Companionship is one of the most pervasive aspects of missionary life: a missionary never labors alone. The need for harmonious relationships between companions is urgent, and, although it can sometimes be a challenge, it usually leads to lifelong friendships. For missionary couples, it typically leads to an enhanced marriage relationship.

While in an MTC, missionaries begin to experience the meaning and rewards of full-time service to the Lord. The training is intensive. They do not watch television, listen to the radio, or go to places of entertainment. Letters, phone calls home, and nonmission business are limited. Their clothing is conservative business wear with distinctive name tags, except on preparation days or for service projects, physical-fitness activities, or special circumstances. The missionary's time is accounted for on reports submitted to the MTC or mission president; the principle is that one's time as a missionary is dedicated to the Lord."

There are a few articles that can help you understand the MTC Experience:

Danielle Nye Poulter, “Inside the MTC,” New Era, Mar 2007, 26–31.

The MTC Experience,” New Era, Jun 2000, 28–45.

Richard M. Romney, “Between Seasons: Growing at the MTC,” New Era, Nov 1992, 31.

Melvin J. Leavitt, “The Language of the Spirit (The MTC: Part One),” New Era, Oct 1983, 22.

Melvin J. Leavitt, “Sprouting the Seed (The MTC: Part Two),” New Era, Nov 1983, 32.

Marvin K. Gardner, “Learning to Be a Missionary at the MTC,” Ensign, Oct 1983, 8.

Marvin K. Gardner, “In the MTC,” Liahona, Oct 2001, 38.

I hope this information is useful in understanding what happens at the MTC.

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