We very much enjoyed our time in the Missionary Training Center (MTC). It is located in Provo, UT and is one of 15 MTCs around the world. This is the largest MTC and is located adjacent to the campus of Brigham Young University (BYU). It provides training to prepare young men and women to head out into the world and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. There are normally 2,500 – 3,000 missionaries receiving training there. Those going to English-speaking missions are only there for two weeks. Those who will be serving in a mission that requires learning a foreign language (there are 56 languages taught there) will be there for nine weeks in a language immersion program that also gives them the religious vocabulary they will need. While we were there, there were only around 1,400 missionaries in residence due to renovations to around half the dormitories.
We were scheduled to be there for two weeks. In our initial group, there were 44 couples and three single sisters. The first week covered training on teaching and assessing people’s needs. The second week had two days of training on the Church Education System (CES) and three days on our military relations duties. The training was uniformly excellent, although we found the CES training to be largely irrelevant to what we will be doing as missionaries.
It was fascinating to meet our fellow senior missionaries. They came from all sorts of backgrounds, but were united in their desire to serve the Lord. They were going around the globe – South Africa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Mongolia, Chile, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belarus, and many other countries. There was also a wide variety of missionary assignments – office support in mission headquarters, working with young single adults, working with military personnel, providing humanitarian support, working training young church leaders, and mission medical support. There were four other military relations couples in our group who were headed for Camp Lejuene, NC; Peterson AFB, CO; Fort Drum, NY; and the Great Lakes Naval Training Center, IL.
The MTC campus is self-contained with everything people need right on site. In addition to training and administrative facilities, there is a mail facility, a bookstore/convenience store, a barber shop/beauty salon, exercise facilities, and the largest laundry operation that I’ve ever seen (even this facility has to run in assigned shifts). The hub of the MTC is the dining room, which is run by BYU Dining Services. The food is institutional, but overall was quite good. There were numerous choices, but certainly made it hard for healthy eating with so many delicious alternatives. They had some of the best chocolate chip cookies that we’ve ever had. Unlimited chocolate milk has been the downfall of many a young missionary. Ice cream day was also challenging for those determined to behave.
Our living quarters were quite nice. We were housed on the third floor of the Jacob Hamblin Building. It was the equivalent of a nice hotel room, with the exception of the fact that there was no TV or radio. There was a strong internet connection, however. We were quite pleased with the room and were also blessed with a beautiful view of Mount Timpanogos. There were nice touches such as a granite shower and granite counter tops. Another benefit was an exercise room, so we didn’t have to go out into the cold to get to the main room.
The training at the MTC was a whirlwind that left us exhausted on some days. Sometimes we even had homework that took more than a few hours. Our instructors, who were recently returned missionaries, were very enthusiastic and inspiring. Special thanks to Brother Gubler and Sister Sharp for teaching us so well.
Another nice feature of the MTC experience is the devotional assemblies. These are held on Tuesday and Sunday evenings. During our time there, we attended three devotionals. One was with Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Another was with Elder Larry Kacher of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. The last devotional speaker was Stephen Allen, the Managing Director of the Missionary Department of the Church. Their messages were focused on the young missionaries and the need to work hard, study hard, and live so as to be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Even though directed at the young missionaries, these talks moved and inspired us as well.