In the MTC

By Marvin K. Gardner

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    Whether you have been a member of the Church all your life or for only a year, the Missionary Training Center (MTC) can help you prepare to serve your mission.

    He was born in a small adobe house with a thatched roof in Chojoló, a remote mountain village in southern México. When he listened to the missionaries at age 15, someone had to translate their Spanish words into his native language, Tzotzil. He studied Selections from the Book of Mormon in Tzotzil, was baptized, and tried to share the gospel with his parents. Four years later, they were baptized.

    Manuel Solís Ruiz served as a Primary teacher and branch clerk. When a missionary encouraged him to serve a full-time mission, Manuel explained why he couldn’t go. “I don’t speak or understand Spanish—only Tzotzil,” he said. “And we don’t have any money. I had to quit school as a boy to work in the fields to support my elderly parents. They depend solely on me.”

    But Manuel wanted to serve a mission, and he found the courage to speak to the local mission president. Recognizing the purity of Manuel’s heart, the mission president and other local leaders helped make it possible for him to serve.

    “Now I am at the Missionary Training Center in México City!” says 21-year-old Manuel, who was called to the México México City South Mission. “I was sad to leave my father and mother, but they will be all right. The Lord gives me confidence and strength. I am learning the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I have found many friends here in the MTC who are helping me.”

    Elder Solís is having a life-changing experience at the Missionary Training Center—one that is helping him prepare for his mission and also for life. Missionaries in MTCs around the world are having similar experiences.

    What Is the Purpose of the MTC?

    All MTCs have the same statement of purpose:

    Under the influence of the Holy Spirit and in an atmosphere of love, trust, confidence, and respect, MTC training helps missionaries draw nearer to God and develop greater converting power. At MTCs each missionary will:

    • Learn and cherish the doctrines of the gospel and develop Christlike attributes.

    • Learn to teach with power by the Spirit to help others have faith in Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.

    • Seek the gift of tongues and become functional in the mission language.

    How Many Missionary Training Centers Are There?

    There are 15 Missionary Training Centers throughout the world—in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, England, Guatemala, Japan, Korea, México, New Zealand, Perú, Philippines, Spain, and Provo, Utah.

    Map of the world

    MTCs currently in operation worldwide.

    Which MTC Will I Attend?

    When you receive your call, you will be notified which MTC to go to. In most cases, you will receive training from native teachers, interact with native missionaries, team teach with missionaries serving in the area, and have firsthand experiences with the local people and culture. Many of you will not need to learn a language, and you will attend the MTC for about three weeks. If you do need language training, you will attend for about eight weeks.

    No matter which MTC you attend, you will feel the Spirit as you interact with missionaries from many locations. For example, Sister Ana Victoria Ordoñez Requena is from Guatemala, is attending the MTC in Argentina, has a companion from Chile, and is preparing to serve in Uruguay. “I could feel the Spirit from the moment of my arrival,” she says. “My testimony is growing steadily.”

    What Will I Do at the MTC?

    You will have a full-time missionary companion, an MTC president, and returned-missionary teachers. You will study the doctrine of the Church. You will learn how to teach by the Spirit—and especially how to use the Book of Mormon and other scriptures in teaching. You will learn how to present the proselyting discussions. If necessary, you will receive language training. You will attend the temple. General Authorities and Area Authorities will speak to you in devotionals—live or via satellite or video. You will learn the demeanor, rules, and routine of a full-time missionary. You will have time to get physical exercise, sing in choirs, eat, do your laundry, and write letters.

    In the process, you will learn to be an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. You will be able to begin your work in the mission field with confidence and humility, with faith and assurance, and with a solid foundation of gospel knowledge, teaching skills, language ability, and cultural awareness.

    What Are Other Missionaries Saying about the MTC?

    Still Can’t Believe It. Elder Edgar Eleuterio Quispe Pérez of Bolivia, attending the Perú MTC: “I still can’t believe it—I am really here in the MTC, and I’m wearing a missionary name tag!”

    At Home. Elder William Samuel Lolani Meredith of Western Samoa, attending the New Zealand MTC: “At first I was nervous, but now I feel at home here.”

    Among Those Called to Serve.Elder Choi Byung-Yong of Korea, attending the Korea MTC: “I was thrilled to see the video Called to Serve. It helped me realize I am one of 60,000 missionaries serving the Lord!”

    Will I Like My Companion?

    A Friend. Elder Joseph Thomas Miller of Utah, USA, attending the Spain MTC: “I had never studied Spanish, but my companion had studied it for six years. He has helped me so much with the language, the gospel, and many things. He has been more than a companion; he has been a friend.” His companion, Elder Samuel David Norton of England, says it goes both ways: “Elder Miller is amazing. The lessons of humility and diligence that I have learned from him have really helped me.”

    Patient with Me. Elder Esteban José Ventura of Uruguay, attending the Argentina MTC: “My companion has helped me know how to show love for others. He is patient with me and has helped me learn the discussions.”

    Think about Others First. Sister Yulia Vladimirovna Mikhaleva of Russia, attending the Provo MTC: “It’s not easy to be with one person 24 hours a day. We are learning to think about others first and then about ourselves.”

    The Language of the Spirit. Sister Kimberly Monika Johnson of Germany, attending the England MTC: “I’m grateful for my companion, Sister Iva Petkova, from Bulgaria. In our group of 12 sisters, eight nationalities are represented. I have grown to love each sister. Though we had language barriers, we have been able to communicate through the universal language of the Spirit. I’ve been filled with the Spirit each time I’ve heard them pray in their native languages and as they’ve said simple prayers in English.”

    Unified in Our Cause. Sister Jana Hedrlinova of the Czech Republic, attending the Provo MTC: “There are a lot of people here from different countries and different cultures, and the Spirit is strong among us. We are unified in our cause.”

    Will I Be Able to Make It?

    Difficult at First. Elder José Luis Aguilar of Perú, attending the Perú MTC: “The two things I like best about the MTC are the food and the beautiful spirit I feel here. The most difficult part is that it’s very strict. We always have to be on time, there’s a lot of studying to do, and there’s not a lot of time to rest. At first it was difficult to get used to it—but now it’s OK.”

    Hard to Get Up Early. Elder Oscar Ignacio Pérez Aguilera of Chile, attending the Perú MTC: “It has been hard for me to get up early and go to bed early, but I know the rules are to help us be responsible and successful.”

    Overcoming Homesickness. Elder Cristhian Rolando Escalante Romero of Ecuador, attending the Guatemala MTC: “Since I am so far from home, letters take a long time to get here. But my companion strengthens me by being by my side. My MTC president gives me advice as if I were one of his grandchildren; I love him so much. And Jesus Christ nourishes me.”

    On My Side. Elder Cory Lignell of Utah, USA, attending the Dominican Republic MTC: “I know God is on my side and my friends and family are praying for me.”

    The Love of Christ. Elder José Carlos Pérez Zubieta of Bolivia, attending the Perú MTC: “I want to learn all the habits and rules that will help me become a successful missionary. In the MTC, I feel the love of Christ. I feel very close to Him.”

    Can I Really Learn a New Language and Culture?

    Like No Other Language Center in the World. Elder Wojtek Krzysztof Baszczyk of Poland, attending the Provo MTC: “There is no other language center in the world where people learn languages as well in such a short time. I think it’s because we are taught under the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before coming here, I studied English for five years in school, but a Brazilian elder who sits next to me had never studied English. He is talking as well as I am after being in the MTC only one month!”

    Immerse Yourself in the Culture. Elder Daniel Bokovoy of California, USA, attending the Brazil MTC: “One of the most important factors in learning a new language is immersing yourself in the culture where the language is spoken. Here we have many opportunities to go into the city and interact with the citizens. We are also able to go out proselyting with local full-time missionaries. We have real experiences in missionary work.”

    What Are the Classes and Meetings Like?

    Teachers Instill Confidence. Sister Lizbeth Adriana Martínez Hernández of México, attending the México MTC: “My teachers have given me confidence that if I work hard, I will be able to accomplish what the Lord expects of me.”

    Understanding the Atonement. Sister Bayelita Carmen Ituza Casa of Perú, attending the Perú MTC: “In our class, we had an assignment to sketch an outline explaining the Atonement. But I had never clearly understood the Atonement, so I couldn’t do it—and I wasn’t the only one. When our outlines were due, our teachers helped us. I could tell we were more important than the assignment. We studied D&C 19:16–19, and I was able to understand the great love Jesus Christ has for us.”

    To Be with Our MTC President. Elder Tomomi Hara of Japan, attending the Japan MTC: “One of the greatest blessings is to be with our wonderful MTC president and his wife. Whenever I am with them, I feel the Spirit.”

    Listening to General Authority Speakers. Elder Ricardo Andrés Ibáñez Fuentemavida of Chile, attending the Perú MTC: “When we watched the video Special Witnesses of Christ, I was especially moved by the testimony President Gordon B. Hinckley bore in the Sacred Grove. I felt great joy, and I could see love and peace in his eyes.”

    Sister Abigail Ray Babaga of Papua New Guinea, attending the New Zealand MTC: “I heard the broadcast of a talk by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and I was filled with the Spirit.”

    Elder Benjamin F. Gardner of Arizona, USA, attending the Brazil MTC: “We watched a video of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaking at the Provo MTC. It was very powerful. He says he thinks of his mission nearly every day of his life.”

    What If I Haven’t Attended the Temple Yet?

    Preparing for the Temple. Sister Carmen María Ramos Zúñiga of Honduras, attending the Guatemala MTC: “On our first Sunday here, we fasted to prepare ourselves to enter the temple. From the moment I awoke that morning, I felt the presence of the Spirit. I’ve had a strong impression that my nonmember family will soon be contacted by missionaries and will accept the gospel.”

    In the Temple. Sister Sachiko Miyagawa of Japan, attending the Japan MTC: “Attending the temple while at the MTC is an experience I will never forget. In the temple I felt a desire to be more obedient and come closer to God.”

    To Help Others Feel Joy. Sister Lesly María Guzmán Maldonado of Guatemala, attending the Guatemala MTC: “While participating in the ordinances of the temple, I felt hope, assurance, love, and thankfulness. I realized how much it would mean to me to reach exaltation with my family. I will work with all my strength to help other people feel this same joy.”

    Is The MTC Really “Life Changing”?

    Only Beginning. Elder Nathan Craven of Utah, USA, attending the Spain MTC: “Being in the Church for only a year and a half after 10 years of inactivity, I knew nothing of the gospel. So compared to where I was two months ago, I am a giant. But I realize I am only beginning.”

    Bearing Testimony. Elder Brett Maxfield of Idaho, USA, attending the Dominican Republic MTC: “One night after a devotional, my district went into a room and shared what we had learned and then bore our testimonies. I had never felt the Spirit that strong before in my life.”

    Growing Spiritually. Elder Nigel Morriss of England, attending the England MTC: “My spiritual growth here has been immeasurable. In an atmosphere of love, trust, confidence, and respect, I have drawn nearer to God in a way hard to imagine. I have come to understand that this experience is just the beginning of a journey. My mission is only the springboard for greater growth and development.”

    Feeling the Atonement. Elder Evanilda Gomes do Nascimento of Brazil, attending the Brazil MTC: “The spiritual growth here is unbelievable! I used to accept the Atonement. Now I feel it in my heart in a way I cannot express.”

    Above: Photograph at the México MTC by Marvin K. Gardner; left: Photograph of Elder Manuel Solís Ruiz courtesy of the Missionary Department

    Photography by Marvin K. Gardner, John Luke, and C. Eugene Hill

    In addition to plenty of spiritual nourishment, the MTC also provides balanced meals. Far left: At the Provo MTC. Left: At the México MTC.

    Hours of intensive study are punctuated by opportunities for physical activity. Below: At the Dominican Republic MTC. Right: At the México MTC.

    Photography by Margarita Díaz, John Luke, C. Eugene Hill, Barbara Jean Jones, Janet Thomas, and Roger Terry

    While in the MTC, missionaries have the opportunity to attend the temple. Left: At the Madrid Spain Temple.