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Comments about ‘Mormon church's Provo MTC: Exclusive look of the largest missionary training facility in the world’

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Published: Sunday, March 20 2011 10:11 p.m. MDT

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I say this
Emery, UT

My MTC experience was OK. The "real" mission field was much better. I was stuck with a homesick Californian who had nothing good to say about Utah for eight long weeks. I learned patience and charity but it was the hard way.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

I never went on a mission. I joined the USAF at 17 straight out of High School. I served 20 years and though I miss the mission experience I wouldn't have traded those 20 years for anything. I've served as a counsellor in the Stake Mission Presidency and as a Branch/Ward Mission Leader. I've seen what these elders and sisters go through. Most that I have met over my life all say the same thing, how enjoyable and challenging life is in the MTC. I often ask myself why some don't and the answer came to me through a Stake President one time. It is one word, PRIDE. Yet, I'm not sure that is always the answer. Sometimes it is because they didn't go to seminary, didn't grow up in the Church or quite possibly because it wasn't taught in the home. Either way my experience is that those who have gone through the MTC have enjoyed it and count it as one of the most enjoyable moments of their life.

fresnogirl
Fresno, CA

Bill

I don't think you can lump everyone together like you do. Some of us WERE prepared and HUMBLE, entered excited to serve and tried to maintain positive attitudes, but did not have great MTC experiences.

When you are sequestered with the same 9 people for 12-14 hours a day, every day for 2 months, their attitudes affect you. Sometimes, 19-year-old boys do not know how to interact platonically with females and treat them with hostility instead. I know that I am not singular in having this experience. It was with great relief that I discovered the Elders in the field had learned to be professional and friendly while keeping the appropriate boundaries. In short, it was nice to be treated as a person again.

As for my mission, I loved everything about it except the MTC. It helped to increase my testimony and faith. It helped me to understand the gospel on a deeper level. I still feel great joy at hearing from those I taught and seeing their progression in the Church and in their testimonies.

thebigsamoan
Richmond, VA

@Jennie Richards: Sorry you hated your mission. Hope you didn't stay on grudgingly, did you? If you did, then I can understand why you hated it. The Lord would not have loved you any less if you had decided to spare yourself the agony of doing something you probably didn't want to do in the first place. His work will continue to roll ahead whether we're willing to help along with it or not. My own mission experience was definitely not the best 2 years of my life but it was undoubtedly the very best 2 years FOR my life.

CLW
Vancouver, WA

Because the MTC is designed so that you are never alone, it is a particularly hard experience for introverted people, which is nearly 50% of missionaries.

Introverted tendencies, especially the need for some private downtime to relax, think, and ponder away from people, are unavailable in the current MTC structure.

The hardest part of the whole mission experience for me was getting used to never having private time. I need it, even in my marriage. I need that time to hear the Spirit whisper to my soul.

I think the MTC experience could be substantially improved for many missionaries by spiritually creating some ways for those who need more private time to experience it, while still maintaining the spirit and structure of missionary life.

readAbook
Provo, UT

I would like to respond to all those "attitude is everything" comments. It isn't! I went into the MTC and my mission with a very strong testimony. I was a 22 year old sister who had had the spirit confirm to her on several occasions the need to go. I had 13 baptisms and both good and bad companions. I loved working with inactive members and count them as my greatest successes. I had a good attitude in my opinion and loved the people I worked with.

HOWEVER, all that positiveness doesn't change the fact that the MTC was the most miserable and testimony wounding experience of my life. My current struggles have their roots in my mission; the way I was treated by teachers at the MTC, my mission Pres who didn't like having sisters in the field, etc.

If it hadn't been for the great people at the Ogden Institute the years after my mission I'm not sure what my testimony would be like - spiritual wounds heal slowly. Missions are not for everyone and even the faithful can come to hate them.

Everybody Wang Chung Tonight
Riverton, Utah

A few months ago the mission president came out with a new programme: the missionaries could eat with members only if a non-member was present. If the missionaries had a discussion appointment that night, they were to bring their "investigator(s)" with them. If the missionaries didn't have an investigator to bring, and the members didn't have a non-member present to legalize the proceedings, the missionaries were to give the members a discussion after the meal.

This immediately ended the dinner appointments in the ward. The members didn't want to take the chance that the missionaries would bring some weirdo, or several weirdos, into their homes. Also, the members didn't like the idea that, in addition to the weirdness factor, they wouldn't know how much food to prepare. They might theoretically sign up to feed the elders, and end up with half-a-dozen "guests". They also didn't like the idea of dinner potentially turning into an all-evening affair with them having to sit through a discussion, with or without the "investigator(s)".

So they simply stopped feeding the missionaries. Totally. The mission's baptism statistics are in the toilet.

Mormon in Michigan
Detroit, MI

My time spent as a Mormon missionary was a long, laborious, boring and depressing experience. I tried to seek out mental diversions and ways to enjoy my European experience, but the constant guilt, shame and sheer drudgery of the experience left me anxious and filled with further doubt and uneasiness. The plus was that I was able to experience a marvelous culture and history, learn a fabulous language and in some small ways experience the beauty and charm of European life. Those were the positives for me. Friends made, experiences which left me with happy moments among the drudgery and depression are what I look back upon with fondness, which leave me with some small attempt at salvaging any meaning for being there in the first place.

I returned from Germany as an emotional wreck. I felt that my testimony of the Mormon Church had been severely weakened instead of strengthened. I felt severely disconnected with reality, and in some ways I felt that parts of me, my inner self, had died or become severely atrophied in the process. It was a long road back to some semblance of me again.

BoiseSuperBlue
Twin Falls, ID

I remember very well what I was doing when I heard of the murders of Todd Wilson and Jeff Ball, two missionaries who were working in La Paz, Bolivia, in May of 1989. My wife and I were sitting in a Mexican restaurant in Spanish Fork, Utah, and the announcement came over the radio. I couldn't breathe when I heard the news. It was as if someone had punched me in the stomach and driven all the air from my lungs. My wife and I sat there, staring at each other and unable to speak.

Over the next couple of weeks some old, suppressed feelings came back to me. I remembered the hateful insults, the threats, the things thrown at us--all because we were different from most people in Bolivia. We were strangers from the United States, and we were mostly greeted with a mixture of distrust and fear. Many people believed we were agents of the US government, and many more saw us as agents of a cultural and economic imperialism that threatened Bolivia on many fronts.

higv
Dietrich, ID

RanchHand they do have a calling to go. Every worthy able young man is called at 19 to go on a mission. I never seen any talk were it was otherwise. Plenty were you are already called, Through your bishop and Stake President let the Lord tell you were you will serve.

higv
Dietrich, ID

What is the rule on missionary dinner appointments now? I think most you can eat just keep it brief and not during prime proselyting time. Hard to do. Impossible to be out by 6 if Husband is not home until then. Customary hour is what handbook says.

Some may have rules less active and part member families too. I think they vary. Longwinded members can keep missionaries from proselyting when they should.

How does the Telecenter work now? I did five weeks in the MTC since I did the telecenter. Does every English Missionary get a shot at it now? How it worked was people would call commercials for Scriptures and videos and we would have missionaries deliver them. Were told to be pushy there. I did not baptized anyone media referal myself. Wonder how it works now.

John Pack Lambert of Michigan
Ypsilanti, MI

It should be noted that three weeks is fluent English speakers assigned to teach in English. There are many missionies who are called to serve in English-speaking areas who are not fluent in English and thus spend 8 weeks in the MTC. My last companion, being from Mongolia, fit this description. As did missionaries in my mission from Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil and I believe a few other nations.

common sense 11
Lehi, UT

I have my call to the Colorado Denver South mission and I cant wait to go! Only 2 more months and ill be down in Provo to learn how to teach the gospel in spanish. I seriously cant wait! We all live to serve:]

Mayfair
City, Ut

AZRods--"The comments above remind me of President Uchdorf's message in this month' Ensign.
Those who look for long enough for negativism will always find it.
Those who look for the good, will always find it."

Yup-- I thought the very same thing.

windsor
City, Ut

readAbook--sorry about your negative experiences.

Serves to remind everyone else connected with missionaries (Presidents etc) to remember THEIR OWN attitudes and actions and motivations are just as important as expecting the missionary to have it together in those things.

I implore all leaders in the Church, (not just mission presidents) to remember this is THE LORD'S Church, (not theirs) and that they are to follow and incorporate the direction of the Lord, the First Presidency and the Twelve in fulfilling their callings (not their own.)

Then "spiritual wounding" like readAbook suffered would be a lot less.

cliff
Blossom, UT

The MTC can be both a harrowing experience and a spiritually edifying adventure at the same time. For those who are less inclined to conform to the prescribed behavioral, affective, and cognitive routines that are often rigidly enforced in the MTC, the adjustment can be a significant challenge. Nevertheless, the weekly temple sessions, Tuesday evening devotionals, intense Gospel study, and personal reflection and prayer can give you the strength to endure some of the peculiar perspectives espoused by a few of your instructors and fellow missionaries (those with whom you closely associate for several weeks). Indeed, the MTC can be a valuable primer for being an active member of the Church in adult lifeteaching you to embrace the spiritual truth that emanates from the Holy Ghost (which is in great abundance in the MTC and the LDS Church in general) while being relatively unperturbed by the few who think the Gospel is about trying to legitimize ones self-aggrandizing perspective that they would have you believe is sanctioned by the Lord. The MTC can be a great place to learn to more fully communicate with Lord while blocking out all types of potential noise within the communication process.

cliff
Blossom, UT

The MTC served as the framework to a spiritual journeyone which I hope secured a strong spiritual foundation for my life as an active latter-day saint. That is not to say that I dont think some in the MTC would have you follow like robots. I think some of them would. To all of you who have been spiritually wounded by harrowing experiences in the MTC or elsewhere in the Church, I sympathize with you. I recognize your legitimate hurt and deep concern for spiritual matters. Please do not allow those who might try to usurp your agency and individuality cause you to project negative judgments on our Heavenly Fathers plan for you. Our Father is a loving God who values your individuality and can heal your spiritual woundsand He can do it more easily and intimately when you are an active and endowed member of the Church. Anyone who thinks they have to take away your individuality for the good of the collective does not understand the essential need for individuality within the plan. You battled for individuality once already in the pre-mortal realm. Keep battling for it here.

mtgregson
Holladay, UT

Windsor- I implore all leaders in the Church, (not just mission presidents) to remember this is THE LORD'S Church, (not theirs) and that they are to follow and incorporate the direction of the Lord, the First Presidency and the Twelve in fulfilling their callings (not their own.)

Thank you for this! When I read comments concerning God, His plan for us, and what we think of it all on these blogs. It is suprising to me how many of us, are so quick to give OUR own personal thoughts and opinions on God and how His plan is and how we think He should run things.... What do we have power to create? Everything we have doesn't truly belong to us, it is on loan from God himself. The only thing that truly belongs to us is our will, the power to choose one or the other. We can't build anything or create anything without Him, and being an instrument for Him to use. Choose you this day. It is a choice and an attitude, and it is only one (Heavenly Father) or the other (The adversaries) way. We do not create our own way!

In Stitches
Provo, Utah

I read fresnogirl's comment with great shame.

We had an amazingly pretty Sister in our MTC district. We did not know how to handle that. We policed each other. If any of us talked to her too long, or too often or sat next to her voluntarily, he would get remarks or The Look from the others. Quickly, it became easier for all of us to avoid her. When we did have to interact with her, we made sure that no one around could think we "liked" her. We were rude.

She was easily the best prepared to be there -- both Spiritually and Academically.

But, by the end, she barely dared to speak in our district or make eye contact with any Elder. She did nothing to deserve our treatment. Her only "crime" was being too pretty while we were too immature and insecure.

We should have treated her as a Sister, but (to my everlasting shame) we made her an outcast. I never got to apologize to her, so I apologize to you, fresnogirl. It is the one thing I regret about my mission.

cliff
Blossom, UT

It is always interesting when one derides the expression of opinion by offering nothing other than opinion. We all have opinions. The strongest opinion posted seems to be the post that tells us not to have opinions. I find help in shaping my opinion with regard to creating through President Uchtdorfs comments: The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul..we each have an inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. Everyone can create..Creation brings deep satisfaction and fulfillment. In my opinion, those who believe in God want to align their opinion more fully with that of their creator. Sometimes we approach that process differently than how other mortals may wish. We are on this earth to learn how to think for ourselves and to endeavor to exercise our agency to align our opinion more closely with Gods. It is not about having no opinion at allit is about refining our opinion the best way we know how. It seems that we have a generous God who mercifully helps each of us do this.

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