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Courtesy LDS Church
Mexico Missionary Training Center President Carl Pratt and his wife, Karen Ann, welcome the first missionaries to the new MTC on June 26, 2013.
I think it will be a tremendous benefit for all missionaries. The missionaries who already speak Spanish will be exposed to English, and the missionaries learning Spanish will be more exposed to Spanish all the time. —Mexico MTC President Carl Pratt

MEXICO CITY — The first group of missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints arrived Wednesday to officially launch the church's new Missionary Training Center facility in Mexico City.

LDS officials said the inaugural group at the new MTC facility consists of some 100 new missionaries. Previously, the church had an MTC near its Mexico City Temple at which some 125 missionaries at a time — most of them from Mexico and Central America — were trained. The new facility has been created on the 90-acre site of the church-owned Benemerito de las Americas School, which graduated its final class earlier this month before making the transition to an MTC to help accommodate the surge of young missionaries that will report for training this summer. It will eventually accommodate about 1,000 missionaries at a time, with many of those missionaries coming from North America.

"I think it will be a tremendous benefit for all missionaries," said Mexico MTC President Carl Pratt, who indicated the larger MTC will enable more missionaries bound for Spanish-speaking missions to train together. "The missionaries who already speak Spanish will be exposed to English, and the missionaries learning Spanish will be more exposed to Spanish all the time."

According to an article on the LDS Newsroom website, the church currently has 15 missionary training centers, at which "missionaries receive religious instruction and language training and learn teaching skills."

"They also develop a respect and cultural understanding for the areas and countries where they will serve before traveling to destinations in more than 150 countries," the Newsroom article said.

The Mexico City MTC will be the second-largest MTC in the church, after the MTC in Provo, Utah. Other MTCs are found in:

Buenos Aires, Argentina

São Paulo, Brazil

Santiago, Chile

Bogota, Colombia

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

Preston, England

Accra, Ghana

Guatemala City, Guatemala

Auckland, New Zealand

Lima, Peru

Manila, Philippines

Johannesburg, South Africa

Madrid, Spain

Missionaries who already speak Spanish will train at the Mexico City MTC for two weeks, while those who are learning Spanish will train for six weeks. After they complete their training, the missionaries will depart for service in Spanish-speaking missions in Central and South America, as well as in the United States.

The Newsroom article indicated that North American missionaries assigned to serve in Mexico will continue to train at the Provo MTC. “If they have a difficult time getting a visa through a consulate or an embassy, that normally has to be done in their home country, so those will be the ones trained in Provo,” President Pratt said.

The Newsroom article reported that the new facility in Mexico City features 50 homes and two large dormitories for housing missionaries. It also includes kitchen, dining and exercise areas.

"To assist with the high volume of missionaries this summer, about 30 teachers from the Provo MTC will work in Mexico in the coming months for six weeks at a time," the article said. "Eventually, the Mexico MTC will employ up to 150 part-time teachers who will all live in the area."