Inside the Missionary Training Center — Arrival day for missionaries means quick goodbyes, and hello to brand new world

Return To Article
Add a comment
  • baseballmamma Alpine, UT
    March 24, 2011 1:38 p.m.

    I will send my oldest son off for his mission in two years. I can't even imagine having to sit through a welcome session while I'm crying my eyes out. I would rather send him off at the curb. I have several friends who have just recently sent their first sons out into the mission field. They like the curb system. Goodbye is goodbye and it will be painful either way.

  • hairypatches Hurricane, UT
    March 23, 2011 1:24 a.m.

    My wife and I were doing our mission medical training up in the church office building 22 months ago, the swine flu epidemic was mounting. One morning Dr. ____ charged into the room saying, "I don't get, I just don't get it!" Then he went into this tirade about an Elder that brought a bunch of family and extended members to the MTC some which had been in Mexico and now he had to notify the public that they brought the Swine Flu into the MTC. He said, " I just don't get it. You put the crying family and the missionary in this room and then wrench the missionary out of their mother's arms. That won't happen again!" I have been talking to the brethren about getting rid of that and now it might happen" After looking at this group of Senior Couples that had all sent missionaries there and seeing that some of them were in shock, he then said, "I AM A SURGEON!" "JUST CUT IT OFF!" He then laughed and of course the rest of us did too. He was prophetic though. That was the last of the old system.

  • carminaburana Provo, UT
    March 22, 2011 10:18 p.m.

    As a mother or 6 boys, the oldest 15 years old I think the new method works best. So, if all my sons serve missions I would be so happy to get them out through our revolving door , one coming home and another one leaving for about 10 years of my life. After number 5 I have a 6 year wait to send the last one, the revolving door falling off the hinges by then....

  • Kitenoa Salt Lake City, UT
    March 22, 2011 7:38 p.m.

    Some 35 years, I had the opportunity of seeing missionaries dropped off along the sidewalks at the old Mission Home in Salt Lake City (on North Temple), and have since seen a 100+ next generation missionaries enter the MTC in Provo using both the "inside" and recently "sidewalks" drop off methods.

    The separation is always difficult either way. Now-a-days, we do our huggings and well wishes at home (over a period of several days to accommodate everyone if needed) BEFORE a few people drive to the MTC for the quick sidewalk drop off. This method works well for us and our large extended families of up to a hundred relatives. It allows time for all family members and friends to say their goodbyes.

    Waiting for the last minute goodbyes is okay but not the only choice. Crying moms on the sidewalks can be discouraging for young missionaries. Simplicity (drawing as little attention as possible to the separation) is a good thing for everyone on the mtc sidewalk.

  • BobP Port Alice, B.C.
    March 22, 2011 7:34 p.m.

    It sure is different than when I went on a mission nearly 50 years ago.

  • FredEx Salt Lake, Ut
    March 22, 2011 4:42 p.m.

    I'll be here all week.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    March 22, 2011 3:53 p.m.

    FredEX, your comment just made my whole day.

  • FredEx Salt Lake, Ut
    March 22, 2011 3:23 p.m.

    Why is it such a major production to send a kid off on a mission? For one thing the kid is now an adult, and for another, so are the parents! It's really disturbing to see people fretting over their missionary like Marie Barone did over Robert's job interview with the FBI. Buck up and let the poor kid take charge of his/her own life.

    Good grief, the kid's gonna come back and never leave your house anyway. Enjoy the absence while you can. And the $400 payment.

  • sunshiner, ut
    March 22, 2011 2:59 p.m.

    I like the new method. These missionaries are better off without the sobbing families clinging to them. I stayed home that day and let my husband drive my son to the MTC because I preferred to say good-bye in the privacy of my own home. The continual crying over a young man or woman prepared to serve the Lord means the apron strings are still too much attached. Letting go physically and emotionally should have begun months earlier. Doing so helps them grow up and trust in the Lord before they get to the MTC.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    March 22, 2011 2:53 p.m.

    "We called those "dork dots." Every Wednesday in the MTC was fun because we could make fun of the greenies with their dork dots."

    That's right! Dork Dots! I totally forgot. Good times, those were. I was there for 11 weeks. By the 11th week, I thought I was so cool. Until I got out to the field and started vomitting violently from drinking unpasteurized milk, and I realized that everyone was speaking Spanish way faster than I had learned it. That humbled me really quick. Ah, memories.

  • AZRods Maricopa, AZ
    March 22, 2011 2:07 p.m.

    It certainly helped me emotionally with my 2 sons, knowing that they were pretty well prepared, and both really excited to go on a mission.
    It was a flicker of their childhood passing through my mind as I saw them walk away, seemingly becoming men with every footstep.

    They were both good boys, and are now good men, good husbands, good fathers and good friends.

    Each change in farewells, MTC departures etc comes after much feedback from local and general leaders and I always trust that it is best for all involved.

    Still have to laugh at President Hinckley's charge to go tell our wives about the new policy on farewells and return reports. It got a good 'nervous' laugh from the crowd of brethren.

  • CAreader Patterson, CA
    March 22, 2011 1:58 p.m.

    Thank you mecr from Bountiful, UT. Our son is coming home soon also and those two years have flown by, they have been the fastest 2 years of our lives. We will definitely miss the blessings received from having a missionary out.

  • CAreader Patterson, CA
    March 22, 2011 1:54 p.m.

    We also had a son fly directly to Sao Paulo Brazil from the very small municipal airport of Modesto CA. No curb, no meeting, just us and the passengers waiting in Modesto. He didn't meet other missionaries until Dallas TX later that day. When he left Modesto we knew he was in the Lord's hands and we have not shed a tear since receiving the email from the President's secretary that he arrived safely.

    Brave Sir Robin: As for all the extended family coming to the MTC, my daughter's MTC instructions were very specific, 'immediate family only, please.' So we obeyed the guidelines. However, that day at the Provo MTC we observed several families with unreasonable numbers of children (cousins, neighbors, etc!) and it was hard to tell who the parents were for all the aunts and uncles present. Guess they didn't feel the rules applied to them.

  • mecr Bountiful, UT
    March 22, 2011 1:20 p.m.

    I guess I should feel bad now. Since my missionary left, I only cried once and it was when I saw the missionaries participating on a parade for the Pioner's Day. Other than that, zero tears. I do know when he is sad or happy or with weather problems (weather in his area is a big deal). Every time I feel my son is not in happy mood, I would go down on my knees. And it's interesting to call it the least, to find out later with his letter that my feelings were not that crazy that day. Other than that, I am pretty much happy about him. He is coming home soon so actually, I am going to miss these two years too. Our home has been extremely blessed because of him.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    March 22, 2011 1:17 p.m.

    I saw way too many farewells under the old system that were all about the missionary. The point of sacrament meeting is to praise Jesus Christ and his gospel, not to praise soon-to-be Elder Brown or Sister McMillan.

    The end of farewells was a direct direction from the prophet. On the other hand, it was also in many ways a reiteration of past policies. The Church constantly works against a tendency to build up traditions that put unresonable demands on families. I have also seen farewell parties done on Sunday that not only ended up making the mother work more on Sunday than was probably in keeping with proper observance but also were not in the proper mood of Sunday.

    Beyond this, in some areas people would use attending missionary farewells as a way to avoid becoming rooted in any given ward. Ward hoping is a real concern, and creating events that draw people away from their home ward a real issue.

  • John Pack Lambert of Michigan Ypsilanti, MI
    March 22, 2011 1:10 p.m.

    My Dad said goodbye to me at the Detroit Airport when I went into the MTC, my Mom stayed at home to get my younger siblings off to school. Thus, I think the new system is better. It equalizes the experience of those of us who live outside of the Mormon corridor and those who live in the corridor.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    March 22, 2011 12:43 p.m.


    We called those "dork dots." Every Wednesday in the MTC was fun because we could make fun of the greenies with their dork dots.

    Having been in the MTC a whole 8 weeks, we thought we were so cool.

  • sid 6.7 Holladay, UT
    March 22, 2011 12:09 p.m.

    Maybe on the first day of their Mission the MTC is trying to get the Missionaries acclimated to getting "Kicked To The Curb" so to speak.

  • Independent Henderson, NV
    March 22, 2011 11:35 a.m.

    I had forgotten about the red dots!

    One time, after I'd been there a few weeks, some elders in my district and I decided to put the red dots on back on our name tags and kind of wander around aimlessly like we didn't know what we were doing. One guy started asking everybody where his mom was, and some of us went up to the door of the sister's dorm like we were about to go in, and when others started shouting, "don't go in there," we just got a bewildered look on our faces and asked where our dorm was. Some missionaries saw the humor in it and laughed, while others gave us dirty looks. I hope they eventually loosened up and gained a sense of humor. The MTC was so much fun!

  • FredEx Salt Lake, Ut
    March 22, 2011 11:25 a.m.

    I thought it was very funny when Pres. Hinckley announced to the men in priesthood session that farewells and homecomings were being eliminated. He said, "Brethren, go home and tell your wives."

  • newwest Ferron, UT
    March 22, 2011 10:02 a.m.

    We've taken five children to the MTC, and prefer the new method. But it's difficult either way.
    Southern Belle, I'm not sure that the church intends that RMs don't speak about their mission experiences in sacrament meeting when they return. In our area RMs are given a speaking topic, but are encouraged to share as many experiences as possible.

  • FredEx Salt Lake, Ut
    March 22, 2011 9:54 a.m.

    The kicking-to-the-curb method is much better for the simple reason that you are not subjected to the weeping, wailing, and blubbering of the "Duggar" family behind you. It's a much more private moment at the curb. You can take all the time you want for photos, hugs, best wishes at the temple grounds. Then you go drop off, and you're done.

  • Dadof5sons Montesano, WA
    March 22, 2011 9:44 a.m.

    Well I liked the old way, But that was from my perspective as a young elder over 20 years ago. Now that I am sending out my oldest son This new way is dispointing in a way. How ever saying good bye to those you love is always hard. No matter how its done.

  • Southern Belle Atlanta, GA
    March 22, 2011 9:28 a.m.

    For all of the talk of "raising the bar," I can't help but wonder if this is the real reason why the Church is having a hard time getting young men and women to serve missions. With farewells and homecomings so pared back now, family members not being allowed to participate in these events, and now dropping off missionaries at the curb of the MTC, our young men and women are getting the impression that it is no big deal to serve a mission any more. Not that we want them to serve a mission for the sake of having a grand farewell or homecoming ceremony, but where I live these events were often great missionary tools in and of themselves as the missionary often invited his/her non-member friends, neighbors and former teachers to attend. Now the missionary is lucky to get 10 minutes on the sacrament meeting program, and when my son returns from his mission in five weeks, he is not even being asked to speak about his mission experiences.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 22, 2011 9:23 a.m.

    Doesn't matter how you say good-bye - it's still good-bye and it is gut-wrenching for parents and siblings of the missionary. Missions are wonderful for families and the change that takes place for the missionary is incredible but for parents... the first few weeks is tough. We couldn't even go down into our sons room for a month after he left for his mission. My wife would cry every time she smelled some of his clothes or saw something of his. It takes a couple of months before parents get into the routine of monday emails etc... and then its ok. There is no other place we would have rather had our son but on a mission but good-bye is still good-bye and its tough.

  • Brave Sir Robin San Diego, CA
    March 22, 2011 9:19 a.m.

    Based on these comments, you can tell who is thinking about the parents' feelings versus the missionaries'.

    I went into the MTC under the "old" dropoff system. As a missionary, I would have preferred to be dropped off at the curb - get the goodbyes over with and get the mission started. As a parent, I would have preferred the old system.

    Parents, it's about the missionary, not about you. The MTC will do what is right for the missionary, not for the family. Besides, it was only the abuse of the old system by missionary families that led to the creation of the new system that you all dislike (i.e. bringing all 16 aunts, uncles, 95 cousins, etc. to the MTC was making it impossible to handle the logistics like seating and parking).

  • mecr Bountiful, UT
    March 22, 2011 9:04 a.m.

    It was not easier for my son to be dropped in the curb. I would had liked the old method. It has more meaning, makes it more special as CAReader said. I hope they return to the old format. After all, dropping a son/daughter at the MTC means we, as parents, trust the Lord will take care of our "little" ones for two years. During that time, we can only pray for them. The Lord is in charge. The old method was a symbol of that "delivery".

  • Inigo Montoya Sandy, UT
    March 22, 2011 8:55 a.m.

    We have been through both systems of dropping off missionaries. I prefer the new method in a heartbeat. At the end of it all, the missionary will leave, and the curbside drop off is like removing a band aid quickly as opposed to dumping salt in the wound waiting through that meeting for the inevitable. I think it was easier on our son that was dropped off curbside as well.

  • tiger1 New York, NY
    March 22, 2011 8:39 a.m.

    I also like the previous format. It is nice to participate a service and watch them sing before they enter the MTC. The military has a ceremony, they line up and sing the military songs, before the servicemen go on the field. Dropping them off on the curb has less appeal and often you are in a hurry to let the next car in.

  • CAreader Patterson, CA
    March 22, 2011 7:47 a.m.

    I completely understand why they went to the new systerm of dropping off new missionaries at the MTC. However, our experience with the previous system was a wonderful experience. We brought our daughter to the MTC January 2009, shortly before the change. We were greeted at the curb and luggage was taken care of. She checked in and we went to a large room where a slide show was playing with interesting facts about the MTC. A short meeting followed. But the most powerful experience I have had in a long time was when the whole room sang, with the majority being missionaries 'Called to Serve', followed by our daughter having the opportunity of saying the opening prayer. After this meeting, the missionaries leave out one door while parents leave through another. No tears were shed, this was the happiest day of our daughter's life thus far and we knew she was in the Lord's care for the next 18 months. I would not give up that experience for anything!