|Large wall plaque in the Missionary Training Center, Provo, Utah|
I could not help but reflect back on my experiences years ago in the Language Training Mission held in the old Knight-Mangum Hall on the Brigham Young University Campus and compare my original experiences with those we experienced in the Missionary Training Center or MTC this past week.
Previously serving as a women’s dormitory, the Knight-Mangum Hall on the southeast edge of BYU’s campus became the central office for what became known as the Language Training Mission on June 16, 1963. All missionaries learning a foreign language were sent to the LTM, with similar facilities eventually established at Ricks College (for Dutch and Scandinavian languages) and at the Church College of Hawaii (for Polynesian and Asian languages). Through August 1976, the Knight-Mangum Hall served as a place for missionaries to live, eat, learn and worship.Recently, Knight-Mangum Hall was demolished to make way for the new Brigham Young University Engineering Building.
My mission experience as a young man began with a trip to the Salt Lake Mission home on North Main Street in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. We were there for one week before being transported to the LTM in Provo. You can get an idea of our life there from an article entitled, "A Day in the LIfe of a Language Training Missionary," published in the New Era in March of 1971. Our experience in the LTM was vastly different than the one experienced today in the MTC. In fact, in talking to senior missionaries this past week who have served missions previously in the past few years, they also said that today's program is vastly different than it was just a few short years ago.
When I started at the old LTM in 1964, they were only teaching a few languages. Today, the MTC teaches 55 different languages. But the main differences come from the emphasis and the training offered to the new missionaries. The current MTC experience is centered on teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ from the Preach My Gospel publication. Our instruction during the week was a mixture of practical lessons including using electronic devices and the apps available to testimony building activities in actually presenting lessons to others.
The experiences I had at the LTM were intensive and life-changing, but I can tell from our short first week at the MTC, that today's missionaries are vastly more prepared to serve than we ever were.