We have now spent our first few days in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah. We had one day with a little bit of snow and it turned very cold. Because we live very close to the MTC, we are living at home and driving a few blocks every day. There is a large map of the world and all the missionaries have their picture taken pointing to their mission assignment.
There are hundreds of missionaries in the MTC at all times. They come and go by rotation. Right now, there are about 80 or so senior missionaries. They are going to all parts of the world. For example, we have met missionaries going to Africa and to New Zealand. There are about a dozen Record Preservation Missionaries going to different parts of the world to help FamilySearch digitize records. We are the only ones going to the Washington DC North Mission. The missionaries going to countries other than the United States are usually called for 18 months or two years.
Our time at the MTC consists primarily of classes teaching us about our upcoming missionary service. The classes are taught by young returned missionaries attending BYU. It is amazing to see how mature and knowledgeable they are. On our first evening in the MTC, we had a joint meeting with all of the senior missionaries. Almost all of the senior missionaries are married couples except for a few single sister missionaries.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, missionary service is part of the basic religious and social culture of the Church. Quoting from the LDS Newsroom article on the "Missionary Program:"
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' missionary program is one of its most recognized characteristics. Mormon missionaries can be seen on the streets of hundreds of major cities in the world as well as in thousands of smaller communities.
The missionary effort is based on the New Testament pattern of missionaries serving in pairs, teaching the gospel and baptizing believers in the name of Jesus Christ (see, for example, the work of Peter and John in the book of Acts).The article goes on to explain,
More than 70,000 full-time missionaries are serving missions for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most missionaries are young people under the age of 25, serving in more than 400 missions throughout the world.
Missionaries work with a companion of the same gender during their mission, with the exception of couples, who work with their spouse. Single men serve missions for two years and single women serve missions for 18 months.
Missionaries receive their assignment from Church headquarters and are sent only to countries where governments allow the Church to operate. Missionaries do not request their area of assignment and do not know beforehand whether they will be required to learn a language.
Prior to going to their assigned area, missionaries spend a short period of time at one of 15 missionary training centers throughout the world. There they learn how to teach the gospel in an orderly and clear way and, if necessary, they begin to learn the language of the people they will be teaching. The largest training center is in Provo, Utah, with additional centers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, England, Ghana, Guatemala, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa and Spain.Like all of the other missionaries serving the Church, our service is voluntary and self-funded. We pay all of our own expenses while we are serving except travel expenses to and from our mission assignment. We even pay for our food while attending the MTC. Here is a link to a short video further explaining the missionary process.
Mormon Missionaries: An Introduction
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