How do we love the missionaries in the MTC

The MTC is a lovely place where the missionaries detox from the world and build their work ethic for their whole mission. There are hours of language study as well as gospel discussions and learning to work in companionships, which is, quite frankly, especially hard. Our experience with the MTC is focused on TRC, or “teaching recent converts.” Missionaries practice their language/gospel teaching skills to any and all members. Our experience is that they are a bit tired, very excited, and sometimes a little overwhelmed. This is the first opportunity they have to teach a regular person while they are still in the MTC. It is focused on stretching their ability to think of the spiritual needs of another. They prepare by praying while studying and then they focus on feeling the spirit while teaching us volunteers what we most need to hear. The very first time I went there I wondered how I could help them prepare for their individual missions. I focused on being encouraging and corrective. While it certainly was fun it was not terribly spiritual. When I returned the second time I was told by our fantastic trainer to focus on letting them teach with the spirit regardless of their language ability. This time I could really see how this focus on spirituality allowed them to grow in lingual confidence as well as spiritual confidence, which was of course much more powerful than anything I could have devised.

The most important thing in the MTC is different for every missionary, but there are some commonalities. Having an opportunity to tell others and themselves why they are serving their mission is a powerful motivator to get through the change they will need to complete in order to transform from a young man or woman into a fulltime servant of the Lord. Taking the time to write them letters of encouragement is important because mail is also a confidence builder for missionaries.

This is the time for them to cement the lessons they practiced while preparing for their mission. Those skills hopefully include finances, physical health, social skills, work and study habits, language skills, household skills, and grooming and cleanliness. If one of them is weaker in our missionary, it is a good idea to remind them of the way we grow skills and confidence in the gospel. We learn about what is needed to change, we pick what is the most important, we devise a plan, we pray to get confirmation of our plan and we pray from strength to change, then we try, try, and try again until we are good at it.