Finally, after years of driving by the MTC and being there when others, including all 3 of my children, were dropped off at the MTC, I (RaDene) finally was able to go there myself! It was the first time I had ever been on the campus for longer than the time it took to drop a missionary off. Which for my older two was about an hour. With Mitchell, who went after the drop off at the curb process was instigated, about 5 minutes!
It was everything I thought it would be! An inspirational ant hill of activity. Devotionals, classes, a massive cafeteria, post office, copy center, books store. Though we were only there a short week there are several things that stood out:
- The simplicity of the new Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ. Gone are the detailed instructions/rules/ always/never/do/do nots of the little white bible. The Missionary Standards are clear and simply stated standards of behavior for called, set apart and ordained missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ.
- Changes in Missionary training.
- Elimination of 'labels': investigator, non-member, inactive, less active. Rather the focus is on people. Brothers. Sisters. Friends. Neighbors. People who want to learn about Jesus Christ.
- The elimination of "role playing" to learn how to teach the gospel. Now the focus is learning how to follow the spirit in customizing a message and invitation to whoever is willing to hear a gospel message.
- The proliferation of gospel teaching tools, videos, manuals, scriptures, on smartphones and other devises.
- The extensive training for how to use these tools to further the missionary purpose of bring people to Christ and inoculate a generation from becoming addicted to the mind numbing/soul damning media on line
- The fact that the sisters, both senior missionaries and young missionaries were able to wear pants most of the time. They were encouraged to wear Sunday attire (dresses) to devotionals, but pants were perfectly acceptable everywhere else on the MTC campus. (I predict we'll see a change to the white shirt and tie policy for Elders. There was a great disparity in how professional/approachable the Elders and Sisters looked at the MTC. White shirts and ties don't necessarily look 'professional' any more.
- It was refreshing, if not a little startling to see missionaries through out the MTC dressed in PDay attire with earphones in their ears and talking to their families via video conferencing. Thankfully gone are the days of twice a year phone calls home!
Elder Hatfield has written elsewhere on this blog of our most impactful teaching/training experience at the MTC with Elder & Sister Gardner. Suffice it to say here that ours was a powerful poignant example of how training missionaries to teach individuals by the spirit is so much more effective than role playing or memorizing points of doctrine.