I have been excited all week to share this with you. I’m hoping, especially for all our South Pacific missionary mums and missionaries, that you are just as excited. One of the (many) perks of being married to my husband (and his work), is that I get to go to some of the best places and meet some of the best people. Recently, as part of a Seminary and Institute (S&I) conference here in Auckland, we were blessed to do a tour of the Auckland New Zealand Missionary Training Center (MTC).
Now, this is not something that just anyone can do. In fact, like every other MTC around the world, it is very difficult to gain access to any unless you are a new missionary. So, as a group of S&I Coordinators and their wives we felt very privileged to be able to explore the hallways of such a sacred place.
As such, you may wonder why our group was allowed to do this, while many others are not. With the First Presidency’s emphasis strongly on the preparedness of our young men and women for missionary service, the S&I program in the South Pacific is committed to offering the best possible religious education for our youth. If this program is to assist in this missionary preparation, then knowing what is expected of a missionary once he/she enters those doors for their final training can only help to improve the quality of the teaching in the S&I program as a whole.
Today I am going to give you just a brief glimpse of these hallways. For the mums and dads who have had, do currently have, or will have, a missionary going through this facility, I hope it gives you an idea of how well they are taken care of and just how lucky we are to have such a beautiful facility here in the South Pacific.
Crossing Cultural Borders
Nestled on the top of a hill in South Auckland, the MTC stands as a symbol of how cultures can come together under the banner of the Lord. Flags of the many Pacific nations fluttered in the wind as they lined the driveway on our approach, reminding all visitors and missionaries alike that this work crosses cultural borders and unites all people in a common belief.
Pres. and Sis. Bleak, current MTC President and wife, direct the incoming and outgoing of missionaries every 3-6 weeks, without even one days break in between. With their own residence within the complex, they are like parents to the hundreds of missionaries who come in and out of there regularly. Sis. Bleak told us that they get just enough time with each missionary to feel they are losing a family member as they depart.
As with all church facilities the MTC in Auckland is beautifully designed and furnished, offering the missionaries a home-like environment. The building surrounds a beautifully landscaped courtyard that can be viewed through floor to ceiling windows as you walk the internal hallways, or enjoyed on a sunny day as each missionary takes time to study or ponder gospel principles taught.
Every comfort and convenience for their accommodation is there, from lounge areas where they can congregate in small groups during down-time, to state-of-the-art laundries that certainly made me envious. Ironing boards that virtually iron the clothes themselves, and industrial sized washing machines and dryers sit in laundries the size of lounge rooms. Bedrooms accommodate up to 4 single missionaries and self-contained apartments offer added privacy for couple missionaries.
Eating facilities are really great with a community dining hall, three chefs, and an industrial kitchen and servery.
But what I loved most about the facilities were the teaching and learning areas. One whole wing of the building is dedicated to the intense training of all missionaries. Classrooms are equipped with everything needed to prepare these young people to learn essential gospel principles and teach them effectively.
Plans are now in motion to extend this facility next year to include a gym and double its capacity. Let the work of the Lord move forward!
DO YOU HAVE A MISSIONARY ON HIS/HER WAY TO THE NZ MTC?
Here is a service that you won’t want to miss out on…
Missionary Morsels is a website that offers direct delivery of home-cooked goodies to all missionaries in the New Zealand MTC, Auckland Mission, Hamilton Mission, and Wellington Mission.
Pres. & Sis. Bleak
During the tour we were favoured to hear Pres. & Sis. Bleak speak. Knowing that he was addressing a group of S&I employees, President Bleak focused his remarks on what he believed were the most critical things that new missionaries should prepare before they enter the MTC.
In summary he suggested the following.
- Those who come to the MTC with seminary and institute experience come with confidence. He also suggested that the seminary program holds the key to preparing future missionaries within the smaller island nations of the Pacific.
- Future missionaries must understand the importance of continuing to keep their covenants. This will be what influences others to learn about the church.
- The real goal for the missionary is to be changed and prepared for future leadership within the church – not just to baptise.
- It is critical for missionaries to know how to dress and groom themselves appropriately. Small things such as how to iron a white shirt, do their tie up correctly, and make sure the top button of their shirt is done up at all times. He said, “The messenger needs to look the part so the message is received”.
- Learn to get to bed early and get up early.
- Learn to address their peers and priesthood leaders correctly – don’t use Prez instead of President etc.
- Receiving their call a couple of months in advance to their departure does not mean it is a count down for fun times. That time is for them to prepare effectively to enter the MTC.
- Scripture mastery is critical, along with memorization and a knowledge of gospel principles.
- Read the entire Book of Mormon at least once.
- Know the Articles of Faith.
- Exact obedience brings miracles.
- Focus on the Savior in their lives.
- Read March 2011 Ensign article “Preparing Emotionally for Missionary Service” by Robert K. Wagstaff.
- Find and mark scriptures that speak about and prepare them for missionary service.
Finally, we were able to view a short video of a talk given by Sis. Wendy Watson Nelson, wife of Elder Russell M. Nelson, to new missionaries in the Provo MTC. While I don’t have access to this video online, I did find a copy of a speech Sis. Nelson gave in Amsterdam in 2009 for the World Conference of Families. It was clearly based on the same talk she gave at the MTC. So if you are interested in reading that then it is titled “Not Even Once”.
There are 15 LDS MTCs around the world, and with the recent announcement to the changes in age allowance for missionary service, each of these training centers will receive a boost to their missionary capacity over the next 12 months to accommodate this increase in numbers.
I am so glad that I had the opportunity to see firsthand what our wonderful missionaries are involved in as they prepare to go out into the world to serve. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into it too.
For statistical and other official information please visit About the New Zealand MTC.