Going into the MTC, I had mixed emotions. Yes, I was excited to be serving as a missionary. No, I was not excited to spend a week in Utah preparing to do so. JUST GET ME OUT IN THE FIELD! Right?
I think a lot of the reason why I was having these mixed emotions was due to the mixed reviews I was getting. The food is horrible. Don’t drink the orange juice! versusMTC food is great–eat it while it lasts! Or, The spirit is so strong versus You’re just in class all day; it’s really boring. And the most frustrating paradox: All you really do is role-play teaching; it’s not like being in the field against I really felt like it helped me to enter the mission field prepared.
Of course I was distraught!
However, halfway through my final week here, I have come to a decision: the MTC is a great and necessary tool in enabling us to be effective missionaries–regardless of what language we are called to speak. And, in the manner of a true English major, I will back up this thesis with two supporting arguments. First, that through the MTC’s “practice teaching” experience, we are able to feel confident as teachers going out into our respective mission fields, and second, that the MTC helps us strengthen our own conversion to the gospel, thus making us better prepared to teach.
So… regarding role plays:
Maybe you play soccer, or bake pastries, or, like me, are an academic and a musician. Whatever it is you excell at, you excell because you practice. How many practices, how many run-throughs, how many dress rehearsals do we do before that big game, contest, exam, or concert? And why? Because they don’t matter–it’s just a role-play? No. We practice so that when our time comes to “do it for real,” we’re ready. Missionary work is no different. Whether we grew up with these beliefs, or adopted them later in life, the time will come when we will realize that it’s more difficult to express something so profound and so personal than we initially thought. Especially to a stranger or in a foreign language. So as you prepare for the MTC, just remember that the role-play teaching isn’t for the acting investigator. It’s for you. So that when the time comes, and there is someone who is ready and waiting for the opportunity to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, you’ve already done your practicing. You’re ready.
And now, conversion:
In Luke 22:32, the Savior says to Simon “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.”
Before we are able to teach the gospel and invite those around us to come unto Christ, we first must be converted ourselves. Through personal, companionship, and district study time we are able to explore for ourselves the doctrines of the gospel, and time spent in class and devotional instruct us in even more ways how we ourselves can come unto Christ. No matter how strong your faith is in the gospel, there’s always room for improvement, and what better time for that improvement than right before you’re about to go and share these beliefs with those in our respective mission fields? The strong spirit of peace and calm that resides at the MTC facilitates an ideal atmosphere to be able to grow in our own faith, and as our faith and love for Christ and His gospel grows, we will have both the desire and the courage to go out and preach His word unto His children. There’s a reason that you need a Bachelors to teach high school, a doctorate (or at least a masters) to teach at a university. We teach most effectively what we know most assuredly, and we can only convert others as strongly as we are converted. To truly bring people closer to Christ, we first must have well embarked on that path ourselves. For those who think they don’t need the MTC, I beg you to think again.
So for all the nay-sayers regarding the MTC, just stop. And for those who are preparing to come, be excited. And welcome. You’re about to embark on an experience that has the potential to change your life forever.