The faces of some newly called missionaries are shining brighter Wednesday after The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced the Missionary Training Center in Provo has reopened.

For the first time in 15 months, a small group of new missionaries arrived at the Missionary Training Center, or MTC, in Provo on Wednesday afternoon to start in-person training.

While some missionaries were arriving at the MTC, others were at their homes continuing online instruction, which the church indicates will be part of a new era of online instruction at home for a week before missionaries head to the MTC to complete their instruction and training. That program also began Wednesday.

“I think that we’ve noticed that relationships have already been built, because they’re seeing the members of their district here,” said President Benson L. Porter, the president of the Provo Missionary Training Center. “I think some of the anxiety that they may have felt before where everything was new is gone. Now they have some friends, they have a district.”

Sister Kerry Porter, who is serving as President Porter’s companion, helped to personally greet the missionaries as they arrived. “It’s wonderful to see missionaries with such faith, and that they can be here. And it’s such a historic time, to be able to utilize this sacred space and be able to really charge themselves before they head out to teach and serve,” she said.

According to the church, 248 missionaries arrived in Provo on Wednesday. Similar numbers are scheduled each Wednesday in the coming weeks as missionaries spend approximately two weeks training in person before traveling to their area of assignment.

“I’m glad that I get to experience both home MTC and the MTC in person,” said Sister Addison Harward of Highland, who has been called to serve in the Arizona Scottsdale Mission. “Even though we were on Zoom, I felt so connected with my teachers in my district and my companion, so it was a really good experience.”

“I think the week at home really taught me how to be responsible for my own personal study, and also be there for my companion, even when it’s super difficult, like over a long distance,” said Elder Jacob Taylor of Tucson, Arizona, who has been assigned to serve in the New York Syracuse Mission.

“So, I think those were really important lessons that I needed to learn and they’re definitely going to help me in the next two years,” Taylor added.

The Provo MTC will operate at a reduced capacity for the foreseeable future as a precaution. COVID-19 tests will be administered to any missionary who exhibits symptoms during their MTC training.

Only missionaries who are fully vaccinated will be eligible to train in person at the Provo MTC as a temporary precaution, the church statement said.

MTCs outside the United States will gradually begin to welcome missionaries on-site as well. They will begin with only local missionaries and will operate at a capacity of approximately 50 missionaries in each location.

For a time, missionaries from the U.S. will not train at these MTCs.

The Ghana MTC will also begin welcoming new missionaries this week and the New Zealand MTC next week, according to the church.

Missionary training centers in the Philippines, Mexico and England are also in the process of preparing to train missionaries in person, beginning in late July and August, and others will follow as local conditions improve.

Not all missionaries who currently have a mission call will train in person. Missionaries will not receive in-person language training at this time.

Invitations for missionaries to receive training at the Provo MTC will expand as conditions continue to improve, the church statement said.

Missionaries and local leaders will be contacted directly if they will be invited to have an on-site MTC experience. Unless otherwise contacted, new missionaries will continue with online training at home.

MTC’s have remained operational during the pandemic by providing virtual training to new missionaries.

A total of 32,000 missionaries received online training since March 2019. Currently, 2,766 missionaries are involved in online MTC training.

“This is a huge day for us to have missionaries at the MTC again, but this isn’t just us going back to how things used to be. This is us moving forward,” said Kelly Mills, the Missionary Department’s administrative director of MTCs. “The fact is that missionaries now will have a piece of their training at home and then an experience here with more personalization and experiential learning. We’re moving forward. This is a new day for missionary training.”

Daily Herald reporter Genelle Pugmire can be contacted at gpugmire@heraldextra.com, (801) 344-2910, Twitter

@gpugmire

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