When entering one of the new buildings at the Provo Missionary Training Center, missionaries encounter a life-size mural of the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi.
A scripture accompanying the mural helps missionaries ponder on Nephi’s experience: “And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do” (1 Nephi 4:6).
A question guides missionaries’ thoughts, “Am I being led by the Spirit?”
“The life-sized image draws missionaries into the story and helps them ponder and think about it,” said Kelly Mills, administrative director of MTCs. “It creates opportunities for missionaries to think and to learn.”
These ponder spaces are part of the new buildings at the MTC.
Missionaries began using the two new six-story buildings in early June, increasing the capacity of the Provo MTC from 2,800 to 3,700.
“The capacity we have now at the Provo MTC and the combined international MTCs will get us through the growth we expect for many years to come,” Mills said.
Let the light in
A major goal of the new MTC buildings was to create more natural light. Since missionaries spend about nine hours a day in the classroom, the buildings are covered in glass allowing the light to enter in and allowing the missionaries to enjoy God’s creations. The ceilings are also higher in the new buildings.
“The light does permeate these buildings with all of the windows and the tall ceilings,” said David Martino, president of the Provo MTC. “I think it is analogous to the light of Christ permeating souls.”
Since it first opened in 1976, over 600,000 missionaries have attended the Provo MTC for training.
Since the October 2012 announcement which lowered the age requirement for missionary service, at times there have been more sister missionaries at the Provo MTC than elders.
“We’re up to 27 percent right now of our missionary force being sisters,” said Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president and member of the Missionary Executive Council. “That’s up from about 9 to 12 percent before (the mission age change).”
Sister Oscarson is a mother of seven. Her two sons and two of her five daughters chose to serve missions.
“Not every sister is expected to serve a mission,” Sister Oscarson said. “It’s something they need to decide between them and the Lord. … Two of our daughters had that experience and it did change their lives and it was a tremendous experience for both of them. They wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. My daughters who didn’t serve a mission are equally valued in the kingdom.”
Come and see
The public is invited to tour the MTC from July 31 to Aug. 19.
The public tours will be a self-guided tour with missionaries along the way to describe what people are seeing and to answer questions of those on the tour. Missionaries began using the buildings on June 5 and will continue to use the buildings throughout the tours.
The LDS Church released 20,000 additional tickets on Wednesday. Those unable to attend in person can take a virtual tour of the MTC with a video from Mormon Newsroom.