In this edition of Getting It Right, we include two stories about Mormon missionary work and an article about the volunteer efforts associated with the Church’s Hill Cumorah pageant.
The Salt Lake Tribune: A Glimpse Inside a Mormon Missionary Training Center
The Salt Lake Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack provides an in-depth look at what life is like at the Church’s Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah — the largest of the faith’s 15 MTCs scattered across the globe.
The article correctly notes that the MTC is the place Mormon missionaries learn to “preach the Mormon message,” which is rooted in the teachings of Jesus Christ set forth in the Bible and other scriptures. The MTC is also a place “they begin to bolster the faith they will rely on to sustain the rigors of missionary life,” the article says.
To teach the gospel to people across the world, missionaries learn one of the 55 languages taught at the MTC. Depending on the language difficulty, missionaries spend anywhere from two to nine weeks there.
A typical MTC day, Stack says, is “essentially the same for everyone: up at 6:30 and to bed by 10:30, three meals a day, one hour of physical activity, and about 10 to 12 hours of language or religious training.” Additionally, missionaries have a day off to do laundry, write home and attend the nearby Provo Utah Temple; they also attend worship services on Sundays.
By the end of their MTC stay, missionaries’ “religious batteries are charged, their language training complete and their confidence soaring,” Stack writes. They then go to the airport “so they can jet off to their assigned areas, where the real learning, hardships, growth and joy take place.”
Read the full article at sltrib.com.
Real Clear Religion: Mormon Missions Have a "Whopping Dose of Reality, Humility and Soul Searching"
Betsy VanDenBerghe, an independent writer specializing in family and religious issues (and a former Mormon missionary), writes at Real Clear Religion to dispel several myths about Mormon missionaries.
She says that rather than a mission being "all about converting," missionaries come to a "realization of the need for God, of sin we can't root out ourselves, and of our mysterious exigency for forgiveness."
To those who suggest a Mormon mission is an "insular bubble," VanDenBerghe rejoins that missionaries continually associate with people who have "an endless supply of doubt, scriptural challenges, and existential questions. If complete insulation from worldviews questioning God, religion, Mormonism, or the meaning of life is a goal, I'd suggest avoiding an LDS mission."
Finally, to those who claim Mormon missions "foster intolerance," VanDenBerghe says missionaries learn from those they serve. To prove the point, she shares a comment made by Naisi Zhao, who was serving a Mormon mission in Chinatown, in a 2009 New York Times photo essay. Summarizing the New York Times piece, VanDenBerghe says Zhao “thought she'd only teach others, but found God needed to educate her through the people of New York. One of those people was a mother who couldn't afford a private burial for her baby. After she grabbed Sister Zhao's hands and wept, the missionary reflected on the last twenty-one years of her life and wished she had been more selfless, spending less time and energy worried about grades, weight, make-up, and her future, and more time worrying about others.”
"A Mormon mission fundamentally consists of a whopping dose of reality, humility, and soul searching," VanDenBerghe says.
Read her entire commentary at Real Clear Religion.
Democrat and Chronicle: Church’s Hill Cumorah Pageant Based on Scripture, Built on Volunteers
Reporter Jeffrey Blackwell writes about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Hill Cumorah pageant, which takes place every summer in Palmyra, New York.
Church pageants are large outdoor productions that highlight stories from Church history and scripture through music, theatrical dance and dramatic spoken word. The Hill Cumorah pageant, which begins Friday night, focuses on Jesus Christ’s mission to bring peace and happiness to everyone and explains the history and message of the Book of Mormon.
Now in its 76th year, the Hill Cumorah pageant relies (as it always has) on volunteers. Many of this year’s all-volunteer cast of more than 700, Blackwell notes, have made a significant sacrifice to participate in what they view as an opportunity to share a message about Christ and entertain others. “They travel hundreds or thousands of miles by car and by plane, often with their children,” he says. “They stay in local hotels, college dorms, campgrounds and the homes of local church members. … The logistics are massive, the work is hard and the dedication from so many people is great.”
Read the full article at democratandchronicle.com.