Philippines Missionary Training Center
Elder Bird Teaching Area Presidency, Elder Haws Poses with Youth, President and Sister Taylor Greet Visitors, Sister Bird with Sister Taylor, Elder Ardern Sits with Visitor, Missionaries
View of New MTC Outside
Masses Visit the New MTC
View Inside New MTC
March 5-10 was the Open House for the new Philippines Missionary Training Center (MTC). It was a wonderful and exhausting week. Missionaries come here from India, Pakistan, Cambodia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines, speaking 7 different languages. They bring with them an interpreter that is fluent in English and, of course, their own language. This is not a language training center...if one of these missionaries was called to a land where they would need to learn a new language, they would be sent to the MTC in Provo, Utah. Besides having the opportunity to go to the temple, they spend 19 days here learning about missionary work. Most of them have never been away from home before. Everything is taught in English, and these missionaries wear head phones while their translator sits in a very high tech booth and translates from English to the native language. Four languages can be done at one time. It is so amazing to see! They then go out to their respective missions on a Wednesday and the following Saturday, a new batch arrives and it starts all over again. This MTC accommodates 144 missionaries at a time. The old MTC is now being remodeled. It will house the cafeteria, the residences for the MTC President & wife, and MTC nurse and spouse, the Missionary Recovery Center (MRC), and the office for the mission doctor. It is on schedule to be completed the first week of July. Then the entire MTC will be dedicated.
The tours were scheduled to begin Monday morning at 10:00 am. This would be for all of the media people in the metro-Manila area. Randy and I had been assigned to take the Area Presidency (Pres.Teh, Elder Nielson, from Twin Falls, and Elder Ardern, from New Zealand) and their wives through the tour at 9:00 am, because they would be leading all of the tours from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. That was very enjoyable...they are all talented and humble men and women. We invited around 50 from the media. After the tours, they were treated to a very nice luncheon set up in the court-yard of the MTC. Monday evening was the VIP tours, which consisted of government officials, business heads, and community leaders....including the Housing Association Presidents in this area.....there are several, very upscale, gated communities right around the area of the MTC, and we wanted to invite all of them to come and see what was built in their midst! Also, invited Monday night were all of the senior missionaries....including those serving temple missions. Around 250 were invited and 200 came. President and Sister Taylor (George and Debra Taylor from Provo), the MTC President and wife, were the hosts for this evening. They welcomed everyone, and the young full time missionaries took them on the tours. This group was also treated to a beautiful and delicious spread of Filipino dishes and drinks. All of Asia is very well known for knowing how to treat their guests well!
Tuesday- Saturday tours were under the direction of the Quezon City Mission President (yes, our President DeLaMare), because the MTC is located within this mission. What a privilege for us and all of these young missionaries, to have this MTC completed during our service here. It is truly like a 5 star hotel (except no room service!) There is a beautiful, huge laundry room on each floor of the residences. Most of the missionaries have never had access to washers and dryers, and must be taught how to use them. Each residence (4 missionaries) has its own bathroom with all modern conveniences. Sister DeLaMare told us that some of the missionaries had come out of the MTC with cuts on the tops of their heads. She finally asked what had happened and found out that they were trying to bath under the faucet in the bathtub, not knowing that you pull that silver knob up and you have a shower!!! Now they make sure the missionaries are instructed on how to work the shower at the MTC!
The schedule for the rest of the week was the general public during the day and youth from the various stakes in the evening. We helped with the youth tours each night....they were the best! Each night we had from 600 to 900 youth come. It was amazing! Each tour lasted about 30 minutes, ending in the Joseph Smith room to hear Elder Tyler Haws (BYU BB Star whose mission is up in about 3 weeks). This started with the youth watching a video, that the Church made, about Elder Haws choosing to serve a mission. It can be seen on Youtube. Also included was a clip on missionary work by Elder Holland and one by President Monson. At the end of that, Elder Haws spoke to them and bore his testimony. The Filipinos love basketball! It was truly a most inspiring meeting. He is such a good and humble young man.....and SO grateful he chose to serve a mission! Everything went perfect like clock work for the tours until it was over and the youth (and leaders) were all to exit to the right out of the Joseph Smith room with the next huge group waiting in the hall on the left to come in and be seated. Well, instead of exiting, everyone headed to the stand and wanted pictures with Elder Haws and his autograph. Oh, Boy, what a challenge!!! Sister DeLaMare and I just couldn't get them to leave....they were so determined to have a picture with him, but there was no time!! Randy described it perfectly.......have you ever tried to herd a bunch of cats or chickens??? Yup, that was how it was going!! We had to try several things before we found one that worked....he was escorted out of the room before releasing everyone. Then when the next group was seated, we brought him in. The other challenge we had was this: Each stake was assigned a time to bring their youth...4 to 5 stakes each night....so that the numbers would be spread out through the evening. Instead of waiting for their time, all of the stakes came early....every single night and Saturday morning!! I think it is a Filipino thing because of the horrible traffic. No one wanted to miss this opportunity, so they all came early. On Saturday the youth tours went from 8:00 am to 1:00 pm. We were there by 7:30 and the whole activity center (full sized BB court) was full. By 8:30 a line went clear around the front of the MTC with those just waiting to get into the activity center!! How crazy it was! We had 2100 go through the tour that morning! It really was a wonderful experience.
Before I end, I will share one little experience. On Tuesday I was asked to take a woman and her two children (12 and 10) on the tour. She lives in one of the nice housing areas and is from Maryland.....I think they are Methodists. She was so nice. As she read the Purpose Statement on the wall....she said," I cannot believe how many false things I have heard about your church! They are just ridiculous! I am so happy to learn the truth about what you believe and who you worship!" She loved seeing the many beautiful pictures of the Savior and even the pictures of the Fist Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Her 12 yr. old son kept saying, "Mom, I want to come here." "Can I come when I am 19?" The mom told him they would talk about it. I just had to laugh and put my arm around her, as she laughed also! She was so easy to be friends with. I love this church. Every day I feel that feeling from the Holy Ghost that it is true. By the time mortality is over we will be worn out and it will have been so worth it. I am truly grateful to be able to serve the Lord, whether it is here or at home....there is always much to do.