Youth get taste of training

NEW YORK — To help their youth better prepare for missions, several stakes on the East Coast joined in a weekend activity to become acquainted with missionary life.

On June 22, more than 200 youth from the New York New York Stake, Brooklyn New York Stake, Westchester New York Stake and Yorktown Connecticut Stake met at the New York New York Stake Center in Manhattan to participate in the second annual "Mini MTC."

Each youth received his or her mission call upon arrival that morning and was assigned a companion and sent to a district. A returned missionary taught each district the language and culture of that mission.

The youth learned simple expressions in the languages, including phrases and door approaches in a variety of languages such as Romanian, Mandarin, Portuguese, Korean, Norwegian, Lithuanian and Tagalog.

The youth practiced with adult volunteer investigators their newfound skills as they learned to talk openly about their feelings of the Book of Mormon, the First Vision and other aspects of the gospel.

This was the first exposure for many youth who are first-generation members who do not have siblings or friends who have attended a missionary training center.

"It brings together youth who are often isolated from other Latter-day Saint kids," said Meredith Higbee, counselor in the New York New York Stake Young Women presidency. "Whether they are from Harlem or from New Canaan, they experience what it might be like to be a missionary."

Tone Viera, 17, from the Brooklyn New York Stake attended the Mini MTC training last year and said this experience has helped him realize what a mission will do for his life and others.

"One purpose of the Mini MTC was to help our youth in the greater New York City area get an early glimpse of what life is like as a missionary at the Missionary Training Center," said President Brent J. Belnap of the New York New York Stake. "More important, this activity was designed to help our youth catch a vision of the importance of full-time missionary service by strengthening their own commitment to serve the Lord as missionaries.

"The Mini MTC is also a blessing to those who teach these [youth]. Dozens of adult members volunteered their time to teach and serve at the Mini MTC," President Belnap said. "By remembering, drawing upon and then sharing once again their own missionary experiences with future missionaries, they are giving something priceless to the next generation. They also rekindle the spirit of missionary work in themselves. Everyone — youth and teacher — has been richly blessed as a result."

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