Brazil, Mexico, Colombia MTCs set to reopen for on-site training; Provo MTC expands to training in 17 languages

The Provo Missionary Training Center — the largest of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ 10 MTCs worldwide — is expanding its on-site training in languages this month, with the resuming of training in 14 languages bringing the total number to 16 at the Provo MTC by the end of October.

Also, the Peru MTC reopened to limited on-site training late last month, with the Mexico, Colombia and Brazil MTCs all joining in the on-site training of select missionaries within the next month. When that happens, nine of the Church’s 10 missionary training centers will be back with new missionaries training in-person.

Meanwhile, the New Zealand and Philippines MTCs — which opened in June and July, respectively — remain with their on-site operations paused because of local COVID-19 conditions and precautions.

“We are grateful that with vaccines becoming more and more available worldwide, increased numbers of missionaries will have the opportunity to receive training on-site at missionary training centers around the globe,” said Kirsti Vogeler Polo, assistant administrative director of MTCs.

“It’s been miraculous to see the benefits of online training, and adding the benefits of gathering large groups of missionaries will only enhance the experience,” she added.

Missionaries take a break from studying at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Wednesday Aug 25, 2021.
Missionaries take a break from studying at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Wednesday Aug 25, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

The Provo MTC reopened on June 23, 14 months after the Church closed all 10 MTCs due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the pandemic-forced closures in March 2020, the Church transitioned its training of new missionaries to online instruction, often referred to as “home MTC.”

The online training originated from the Church’s 10 MTCs worldwide, with missionaries meeting — via videoconferencing — their companions, instructors and other new missionaries in classroom groups or “districts.” 

With the first MTCs resuming on-site training in June 2021, most new missionaries who have the opportunity to do combined online/on-site training begin online at home for a third of their training, then travel to an MTC for the remaining two-thirds of their training. The phased approach allows missionaries to continue to experience many of the positive elements of online training that have been realized during the pandemic period of training new missionaries.

Missionaries talking to missionaries: What are they saying about the new online, on-site training program?

New missionaries enter the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Wednesday Aug 25, 2021.
New missionaries enter the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, on Wednesday Aug 25, 2021. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

After its June 23 re-opening of on-site training of fully vaccinated missionaries in English, the Provo MTC expanded its operations on Aug. 8  to include missionaries training in Spanish and on Sept. 8 to include those learning Portuguese.

Throughout the month of October, 14 training languages will be added at the Provo MTC, with nearly 40 other languages still without starting dates. Some of those other languages could begin as early as next month.

The 14 languages beginning this month with missionaries arriving at the Provo MTC are:

  • Oct. 5 — Romanian and Tagalog
  • Oct. 12 — Hiligaynon and Korean
  • Oct. 19 — French, German, Haitian Creole, Japanese, Mandarin, Tahitian, Thai and ASL
  • Oct. 26 — Danish and Hungarian

Other missionary training centers throughout the world offer languages — from Greek to Swahili — that aren’t part of the training program at the Provo MTC.

Because of personal choices with vaccinations, mission-location assignments being affected by travel restrictions and COVID-19 precautions and limited on-site operations at MTCs, many missionaries worldwide are still training only online.

With the exception of the Ghana MTC, all missionary training centers that have been approved to resume on-site training require missionaries to be fully vaccinated, said Kelend Mills, director of MTCs. The vaccine is still not widely accessible throughout much of west Africa, but because the case count is very low in Ghana, Church leaders have approved on-site training resuming in Ghana. However, North Americans assigned to go to the Ghana MTC are required to be vaccinated, he added.

With the additional languages being added, the number of missionaries doing on-site training at the Provo MTC is expected to rise from the mid-700s to more than 1,100 by the end of the month. Then, the training center will likely see its traditional drop in missionary totals through the end of the year, as experienced annually.

The Provo MTC did hit a total of nearly 1,200 several weeks ago. By the end of October, the number of missionaries training across all MTCs could total upward of 1,500.

Here is a closer look at the Church’s nine other missionary training centers throughout the world in reopening for on-site operations:

Ghana Missionary Training Center welcomes new missionaries preparing for intake processing in Accra, Ghana, in late June 2021.
Ghana Missionary Training Center welcomes new missionaries preparing for intake processing in Accra, Ghana, in late June 2021. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Ghana MTC, Accra, Ghana: The Ghana MTC reopened in late June, welcoming missionaries training both online and on-site as well as those doing all their training at the MTC because of lack of access to technology at home.

New Zealand MTC, Auckland, New Zealand: After reopening to on-site training in late June, the New Zealand MTC has paused on-site operations since August due to local COVID-19 conditions and precautions.

Philippines MTC, Manila, Philippines: Like its counterpart in New Zealand, the Philippines MTC — which reopened for on-site training in July — has paused its on-site operations since August because of local COVID-19 conditions and precautions.

England MTC, Preston, England: The England MTC resumed on-site operations in September — Sept. 1 for the first Europeans serving in the United Kingdom, Sept. 8 to European missionaries training in German, and Sept. 22 for the first U.S. missionaries serving in the United Kingdom.

Peru MTC, Lima, Peru: The Peru MTC reopened Sept. 30 for on-site training for North American missionaries assigned to serve in Peru only.

An area near the entrance of the Mexico Missionary Training Center is pictured on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020.
An area near the entrance of the Mexico Missionary Training Center is pictured on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020. Credit: Ravell Call, Deseret News

Mexico MTC, Mexico City, Mexico: The Mexico MTC reopens on-site training on Oct. 12 to vaccinated missionaries from Mexico and the United States, with the latter group being those who will be returning to Spanish-speaking assignments in the U.S. The Mexico MTC anticipates welcoming U.S. missionaries training to serve in Mexico as early as next month.

Colombia MTC, Bogotá, Colombia: On-site training resumes at the Colombia MTC on Oct. 20 for missionaries from the Church’s South America Northwest Area and the United States.

Brazil MTC, São Paulo, Brazil: Beginning Nov. 3, the Brazil MTC reopens for on-site training for missionaries from Brazil serving in-country.

South Africa MTC, Johannesburg, South Africa: Approval to reopen for on-site training is still pending.

The Brazil Missionary Training Center in São Paulo, Brazil, is pictured on Thursday, May 24, 2018.
The Brazil Missionary Training Center in São Paulo, Brazil, is pictured on Thursday, May 24, 2018. Credit: Spenser Heaps, Deseret News