My daughter, pictured above, recently completed two weeks of what the Church calls “At-Home MTC.” I’m not sure if the Church ever did At-Home MTC prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020, but ever since then, Home MTC has been a part of most full-time missionaries’ experiences. And perhaps it is here to stay.
What is Home MTC?
The Missionary Training Center (MTC) is where missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints go at the beginning of their missions to get trained on how to be a missionary, how to find and teach people, and how to learn a new language, if applicable. At-Home MTC is an official program from the Church where, usually during the first week or two of the missionary’s mission, online training occurs via videoconference calls from the missionary’s home. Home MTC generally begins within a day or two of being set apart, thus marking the official start of the mission as a full-time missionary for the Church.
Receiving Information about At-Home MTC
In the case of our daughter Hannah, her mission call letter stated the date should would begin her mission and said that she would have two weeks of at-home MTC before going to the Provo MTC for four weeks. So we knew from the time she got her mission call that her mission would start with an at-home MTC experience. Then, 10 days before the start date of her mission, Hannah, as well as her parents, received an email letter from the Provo Missionary Training Center. The letter contained information on physical MTC arrival times, guidelines for the missionary to follow during their online MTC training (more info in Appendix 1 below), and a message to families of missionaries. The message to missionary families had helpful information on what to expect during the at-home training, how missionaries should always have a companion, the expectation to follow all missionary standards, and what the family can do to help create a good learning environment.
What the At-Home MTC is Like
The Church has published some good articles explaining what the At-Home MTC experience is like. Home MTC “training has new missionaries assigned to zones, districts, and companionships, working with teachers for six to eight hours a day. They listen to devotionals, work in small groups, split off into companionships for role playing—much like more traditional training at the MTCs but done in a virtual way.” (Church News article on Mar 26, 2020)
For Home MTC, “Districts are composed of 8 to 12 missionaries—just as at an MTC. Missionaries are assigned an online companion and participate in teacher-led instruction, practice activities, large-group instruction, and breakouts in small groups and companionships. The training schedule includes daily personal and companionship study and daily assignments to complete, with a weekly preparation day and the chance to participate in Sunday worship in the missionary’s own home.” (Church News article on Apr 2, 2020) Sundays during the home MTC experience, there are no scheduled meetings, however, missionaries are expected to attend church with their family and participate in other gospel study with their family (along with other mission appropriate activities).
On a personal note, as a family, we wanted to help make Hannah’s Home MTC experience as good as possible. After Hannah was set apart as a missionary by our stake president and we were driving home, I began to feel the mantle (a weight, a responsibility, and a blessing) of having a full-time missionary in our home. We sat all our kids down in a family meeting and talked about what we could do to help our home be the best spiritual learning environment possible while Hannah was doing her Home MTC training. Among other things, we decided that when Hannah was on breaks from her online meetings, or otherwise spending time with the family, we could turn off the TV, music, or other media not approved for missionaries. We decided we would make extra efforts to keep things quite, so she wasn’t interrupted during her meetings, and that we would try our best to get along and not argue or fight, so the Spirit of the Lord could be in our home in its full abundance.
At-Home MTC Schedule
Two days before her mission and the start of Home MTC, Hannah received a “Welcome to the MTC!” email from her MTC teachers. This told the names of her MTC teachers, the name of her companion, and pictures and names of all the other missionaries in her MTC district. Her MTC district, comprised of 14 missionaries (10 Elders and four Sisters), would be working and training together as a group during Home MTC as well as in the physical MTC in Provo, Utah. The email from the MTC gave some instructions for the first day, info on how to prepare for the MTC (including this doc called Prepare for Your MTC Experience), and directions on how to set up and use the Google calendar used by missionaries.
When missionaries go through Home MTC, they are full-time missionaries with a schedule that is just as rigorous and filled up as the normal missionary schedule (up by 6:30am, in bed by 10:30pm, and everything in between). When our daughter Hannah received her Google Calendar schedule for her Home MTC experience, I looked at it and grabbed some screen shots of the schedule (see images below). Though each missionary’s schedule is likely to vary, these images of Hannah’s Missionary Google Calendar for the first few week of Home MTC and Provo MTC should provide a good level of detail and help you better know what to expect in your MTC experience. To hear Hannah talk more about her own At-Home MTC experience, please check out episode 18 of the Latter-day Mission Prep podcast.
Appendix 1: Guidelines called “At-home MTC Experience for Missionaries” is divided into seven sections:
- At-home Training Summary: This is an overview of helpful information like start date, duration, materials needed, and the training schedule.
- Appropriate Setting and Technology: Guidance on finding a suitable place for learning, within your home, as well as recommendations for technology.
- Setting Apart and Temple Endowment: Receiving your temple endowment and being set apart as a missionary should happen before starting Home MTC.
- Stake President Support: During at-home training, your stake president is basically your mission president.
- Missionary Standards: Once at-home training begins, you are considered a full-time missionary and you are expected to follow the missionary rules regarding schedule, dress and grooming, being with a companion (online and off), media use, and family interactions.
- Monthly Missionary Support Financial Contributions: You begin making your monthly mission payments the week you enter the physical MTC.
- When At-home Training Ends: Information on travel, a final interview with your stake president, and other details.
Other answers to FAQs can be found in the Online MTC Training – Frequently Asked Questions.