MTCBefore leaving for the Philippines, I spent two months (from October 22, 2005 to December 19, 2005) at the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center (MTC). The MTC is a place to prepare missionaries to be able to be effective missionaries in their mission. There are thousands of missionaries at the MTC and I was in a group (called a district) with 11 other missionaries. I was assigned to be companions with Elder Mathusek,Elder Mathusek who I would have to be with 24 hours per day for the entire time. Included in my district were Elder Mathusek, Elder Wright, Elder Hunt, Elder Saupan, Elder Hale, Elder Johns, Elder Catota, Elder Jensen, Elder Horrocks, Elder Allen, and Elder Crawford. Here we were taught Tagalog and instructed on the gospel that we would be teaching others for the next two years.MTC classroom

Elder Mathusek was the fastest walker and the fastest eater in the district. I was the slowest walker and the slowest eater. I also ate a lot. So Elder Mathusek was always telling me to hurry up. And I was always telling him to slow down. We were really opposite, but he's one of my coolest buddies, even today. Except that he doesn't go to BYU. Yet.

TempleSix days of the week from 6:30 AM to 10:30 PM, we spent the entire day in classes. Our teachers during class were Brother Allen, Brother Edington, and Brother Lant. I took pictures of them, but lost them when one of my memory cards broke. Wednesdays were our preparation day. We got to go to the Provo temple every week. On preparation days, we did our laundry and wrote letters home.

At the MTC, they institute a program called "Speak Your Language" (SYL). This means that in order for all the missionaries to get accustomed to the language they'll be speaking in their mission, they need to speak it at all times. This was pretty cool because there's hundreds of different languages from around the world being spoken at the MTC. And oftentimes Spanish-speaking missionaries thought that we had really bad accents because "How are you" in Tagalog is "Kumusta?," which is similar to its Spanish counterpart, which is "Como estas?"

MTC classroomWe spent probably about 12 hours per day studying in a classroom. It was really hard for me at first to pick up on Tagalog. There was lots of memorization, which I'm not very good at. One thing I strove to develop was recognition of the spirit. It was something I really wanted to develop so that I would be able to do things the way Heavenly Father wants.

Every week, we went to devotionals which were really good. Elder L. Tom Perry actually came once. My favorite was probably the devotional when somebody started it off by playing a version of "Be Still, My Soul," which was followed by a really good speaker who was from the LDS Advertisement division (I think). Overall it was a great devotional, where I really felt the spirit.