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Lessons I Learned As An MTC Teacher During COVID-19

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I worked as a teacher at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah, from July 2019 through February 2021. I taught Russian, doctrine, and teaching skills. Working with the missionaries was an awesome and uplifting job.  However, halfway through my time as an MTC teacher, the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and things went a little crazy. Here are a few lessons I learned as an MTC teacher during COVID-19.

The Stone Cut Out Of The Mountain

The work of the Gospel will continue “as the stone which is cut out of the mountain without hands shall roll forth.” In the Spring of 2020, COVID-19 hit Provo hard. When it did, the Church made the decision to stop bringing missionaries to the Provo MTC. It was strange. The MTC emptied until all of the missionaries were gone. It was a ghost town. But not for a single minute did the work ever stop.

Just a few days after the decision was made, the MTC administration implemented a plan so that the missionaries could continue to receive their training at home. Thanks to the wonders of technology, they could still practice teaching and speaking Russian in homes. The Lord had prepared the tools necessary for his work to proceed and the missionaries were able to go out into the field and work just as well as those before them.

Elder and sister missionaries by a wall, pointing at a large map of the world.
Courtesy of churchofjesuschrist.org

Called To The Work

Elder David A. Bednar said, “A missionary is not called to a place; rather, he or she is called to serve.” Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of the missionaries I taught were reassigned to missions in their home countries. This caused a lot of trepidation, and sometimes, disappointment. 

Yet, as I read the emails of those reassigned missionaries, an amazing thing happened! After only a few weeks, they found that they could still teach, love, and serve those around them. When the missionaries reached their original assignments, the truth was confirmed to them that whether they were they were teaching in St. Petersburg or Spokane, the work of spreading the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ was the same.

Light of the World, by Brent Borup
Courtesy of churchofjesuschrist.org

The Vast And Endless Sea

As the pandemic wore on, I began looking for ways to motivate my missionaries. Sitting in front of a computer for 9+ hours a day while trying to learn Russian is extremely taxing. I came across a quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of “The Little Prince.” He said, “If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men and women to gather wood, divide the work, and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea.”

In the MTC, I saw that as the missionaries gained a deeper understanding of the Gospel, they naturally wanted to share it. When they could feel God’s love and see how the Atonement of Jesus Christ had blessed their lives, they began to work harder and more diligently, preparing themselves to bring others unto Christ.

Jesus Christ loves his missionaries. I feel blessed that I was able to work at the MTC during those strange times. I was able to see how the missionaries were prepared to learn, love, and spread the Gospel, no matter where they were or what circumstances they faced.

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Tyler Nelson
Tyler Nelsonhttps://anchor.fm/tyler-brian-nelson
After serving a mission to Samara, Russia, Tyler graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in Creative Writing. Tyler is the author of Away From The Sun, a short collection of his written works. He lives in Provo with his drop-dead gorgeous wife, enjoys playing basketball, playing the banjo, studying history, and collecting Pokemon cards. Follow Tyler on Instagram @therealtylerbnelson

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