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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended January 26, 2001
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Sent on Mormon-News: 28Jan01

By Kent Larsen

From Decision to Call to MTC

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- The Salt Lake Tribune's Peggy Fletcher Stack looked at one young LDS man's decision to serve a mission in a lengthy article this past Saturday. In the article, Stack looked at Collin Timothy's decision from the day he turned 19 in early August through the receipt and opening of his mission call a month and a half later. The Tribune plans to continue Timothy's story this Saturday, looking at the time after he got the call until his entry in the MTC.

At the time Collin Timothy turned 19, he struggled a little with the decision of whether or not to serve a mission. While he wanted to go, he also realized he was leaving behind a beautiful girlfriend, his skiing and snowboarding, a job at a dotcom company, stints as a model in New York City and even a new baby sister. But by the end of that month, he had decided to go on a mission, and approached his Bishop for an interview. He then also filled out the missionary application and had the required medical and dental examinations. Finally, the application was sent to the LDS Church's missionary department on September 2nd.

The call came 2 1/2 weeks later, and like in many Mormon families, Collin Timothy decided to open it with his family.Waiting until a Saturday, Timothy hikes with his family to the top of Brighton ski resort, where he opens his call and learns he will serve in the Brazil Rio de Janeiro Mission. The call specified that he should report to the Brazilian MTC in Sao Paulo on January 9th, more than three months after Collin opened the call. Stack ends her story with Timothy's decision to spend that three months working in New York.

Stack uses the article to give a lot of background information on the process of calling missionaries. She first discusses the impact that the missionary system has upon the Church and on the missionary. She also compares the LDS Church's system to others, quoting social historian Harold Bloom who calls the program "audacious." "No other American religious movement is so ambitious," Bloom wrote in "The American Religion: The Emergence of the Post-Christian Nation." "The Mormons fully intend to convert the nation and the world; to go from some ten million souls to six billion. This is sublimely insane. . . . Yet the Mormons will not falter; they will take the entire twenty-first century as their span, if need be."

Stack also reviews how the Church decides to issue calls to missionaries and when health concerns force the Church to turn down some of the 700 to 800 applicantions received each week. She goes on to look at how the Church decides where to send missionaries, and the Church's relatively new policy of sending US missionaries bound for Brazil to the MTC in Sao Paulo, in a move that relieves crowding at the Provo, Utah MTC and gives missionaries a boost in understanding the Brazilian language, Portuguese, and culture.

Stack also has a companion article in Saturday's Tribune, which looks at the Provo MTC. In that article she reviews the MTC regime and rules, much of which is familiar to LDS readers. Stack quotes author Gary Shepherd, co-author with his twin brother Gordon of Mormon Passage: A Missionary Chronicle, emphasizing the spiritual nature of the MTC, "Novice missionaries are reminded that the [center] is no ordinary school but a sacred place, detached from the mundane concerns of the profane world -- a place where their diligent obedience will put them in constant contact with the spirit of God."

But the article also reveals a few little-known facts about the Provo MTC, including the volume of packages received at the MTC's post office (250 to 300 a day, but as many as 2,000 a day at Valentines Day), the fact that missionaries there can receive email messages (the post office prints them out for the missionaries, and delivers the printed paper), the volume of food the missionaries consume (including 122,000 hot dogs a year and 1,200 pizzas a week), and the average missionary's weight gain in the MTC (four pounds, down from eight pounds several years ago). Stack also notes that the MTC now teaches 46 foreign languages.


God's Army Marches Its Way Through Boot Camp, Provo facility prepares trainees for the field
Salt Lake Tribune 20Jan01N1
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune

A Free Spirit? Collin's Call
Salt Lake Tribune 20Jan01N1
By Peggy Fletcher Stack: Salt Lake Tribune
Collin Timothy -- snowboarder, boyfriend, model and college student -- weighs whether to join the LDS Church's legions in the missionary field


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Mormon Passage
More about "Mormon Passage: A Missionary Chronicle" by Gary and Gordon Shepherd at

Copyright 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 Kent Larsen · Privacy Information