Tomas has been doing home MTC (Missionary Training Center) for a week and a half now. He’s heading out to Provo on Tuesday. When we were heading into the home MTC experience, I really wasn’t sure what to expect from it. When I went on my mission, my parents dropped me off at the MTC in Provo, and that was that. I’d never met my teachers, my companion, or anyone I’d be rooming with. I had no idea where I’d stay or what my schedule would be like. They dumped all of that on me the day I arrived, in the space of an hour or two. But it was the only reality I knew, so I never really questioned it.
What do you do when you’re at home for the first two weeks, instead?
It turns out, quite a bit.
Tomas has been in classes most days for the bulk of the day, starting around 9 in the morning and finishing around 9 or 10 at night. He’s in a district with just two other missionaries, both of whom are going to his same mission (Czech-Slovak), though one is Slovak speaking and one Czech. They take classes on how to teach and communicate effectively, as well as some classes on how to speak the language. (Tomas’s companion speaks no Slovak at all, so there’s quite a bit gap between the two of them. From what I gather, that hasn’t been an issue.) There are also devotionals and time for personal study, exercise, and companionship study.
He does get breaks. He’s had Sunday completely free, and Wednesday he doesn’t really do anything until around 6pm. Then there are breaks here and there throughout the week where we can see him. However, he’s already supposed to follow mission rules, which means no television or movies or popular reading. Since a lot of our family time together used to be spent watching something, we made a switch over to activities he could participate in. (We’ve been doing a cool Star Wars 1,000 piece puzzle.) We also talk to him about how things are going and what he’s learning.
The big difference from all of this is that when he leaves Maine on Tuesday, he knows where he’s going. He knows his teacher. He knows his companion. He knows what his schedule will be like. There’s really not that much that will be a surprise to him, and I think that will make for an infinitely smoother transition. It can be a real shock, going from normal to missionary in the space of a few hours. I think it can feel overwhelming, and this goes a long way toward fixing that.
I’d say it was a good transition period for the parents as well, but Tomas was already quite busy before this. Seniors in high school have cars, have friends, and have things to do, so they’re already out and about a lot of the time. Of course, there’s a big difference between “out and about” and “gone for two years.”
I’ll deal with that Tuesday.
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