GUATEMALA CITY, GUATEMALA
Since the announcement given by President Thomas S. Monson that changed the minimum missionary age, the number of missionaries passing through the Guatemala City Missionary Training Center has increased significantly. Church leaders decided to remodel and expand the existing facility to accommodate additional elders and sisters.
On May 29, Elder Carlos H. Amado, president of the Central America Area, rededicated the MTC at a meeting attended by missionaries and many local Church leaders.
Prior to the rededication, MTC and local Church public affairs officials hosted an open house for public officials, diplomats and other dignitaries. Guests toured the refurbished facilities and learned more about the purpose of the MTC, along with the principles of the restored gospel.
Guatemalan priesthood leaders and their wives also toured the new facilities.
The refurbished Guatemala City MTC includes a dormitory that can house 152 missionaries, along with an onsite medical clinic and a trained medical staff. The MTC’s Learning Resource Center includes six classrooms, a computer classroom for Spanish-language instruction, a laundry room, a large dining room, a lounge and a fitness center for the missionaries.
Each group of 12 missionaries at the MTC is overseen by two instructors.
Native Spanish-speaking missionaries spend 12 days studying at the Guatemala City MTC. Those missionaries learning Spanish spend six weeks at the facility.
The rededication meeting was broadcast to countries across the Central America Area. Over 100 missionaries attended the meeting, along with local Church leaders and their wives.
Elder Adrian Ochoa, second counselor in the Central America Area Presidency, conducted the meeting.
MTC President Robert T. Cox expressed gratitude for the area office and area leadership for supporting the refurbished MTC. He read from the 88th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and spoke of the importance of missionaries diligently teaching the people of the world.
He saluted the essential role of missionary training centers across the world in preparing missionaries to take the gospel of Christ to the people they will teach and baptize.
Elder Ochoa said missionaries begin their preparation long before reporting to the MTC. Valuable training takes place in the home, Church classes, Mutual and other activities. He reminded local Church leaders of the important role they will play in preparing young people for the work.
Elder Kevin R. Duncan, first counselor in the area presidency, shared an experience from his youth when he lived on a farm with his family. Farmers know it is important to use water wisely, so they regularly clear out weeds that can grow in irrigation ditches. One day, young Kevin went to an irrigation ditch to clear out the weeds. He tried his best but could not remove the stubborn weeds. His father joined him in clearing out the weeds. Before he began, Kevin’s father sharpened the blade he would use to chop the weeds. The blade sliced easily through the weeds.
Elder Duncan said he learned that day the importance of using a sharp instrument. Missionaries sometimes need to be sharpened to perform the work of sharing the gospel. Prayer, fasting, repentance and diligent service can sharpen missionaries for their important labors.
Prior to offering the prayer of rededication, Elder Amado spoke to the congregation and gave thanks to the many who have served beside him in the Central America Area. As a native Guatemalan, the Church leader has witnessed remarkable growth in his country during his many years of priesthood service.
“God organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so that His children could return again to His presence,” he said. “The Church invites all to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. The invitation to come to Christ is intended for all who have lived, who now live or who will live on the earth. All must receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.”
The Church, he added, supports each person who is baptized. It serves as a shelter against storms and against the evil influences of the world. The Church exists to provide service opportunities to bless others. The programs and activities of the Church also support and strengthen individuals and families.
Elder Amado taught that the Church focuses on four core responsibilities: to help members live the gospel of Jesus Christ, to gather Israel through missionary work, to do the work of one’s ancestors and to care for the poor and the needy.
He concluded by saying the rededication of the Guatemala City MTC offers members an opportunity to rededicate their own lives to Christ.
Following his remarks, Elder Amado offered the rededication prayer.