The church is ever embracing technology as a tool to help accomplish the Lord’s purposes. One such tool that is starting to be implemented for some missionaries in training is Skype. The Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, has started using Skype for some missions as a way to help missionaries get more practice in their mission language.
In the past, the only option for such a training experience came through volunteers (usually mostly BYU student RMs fluent in the mission language, but also some natives who live in the area) who would come to the MTC’s TRC (Teaching Resource Center) to be taught by the missionaries in the mission language. However, for some missions, a sufficient number of volunteers are hard to come by, and sometimes missionaries would have to double up if not enough volunteers show up to be taught.
With the huge influx of missionaries these past few months, new options have been needed to recruit more volunteers. As just one example, speakers of Filipino languages (Tagalog, Cebuano, and Hiliganyon) are currently being recruited to be taught via Skype.
Skype volunteers are required to be members of the church with a current temple recommend or bishop’s endorsement. Native speakers are given preference. Although the volunteers will obviously take part in the missionaries’ language training, the aim of the teaching experience is not merely to that end. Rather, the purpose of missionaries, as in any other setting, is to bring others to Christ. Thus volunteers are requested help missionaries keep focused on this purpose and to refrain from correcting language skills, or talking too much about the culture, etc.
It is an exciting time for those embarking on full-time missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as for volunteers who wish to become involved. Skype makes it possible for more volunteers to participate, regardless of where they live. It may even make it possible to recruit more native speakers who may not be in the Provo area, and thus give the missionaries a more authentic teaching experience. Using Skype as a resource also allows for greater flexibility in schedules of both missionaries and those being taught.
This is just one of the many ways that the road is being paved to accommodate the new wave of missionaries and bring the gospel to all the world.