Cramped classrooms, minimal lighting and small outdoor spaces were all things missionaries entering the Missionary Training Center in Provo had to endure for three to nine weeks while they prepared to serve.
Now, with the addition of two new six-story buildings, missionaries have scenic views of Utah Valley and more space to stretch out.
Kelly Mills, MTC director of administration, said the new buildings will offer a better learning environment for the men and women who come to be trained at the MTC.
One of the most important changes, according to Mills, is the increased amount of light the new buildings provide.
“The old classrooms and old buildings serve the same purpose and function, but there was very little window space and very few views out the windows,” Mills said. “The opportunity the new missionaries have to see outside and have so much natural light come inside makes a big difference.”
MTC President David Martino compared the vast amount of natural light to the light of Christ.
“It’s similar to the way the light of Christ permeates through your soul, so does the light permeate through the buildings,” Martino said.
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, the Young Women General President, said the lighting and the artwork creates a new and improved atmosphere for learning.
“It’s a wonderful place to get ready for your mission, to think about what you’re preparing for, to think about who you’re going to be teaching and to learn the things you need to learn,” Oscarson said. “I think they’ve done a marvelous job with the training and learning atmosphere.”
The renovations include updated outdoor seating areas and more open air spaces for missionary use.
Mills said the 320-car underground parking garage was designed to keep the above-ground space open for the missionaries’ personal study time.
“Our experience already has been that missionaries are happier,” Mills said. “There’s something about the fact that there’s space that just doesn’t feel quite as restrictive. There’s light, and then you look outside and you see the mountains and the temple. I think it does make a difference.”
The new facilities help the training center accommodate up to 3,700 missionaries. Mills said the new hallways alone add up to 2.7 miles of walking space if laid end to end.
According to Gary Crittenden, managing director of the Missionary Department, the old buildings will eventually be torn down to make way for more new buildings, but there is not yet a timeline for the demolition.
“You’ll find that the missionaries are really excited to be in a new space,” Crittenden said. “Those other spaces are very small, very confined. If you were spending 9 to 12 hours in those spaces, it was really nice to get into a bigger environment.”
The MTC is open for the public to tour parts of the new and old buildings through August 19. Tickets and additional information are available at LDS.org.