Called to serve in a pandemic: ‘Even though it is not the physical MTC, it is still a great and unforgettable experience’

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Editor’s note: The Church has announced that each current and prospective missionary must choose by April 30, 2020, whether to opt for immediate reassignment once conditions allow or to wait between 12 and 18 months before returning to the field. The Daily Universe is looking at the impact of the pandemic on missionary service in a series of stories.

Jenna Calta was supposed to report to the MTC on April 7 before reporting to her mission in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, but her plans changed when the MTC closed its doors. Instead, she found herself preparing for her mission in her hometown of New Braunfels, Texas.

“When I first heard I wasn’t going to the actual MTC, I was kind of bummed,” Calta said. “I found out exactly one week before I was to report and had heard all about how great the experience was.”

Calta was planning on joining the MTC choir, and said she was sad she wouldn’t be able to have that opportunity. Even though she was looking forward to attending the physical MTC, the online MTC was an awesome experience, she said.

“I was set apart during the whole experience and wore my name tag and was expected to follow the typical missionary schedule outlined in the handbook,” Calta said.

Sister Jenna Calta wears her missionary name tag while participating online in MTC courses in her home in Texas. (Jenna Calta)

Calta was among the first group of missionaries to participate in the online version of the MTC. She still had two teachers, a district and a companion just like she would have in the physical MTC—the difference is that they communicate over Zoom.

“I had to live by regular missionary rules, but what was different was my district and I were allowed to video call when we were not in class and just get closer and try to build the friendship that we would have had in the physical MTC,” Calta said.

Calta did online appointments, classes and companion studies through Zoom along with becoming acquainted with her district and companion. “I was able to still learn a ton and feel the Spirit even if it was through a computer screen,” she said.

Calta said she learned so much, especially about how to have faith during this troubling time. “I am grateful for everything that I have learned and the friendships that I gained,” Calta said. “Even though it is not the physical MTC, it is still a great and unforgettable experience.” 

Calta finished her MTC after three weeks on April 8. She plans on going into the mission field as soon as conditions allow. “I am just afraid that if I wait 12 to 18 months, life will get in the way and prevent me from going at all,” she said.

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