Wednesday, December 3, 2014

MTC Day 3 - The TRC

From the Church News - Full article HERE
On Wednesdays at the MTC missionaries get great opportunities to practice the teaching techniques they have been studying in Preach My Gospel.  Local people volunteer their time in the "Teaching Resource Center" (TRC) by role playing as if they were  "investigators", someone who is interested in learning more about the Church.  Most of these folks are actually active members, but some are not.  Either way, they are given assigned roles which may be atheist, a member of some other Christian denomination, or someone with no particular religious affiliation who does believe in God.   Each pair of missionaries is assigned to specific investigator(s)  (May be an individual, couple or family) and then proceeds to teach a lesson just as they might out in the mission field.  The teaching appointments go about 40 minutes.  Trainers are right outside listening in so they can give feedback, and those playing the part of investigator also record their evaluation of how the interaction went.  After it's all done, the missionary gets a one-on-one summary interview with the trainer who shares his/her thoughts on strengths and weaknesses of the presentation and also shares what the person posing as the investigator thought of the exchange.

Some people get really nervous about this.  I'm not sure why.  To me it seems like a great way to try out newly established skills in a low-risk environment with lots of caring support so we can get better insight into how it feels before we do it for real.

I really liked the lady that Elder Bennett and I taught.  "Sister Anderson" (so idea if that is her real name or not) was posing as a middle aged widow who had been raised Methodist but had some questions about the nature of god.  We discussed the difference between the concept of Trinity and the LDS doctrine of the Godhead.  We used the analogy of how in a loving united marriage it is said that a husband and wife become one.  They are absolutely still each individuals, but they are united in purpose.  Likewise, we believe that God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are absolutely united in purpose and intent, but they each have their own specific identity, role and characteristics.

This did not feel at all awkward to me because I have several very dear friends of the Eastern Orthodox faith who I have had occasion to talk about the concept of Trinity with.  I so appreciate these sweet men and women of strong faith and have been grateful for the times they have been open enough to share with me their views about the nature of God and what our relationship is to Him.  My own views and faith have been strengthened by the opportunities I have had to openly discuss our common beliefs and our differences in a setting of mutual respect.

I was once told by a Protestant man that LDS missionary work was very arrogant because the whole activity is based on the assumption that what we believe is true and what everyone else has is in some way flawed or incomplete.  To some extent, I can understand that point of view.  However, I think about it in different terms.  I may have told this story on this blog somewhere before, but I think it bears repeating now that I am here, preparing to immerse myself in full time missionary service.

For me, it's like the first time I heard the album "Strange Days" by the Doors.   I loved that record!  After hearing it a few times I could not wait to play it for my best friends.  It made me feel good to listen to the record and I wanted to share that same feeling with those that I cared about.

Likewise, I have found so much that is good and true in my faith.   I absolutely respect other people's right to believe and worship differently.  I would never insist that someone who had no interest in learning more about my faith had to listen to what I believe.  But for those who are open to it, I am eager to share what I know can bring individuals and families more peace of mind and sense of purpose than anything else I've ever encountered.

I feel so honored to have this opportunity to serve as a representative of Jesus Christ as a full time missionary of my faith.  Even though our specific assignment is not a proselytizing one, I look forward to having chances to teach the things I've learned about how to convey our understanding of the Plan of Salvation and other concepts in simple, basic terms to give others the opportunity to learn what it is we have.

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