Missionaries receive full training in Brazil
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SAO PAULO, Brazil The missionaries who just completed their full eight-week training in the relatively new Brazil Missionary Training Center are showing increased confidence with the culture and the language as they enter their missions, say two mission presidents.
"While it is too early to draw too many conclusions," said President Edson Jose Martins Lopes of the Brazil Maceio Mission, "those who were trained in Sao Paulo have overcome much of the culture and linguistic shock of living in a new country."
"They are much more confident," said President Fernando Antonio Silva of the Brazil Salvador Mission. "Gaining that confidence is a major turning point in becoming effective missionaries."
The Brazil Missionary Training Center is one of 15 facilities around the world, including facilities in Provo, Utah. Its current campus which includes residence rooms, classrooms, a kitchen and cafeteria, laundry facilities and gymnasium was completed in 1997, and dedicated by Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Since October 1998, the Brazil Missionary Training Center has been used as part of a "phased training" effort. In phased training, North American missionaries would enter the Provo Missionary Training Center to receive language and gospel instruction for five weeks, then travel to the Brazil Missionary Training Center where they would complete their training. This training included proselyting with companions native to Brazil, as well as learning to live by Brazilian customs.
In an effort to increase the effectiveness of missionary labors, the role of the Brazil Missionary Training Center was recently expanded to become a "full training" facility. It is now central to the training of missionaries called to serve in the 26 missions in Brazil, said Terrell Edwards, supervisor of international missionary training centers.
On April 6, the first 22 missionaries from North America entered the Brazil Missionary Training Center to receive their full eight-week training. This group was the first of four pilot groups to enter during the summer, and to be entirely trained in another language at a missionary training center in another country.
By the end of August the pilot training program will be complete and an average of 33 missionaries will begin their full training in the Brazil facility each week. The missionary training center in Sao Paulo has capacity to train and house 700 missionaries.
"They did well," said President James R. Palmer of the Sao Paulo Missionary Training Center about the first group to complete training in June. "They have learned Portuguese very rapidly and precisely. We feel very good about their progress."
This first group of missionaries from the United States to be trained in another country arrived April 6 at the Sao Paulo International Airport. They were greeted by President Palmer and were quickly processed through customs. They were then taken through the expansive, metropolitan city of Sao Paulo where more than 20 million residents live, and where many high rise apartments and office buildings line the landscape. At the seven-story training center, they began their training.
Missionaries who receive their full missionary training in Sao Paulo learn the culture and history of the people they will be teaching, explained President Palmer. They learn firsthand as they visit street markets, grocery stores, bakeries, tailor shops, bookstores, museums and by talking to and learning from the Brazilian people.
As missionaries progress in the language, they spend a half-day each week working with local missionaries, utilizing the skills and language they are mastering. They make street contacts, knock on doors, present exhibits and help teach discussions. They evaluate their learning experiences, set goals and polish their skills.
The North American missionaries also have Brazilian missionaries as roommates who help them learn Portuguese. North American missionaries will also help Brazilian missionaries learn English.
The new program has produced a high level of language fluency as the new missionaries proceed to the mission field, President Palmer continued.
Also, the expanded use of computers in the missionary training center holds the promise of helping missionaries learn the language more correctly.
This new language training program, using computer technology, was developed by the Missionary Department and is called Technology Assisted Language Learning (TALL). Missionaries at the Provo center are currently trained in Portuguese, Spanish, Japanese and Russian using the TALL program. The program is a self-paced method using many elements to learn the language and was specifically developed to train missionaries at missionary training centers.
The Brazil Missionary Training Center is the second full training facility outside the United States. The England Missionary Training Center in Chorley became a full training facility in May 1999. It has a capacity of training 112 missionaries.
Two other facilities are currently phased training facilities. The Peru Missionary Training Center was established in 1986 and became a phased training site July 1999. The Peru center trained 855 missionaries in 1999. The Spain Missionary Training Center in Madrid became a phased training site in July 1999.
Beyond the language training, all training centers have the spiritual objective of preparing missionaries to fill their assignment as ambassadors of the Lord. Missionaries in international training centers receive gospel training, study the scriptures and are instructed in missionary discussions as are missionaries in the Provo training center.