News Release

Language Training Program Initiated for the First Time in the Philippines

February 15 marked a significant day for the Missionary Training Center in the Philippines. For the first time in the history of this facility since it began in the late 1980s, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has initiated a language training program.

Normally the MTC, located in Quezon City, provides missionary training for two weeks before sending young men and women to various missions in the Philippines and other parts of the world. Beginning with this first group, Tagalog language training will be given to non-Filipinos who are coming here for their missionary service. They will remain for a longer time than other missionaries and receive language instruction in addition to their regular training.  Filipino language instructions were previously taught at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah by American missionaries who have served and learned the language in the Philippines.  

Two returned missionaries have been given the assignment to teach Tagalog to the first three missionaries arriving from Tonga, New Zealand and Samoa. Jeff Morales, one of the teachers, feels the importance of this opportunity:

“To be part of this great development in the Philippines MTC and in the Church is monumental. I have witnessed how the Savior’s blessings and the gifts of the Spirit work in these fine missionaries as they strive to fulfill their purpose in the language. It thrills me how this will significantly affect the Church’s growth here in the Philippines.”

The second teacher, Gelene Domagsang, feels just as deeply: “The task given to us is both a privilege and a challenge. Yet, as I think about the words in the 90th chapter of our Doctrine and Covenants, ‘For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fullness of the Gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language through those who are ordained in this power,’ I’m up for the challenge. It is just so amazing how I feel God’s mighty hands, directing me every single day in this new endeavor. The Lord, indeed, is hastening His work and I feel humbled as I come to realize that this task is part of a greater prophecy that is now being fulfilled.”

The language training missionaries will use textbooks, the Church’s Preach My Gospel manual of instruction and interactive programs to study and learn. They will spend five weeks at the MTC before going on their missions. This group will all be going to the Angeles Mission which is north of Manila.

The following three missionaries are the first to participate in this new program and feel the excitement and the responsibility of this opportunity:

Elder Emelio arrived in Manila from Tonga after an 18-hour flight and layovers. He is 21 years old and received his call in September. He arrived at the MTC on February 15. This young man told how he used to listen to Philippine movies which helped him with the Tagalog language even before coming on his mission. “When I arrived I learned that if I got the Spirit, it would help me learn.”

Elder Emelio has seven brothers and four sisters.  He is a twin and the first missionary in his family.  Two other siblings will be following soon—a sister to the Bacolod Ilonggo-speaking mission and a brother to the Baguio mission.  

Elder Kadarmia from New Zealand is 21years old and it took him 14 hours to arrive in Manila. When he received his call December 3,2012, he was not home and his sister had to read the letter to him on Skype. Elder Kadarmia’s father is Maori and he noted the similarities between Maori and the Tagalog language structure so he also felt he had an advantage in learning the language. In addition, he was able to look at things on the computer before he arrived.

Since being in the MTC, Elder Kadarmia has always looked forward to being able to go out with  missionaries who teach in the Quezon City area.  He has two sisters and is the first to serve a mission.  His younger sister at 19 is preparing to serve.

Elder Ta’avao from Samoa just turned 21 years old in the MTC. It took him about 19 hours to fly to Manila to begin his language training. The use of Taglish in the classes helps him to understand. He is nervous about the food in the Philippines because many Samoans have had food allergies in the past; however, he is confident that he will survive. “Learning patience will help me. The Lord will bless me like he did Nephi if I will do as he did in 1 Nephi 3:7 (‘I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded…’).  The fourth child in his family, he has four brothers, two sisters and two cousins that live in his home.  He is the second one to serve a mission.  His brother served in Australia.

All three of the first language training missionaries are ready to learn Tagalog and enter the Angeles mission to serve freely for the next two years. They have counsel for those who will follow them: “Prepare now.” “Don’t worry about the language. Be like Moses who was led by the Spirit even though he wasn’t a strong speaker.” “Learn to study.”  And finally, “Buy more ties!” (All young elders wear white shirts and ties on their missions.)

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