Before you see them in your neighbourhoods or talk with them on the street or in your home, young missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints spend a few weeks in any one of 15 missionary training centres worldwide.
These places, sometimes called MTCs, are designed to help young men and women prepare for the next 18 months to two years of their lives.
"The purpose of the MTC is to help new missionaries feel and know the Spirit," says Nelson Bleak, President of the New Zealand Missionary Training Centre.
"A lot of training takes place out in the mission field, but there is one specific thing that is learned more effectively at the MTC, and that is acquiring a knowledge of the Spirit."
He adds, "In the MTC, the missionaries don't have to worry about food, or a place to sleep, or about the pressures of the outside world. For a period of time, they have the opportunity to focus just upon becoming closer to God, getting to understand how the Spirit works through them and how they can relate to the Spirit when they are serving and teaching others."
President Bleak's wife, Sister Terry Bleak, assists in the training of the new missionaries. "In the MTC," she says, "the missionaries strengthen their faith, increase their knowledge of the doctrines and scriptures of the Church and then learn the skills of missionary work."
She continues, "Missionaries are taught to invite others to come unto Christ. They are taught to serve others, to be helpful, to be considerate. After about three weeks of study at the MTC, they go out to their missions and are assigned to trainers who will help them further."
President Bleak adds, "In just a few short weeks, they leave here somewhat polished, somewhat shined up, and ready to leave the temporal things of the world behind for a while, in order to be a representative of the Lord Jesus Christ."
"It is often said that miraculous changes occur in young missionaries while at the MTC, and we have seen that happen here."
In 2011 the New Zealand Missionary Training Centre trained over 540 missionaries who came from countries all over the world. There are approximately 55,000 Latter-day Saint missionaries serving worldwide.
President and Sister Bleak are from Panaca, Utah, in the United States. They have 11 children. Before their service at the New Zealand Missionary Training Centre they were missionaries in the Marshall Islands Majuro Mission for three years where President Bleak was mission president.