|You're a woman and so wouldn't have seen this, but basically it's a pipe with 3 or 4 showerheads coming out of it and no privacy.
Hmm, I thought that's how things usually were in guys' dorms or locker rooms. I've never been in one, so I wouldn't know for sure.
|And just the regimented scedule, and being separated from the outside world, only wearing certain clothing, honestly, that sounds a bit cultish to me.
I think these things are actually quite important. The regimented schedule is important on one hand so that the teachers can get across the most information in a very small amount of time. There can be no time wasted at the MTC because there is so much to learn and process. I do think it is also a way to set apart missionaries from the world. Being a missionary is such a unique experience. I think the discipline and structure of it is very imporant to the overall experience--kind of like the military in that sense. The MTC gets missionaries used to the kind of routine they will have to have when they're out in the field. It's a hard adjustment anyway, but I do think the MTC sets the stage for that. The MTC is actually much more structured than most missions themselves, but it's good because when you get out in the field, you will have to make that structure yourself, and it's REALLY hard at times. It's really hard on a sweltering hot summer day to want to go out and tract or work when you have no lessons to teach. Having the MTC experience is a preparation for that, IMO.
Being separated from the outside world is important for the same reason. It prepares you to do that separation on your own once you are in the field. As a missionary you are supposed to set yourself apart from the world, and that's much easier said than done. I think separating oneself physically
is a big help in separating oneself spiritually.
The clothing too sets missionaries apart, for good reason. When you're wearing a suit, you remember who you are and what your purpose is. If missionaries were wearing jeans and T-shirts, it would be so easy for them to forget why they are there, and it would also be easy for others to forget why they are there. Missionaries face many temptations. The patterns set forth in the MTC are important to help prepare them for that. The MTC is the first real experience with the level of obedience that the mission field requires, even though many of the MTC rules seem rather arbitrary. It's the principle of obedience that is being taught.
Honestly, when I read the things you mentioned, I didn't think of cults, but I did think of monks in a monestery. They have a regimented schedule, are separated from the outside world, and wear clothing that sets them apart. All this is to help give them discipline, to teach them about personal sacrifice, and to provide structured opportunities to commune with God, and to literally separate them from the world because of their unique mission. The MTC is the same. You prepare for your own individual mission, but you also get to experience what it's like to be part of a collective group of missionaries, which is a real bonding thing, IMO. For many missionaries, it's their first real chance to have spiritual experiences, or to focus so much on scripture study. It's the environment that makes this possible.
I know there are some people who really chafed at the restrictions of the MTC, and I can understand that. It didn't bother me at all, though it was hard to adjust to being told when to wake up, when to eat, etc. But I saw great value in it.
I think your questions were fine.