Upon arrival, new missionaries are photographed for I.D. badges. Then they receive seam rippers to open the pockets of new suits, a place for those internationally-recognized name tags. Missionaries bring a considerable amount of clothing with them; the clothing requirements for both elders and sisters are outlined HERE. Then the host missionary takes each new missionary to his or her room, which houses two bunk beds -- four people to a room. After a quick look around, they're whisked away to an important meeting, where they are paired with a companion. The pair will serve together anywhere from three to 12 weeks in preparation for working in pairs in their assigned countries. Fifty-two languages are taught in the MTC. Missionaries spend nine hours a day in classes. Most of the instructors are former missionaries.
As expected, the logistics of keeping the MTC going are not inconsequential. In 2010, missionaries consumed more than 200,000 apples, 163,000 pounds of bananas and 25,000 gallons of 2 percent milk -- with chocolate milk close behind at more than 22,000 gallons.
A precursor to the Provo MTC was the Church Missionary Home and Preparatory Training School. In the 1920s, a Salt Lake City home was purchased, remodeled, and furnished to accommodate up to ninety-nine missionaries. Inaugurated in 1925, the week-long program for departing missionaries emphasized gospel topics, Church procedures, personal health, and proper manners. This home accommodated the outgoing missionaries until the 1960s, but as the number of missionaries increased, other facilities were needed. Consequently, a formal MTC was constructed and activated on the BYU campus in Provo.
Additional resources for those interested in more information:
-- Virtual tour of the MTC
-- LDS Newsroom basic story about the missionary program
-- LDS Mission Network for more information about missions and the MTC.
-- Mormon Mission Prep for more information on the process for preparing for a mission call.
-- Mormon Mission blog for links to actual missionary weblogs.