Ask an Area Technology Specialist (ATS) missionary what a typical day is like and you won’t get the same answer twice. The ATS mission experience differs for each couple and the area where they serve. Ask about where technology missionaries find their greatest rewards, and most will say working with people, being ambassadors for the use of technology, and training leaders are their most successful activities.
According to Elder and Sister Bentley, who are serving in the Caribbean, “We are planting seeds and growing the process. It has been wonderful working with members who are happy to lend us people from a resource perspective, and we are working on creative ways to share equipment resources. No situation has been anything other than 100% positive!”
Area Technology Specialist (ATS) missionaries have many opportunities to bring the blessings of technology to Church members. The advice of the Bentleys is to “jump in, be proactive, look for ways to get involved, and find out as much as you can about the concerns and needs of the leaders and members.” For example, Sister Bentley’s industrial engineering background helped with renovations to a Bishops’ storehouse, and she has enjoyed teaching members to use the underutilized electronic pianos for meetings. In an area comprising many Caribbean islands, leaders are now using web conferencing to overcome distances between meeting locations. They are using personal video conferencing for contacts and counseling where travel is prohibitive.
While serving in South Africa, Elder and Sister Davis say their biggest success has been “traveling and meeting with stake presidencies, stake technology specialists, and family history people to give hands-on training.” They also have ideas about bringing Church technology to members. Many members have smart phones, but only 10-15% have Internet connections in their homes so meetinghouses and self-reliance centers are becoming gateways for members to access the Internet for Church-related purposes, media downloads, and especially for access to LDS.org. A challenge has been getting uncapped access to the Internet while negotiating contracts with Internet service providers. Their efforts are blessing lives bit by bit, and they say of the African saints, “They are wonderful people with strong testimonies, and we have grown to love them.” Sister Davis is also making a difference serving in a self-reliance center helping with employment needs.
ATS missionaries work under Information and Communication Services (ICS) Managers in area offices, and with Facilities Management (FM) groups and Stake and local leaders. The technical challenges vary from place to place, and missionaries learn to make adjustments for low bandwidth environments or where power is unreliable. They foster self-reliance with technology and they find help from other ATS missionaries through a support network online via the social communication software Yammer. They also use many online resources.
If the ATS experience piques your interest, the information presented at Introduction to Technology Specialists will provide a short overview. More comprehensive training is available at http://mhtech.lds.org and is open to anyone. If you have a technical background, know something about meetinghouse networks, and have some general office skills working with spreadsheets and word processing, chances are very good a perfect fit can be found for you as a technology missionary couple. Together you can complement one another, and what you don’t know you can learn.
If you would like to know more contact Elder Gary D. Peterson at 801-707-0929 or Sister Marilyn Peterson at 801-266-2589, or send an email to
and leave your contact information. There are immediate openings in South Africa, Tonga and Fiji. A dual role for ATS and Family History is needed for Cambodia, Thailand, or Moscow. Not all locations require foreign language skills.