|Missionaries are even encouraged to pray in their mission language from the very start|
National Public Radio featured the Mormon Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah, in a recent report on how well the missionaries learn new languages prior to entering their assigned fields of labor.
I spent about nine weeks there between March and May 2001, prior to traveling to the Samoan islands.
By learning languages to aid missionary work, Mormons believe that they are fulfilling a prophecy given through Joseph Smith promising that
every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power, by the administration of the Comforter, shed forth upon them for the revelation of Jesus Christ. [v. 11]That belief is an impetus powerful enough to get young men and young women barely out of their teenage years to leave their families, their friends, and nearly all that they're used to and comfortable with (texting!, Facebook!!, swimming!!!), and immerse themselves for 16 waking hours of every day for 18 months to two years in a language and culture entirely foreign to them (not to mention the food, weather, local bugs and dogs, and so forth).
It's really quite remarkable.