Introduction from Editor: The following is a guest post by Dennis McKonkie, who served a mission in Atlanta, Georgia. His mission changed the trajectory of his life, and he feels indebted for all he learned.
Going on a mission is a positive and enlightening experience that not enough people try. The purpose of a mission is not only for self-reflection and development but also a way to give back to different communities around the world. Although serving a mission does have many benefits, there are some things I wish I would have known before I went. Below are just the five key things I wish I knew before I went on my mission.
1. Follow The Rules
Although this one is pretty simple to figure out, as you should always follow the rules, it is important to do so especially when visiting a foreign country where you do not know the native language or customs. Rules are implemented to help keep you safe and also keep others in the community safe and secure. Follow any and all guidelines and rest assure they are put into place for a reason.
2. Include Everyone
Serving a mission does typically involve working with an amount of certain individuals, keep in mind that a missionary can benefit anybody. Invite other locals even if they are not of the same background or religion. Perhaps through time and experience they can begin to see your message as well. The key to missionary service is to include everyone and leave no one behind. Even those who may not necessarily agree or understand your message can still take something from your time with them and vice versa.
3. Mission Work Is Actual Work
Many do underestimate that mission work is actually work. When going on a mission individuals will give talks, possibly clean communities, rebuild broken down towns and areas, build churches and other things, as well as serve the local communities. The days are often spent serving food, socializing with young individuals, perhaps teaching school and other activities and more. Mission work includes actually putting in effort and work. Not only is this hard on your mind but also on your body. In the end my back was aching so much that as soon as I finished my mission I was looking for a chiropractor immediately. Although your muscles and joints will ache, it is worth all of the hard work.
4. Be Open Minded
Typically when you go on a mission it is to teach others about your message of Jesus Christ; however it is important to remember that it is also a time for you to learn. Not only can you teach others but they can also teach you at the same time. Take time to learn about other cultures and customs and be open-minded to trying new things. The locals can share food, experiences, funny stories and more.
5. Write Everything Down
One major thing I wish I knew before my mission was to write everything down in a journal. A few days into my mission I began this process at the recommendation of another missionary. Not only was writing my thoughts down on paper a great way to self-reflect at the end of the day but it was also a great way to always remember the experiences I had while on my mission. Not only does looking back at it reminds me of how blessed my life is but it also helps remind me of the good that can be done in the world.