An important step in the Mission Call Process, and one that is the focus of much anticipation for the future missionary as well as family and friends, is receiving the mission call letter. After you’ve fill out your mission papers and submitted the application, it is a very anxious few weeks that you have to wait before finding out where you have been called to serve. And while those few weeks may seem like an eternity, eventually that envelope (or email) will arrive from church headquarters.
Some of you will choose to open the mission call packet in private, in your bedroom, or perhaps you’ll get away to somewhere in nature. Many of you will gather around with your close family, and others will open the packet in the presence of a large number of family and friends. Many will even have a virtual gathering, over the phone or using video conferencing, as they open their mission call packet. However you choose to do it, opening and reading your mission call letter will bring many feelings: spiritual confirmations, excitement, and tears of joy.
Mission Call Packet
Generally, about two to four weeks after the Church receives your mission application, a letter (either in a physical envelope, or often now in an email) will arrive from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Office of the First Presidency. The packet generally contains these items:
- The Call Letter from the Prophet
- A Letter from your Mission President
- A Letter from the MTC President
- General Instructions Checklist, including a list of clothing and other items to bring
Call Letter from the Prophet
When you open your call packet, the first letter you will see will be the call letter from the prophet. It will be addressed to you and will say, “Dear Elder or Sister _______, You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the _______ mission.” This is the point where people tend to erupt into cheers and tears. Once you’re able to continue, the letter will go on to tell you the language you will be speaking during your mission, and it will tell you where and when to report to the Missionary Training Center.
The letter will tell you your purpose as a missionary, “to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.” In the letter, the prophet also will ask you to work to become an effective missionary, to remain worthy, and he will mention some of the blessings of faithful missionary service. Finally, the letter from the prophet asks you to send a written acceptance letter, and then it is signed by our living prophet, the president of the Church.
Letter from your Mission President
Another major piece of your mission call packet will be a welcome and orientation letter from the mission president with whom you will be serving. He will express his testimony of mission work and his gratitude for your choice to serve a mission. He will express his joy and congratulations that you will be joining his mission and be engaged together in the greatest cause in the entire world. He will remind you that, as a missionary, you will become an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will encourage you to continue reading the scriptures and preparing spiritually, including acquainting yourself with the Preach My Gospel manual. He may tell you a little about the people and places of your mission and encourage you to learn to love the people where you will serve. He may also have mission-specific instructions, in addition to those general instructions you will receive from Church headquarters, such as clothing that may differ from the norm due to weather conditions in your mission.
Letter from the MTC President
In the mission call packet, you will also receive instructions and a congratulatory letter from the president of the MTC where you will be receiving your missionary training. He will also express his gratitude for your decision to serve the Lord, and his excitement about your arrival to the Missionary Training Center. He will advise you of medical issues that need to be addressed prior to your arrival such as getting a seasonal flu shot. The letter will almost certainly discuss MTC arrival times, transportation, and other information you will need to know about getting started on your mission. There will also be information such as your mailing address and email address, as well as contact phone numbers and web site addresses you can get more information.
General Instructions Checklist
The General Instructions Checklist will tell you the things you need to do right away, and things you’ll need to do before entering the MTC. It will advise you to complete any medical tests, treatments, and dental work before entering the MTC, including obtaining all required vaccinations outlined in the medical information section of the call packet. It will advise you to continue to prepare spiritually through prayer, and scripture study, especially studying the Book of Mormon. It will instruct you go to the temple to receive your endowment, and receive a patriarchal blessing, if you had not previously done those items.
The checklist will tell you what clothing, luggage, and other items to bring on your mission, and to get a missionary hair cut before arriving at the MTC and to be sure to show up in missionary attire. With regard to the clothing to bring on your mission, there are some variations between missions based on climate and other factors, and your mission president will advise you if that is that case, but for the most part, the clothing each missionary will need to bring is pretty standard. See my post about the missionary clothing list for more details.
Of course you will need luggage to carry your clothes and personal belongings. It is recommended that missionaries bring 3 pieces of luggage that follow these guidelines: Two large suitcases (that you could check at the airport) and one smaller bag (a carry-on). The first, larger, checked suitcase should be no larger than 62 dimensional inches (height plus width plus depth), and no heavier than 70 pounds. The second piece should be no larger than 55 dimensional inches and no heavier than 70 pounds. The smaller, carry-on bag should be no larger than 45 dimensional inches. For more information, see missionary clothing needs and what should I bring to the MTC?.
Other Miscellaneous Items
All together the packet can be a dozen or more pages depending on your mission and circumstances. There is frequently included a short biographical sketch of the mission president and his wife, an outline of behavior expected of missionaries, guidelines for getting ready for the mission, a section on missionary dress standards, medical requirements, a map of your mission, a short description of the area in which you will serve, and Church contact information if you have further questions.
No matter where you are called to serve, remember that missionaries are called by God through prophecy and revelation to our living prophets and apostles. It is an extreme privilege to serve as an ambassador of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to represent his true Church on the earth today, and to be an instrument in His hands to bring people into His fold for their eternal salvation.