Sunday Walk at the Temple

Last Sunday, we decided to take our kids on a Sunday walk around the Provo, Utah Temple. Though it was February and the middle of winter, we were having an unseasonably warm day. And with the kids having been cooped up inside most of the winter, a chance for them to get out, run around (as reverently as possible because it was Sunday and we were at the temple), and enjoy the outdoors was just what they needed.

missionaries at provo temple

When we got to the temple, we noticed a large group of missionaries standing around the fountains out front.

missionaries at provo temple

We assumed this was a group of missionaries from the MTC which is across the street from the Provo Temple. They were taking pictures, and we thought maybe they were taking some farewell pictures in anticipation of leaving the MTC for their respective missions. We didn’t want to bother the missionaries, so we started walking around the south side of the temple with our kids. But lo and behold, we ran into even more missionaries!

missionaries at provo temple

This time, we had to ask one of the sister missionaries: “Why are there so many missionaries here at the temple?” She answered: “It’s our Sunday walk.” She explained that all the missionaries at the Provo MTC get an hour on Sunday to go on a walk around the temple grounds. It seemed to be one of the highlights of their week. I guess the MTC president came to the same realization about his missionaries that we came to about our kids: it’s hard to keep them cooped up inside all winter long. It’s good to let them go outside and get their energy out 🙂

Later, we ran into this group of missionaries that will be heading to Brazil soon and asked them to pose for a picture with our kids.

missionaries at provo temple

Overall the missionaries were enjoying themselves, walking around, sitting on the grass, getting some fresh air and sunshine.

missionaries at provo temple

The MTC can be an intense experience, learning gospel principles, learning a new language, learning teaching methods, etc. We didn’t get Sunday walks when I was a missionary in the MTC (nearly 20 years ago), and I’m not sure all MTCs across the world have this in their schedule, but I’m glad they give the missionaries at the Provo MTC have this Sunday afternoon break.

All of the missionaries we met were anxious to wrap up their time at the MTC and get out into the mission field, finding, teaching, and baptizing the elect of God. As I told the ones we met that day, we pray for the missionaries each day, and hope they are safe and successful in preaching the gospel and bringing souls unto Christ.

My First Transfer

In April of 1996, after three months in my first mission area (Gazano Branch, city of Paraná, Argentina), I received my first transfer.

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Please note that my first “transfer” refers to being transferred from one area to another, not a “transfer” as in a six week period of time as it is so commonly used by today’s missionaries.[/colored_box]
elder loesener and smith parana argentina

Elder Loesener and I in Paraná, Argentina the morning of my first transfer.

 I was transferred to the city of Santa Fe to serve in the Rural ward. Paraná had been great, we worked hard, and we baptized two families. Most of this success, of course goes to the Lord, and to my great first companion and trainer, Elder Loesener. The night before I left the area, we were out until 10:25pm teaching what was, according to my journal, “the best first discussion we ever gave.” The man was very receptive to the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. After we finished, we had to run back to our apartment and jump right in bed to meet our 10:30pm bedtime schedule. And if I recall correctly, I think we made it.

The next morning, I got up at dawn and headed to the bus station. Santa Fe is about a 45 minute bus ride from Paraná. I was very nervous about being on my own, buying a ticket, and getting myself to my new area. At the bus station, I went to three different windows before I found the right place to buy a ticket. Then, for fear that I would miss the announcement for my bus departure, I sat myself down by the us and watched the bus like a hawk (for about an hour) until it was time to board. Soon the bus left, and luckily, I was on board. Then in Santa Fe, I got a taxi and made it smoothly to my new area.

elder pinto and smith santa fe take 1

Our landlord took this photo of Elder Pinto and I. This was in the day of film cameras, so I couldn’t see the photo right away. But I highly suspected one or both of us were cut out of the shot.

My new companion was Elder Pinto from the city of Mendoza, Argentina. Elder Pinto, unlike my first companion, didn’t speak any English. My Spanish was still pretty weak at this point, so it was a tough few weeks we had together.

The Hot Dog Story

On my first day with Elder Pinto in the city of Santa Fe, it was lunch time and we didn’t have a lunch appointment with a member family, per the norm, so we went to a little corner store together. Elder Pinto bought hot dogs and I bought some crackers and cookies, among other things. When we got back to our apartment, Elder Pinto cooked up one of the hot dogs and offered it to me. I politely declined because I really do not like hot dogs (ok, they completely disgust me). It was then that Elder Pinto admitted that he didn’t like hot dogs either. He thought all Americans liked hot dogs, and since we were not communicating very well, he wanted to be nice and buy something for me that I would like. We got a good laugh out of that one, as we sat there in our apartment, with a big package of hot dogs that neither one of us wanted to eat.

elder pinto and smith santa fe take 2

Suspecting that the first photo turn out, I took this one of Elder Pinto and myself as a backup.

The Rural ward in Santa Fe was big, averaging well over 100 people per week in sacrament meeting, and they also had a nice, large, Church-owned building to meet in. This was a huge contrast to my first mission area where I was in a small branch, with about 25 people attending per week, and meeting in a small rented home. Another major difference was that my first area was on the outskirts of the city and had many middle-class neighborhoods and dirt roads. My new area was much more urban, with tall buildings, apartments, and also some very poverty-stricken, run-down neighborhoods.

Language Learning

Elder Pinto and I were only together for one month before he was transferred to another area. He was a great companion, but it was difficult not being able to speak English to him or anyone else for a whole month. During that time, I can remember dreaming through the night in English, only to wake up and realize that I had to speak Spanish all day. For a newby like me, this was a major effort and the thought of having to speak Spanish all day long was daunting.  But I made it through, and this probably helped my Spanish language abilities tremendously.

Language learning is an important skill for Mormon missionaries who have been called to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ in a language that is new to them. Below are some additional articles I have written on that subject:

Pouch Mail System

Missionaries love to get mail all the time, but they especially like to get it around Christmas time. If you haven’t gotten your letters and care packages in the mail by now (early December) you better do so soon in order to make sure they arrive by Christmas. For many missionaries, the Church’s “pouch” mail system provides the most reliable way to get a letter to your Mormon missionary.

What is the Pouch Mail System?

pouch mail tri-fold letterIn about 38 countries, effecting approximately one-third of full-time Mormon missionaries worldwide, local postal systems are often unreliable. To help get letters to the missionaries, the LDS Church provides a mail service known as the “pouch,” wherein family and friends send their letters to Salt Lake City where they are then forwarded to mission headquarters around the world. The Church mail room staff sorts the letters into packets for each of the missions on the pouch the service and then ships the bundle of letters using a reliable global carrier directly to the mission homes. The pouch system isn’t fast, it can often take several weeks for a letter to arrive, but it has proven to be a reliable way for missionaries to get their mail.

Over the years, letters to missionaries sent through the pouch occasionally included cash, medication, stamps, printed pictures, and other non-correspondence-related items. Laws in each country are different, but most have regulations and taxes that apply to these types of items. The Church must comply with these regulations or they will not be able to continue the pouch service, therefore they have developed the following guidelines.

Pouch Guidelines

You can send two kinds of letter through the pouch: either a postcard or a letter on one side of a single sheet of paper. These are the only types of correspondence the pouch mail service will accept. The service does not accept envelopes or packages.

If you are using a piece of paper, the sheet should be folded into three parts, as is commonly done to insert a letter into a business envelope. The top edge of the sheet should be fastened with tape on the top edge only, no closer than one inch to either side. They recommend a single 8 1/2-inch x 11-inch sheet of 20-pound paper (the equivalent of paper used in most copiers).

Write your return address in the top left corner. Apply a stamp to the top right corner of the tri-folded paper or post card, and mail it to Church headquarters at this address:

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Name of the missionary
Mission name
P.O. Box 30150
Salt Lake City, UT 84130-0150[/colored_box]

For more information, read this LDS Church News article on Pouch Service Regulations, or, if you have received your mission call, check the instructions in your mission call packet.

Sponsored Message

The Worth of Soles – Shoe and Foot Care 101

Our Grandma Dot used to tell us there are two things worth spending the money in your life for good health: a good mattress and good shoes! That advice holds up today. This is one area where missionaries should not scrimp. Do the research and spend the extra money to get good shoes.

Shoe and Foot CareHere are our tips for good foot health. These are universal for elders and sisters.

• Keep your feet clean. Take a minute as part of your nightly routine to wash your feet. It may even help to apply foot lotion or anti-fungal cream after and let your feet rest. If you are struggling with a foot fungus, try to keep your feet clean and dry. It can also help to use a foot powder during the day to absorb moisture and prevent infection.

• Keep your nails trimmed properly. Learn how to cut your toenails to prevent painful ingrown toenails, and make sure your shoes are a good fit. When trimming toenails, trim straight across and not down into the sides. If you feel an ingrown toenail coming on, take care of it sooner rather than later. Ingrown nails can get infected or may require surgery if neglected.

• Wear some sort of barrier between your shoes and your feet. Wear a sock that wicks away moisture and allows your foot to breathe. Make sure to wear clean socks everyday. We have some excellent socks that have a double padded bottom and mesh top that are very breathable, durable, and help feet stay healthy.

For sisters, going without some sort of sock is the cardinal sin of foot care! It thrashes your shoes to wear them without a sock liner, and creates an environment where foot infections will flourish. Invest in “no-show” socks, and make it a point to never wear your shoes without another layer in between.

• Invest in some shower sandals to be worn around the apartment. Missionary apartments and showers are notorious for the spreading of foot fungi. Keep your shower sandals clean. They will protect your feet from infection that could spread from your companions. Choose shower sandals that are not a flip-flop style, but that have just the band around the front of the foot so you can wear them with your socks as you walk around your mission apartment. This helps your socks last longer. Also, choose a sandal that doesn’t have fabric on it. The fabric or webbing will stay wet, and culture microorganisms. It also means you couldn’t wear them in the apartment with your socks after you shower because they wouldn’t be dry.

• Don’t go for Fashion Grade shoes over Mission Grade. Obviously this is more of a problem for sisters than elders. We see it all the time where sisters choose “cute” over “practical.” The good news is that we have worked hard to carry shoes that are somewhat “cute” as well as Mission Grade. No matter how “cute” they are, if the shoes can’t let you walk great distances comfortably or be on your feet long hours, they are worthless to missionary work.

• Wear the correct size of shoe. Take time to have your foot properly fit in a good shoe. You can sustain serious foot conditions and injuries if you aren’t wearing the correct size, not to mention the discomfort after being on your feet all day long. A shoe that is too big can injure you with a rolled ankle, or cause you to trip and injure your hip, back, or knee. A shoe that is too small can cause painful ingrown toenails. Recent studies have shown that if your shoes are too flat, it can contribute to bunions or plantar faciitis—two
painful and uncomfortable foot conditions that can be avoided or remedied by wearing properly fit shoes. A little support in a shoe goes a long way. Look for a shoe that carries the American Podiatric Medical Association seal of approval. They have a certification process to determine if a shoe is good for foot health, and they will label them as such (see www.apma.org for more information and a list of approved shoes).

Tract Shoes - Missionary MormonAdDansko brand shoes carry this certification, and we carry a full line of their approved shoes for women, and their APMA approved shoes for men. Here are our suggestion for shoe care. They will ensure that your shoes serve you well.

• Clean your shoes regularly inside and out. Before you polish your shoes, clean them off with a soft, damp cloth. If your shoes have removeable insoles, take them out and clean them. This will cut down on the microbial growth in your shoes. If the insole wears out, replace it. Often, the shoe is not worn through, it is only the insole. Replacements are not too expensive or hard to find, and they will prolong the life of your shoe.

• Keep the leather of your shoes supple and cared for. Shoes are made of skin and skin will dry and crack if it isn’t moisturized and cared for. The same happens to your shoes. Begin with a leather conditioner that you apply regularly to your shoes, and then polish them at least a couple of times a month. The leather cream/conditioner is like the moisturizer, and the shoe polish is like the “make-up” that makes them look nice. Regularly doing this helps the shoes to be more resistant to water. If you are serving in a very wet climate, regularly apply a waterproofing agent to your shoes. Using a cedar shoe tree also helps remove moisture from the inside of your shoes.

• Rotate your shoes daily. Rotating allows your shoes to recover from the wear and tear of the day before you put them to the task again. Your feet sweat an average of 1 cup of moisture a day. Rotating gives shoes time to dry out, and that helps inhibit microbial infections. It also allows the polyurethane or rubber in the sole to relax a day and rebound. If you find you prefer one pair of shoes over another, take two of the same style. If you aren’t going to wear one of the styles because you don’t like as well, you will wear out one pair by wearing it all the time and not giving it time to rest. In our stores, we suggest taking two pair of the same shoes for this very reason.

• Take time to properly take your shoes on and off. Most of the damage to shoes that we see happens when the are put on and off. If you are going to invest in good shoes, take the time to properly treat them. If wearing a slip-on shoe, don’t just mash your foot into the shoe. Use a shoehorn! If wearing a lace-up shoe, again, don’t mash your foot into it. Don’t treat it as a slipon. If you want a slip-on, buy a slip-on. Unlace your lace-ups to remove them, and unlace them before putting them on again. Also, taking time to reach down and remove your shoes with your hand rather than kicking them off with your feet. This protects the heel collar from breaking down. For sisters, if you are going to take a mary jane style shoe with a buckle, take time to unbuckle them. You will save the elastic behind the buckle and prolong the life of your shoe.

• Pray on your knees without bending your toes in your shoes, or pray without shoes on at home. While at home, if you are going to pray on your knees, don’t wear your shoes. If you must wear your shoes to pray, lay your feet flat underneath you instead of bending up on your toes. This prevents your shoe soles from snapping or cracking right at the ball of your foot. It is easier to buff out scratches on the toes of your shoes than it is to replace the sole.

• If you weigh more than 200 lbs, and serving foreign, it is a good idea to take more than two pairs of shoes. Even with the 2-year wearproof guarantee for elders, shipping charges and duties can easily exceed the cost of a third pair of shoes.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamshirt – Laundry Tips and Tricks

[colored_box color=”blue”]Editor’s Note:  This is a guest post by Jon and Jenni Theobald, founders of MissionaryMall and Sister Missionary Mall. We welcome them and encourage you to check out their website. [/colored_box]

At the far end of the MTC laundry room, there is a bin of shame. A bin filled with pink and periwinkle dress shirts, and shirts polka dotted with ink from the pens of distracted missionaries. These missionaries who ruin their shirts must now sheepishly write home that they need more shirts. Don’t be that elder, Elder!

Amazing Technicolor Dreamshirt - Laundry Tips and Tricks

Clothing care is one of the most important skills that you will need to be successful as a missionary. Too often, missionaries learn these things on their mission—when they should have learned them before you came out. These skills will serve you well for the rest of your life. As part of your mission prep, go spend some time with your mother learning to wash clothes. She will love the company, and you will love that you know what to do when you are in the field away from your favorite laundress!

To this end, here are some laundry tips and tricks that will help you look like a missionary for the whole two years of your mission.

General Basics

Sort your laundry by color and fabric content. Usually you will have one dark batch and one light batch. For sisters, you may even have a colored batch of light colors. However, beware of reds! They must almost always be washed alone unless you know for certain that they are colorfast. Make sure to wash like colors together. Also, be aware of the fabric content of the clothing. Some fabrics are to be washed in different temperature water than others. The typical elder wash loads usually go something like this: 1 batch darks that have washable dress slacks, socks, and sweaters (and maybe a washable tie or two if needed), 1 batch whites that has shirts, garments etc., and 1 batch towels and sheets that can be bleached to be disinfected. Also, don’t forget to wash your laundry bag with your clothes! Sisters laundry could also include a colored batch.

Use chlorine bleach only for disinfecting, not for brightening your clothes. Chlorine bleach will disinfect your clothing, but do not use it to brighten your whites. It actually takes the coloring out of your clothing. Unbeknownst to most people, plain cotton is not white. It is gray. It is dyed white. So, when you bleach your white garments, and white shirts, and they begin to turn gray, it is actually because you are taking the coloring out of them. A better alternative would be a “color safe” bleach, which disinfects and brightens with a little bit of bluing in the mixture (which is why the liquid is blue…) If you are serving in the US, oxygenated whitening products (think Oxy CleanTM) are a great alternative too.

Realize that you don’t have to put everything in the dryer. This applies more to sisters. Any article of clothing with a high content of polyester will come out of a good washing machine practically dry. You can save yourself some ironing by pulling these items out of the dryer and hanging them to dry. It also cuts down on the wear and tear of the item so that it looks new longer.

Take shirts right out of the dryer and hang them up immediately. By hanging up your shirts hot from the dryer, you can cut down on what you need to iron. Often you can do some finger pressing while the shirt is still warm, and it will keep its wrinkle free appearance. The same goes for washable dress slacks. Learn how to hang them properly, and you will find that they look nice without a lot of fuss. On the flip side, if you leave things to cool in the dryer, they will wrinkle pretty bad. Make sure you take them right out.

Handwashing is not as hard as it sounds. If you are serving in an area where there are no washing machines or laundromats (such as a foreign land) you may be faced with handwashing. The easiest way to manage handwashing is to start by cutting down the amount of handwashing you need to do by washing your garments when you shower daily. Keep a block of laundry soap in the shower, and when you step in, wash your garments during your shower. After you get out, hang them to dry. This will make your laundry load much less on P-day when you go to wash the rest of your clothing. Also, make sure not to let things soak together that are not like colors.

Fabric softener is your friend. Stateside, you can opt to use liquid softener, or dryer sheets. They both will do a nice job of keeping your clothing from static electricity. However, overseas there is an even bigger reason. Almost everywhere else in the world they do not use dryers like we do. So, when you hang your clothing to dry, it is stiff when you take it off the clothesline. The way to fix this is to use fabric softener. They usually only have the liquid. It only takes a little bit too. Put some water in bucket, add the fabric
softener, and after you have rinsed your clothing, wring it out and dip it in the fabric softener water mixture. Wring it out again, and hang it up. When it is dry, it will be softer.

[colored_box color=”red”]Tip: Don’t use fabric softener with any microfiber towels or blankets. It will coat the towel and make it less absorbent.[/colored_box]

If something says “dry clean only” how do I know if I can wash it? Manufacturers that sell in the US are required by law to include a care label on the clothing  they produce. The care label usually refers to the “best result” of how to care for the clothing. However, many things that are labeled as “dry clean only” can be gently hand washed or washed on gentle in the machine.

Often they are labeled for dry cleaning not because they can’t get wet or be laundered with detergent, but because the twisting and friction of machine washing is very hard on clothing and can ruin the fibers of the garment and the shape. So, the garment gets a “dry clean only” tag because the process is much more gentle.

A general rule of thumb is to look at the fiber content to see if the fiber in the garment is washable. A good example of this is that we carried a blouse that was 100% polyester crepe de chine. The tag said “dry clean only”, but we had a similar blouse from a different manufacturer made from the same fabric and it said “machine wash cold with like colors.” We  tested both, and they both did fine being washed.

White Shirt Specifics

For elders, white shirts make up the bulk of your weekly P-day laundry. The biggest trick with white shirts is keeping them white! First things first, don’t be lost in thought while loading that wash basin or washing machine. Pay attention! Make sure to remove pens, crayons, scripture markers, colored paper, gum, food, etc. Please don’t wash white shirts with dark colors, especially red. Remember, the 2-year guarantee will protect you from fires, dogs, bike wrecks, wear, tear, floods, etc. but it won’t protect you from “duh.” Many missionaries like to write their names in their clothing. That is smart, but what isn’t smart is to write your name in every single article of clothing before trying it on. We can’t take shirts back that have names in them simply because there is only one Elder Rupert Pasaquah Methuselah Rinkenhofferworth. While that is a name to be proud of, no one else wants it in their shirt.

Yellowing of the underarms is one of the biggest challenges for elders. The culprit is usually antiperspirant deodorant. The aluminum in the deodorant mixes with salt in the perspiration to create yellow stains. There are a few ways to minimize this from the source—get a deodorant with less aluminum, and allow the deodorant to dry before getting dressed, or dry the deodorant with a talc like Gold Bond(TM) before getting dressed. That will cut down on the yellow caking that happens in the shirts.

A missionary’s first instinct when seeing yellowing is to hit it full force with the bleach, but not so fast. Bleach can actually cause the problem to get worse by removing the white dye from the fabric! Our top pick is Oxyclean (TM), but if you don’t have access to that, one of the best laundry boosters available anywhere in the world is the “1-1-1.” One part baking soda, one part hydrogen peroxide, and one part water (about a quarter cup of each for each shirt). Apply to the stains and let sit for about 30 minutes. You can also use an old toothbrush to scrub at it a bit, then just wash as usual. Another alternative is to soak the underarms of the shirt in white vinegar.
Use a gentle brush (a nailbrush will do) to scrub the area with a quality laundry detergent and then rinse. It should help minimize or remove the yellow.

A few other tips for white shirts:

  • Wash them as soon as possible after getting a stain.
  • Don’t let damp shirts sit in a bag or other unventilated laundry hamper—in some climates they will mold and black mold stains are nearly impossible to remove.
  • Dryers set stains, so if possible, hang your clothing in the sun to dry.
  • Turns out that the brightest whites have a slightly blue hue to them. White fabrics with a blue hue (why are you crying?) actually reflect more light. See Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing.

Suits and Dress Pants

A suit or dress pant with a good Polyester/Wool blend will be fairly easy to take care of. Wool is somewhat self cleaning as a natural fiber and has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. What this means for you is that your wool-blend clothing won’t require a lot of washing. You can gently spot clean it if you get something on it, but it shouldn’t need much washing. In some missions it is only required to wear suits during the winter, but most never need to dry clean their suits. The layer under the suit (garments or thermals) helps absorb perspiration and oils from the skin. If your suit gets muddy, wait for the mud to dry and then brush it off. If they get wet in the rain, just let them dry out for a few days before wearing them again.

There may be an occasion when you will need to clean your suit jacket. As hard as we have tried, we have never successfully developed a washable jacket. Suit jackets are complex, so getting the lining, fusing, and shell to all expand and contract at the same rate for washing and drying is almost impossible.

For suit pants, they can tolerate a little bit of hand washing with a gentle detergent or machine wash on the gentle cycle. The biggest concern with suit pants is that they will no longer match the suit jacket if washed frequently, so wash suit pants sparingly. For dress pants that don’t need to match a suit jacket, wash as often as you would like. Our poly wool dress pants are rated up to 100 industrial washings, so wash to your heart’s content.

I would suggest though that you make life easy and never put suits or dress pants in the dryer. It is so much easier to hang to dry by the hems of the pant. Again, this isn’t really a “wearout” issue, but pants lose their crease and ironing them correctly is a pain. If you do need to iron wool blend pants, grab a light weight dish towel, get it damp, and then lay it over the pants you want to press. Not only does it add steam, but it protects the fabric from getting shiny.

Ties

The word here is polyester. The super-fine modern polyester weaving techniques mean that unless you light the tie on fire, a nice polyester or microfiber tie is indistinguishable from silk. (silk burns and polyester melts, and no, the guarantee does not cover clothing that you purposefully set ablaze, though we do get a kick out of the pictures.) Polyester also won’t bleed onto your shirt in a downpour and since it is basically plastic, it won’t stain easily. If you purchase a polyester tie that also has a polyester core, you can also machine or hand wash your ties. Again, the dryer is not your friend here. Hang to dry and don’t wash them with your shirts.

Socks

Wash your socks with your darks and they are fairly indestructible. I would make one suggestion though, get only black and all the same style. The sock fairy (your dear, sainted mother) is not coming with you, so if you do this, you’ll save a ton of time mating your socks.

Sweaters

For Elders, we suggest take acrylic sweaters. Acrylic is a synthetic fiber made to mimic wool. They are just about as warm as wool, but a whole lot easier to care for. Plus they don’t pill onto your shirt or bleed onto your shirt if they get wet, and best of all they don’t shrink.

It is about at this point that we suggest you write a letter to your sweet mother. As you realize here all that goes in to taking care of your things, you should feel inclined to writing her a nice 5-6 page letter of gratitude for all of the work she has put in to making you look nice all these years.

My First Day in the Mission Field

Note to my good friends in Argentina: Many of my initial reactions to life in Argentina were completely changed after living there. In this post, though, I tried to capture some of my first reactions, as misguided as they may have been. I love Argentina and the people there and look forward to visiting again some day soon.

map of trip to argentinaI left the MTC in Provo Utah on December 26, 1995. I flew from Salt Lake City to San Francisco en route to Miami, FL. I remember waiting in the airport in Miami, a city with many Spanish speakers, and hearing the announcements for departing flights made in both English and Spanish. I hardly understood anything when they made the Spanish announcements. I sincerely hoped my lack of understanding was due to the poor quality PA system, but honestly I knew my Spanish language skills were pretty weak and it made me very nervous.

From Miami, me and a few other missionaries took a 13 hour flight to Buenos Aires. When I stepped off the plan in Buenos Aires I was astounded by the heat and humidity, and also by the uniformed and armed military personnel standing at the end of the jetway. All of us of missionaries gathered together and none of us knew what to do next. Luckily, a local member of the Church showed up to greet us and help us get our luggage. We sincerely appreciated the assistance. We piled in to a van, and this wonderful helper took us to another, smaller airport. As we waited in this airport, I had to go to the bathroom, and when I went inside I found a toilet and a bidet but no toilet paper. I don’t recall what I did, but I guess I figured something out. Soon we got onto another plane, a small, propellered one, which took us to the city of Rosario.

At the Rosario airport, we were greeted by two missionaries, who were the Assistants to the Mission President. They took us to the mission home, which housed the mission president’s family and also served as the central office for the mission. There we had a meal with the mission president’s family, then a group meeting, and then individual meetings with the president. In the group meeting, the president’s wife spoke about sanitation, being careful of water and washing vegetables thoroughly. I was very concerned about contracting a parasite and her talk actually set my mind at ease somewhat. Still, I was wary of the water. For more detail about my first meeting with my mission president, see this post about arriving in your mission and this post about preparation day.

After a couple of hours at the mission home, the assistants took us to the bus station to catch a bus to our respective areas. I remember being amazed at the assistant’s skill with the Spanish language and the confidence with which they spoke to the bus driver. I longed for the day I could speak Spanish that well (read more on my experience learning a language here). With some trepidation, I boarded the bus and prayed fervently that I would make it to the right city, Paraná, where I had been assigned to work.

Mormon Missionaries in Paraná Argentina 1995I arrived in Paraná late in the evening. Once again I was extremely blessed to be greeted at the bus station by two Elders, the Zone Leaders. They helped me get my suitcases, and then we took a taxi to the apartment where my companion was supposed to be waiting for me. As it turned out, my companion wasn’t expecting me, because he already had a companion. None of us knew it until that moment, but we had been made into a three-person companionship.

The Elders in the apartment were kind and helped me get settled. There wasn’t a third bed in the apartment, so one of them, an American named Elder Ballou, volunteered to sleep on the floor. I was tired from the traveling, yet I still had a restless nights sleep. In the morning, I showered, studied the scriptures, and had breakfast much like I would every other morning in my mission. I was amazed at the electrical device hooked up directly to the shower head to provide hot water (read this post on what to expect in Argentina for more info on the calefón, the common shower water heating device). I counted myself blessed for not being electrocuted. I was pleasantly surprised to find a refrigerator in the apartment, though this turned out to be a luxury I had in only about half of my missionary apartments.

As we went out to work that morning, I followed the other Elders diligently. We walked many dusty roads that day, and I had some difficulty keeping up with the fast pace. We stopped by a few members houses and they each offered us something to drink. Whether it was justified or not, I still had a real fear to drink the beverages offered to us by the members. One of the first places we stopped at, the members offered us some “jugo” (juice). I didn’t want to offend them by not taking it, so I drank it and found it to be significantly watered down flavored drink mix. I didn’t ask for seconds.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped at another member’s home and they offered us some “agua fria” (cold water). I remember being so excited that I actually understood the offer, and I was thrilled just to get some normal, plain cold water to drink. It was a hot day, and when the sister handed me the cup, I gulped it down right away. Big mistake. As the beverage hit my tongue, I almost spit it out. It was carbonated water. And while it was cold and refreshing, it was not what I was expecting.

At one point late in the afternoon, we stopped at a small neighborhood store (a “kiosko”), and Elder Ballou bought a two liter of lemon-lime soda from. Finally, I thought, something good to drink. I had no fear of this drink because we had been told that bottled drinks from the store were safe. After being out in the hot sun for most of the day with little to drink, this was the best tasting drink I had ever had.

That evening, when we got back to the apartment, the Zone Leaders showed up again, expectantly. They said Elder Ballou was getting transferred to another area and he needed to leave right away. Our trio only lasted for one day. Our companionship was back down to two, per the norm, me and Elder Loesener, a native Argentine who spoke English about as well as I spoke Spanish. I was a little worried at first, but Elder Loesener turned out to be a great companion and trainer. Read more about how Elder Loesener helped me in my post on practical steps for mission prep.

It was a whirlwind of a first day in Argentina and first day as a full-time missionary in the field. All in all, I think it went pretty well. We visited with many wonderful members. I don’t recall teaching any non-member discussions on this first day, but there would be plenty of those in the days and weeks ahead (this city is where we found and baptized the wonderful Almada family). In a relatively short period of time I became more comfortable with the language, the food, the people, and the lifestyle. I grew to love Argentina. I met and shared profound gospel discussions with many great people there, and I was blessed to see many families baptized and enter the gate that leads to eternal life with Heavenly Father. Missionary work truly is the work of the Lord.

Picking Up Missionaries

Mormon missionaries flying homeThe Church discourages parents from traveling to pick up their missionary son or daughter when he or she is finishing their mission. Nevertheless, if parents request this privilege, the Church does allow it, provided they follow the guidelines below.

Typical Missionary Return Travel

A missionary’s travel to return home after their mission is coordinated by the Missionary Travel Office and the cost of it is already included in the missionary’s monthly payments. When the mission president assigns the release date he advises the Church travel office who then arranges the missionary’s flight home. Parents will then be notified of the travel plans.

Missionaries generally travel directly home from their missions. Any other travel is permitted only when the missionary is accompanied by at least one parent or guardian. While traveling, missionaries should continue to dress and conduct themselves according to missionary standards. Remember, missionaries are not released from their missions until they report to their stake presidents back home.

When missionaries arrive home, usually at an airport, it is recommended that only immediate family members go to pick up them up. The stake president is also advised of missionary travel plans. He usually makes plans with the parents to meet with the missionary soon after he gets home to release him.

Picking Up Missionaries

If the parents or guardians of a missionary want to travel to pick up their son or daughter, the Church asks that they:

  1. Inform the mission president and Missionary Travel Office at least three months in advance of the plans.
  2. Make travel plans based on the release date established by the mission president.
  3. Do not request a change in the missionary’s release date to accommodate travel plans.
  4. Make and pay for their own travel arrangements, including lodging and meals.

The missionary travel information on LDS.org has lots of details and answers to questions about picking up missionaries. Here is what they say there:

“Parents should contact the mission office where their missionary is serving to find out the release date and visa requirements, if applicable. Then parents should contact the Missionary Travel Office to obtain the travel allowance amount. This will assist parents as they move forward with their travel plans. Parents will need to make travel arrangements for themselves and their missionary and inform the mission and the Missionary Travel Office of these plans. Missionary Travel will mail parents a reimbursement check in the amount that Missionary Travel quoted, or if the ticket the parents purchase is less, Missionary Travel will reimburse the lesser amount, approximately four weeks prior to the release date.”

Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

Missionary Dress and Grooming StandardsThere has been a lot of buzz lately about the new, more up-to-date and modern, dress and grooming standards for Mormon missionaries that were published by the LDS Church in July 2013. Most notable is the lighter colored suits and slacks allowed for the young men: light gray and tan suits, along with khaki dress pants, are now permissible for Elders. Some major changes also took place with the Sister missionary wardrobe with the last couple of years, with nylons becoming optional and the minimum dress length going from mid-calf to the knee. For both men and women, lighter, brighter colors are now allowed.

Here are some news articles describing the changes:

The official LDS Church missionary dress and grooming standards are found on the Dress and Grooming section of the LDS.org page for missionaries. The new Church website has volumes of very detailed information, including hundreds of pictures, describing appropriate dress and grooming of missionaries. When you are ready to buy clothes for you mission, review the Church site on missionary dress and grooming, following the missionary clothing list you’ll get in your call packet, also be aware of the area specific information you will get from your mission president.

Sister Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

  • Sister Missionary Dress StandardsPersonal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Bathe daily, use deodorant, and wash your hair frequently. If you choose to wear perfume or scented lotion, make sure it is not distracting or overpowering.”
  • Hair: “The style, color, and length of your hair should be attractive and easy to manage and should not draw attention. The color of your hair should look natural and conservative.”
  • Modesty: “Maintain a high standard of modesty…You should present a dignified, clean, well-groomed appearance and be feminine and professional in style.”
  • Outfits: “Because of budget and luggage restrictions and limited closet space, you should plan and purchase your clothing carefully…Choose colors and patterns that you can mix and match with a variety of outfits.”
  • Underclothing: “Choose bras that are white or cream colored, durable, comfortable, and modest. Make sure you have slips that coordinate with the color and length of your skirts…Patterned nylons or tights should be subtle and simple in design and should not be made of any kind of mesh, fishnet, or lace material.”
  • Fabrics and Care: “Your clothing should be made of materials that are durable and easy to care for…A durable weave of cotton, wool, or polyester blends will wear well. Do not wear denim, corduroy, [or] leather.”
  • Shoes: “Shoes and boots should be practical, comfortable, attractive, and appropriate for the climate…Shoes with low heels are preferred…You may use shoe inserts to increase comfort and support. Wear a dressy pair of shoes for Sunday meetings.”
  • Accessories: “Handbags, jewelry, and other accessories should be simple and conservative…Earrings should not hang longer than approximately one inch below the earlobe. Do not wear more than one earring in each ear…Choose belts that are simple and conservative in color and design.”
  • See Female Missionary Dress and Grooming Guidelines for more details.

Elder Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

  • Elder Missionary Dress StandardsPersonal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Do not wear clothing that is casual, wrinkled, or sloppy. Bathe, shave, and brush your teeth each day…Your appearance should never distract from your message.”
  • Hair: “Always maintain a conservative hairstyle. Keep your hair relatively short and evenly tapered on the top, back, and sides…Unacceptable hairstyles include faux hawks, crew cuts, mullets, and styles that are spikey, messy, or permed.”
  • Clothing: “In general, your missionary wardrobe will consist of business-style suits, white dress shirts, ties, slacks, shoes, socks, and belts…You are not required to wear a suit during regular everyday proselyting activities. On these occasions, wear a white shirt, tie, durable and comfortable dress shoes, and professional dress slacks.”
  • Suits: “Wear business-style suits in conservative colors. If you wear lighter-colored suits, choose shades of grey or brown… Suits with pinstripes or patterns should be simple and subtle in design. Do not wear sports coats or slim-style suits.”
  • Shirts and Ties: “Wear only white, conservative-style dress shirts…Ties should be simple in color and design and professional in style…String, bow, skinny, or wide ties are not acceptable.”
  • Shoes: “Shoes should fit well and be comfortable, breathable, and durable. Choose polishable shoes in conservative colors. Do not wear casual or trendy shoes or shoes made of suede, canvas, or other soft materials… Do not wear cowboy boots or hiking boots.”
  • Accessories and Belts: “Accessories should be simple and conservative and should not attract attention…You may wear one simple ring and an inexpensive, conservative-style watch…Belts should be simple and should match the color of your shoes. Do not wear large belt buckles or buckles with logos or caricatures.”
  • Outerwear: “Staying dry and warm while proselyting in wet and cold climates is very important. During regular proselyting activities you may add any of the following layers over your white shirt and tie as needed: Sweater, Suit coat, Rainwear, Winter coat…Coats, jackets, and sweaters should be in solid, conservative colors and be business professional in appearance. Do not wear hoodies [or] sweatshirts.”
  • See the Male Missionary Dress and Grooming General Guidelines for more details.

Senior Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

Standards for dress and groom of older missionaries are relatively the same as those for younger missionaries. For specific senior missionary dress and grooming guidelines, visit the Provo MTC website.

An Ambassador of the Lord

As a missionary, you are an ambassador, or representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. The dress and grooming guidelines websites reminds future missionaries that “as an ambassador of the Lord you are to wear professional, conservative clothing that is consistent with your sacred calling and that will clearly identify you as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” To sister missionaries, Thomas S. Monson once said, “You can dress attractively without being immodest. Within the Lord’s guidelines, there is room for you to be lively, vibrant, and beautiful both in your dress and in your actions.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us, “we have always been invited to present our best selves. … We should be recognizable in appearance as well as in behavior that we truly are disciples of Christ.” I pray that all LDS missionaries will do this, and that through their appearance, example, and teachings, more of God’s children will desire to follow Jesus Christ and come unto Him.

Mission Rules: The Missionary Handbook

Missionary HandbookThe Missionary Handbook documents the mission rules for full-time LDS missionaries. Obeying these rules will keep you safe as a missionary, and will help you be more productive and successful.

The Missionary Handbook is one of the main resources youth, parents, and priesthood leaders should use in preparing youth for the mission field. The LDS Church Handbook even instructs bishops to review the guidelines in the Missionary Handbook with each missionary candidate to make sure they understand and are committed to obey the mission rules. The Missionary Handbook outlines the rules on language, dress and grooming, music and media, finances, communicating with family and friends, and other behaviors and expectations of missionaries.

You can download the Missionary Handbook in PDF format from LDS.org or you  can buy the Missionary Handbook for $1 at store.lds.org. Let’s briefly talk about the major sections of Missionary Handbook.

Your Calling

The first section of the Missionary Handbook reinforces the sacred nature of your calling. As a missionary, you have been called of God by a prophet and set apart to represent the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. Your purpose as a missionary is 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” (Preach My Gospel, p. 1). How great is your calling! You will be a successful missionary as you internalize this purpose and more fully understand and fulfill your calling.

Missionary Conduct

Brigham Young once said to missionaries, “Let your minds be centered on your missions.” The mission rules help you to do that. As a missionary, you should conduct yourself at all times in such a way that everyone who sees you will recognize you as a representative of Jesus Christ.

  • Language: “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29). As a missionary, you should avoid slang and inappropriately casual language, even in your apartment with your companion. Refined, dignified language will identify you as a servant of the Lord.  You should refer to other missionaries as “Elder” or “Sister” and their surnames, not by their first names, nicknames, or surnames alone.
  • Dress and Grooming: A missionary’s appearance is often the first message others receive, and it should support what you say. Therefore, you will be expected to wear conservative, professional clothing that is consistent with your sacred calling. Be neat and clean. Never allow your appearance or your behavior to draw attention away from your message or your calling.
  • Schedule: Time is one of the most precious resources Heavenly Father has given you. This period when you are able to serve the Lord with all your time is extremely short. Use it fully and wisely, and follow the Missionary Schedule.
  • Study: “Treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man” (D&C 84:85). Follow the guidelines for personal and companion study each morning. Focus your study on the scriptures and the approved missionary reading list. If you are learning a new language, study it throughout your mission to improve your communication skills.
  • Preparation Day: Use preparation day to take care of personal needs, such as writing to your family, washing clothes, getting a haircut, cleaning your apartment, shopping, and washing your car. P-day ends by 6:00 p.m after which you should proselyte until the end of the evening.
  • Communicating with Family: Write to your family each week on preparation day and share your spiritual experiences. If approved in your mission, this can do this over email. You are allowed to call your parents twice a year, on Christmas and Mother’s Day. Visits from family members, friends, and acquaintances are against Church policy.
  • Entertainment: To keep your focus on the Lord and the missionary work, you should avoid worldly entertainment. You should not watch television, go to movies, listen to the radio, or use the Internet (except to communicate with your family or mission president). You may only listen to music that is consistent with the sacred spirit of your calling.
  • Law of Chastity: You are expected to strictly obey the law of chastity, which forbids sexual relationships of any kind outside of marriage between husband and wife. Always be with your companion and this will help protect you.
  • Your Companion: “Ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two, in my name, lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump” (D&C 42:6). It is extremely important that you stay with your companion at all times. This is the pattern established by the Lord.  The testimonies of two companions support each other in bearing witness of the truth. The only times you should be separated from your assigned companion is when you are in the bathroom.
  • Relationships with the Opposite Sex: Never be alone with, flirt with, or associate in any other inappropriate way with someone of the opposite sex. You and your companion should not visit or accept rides from individuals of the  opposite sex unless another responsible adult of your own sex is also present.
  • Community Service: “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). You should look for opportunities to serve those around you—investigators, Church members, your companion, and the people you meet. You should seek opportunities for service projects in the community each week. Although you should serve out of a sincere desire to help others, look for teaching opportunities that arise from your service.

Physical and Temporal Well-Being:

  • Finances: The money you receive on your mission is sacred because it represents sacrifices by you, your family, and others. Budget your money and spend it wisely. Use your monthly mission allowance for rent, groceries, personal grooming items, laundry, cleaning supplies, haircuts, postage, and transportation. Keep a reserve fund with enough cash that you could travel to mission home if you were not able to obtain money through the normal way. Read this article for more info on the LDS Mission Cost.
  • Housing: Your housing should be safe, clean, and economical and allow you to maintain privacy and the dignity of your calling. Clean your apartment each p-day or as needed. Follow maintenance guidelines established by your mission president and your landlord. Your mission president or others he assigns will inspect your living quarters regularly.
  • Bicycles: If you ride a bicycle, learn bicycle safety rules, use caution, obey all traffic rules, and use proper hand signals. Avoid riding after dark, in heavy traffic, or in bad weather. Always wear a helmet. Make sure your bicycle has a working headlight and taillight and clearly visible reflectors.
  • Automobiles: Use of a mission-owned vehicle is a privilege afforded some missionaries. If you do not obey the rules, though, you may lose this privilege. Drive only mission-owned vehicles. Do not give rides to anyone other than full-time missionaries.  Stay within established mileage limitations and obey all other car-related rules such as one missionary being outside the vehicle to direct while the other is backing up.
  • Health: Try to keep in good health so that you can serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength. Exercise daily and if you need medical care, call your mission president immediately. He will know where the best medical care can be obtained. Visits to a physician or other healthcare professional should be authorized in advance by your mission president, though in an emergency, get help immediately and then inform your mission president as soon as possible.
  • Security: Listen to and follow the promptings of the Spirit, which can warn you of danger. Travel after dark only in lighted areas, and stay away from unsafe areas. Avoid situations that could lead to confrontations such as public demonstrations. Never become involved in political or commercial activities or in discussions or arguments on political or economic topics.

Mission Leadership and Organization

  • Missionary Organization: Your mission is led by a mission president who will help you maintain your spiritual and temporal welfare and help you fulfill your purpose as a missionary. You and your companion will be assigned to a specific area to work in where you represent the Lord and are responsible for doing His will. You are expected to remain in this area at all times unless you have permission from your leaders to leave. The mission president will assign district and zone leaders to help strengthen, support, and train you in your work. He also assigns two elders as assistants to help him plan, prepare, and present training and supervise the work throughout the mission.
  • Leadership: Most missionaries will have the opportunity to fill a leadership role. Among the leadership assignments you may receive as a missionary are trainer, senior companion, district leader, zone leader, and assistant to the president. Leadership assignments, like other church callings, should not be viewed as a way to obtain personal advancement, but rather as opportunities to serve others. Leadership assignments are a sacred trust you will receive from the Lord through the mission president.
  • Ministering and Administering: Leaders should study the scriptures and the teachings of modern prophets to learn the principles of Christlike leadership. They should be sensitive to the needs of others and prayerfully seek ways to strengthen them (see Luke 22:32). Their goal is not merely to supervise or motivate, but to lift, encourage, inspire, and bless.
  • Example: A good leader sets an example of gospel living and selfless service to God and His children. Missionary leaders should set an example in the way they carry out their missionary work. They work hard, obey the rules, and their proselyting area should be a model for other missionaries. Leaders must teach through example how to plan, how to find and teach investigators, and how to work with local Church leaders and members.
  • Attributes: It is important for all missionaries, especially leaders, to live the gospel of Jesus Christ and develop Christlike attributes including love, humility, unity, obedience, and hard work. By exercising Christlike attributes, leaders earn respect and trust, which enable them to help those they serve.
  • Companion Exchanges: Exchanges are when missionaries switch companions for training purposes. They should not be used just to change companions or to get together with a friend. During the companion exchange, the leader should take part in as many aspects of missionary work as possible, including finding, teaching, studying, and daily planning. In a spirit of love, he gives the missionary specific, constructive feedback on what he does well and how he can improve.

Guidelines for Couples and Senior Sisters

Couples and sisters age 40 and older are not expected to follow the same proselyting schedule of younger missionaries, though most of the other rules still apply. As older missionaries, the younger missionary will look to you as an example. Be aware that to meet the needs in your area, your mission president may assign you responsibilities other than those you received with your call. Even if you have an office role or a non-proselyting assignment, all missionaries should seek to share the gospel.

Conclusion

Living the missionary rules found in the Missionary Handbook will help you feel the spirit of missionary work. When you accepted your call, you promised to live by these standards. Always keep in mind the importance of your call and strive to magnify your calling. As you obey the rules you will show the Lord your love for Him, earn the trust and confidence of members and nonmembers, and qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64: 34).

Missionary Schedule

Missionary Studying ScripturesMormon missionaries are expected to work hard, be obedient, and keep a strict schedule. Following the missionary’s daily schedule as prescribed in the Missionary Handbook is an important aspect of being in the right place at the right time. This schedule is a major part of mission rules and obeying these rules as a missionary will keep you safe and blessed. Abiding by the schedule will also help you to do the things you are supposed to do at the times you are supposed to do them. Here’s a quick overview of the daily routine:

  • 6:30 a.m. Wake up, pray, exercise, and do other preparation for the day.
  • 7:30 a.m. Breakfast.
  • 8:00 a.m. Personal study: the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, chapters from Preach My Gospel, etc. with an emphasis on the doctrines of the missionary lessons.
  • 9:00 a.m. Companion study: share what you have learned during personal study, prepare to teach, and confirm plans for the day.
  • 10:00 a.m. Language study for 30 to 60 minutes, if necessary and approved by your mission president.
  • 10:00 a.m. Begin proselyting: teaching appointments, finding people to teach, open your mouth, etc.
  • Lunch and Dinner: You may take an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner at times that fit best with proselyting. Normally, dinner should be finished no later than 6:00 p.m.
  • 9:00 – 9:30 p.m. Return to the apartment and plan the next day’s activities. Write in journal, prepare for bed, pray.
  • 10:30 p.m. Go to bed.
  • This schedule may vary a little in some countries and missions. For example, in the Rosario Argentina mission, where I served from 1995 to 1997, we were expected to be out proselytizing by 9am and we had our companionship study after lunch when the rest of the country was taking a siesta (nap).

Missionaries are expected to follow this schedule every day, except on preparation day (P-Day). P-day gives missionaries time to do laundry, go shopping, and have some recreational activities, but it ends around dinner time (6:00 P.M.), after which missionaries are expected to carry out their normal proselytizing schedule.

Even when it is hot, or snowy, or rainy, or cold, it is important for missionaries to keep this schedule. As missionaries do so, the Lord will bless them, for God “doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you” (Mosiah 2:24).

It is important for missionaries to be out of their apartment, meeting people, and sharing their testimony at the most opportune times. If it is mid-morning, 10:30-ish, and missionaries are still in their apartment, then they are not where you are supposed to be. But if, at that time, they are knocking doors, meeting people, and sharing their testimony, then the Lord will bless their efforts and help them find people he has chosen to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

If missionaries linger at a member’s home after a dinner appointment and have been there for long past the prescribed hour, then they are not keeping the missionary schedule. If, rather, missionaries keep their dinner appointments brief, thank the members for their hospitality, and get on their way to your next teaching appointment, then they are working hard and being obedient and the Lord will bless them to be a better instrument in His hands.

Finding Juan Carlos Lopez by Keeping the Schedule

Had I not been obedient to the missionary daily schedule, I would have missed out on many opportunities to meet families and eventually see them join the true Church of Jesus Christ. Once, when I had just been transferred, I arrived in my new area around 8:30 in the morning. It would have been easy to justify lingering longer in the apartment to unpack my suitcases, but by 9am we knew we were supposed to be out working, so we hit the pavement. It just so happened that within minutes of leaving the apartment, my companion and I first met Juan Carlos Lopez, who eventually got baptized. Had we chosen to disobey the rules and not keep the missionary schedule, then we may never had met Juan Carlos.

As missionaries are obedient to the mission rules, including the daily schedule, they will have the Spirit in greater measure. They will be guided by God and be more successful in their important labors.