LDS Mission Cost

Many of my readers have wondered: how much does an LDS mission cost?  The current LDS mission monthly cost for young men and women in the United States is $400 a month. That comes out to a total of $7,200 for 18-month long missions for sisters, and $9,600 for young men who serve two-year missions.

mitt romney missionary 2Mission Costs Vary for Some People and Places

I specify that the figure above is for young men and women in the US, because mission costs vary for senior couples and for young people outside the US.  To find out the current cost of an LDS mission outside the United States, please see your bishop or other Church leader in the country.  For senior missionaries in the United States, the average cost of a mission for couples who do not live at home is approximately $1,500 per month. Mission costs for senior missionaries range from $800–$4,000 per month (which includes expenses for housing, utilities, food, and transportation), but about 80% of all missions cost less than $1,800 per month.

Missionaries Pay Their Own Expensesfamily dinner table

Missionaries are expected to pay their own expenses while on the mission.  When my parents were young, each missionary paid his or her own actual living expenses.  So a mission to Japan, for example, could have been much more expensive than a mission to Argentina.  In 1990, though, a new program was introduced to equalize the financial responsibility for each missionary. Now, all young missionaries pay a flat monthly rate into the Church missionary fund.  Each missionary, then, is allocated what he or she needs for the expenses in that mission.  This approach has reduced the burden on the missionary, and his or her family, who may have been assigned to work in a more expensive area of the world.

Expenses Covered

The monthly allowance missionaries are given is designed to cover food, lodging, transportation, and other mission related expenses. Missionaries are asked to bring extra personal money for additional items they would like to purchase such as souvenirs. Church members around the world are asked to invite their local missionaries to meals to help reduce the overall cost of the missionary program.

mission saving piggy bankStart Saving Early

Young people in the church are encouraged to save money throughout their childhood and teenage years to pay for as much of their mission as they can.  Parents, family, and friends may also contribute financially to pay for a missionary’s expenses.  Missionaries who cannot save the required funds may also obtain assistance from their home ward or stake, though personal and family sources of funds should be exhausted first. In some cases it may be better to delay a mission for a time and earn more money to pay for your mission rather than to rely heavily on others to fund your mission. The Lord expects that sacrifices, of both time and money, will need to be made in order to serve a mission. You, or anyone who makes such sacrifices, will be richly blessed by the Lord for doing so.

[one_half last=”no”]Supplemental Financial Assistance

For many countries outside the US, if authorized, there is supplemental financial support available from the Church. If the missionary candidate cannot be supported fully from personal, family, ward or branch, or stake or district funds, then a request can be made for this financial assistance. Missionaries are asked not to request this special assistance until they, their family, and ward or branch and stake or district have committed themselves to provide all the financial support they can.[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”]

mission savings calculator
Ideas for earning and saving money for your mission [/one_half]Whether in the US or abroad, lack of finances should not stop a worthy individual from serving a mission. If you’ve done everything in your power to save for a mission but still don’t have enough, have faith that the Lord will open the way. Make an appointment to talk to your bishop and he will help you figure out the details and make a plan to cover the costs of your mission.

Source of Funds Section of Mission Paperssacrament meeting hymn

When filling out the mission application form, missionary candidates are asked to indicate the source of the funds that will pay for their mission.  They are asked how much money will be contributed per month in support of the mission from: Self, Family, Ward or Branch, and other sources.  So be prepared to answer that question.

Do all that you can to save for your mission.  Start saving at an early age so that you can serve a faithful mission for the Lord and not be a financial burden on your family.  The Lord will bless you many times over for the sacrifice of time and money you make to go on a mission.

Truman Madsen

Truman Madsen I was sad to hear that Truman Madsen passed away last week at 82 years of age and after a long battle with cancer.  Many of you young future missionaries may not even know who Truman Madsen was, so let me tell you a little about him and about the influence he has had on me.

I first learned of Truman Madsen when I was a freshman at BYU and he gave a devotional address.  I had a professor urge us to go listen to the talk, calling him “a general authority without authority.”  I quickly learned that though not a General Authority of the Church, he certainly was an authority on many gospel and Church history topics.  8 lectures on Joseph Smith by Truman Madsen

Truman G. Madsen was a grandson to the seventh president of the Church, Heber J. Grant.  He was a Professor of Philosophy at Brigham Young University, and former Director of the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem.  He wrote numerous books and released countless recorded talks, and he was one of the editors of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism.

Some of my favorite lectures by Truman Madsen are:jesus Of Nazareth By Truman Madsen

When I returned from my mission and began again my studies at BYU, I was lucky enough to have Truman G. Madsen as my stake president.  A couple of his teachings that I remember from that time was once, in stake conference, he was giving a talk about moving forward with faith.  He said, to paraphrase, “some day, when you die and are in Heaven, you will realize that you accidentally married the right person.”  presidents Of The Church By Truman Madsen

Though smarter than just about anyone else, Truman Madsen was also humble.  I once met him when he was my stake president and I had requested a meeting to talk about a personal issue.  When I told him the situation, he said he felt unqualified to help, but one of his counselors in the stake presidencies had particular training and skill in that area and he suggested I talk to him instead.

Truman G. Madsen’s love of the gospel and love of learning were contagious and had a profound impact on my life.  He will certainly be missed by me, by the LDS community, and by any who knew him.  A memorial service will be held Tuesday, June 2, at noon, at the Provo Utah Tabernacle. Here are some additional news articles about him from the last couple of days:

How to Write a Talk

Giving impromptu Church talks is a pretty common request of missionaries. Additionally, every missionary gives a farewell talk in sacrament meeting before they leave. Therefore, knowing how to write and deliver a talk is an essential missionary skill.

I gave at least one talk in every ward or branch to which I was assigned as a missionary. My first talk was my first Sunday in Argentina.  I arrived in my area mid-week, and one of the first people my senior companion took me to visit was the branch president.  I didn’t understand much of the conversation, but I did understand that he wanted me to give a five minute talk on Sunday. elder loesener hermano cabrera gazano argentina

The Gazano branch was very small; we only had 20 or 25 people attend Church each week.  One of the active members was our landlord, Brother Cabrera, who rented us a room in his house.  The branch president didn’t assign me a topic, so I basically just bore my testimony of Jesus Christ and the restored gospel.  If new missionaries can do nothing else, they can bear their testimony, even if it is in broken Spanish.  I can remember struggling through the talk with Brother Cabrera, sitting on the front row prompting me, correcting my Spanish, and encouraging me.

Through my two-year mission, my Church talks, along with my Spanish language skills improved.  It got to the point where being asked to give a talk with only five minutes notice was no big deal, which, though rare, did happen a few times.

In the ten plus years since my mission, those impromptu speech skills have diminished, I’m sure, though I was probably never an expert on how to write a talk.  BYU Professor Randy Bott, who teaches a Mission Prep class, though, is an expert on how to write a talk for Church. In a recent article in BYU Magazine called How to Write a Church Talk, he discussed the four elements a sacrament meeting talk should have: 1) a purpose, 2) main ideas, 3) expansion or validation, and 4) your testimony.professor randy bott

  • Purpose: “Once a person has the purpose, the rest of the talk is easy.”  If your topic was faith, for example, you could come up with a purpose statement like “The purpose of my talk is to teach people how to recognize the power of faith in their own lives.”
  • Main Ideas: You will need one or two, or perhaps more, main ideas that support this purpose. One might be “Faith is the very motivating power that enables us to act.” A second main idea might be “I can increase faith by recognizing it in my life.”
  • Expansion or Validation:  You can expand or validate the main ideas with stories, scriptures, or examples of faith (or whatever your topic is) in your life.
  • Testimony: Says Professor Bott, “I would honestly evaluate how strongly I feel about the principle I am teaching and then testify about that principle.”

Professor Bott says this method can be used to write any talk in five minutes or less. In fact, he says he once gave a twenty minute talk with less than one minute’s notice and did so by simply following the steps above.

So you future missionaries, learn these steps for how to write a talk.  By learning the gospel principles missionaries teach and by having organization to your talk as Professor Bott indicates, you will be able to deliver great sermons when called upon.  D&C 84: 85 “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but 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.”

Preparing Youth for a Mission

[colored_box color=”blue”]Note from the site editor, Jimmy Smith: Though they probably wouldn’t consider themselves experts, my parents know a lot about preparing youth for a mission.  They sent eight sons on a mission.  So I recently asked my dad to send me his thoughts on preparing children to serve full-time missions.[/colored_box]

1. Love the Lord

smith_scout_family_picture“If the parents love the Lord with all their heart, might, mind and strength, then the children will see this, and they will be most likely to emulate the underlying faith and devotion of their parents…Children often don’t fully appreciate the devotion of their parents until the kids grow up. But still, when the parents have ‘an eye single to the glory of God,’ the kids recognize this…No sermons can undo the actions of a parent who is not truly committed to serve the Lord with all his/her heart.”

“Only by adhering to this first and great commandment can a family expect to have the Spirit in their home with sufficient frequency to make that home special. The parents who keep this first and great commandment can make their homes a bit of heaven on earth. Such homes are, of course, an important temple in the lives of our children.”

“The conversation of parents who love the Lord with all their hearts will regularly turn to the most important issues and themes of life: the purpose of life; testimony of God and faith in Him; the blessings from the Word of God, including the Book of Mormon and modern revelation; cherishing the words of living prophets; being a hard worker; giving a significant portion of one’s life to church and community service.”

“They receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost, which fills the soul with hope and happiness and love and the desire to serve others. This greatest of all gifts—the gift of a loving heart—comes to those who truly love the Lord with all their heart…These people then become the most grateful and humble and loving people in the world. Their gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ and their devotion to Him become powerful parts of their character.”read book of mormon

2. Read the Book of Mormon

“Encourage your children to read the Book of Mormon at an early age—10 and 11 is not too young. Then they need to re-read it when their 12 or 13. Reading the Book of Mormon brings many spiritual insights and witnesses. There is no substitute for this.” Encourage them to read the Book of Mormon individually and as in family scripture study.

3. Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

“Sabbath observance is perhaps the most important commandment to help prepare for a mission. I would suggest having family home evening FHE on Sunday as well as on Monday. FHE is a perfect family activity for Sunday: it causes the family to focus on the Lord, on the scriptures and on spiritual things.”

youth basketball4. Community Involvement

“Participate in important community activities. If we are to be a light to the world, we will want to interact with our neighbors and friends. We cannot share the gospel with non-member friends if we do not interact with any non-members. I think we, as a church, can do better in reaching out to others to just be friends—to participate with others in worthwhile activities or causes. This will result in missionary opportunities. When our children see this example, it will help them to know how to develop relations with non-member friends—which is one of the keys to missionary work.” In many cases this community involvement will be through sports, music, theatre, academics, and other activities.

5. Listen to Good Music

“I have benefited tremendously from listening to great music—I’m speaking of classical music and Tabernacle Choir recordings. Such music should be heard regularly in our homes. Much of it is powerful, prayerful, worshipful music. Parents should want their kids exposed to this. While some kids shun this at first, after a while they mormon tabernacle choirlearn to appreciate it. On my mission, I found that I often reflected on and hummed or sang the inspired words of scripture that was put to music and sung by the Tabernacle Choir…This was a great source of inspiration.”

“In conclusion, I don’t suppose there is any finite list of what to do and what not to do to prepare one’s children to go on missions. The starting point may be for parents to desire this for their children with all of their hearts. If we realize the life-changing and saving effect that the mission experience will bring to our children, we will do all we can to prepare them to have this opportunity/challenge.”

Special Missionary Preparation Issue of New Era

MissionPreparationIssueNewEraI’ve added the March 2007 New Era to the mission prep recommended reading list. This was a special Missionary Preparation Issue of the New Era magazine. It is full of great articles for youth preparing for missions.  Here is a full list of the articles in this special edition:

  • Gifts to Bring Home from the Mission Field by President Gordon B. Hinckley
  • Line upon Line: D&C 4
  • How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary by Elder M. Russell Ballard
  • From Friends to Sisters to Companions by Rebecca Mills Hume and Brad Wilcox
  • Your Call to Serve by David A. Edwards
  • I Took the Temple with Me by Cory Keate
  • Inspired to Bless by Eric J. Greenhalgh
  • Q&A: Questions and Answers New Era Poster 
  • Inside the MTC by Danielle Nye Poulter
  • “We’ve Got to Find Her” Elder Bruce C. Hafen
  • Idea List: Fit to Serve
  • A Day in the Life of a Missionary by Adam C. Olson
  • The Five M’s of Missionary Work by President Thomas S. Monson
  • Me? A Sister Missionary? by Taryn Salmon
  • Determined to Serve by Richard M. Romney
  • To the Point
  • If I Had Known at 19 … by Roger Terry
  • The Extra Smile
  • Missionary Mail Connie Myers
  • Instant Messages
  • What’s Up?
  • Poem: To J.E.H. and Many Others Peter B. Ball

Note: The New Era is an official monthly publication for youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Practical Steps for Mission Prep

“Practically Out the Door” is the name of an article in the April 2009 New Era magazine. It contains practical advice for teenagers preparing to go to college, but I think it is equally applicable to young men and women preparing to go on a mission. The article makes great suggestions for young people, such as:

  • Learn the Secrets of Time: Manage your time and bring order to your life by organizing it.
  • Learn How to Manage Your Own Life: Handle freedom wisely, and make spirituality a priority.  Start making your own decisions and solving your own problems.
  • Harness the Power of Practical Skills: Master the mysteries of money, learn how to cook, and remember, there is no laundry fairy.
  • Have the Right Attitude: Take responsibility.

The tips about managing money, learning to cook, and doing laundry struck a cord with me.  All were important skills my parents had taught me prior to my mission, and I was so grateful for them when I arrived in Argentina.

Managing Money

When I arrived in my first assigned area in Argentina, a branch called Gazano in the city of Parana, my companion was named Elder Loesener, a native Argentine from Buenos Aires.  Elder Loesener, within the first couple of days, told me to take $100 and put it in an envelope in my suit case, and save it for an emergency.  That $100 was more than a third missionaies loesener and jimmy smithof our monthly allowance, but he assured me that we would make it through the month.  He then said we would pool our resources, and so we did.  And as I recall we ate well that month, and after a few weeks of famous Argentine beef, I even put on a few pounds.

Throughout my mission, I always kept that $100 reserve.  And though I can’t recall any major emergencies, there were times when our monthly allowance was late arriving and I was very glad to have some extra cash to get by on.  I heard stories of missionaries running out of money half way through the month, but that never happened to me because of good money management skills I put into practice.

Learning to Cook

In some areas of my mission, we ate at members home nearly every day.  In other areas, there were few members and we were rarely fed.  It was in those times that I was sure glad I knew how to cook.  Making pancakes from scratch was not something I realized I’d be doing very often, but breakfast cereal was rare in Argentina, and the native breakfast beverage of Mate was off limits for missionaries.  Pasta, hamburgers, pizza, French toast, crepes, and no-bake cookies were a few of the other things I whipped up from time to time. missionary cooking asado argentina

Perhaps this is also a good time to mention the need to learn to like a variety of foods.  I was taught by my parents that missionaries are always grateful for the meals given to them and they always eat was is in put in front of them.  In that spirit, I found myself at the home of a member family in the branch in Gazano early in my mission.  They served us “giso” for lunch, a type of stew, and as I put my spoon in the bowl, I noticed something strange floating around.  There were bugs in my soup!  Now I didn’t want to offend this humble, generous family, so I dutifully ate the whole bowl of giso.  It probably made me no sicker than the water there (which we drank all the time), but later in my mission I learned that it was okay to turn down food with bugs in it.  But aside from bug-infested stews and the like, I think it’s a good idea for missionaries to learn to be polite and eat the food that is so generously served to them.

Doing Laundry

Prior to my mission, I knew how to do laundry, or so I thought.  I knew how to separate the lights from the darks, load the washing machine, put in soap, turn it on, and then switch the clothes to the dryer when it was complete.  But when missionary laundry argentinaI got to Argentina, I found no washing machines and no dryers.  In some of my areas, we paid a woman in the ward to wash our clothes, but in as many as half of my areas, I had to wash my own clothes, by hand.  Needless to say, with me doing the laundry, it didn’t take long for my white shirts to turn a shade of gray.  Nonetheless they were clean, thanks again to Elder Loesener for teaching me the wash board method of doing laundry.

I’m not sure what the conditions are like in Argentina now, more than ten years since I left.  But it is likely that there, and in other parts of the world, missionaries are washing their own clothes by hand.  So when you are learning to do laundry with the washing machine and dryer, you may also want to ask your mom for some tips on doing it by hand with a wash board, and hanging the clothes out to dry.

Mission Prep from General Conference April 2009

As I listened to the General Conference talks last weekend, I paid particular attention to messages that would be of benefit for young men and women preparing to go on a mission.  Below are a few mission-prep-related excerpts from the April 2009 conference talks:

Revealed Quorum Principles by Michael A. Neider

“The quorum assists you in strengthening and preparing God’s sons” for missions, marriage, etc.  “We should be earnest students of revealed priesthood and quorum principles. Our goal is to correctly use inspired direction from God and His prophets to maximize the virtues and blessings of the quorum and strengthen young men and their families. The work of the quorum is to increase faith in Christ, prepare and save young men, and eliminate mistakes and sloth in implementing God’s will. As we seek wisdom from God, let us also be students of revealed quorum principles.”

Learning the Lessons of the Past by Elder M. Russell Ballard

Elder M. Russell Ballard“Learn from the experience of others. Many professions require internships, during which aspiring professionals shadow seasoned veterans to learn from their years of experience and accumulated wisdom. Rookies in professional sports are often expected to sit on the bench and learn by watching experienced players. New missionaries are assigned to work with a senior companion whose experience helps the new missionary learn the right way to effectively serve the Lord.”

Counsel to Young Men by President Boyd K. Packer

President Boyd K. Packer“You young men should not complain about schooling. Do not immerse yourself so much in the technical that you fail to learn things that are practical. Everything you can learn that is practical—in the house, in the kitchen cooking, in the yard—will be of benefit to you” now, on your mission and throughout your life.

“Four young men, all grandsons, came to visit us. Three of them had young ladies on their arms—one to talk about his coming wedding, two of them to announce their engagements, and the stray to talk about his mission call to Japan. We talked to them about the fact that one day each of you will take a pure and precious daughter of our Heavenly Father to the temple to be sealed for time and for all eternity. These young grandsons must know what Alma taught: that the gospel plan is “the great plan of happiness” and that happiness is the end of our existence.”

We Are Doing a Great Work and Cannot Come Down by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf“In response to every temptation to lose focus or lower our standards—the standards of God, we responded, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.””

The Lord seeks “those who, when faced with opposition and temptation, say in their hearts, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.””

“When faced with trial and suffering, they respond, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.”  When faced with ridicule and reproach, they proclaim, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.””

Our Heavenly Father “seeks those who will not allow the attraction of ease or the traps of the adversary to distract them from the work He has given them to perform. He seeks those whose actions conform to their words—those who say with conviction, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down.”

Be Your Best Self by President Thomas S. Monson

President Thomas S. Monson“This is not a time for fear, brethren, but rather a time for faith—a time for each of us who holds the priesthood to be his best self. Although our journey through mortality will at times place us in harm’s way, may I offer you tonight three suggestions.”

  1. Study diligently. “Every holder of the priesthood should participate in daily scripture study. Crash courses are not nearly so effective as the day-to-day reading and application of the scriptures in our lives.”
  2. Pray fervently. “With God, all things are possible. Men of the Aaronic Priesthood, men of the Melchizedek Priesthood, remember the prayer of the Prophet Joseph, offered in that grove called sacred. Look around you and see the result of that answered prayer.”
  3. Live righteously. “Isaiah, that great prophet of the Old Testament, gave this stirring charge to holders of the priesthood: “Touch no unclean thing. . . . Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” That’s about as straight as it could be given.”

Get On with Our Lives by Elder Steven E. Snow

Elder Steven E. Snow“Too often we are reluctant to enter the next stage, begin the next challenge. Maybe we are too comfortable, fearful, or lacking in faith…Our parents’ basement, with unlimited video games, may be more appealing than college, marriage, or a career (or a mission I might add). How can we then best prepare for the changes we must inevitably face as we progress through life?”

  • First, follow the prophets. “Prophets often raise a voice of warning but also provide steady, pragmatic counsel to help us weather the storms of life.”
  • Second, keep an eternal perspective. “We as mortals undergo a series of changes, challenges, trials, and temptations as we proceed through life. Only then are we properly tested.” Remember, this life is “to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them” (Abraham 3:25).
  • Third, have faith. “In Moroni we read that “without faith there cannot be any hope” (Moroni 7:42). We must exercise faith to take on life’s challenges and changes”
  • Fourth, be of good cheer. “Many of our members across the globe are facing challenges, economic and otherwise.” The Lord counseled, “Be of good cheer, little children; for I am in your midst, and I have not forsaken you” (D&C 61:36).

Bring Souls unto Me by Elder L. Tom Perry

“Member missionaries—both you and I—are the shepherds, and the full-time missionaries, like the search and rescue team, are trying to do something almost impossible for them to do alone. Certainly the full-time missionaries will continue to do the best they can, but woul
dn’t it be better if you and I stepped up to do a job that is rightfully ours and for which we are better suited since we know personally those who are lost and need to be rescued? I would like to focus on three objectives for members of the Church.”

  • D&C 88:81 “And it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor.”
  • D&C 33:8 “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”
    • “We should declare our belief in Jesus Christ and His Atonement.”
    • “We should tell in our own words the story of the First Vision.”
    • “Let us testify of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ.”
  • D&C 18:15 “And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

Temple Is Important Part of Mission Preparation

I received my temple endowment in 1995, in the Washington, DC Temple just prior to leaving for my mission to Rosario, Argentina.  It was a sweet experience as I was surrounded by my parents and other extended family.  All Mormon missionaries receive their temple endowment prior to embarking in missionary service.  Receiving the Mormon temple endowment is an important part of mission preparation because it gives individuals spiritual knowledge and power that will help them better serve the Lord.  The demands of missionary service require spiritual strength, and the temple blessings bring power to worthy missionaries. This power comes through the greater understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan, and the sacred covenants and blessings obtained only in the temple.

Here some statement by current and past prophets and apostles regarding the importance of missionaries receiving their temple endowment.

  • President Howard W. Hunter taught, “Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).
  • “Going to the temple for your own endowment… [is] an integral part of your mission preparation…You cannot do this work alone. We have to have heaven’s help, we have to have the ‘gifts’ of God…This work is so serious and the adversary’s opposition to it so great that we need every divine power to enhance our effort and move the Church
    steadily forward” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr. 25, 1997).
  • “Missionaries …are not fully qualified to go forth, preach the gospel, and build up the kingdom, unless they have the gift of the Holy Ghost and also are endowed with power from on high…[that is] given only in the Lord’s Temple” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary)
  • The Lord “called all the missionaries to Kirtland in the early day of the Church to receive endowments in the temple erected there. He said this was so that they could go out with greater power from on high and with greater protection” (Doctrines of Salvation, Bruce R. McConkie).
  • Elder David B. Haight,”The temple endowment gives knowledge that, when acted upon, provides strength and conviction of truth.” (A Light unto the World [1997], 49).
[colored_box color=”green”]Read a related article on how the temple is and integral part of mission work for missionaries and new converts.[/colored_box]

Here is a great video produced by the Church on why Mormons build temples.

Go to the Mormon Missionary Preparation YouTube Channel.