Power of Prayer: Conversion of the Almada Family

The story of the first family that I taught and baptized in Argentina, the Almada family, is a great example of the power of prayer.

Meeting the Almada Family

Within a week of my companion and I arriving in the city of Parana, Argentina, the Almada family moved into the home right behind our apartment.  With Fabian, the husband, Silvina, the wife, and their four kids living right behind us, our paths crossed often.  I can remember my companion, Elder Loesener, often kicking the soccer ball with their oldest son as we came and went from our apartment. missionary apartment gazano parana argentina

Within a week or two of first meeting the Almada family, we got home one evening and were contemplating what to cook ourselves for dinner. Elder Loesener wanted to cook something that required sugar, but we didn’t have any.  He thought we should ask the Almada’s if we could borrow some sugar.  He also thought this was the perfect time to more formally meet the family and tell them about our message as missionaries for the Lord Jesus Christ.  We borrowed the sugar and ended up having a nice conversation with them, and they agreed to have us come back and teach the first discussion.

Baptismal Commitment

The first discussion went very well and we scheduled the second discussion.  Fabian was very interested in our message, read The Book of Mormon and everything else we gave him to read.  He was eager to learn, asked many questions, and demonstrated great faith, dedication and determination to begin a new life with his family.  At the end of the second discussion, when my companion asked them if they would be baptized, both Fabian and Silvina said yes without hesitation.

Bread and Pastries

Fabian worked at nights at a local panadería (bakery).  One morning, after we had begun teaching the family, we awoke to find a bag of warm bread and pastries by our front door.  It was so delicious, hot and fresh, we couldn’t help but gobble up all the pastries within the morning.  And the bread was great for sandwiches that afternoon and evening and even for French toast the following morning.  We began to find the bread and pastries on our door step several times a week, and we were very grateful to Fabian for thinking of us. almada family kitchen table parana argentina

Trial of Faith

The Almada’s were doing great. They were coming to church and progressing in the gospel.  They had been searching for the true gospel of Jesus Christ and recognized it when they found it. When we taught them the word of wisdom, Fabian had his son go to the kitchen, get all the wine, and dump it down the drain immediately.  They were every missionary’s dream of a golden family.

Then, about a week before their baptism, Fabian lost his job at the bakery.  The economic situation was tough in Argentina at that time. Many people were without work.  We knew this would be a great trial to the Almada’s growing faith in the gospel, and we were amazed at how they responded.  Silvina, the mom, told us that the morning after Fabian lost his job he knelt and prayed fervently for 30 minutes.  Afterwards he rose and headed out the door with a determination to find work to provide for his family.

Prayers Answered

Not only did Fabian offer a prayer, but his wife and children and us missionaries were all praying that he would find a job.  We thought it would take days or weeks for Fabian to find something, but the Lord answered our prayers very rapidly.  Fabian came home that very night with not just one job, but two jobs, which was a tremendous blessing.  He was going to be able to work more hours and get more pay than he had before.  It was a true miracle.

The Family is Baptizedalmada family baptism parana argentina

On Thursday night, February 8, 1996, we held the baptismal service for the Almada family.  Our little branch didn’t have a real LDS chapel or a baptismal font, so we had to go to a different ward building in the city.  I baptized Fabian and their 10 year old son Cristian.  Elder Loesener baptized Silvina and Anai, their 8 year old daughter.  It was a wonderful experience for all.

Following the baptisms, as traditional in LDS baptismal services, there were additional talks once the family had dried off and gotten dressed.  My companion was conducting and, to my surprise, he asked Fabian to come to the front and beare his testimony.  I thought it was a bold move, but Elder Loesener must have been prompted by the Spirit.  Fabian stood up without hesitation and bore a powerful testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Power of Prayer

The power of prayer is real.  As the Savior says in Matt 7:7 “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.”  And as James adds in James 1:6, “ask in faith, nothing wavering.”

When Fabian lost his job, his convictions in his new found faith were not shaken.  He, along with his family and friends, prayed in faith and with great power the Lord answered and poured out blessings, both temporal and spiritual, upon the Almada family.  And so will God bless you, your family, the missionaries, and all who faithfully seek His help through the power of prayer.

Magnify Your Calling

I have been trying for many years to read all the way through the Old Testament.  It is the only part of the standard works that I haven’t read in its entirety.  I’m about 85% done now (page 1,009 out of 1,184), and I’ve been reading in the book of Jeremiah.  I read a verse that caused me to give new meaning to the term magnify your callingJeremiah 48:42 “And Moab shall be destroyed from being a people, because he hath magnified himself against the Lord.”

When I read this verse, it made me realize that to magnify your calling means to magnify the work the Lord has called you to do and not to magnify yourself. When I was in college, writing about the meaning of magnifying your calling, I expounded on how it meant to do your best to fulfill your calling in the way in which the Lord would want you.  And surely that is a major part of what it means.  But it was clear to me, as I read the scripture above, that you should not perform your calling in an effort to get praise or any worldly gain and therefore magnify yourself.  To magnify your calling from the Lord you should perform your calling with a desire to bring glory to God and serve him by serving his children. LDS edition of the holy bible

Take a look at how the term magnify is used in the scriptures in relation to callings:

  • The prophet Jacob in the Book of Mormon said, “And we did magnify our office unto the Lord.” (Jacob 1:19.)
  • To Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery the Lord said, “Attend to thy calling and thou shalt have wherewith to magnify thine office…In me he shall have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength” (D&C 24: 9, 11)
  • “And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.” (Luke 1: 46)
  • “Let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me.” (Ps. 35: 26)
  • “Remember that thou magnify his work, which men behold.” (Job 36: 24)
  • “Shall the saw magnify itself against him that shaketh it?” (Isa. 10: 15)

In virtually every instance of of its usage in the scripture, magnifying your calling is in the context of magnifying it unto God instead of unto yourself.  It’s not enough simply to magnify our callings.  You must magnify your calling unto the Lord.gordon_b_hinckley

Magnifying Your Missionary Calling

President Gordon B. Hinckley said that every missionary has the responsibility to magnify his calling to teach the gospel plan to the peoples of the earth.  “That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.” (D&C 88: 80)

Said President Hinckley, “when we live up to our high and holy calling, when we show love for God through service to fellowmen, when we use our strength and talents to build faith and spread truth, we magnify our priesthood. When, on the other hand, we live lives of selfishness, when we indulge in sin, when we set our sights only on the things of the world rather than on the things of God, we diminish our priesthood.” (Magnify Your Calling, Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, May 1989)

My Day with Mario

When I had been in Argentina for two months, and my Spanish language skills were still very weak, I spent the day taking the lead with the missionary work in our area.  My senior companion was gone for the day working with the zone leaders in their area, while they arranged for me to spend the day working in our area with a 17-year-old boy from the branch named Mario.

gazano missionary work elder smith with marioI was very nervous about this arrangement, but I fully expected Mario to help me and do a lot of the talking.  Well, as it turned out, Mario hardly said a word all day. We had a couple of first discussions scheduled that day, but the people weren’t home when we got there.

We spent the majority of the day knocking doors and street contacting.  Being a member who would soon be going on a mission, I thought Mario would help do more of the talking, but with each person we encountered, I did all the teaching.  When it was apparent that I was only going to get moral support from Mario, I was seriously tempted to just go home and spend the remainder of the day in our apartment.

But I persevered because I knew the Lord expected me to magnify my calling unto him, and that he would support me.  At times I felt like a bumbling fool, but despite my weaknesses that day we talked to at least 100 people, and of those, we taught 12 charla cortas.  (Charla cortas means “short discussion.” This was a metric we reported each week and to qualify, the exchange with the person had to be 5 to 10 minutes and we had to talk about most of the principles of the first discussion.)  From those 12 interactions, we were able to set four appointments for a first discussion.

I know the success of that day came because I sought to magnify my calling.  At the end of that day, I felt the strong impression that had my senior companion been with me, that the results would have been the same.  Though my companion was fluent in Spanish and a far more experienced teacher than I, it is the Lord’s work and it is his Spirit that touches peoples’ hearts and does the real work of conversion.  It was humbling to realize that because I sought only to magnify my calling unto God, and not worry about my own perceived weaknesses, the Lord was able to work through me.

And so it will be with each of you, as you seek to humbly magnify your calling as a missionary, and seek only to glorify God as you teach people the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, you will become an effective tool in the hands of the Lord.

LDS Temples Integral Part of Missionary Work for Missionaries and New Converts


LDS Temples are an integral part of missionary work for two reasons:

  1. The Temple endowment gives missionaries power from on high to do their work.
  2. Baptism is the first step toward higher ordinances of salvation received at the temple.

Temple endowment gives missionaries power from on high

New missionaries generally go to the temple to receive their endowment just prior to leaving on their mission. Through these temple ordinances, missionaries receive knowledge, power, and strength that comes through the greater understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan.  Many modern prophets and apostles have taught the importance of receiving the temple endowment prior to serving a mission: Howard W Hunter

  • President Howard W. Hunter: “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” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1994, 118; or Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).
  • Jeffrey R HollandElder Jeffrey R. Holland: “Going to the temple for your own endowment . . . [is] an integral part of your mission preparation. . . . [You should] understand the significance of those temple covenants [and] the inextricable link between your endowment and your missionary success. Indeed, the very word endowment conveys the essence of that vital link. An endowment is a gift. “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” (“Making and Keeping Covenants” [missionary satellite broadcast, Apr. 25, 1997]).
  • Bruce R McConkieElder Bruce R. McConkie: “The apostles—or any ministers or missionaries in any age—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, meaning [they] have received certain knowledge, powers, and special blessings, normally given only in the Lord’s Temple” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1966–73], 1:859).
  • Joseph Fielding SmithPresident Joseph Fielding Smith: “Do you understand why our missionaries go to the temple before they are set apart for their  mission fields? This is a requirement made of them. . . He 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, comp. Bruce R. McConkie, 3 vols. [1954–56], 2:255).

Baptism is first step toward higher ordinances received at the templeMormon Baptism

Elder David A. Bednar, in his most recent conference address in May 2009, explained that “the baptismal covenant clearly contemplates a future event or events and looks forward to the temple.“ Quoting Elder Neal A. Maxwell he says, “Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the holy temple.”

Quoting Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Elder Bednar says that when we partake of the sacrament each week, “we do not witness that we take upon us the name of Jesus Christ. [Rather], we witness that we are willing to do so. The fact that we only witness to our willingness suggests that something else must happen before we actually take that sacred name upon us in the [ultimate and] most important sense.”  Elder Bednar goes on to explain that it is in the temple that we more fully take upon us the name of Christ (see D&C 109:22).  (From Honorably Hold a Name and Standing by Elder David A. Bednar, Ensign May 2009)mormon blessing sacrament bread

Elder Russell M. Nelson has also taught this principle when he said that “missionary work is only the beginning” of the gathering of Israel.  He went on to say “the fulfillment, the consummation, of those blessings comes as those who have entered the waters of baptism perfect their lives to the point that they may enter the holy temple. Receiving an endowment there seals members of the Church to the Abrahamic covenant” (Perfection Pending, and Other Favorite Discourses [1998], 207).

My Temple Experienceelder jimmy smith buenos aires lds mormon temple

My experience, in attending the temple and in baptizing families as a step toward the temple, has been that the doctrine above is true.  As a new missionary, I was better able to teach the gospel because I had been blessed with the knowledge, power, and strength that comes through the greater understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan as learned at the temple.  I know of at least one of the families I baptized on my mission, the Almada family, that eventually went to the temple to be sealed together.  It was the sweetest pleasure of my mission to hear that this family will be together for time and all eternity, through the power of the priesthood to bind families together on earth and in heaven.

May you, as a missionary, always remain worthy of the temple blessings, and may you have power and success in bringing many into the waters of baptism, and thus help them take the first steps towards the blessings of the holy temple.

Tag Line for Future Site Redesign

When I launched this Web site back in March of this year, it was a bit of an experiment.  I felt inspired to start the site, and, upon doing some research, there seemed to be a need and an opportunity for disseminating mission prep-related material.  In these first few months, the site has proved more successful than I could have imagined.  The site averages about 50 visitors a day and continues to grow.  I am profoundly grateful that so many of you have found the site informative and useful.

Since the site was experimental, it was probably, okay definitely, not designed optimally from the beginning.  In these past few months, I have been aware of some deficiencies of the site through user comments and through Web analytics data.  Therefore, I will be starting a site redesign soon, and I’d love to have feedback from all of you.  If you have any ideas on how to improve the site, from site design to site content, please contact me and let me know how I can do better.

Some of the things I plan to address are:

  • Reduce the clutter and make the site design more clean and simple.
  • Improve the navigation to make prominent the most used content and features.
  • Make the site Mac browser compatible for both Safari and Firefox.
  • Develop a logo for the site, including a tag line.

Need Your Help with the Tag Line

It is with this last item, the site tag line, that I specifically seek your help today.  Website usability expert Steve Krug says a tag line should “actually say something about what you are (“The world’s best source for ice axes”), not a meaningless aphorism (“Taking you ever higher…”). And if at all possible, find a tagline that tells me what differentiates you from everyone else.”

With that in mind, below are some tag lines that I have come up with.  Please vote for the tag line you like best, or, if you don’t like any of them, there is a space at the bottom of the poll to write in your own suggestion.  Thanks so much for the help!

Mission Presidents

Mission presidents are called to watch over and lead a mission (a specific region and its missionaries), generally, for the space of three years.   They are responsible for the spiritual and physical well-being of the missionaries in their mission.  The mission president and his wife manage the affairs of the missionaries in the mission and are both set apart as full-time missionaries during their service.

Mission presidents have many duties, including:

  • Welcoming and providing orientation for new missionaries.
  • Interviewing departing missionaries (an important part of missionary work is the personal growth of the missionary himself/herself).
  • Assigning mission companions and the areas where missionaries will work.
  • Traveling to and presiding over zone conferences where training and interviews of missionaries take place.
  • Reading weekly letters from each of the missionaries in the mission.
  • Making sure that the housing and food provided for missionaries is clean and safe.
  • Providing for the medical care of missionaries in case of illness or accident.

Relationship between Missionary and Mission PresidentQuentin L Cook

Most missionaries develop deep respect and admiration for their mission presidents.  Prior to their mission, though, many missionaries, including myself, don’t realize the special bond that will be formed between them and their mission president.  Mission presidents are spiritually mature leaders under whose tutelage missionaries will grow and develop.  Elder Quentin L. Cook said one of the “blessings of serving a mission are having the opportunity of being nurtured under the guidance of a mission president who has been called by inspiration.” (from Be a Missionary All Your Life, Ensign September 2008)

First Meetings with My Mission President

My first mission president, President Coburn, had a reputation for being very strict.  (You may recall some of the strict rules in our Argentina, Rosario mission that I discussed in my post about preparation day.)  I wasn’t too fond of the strict rules at first, but I eventually came to realize the blessings of those rules.  I had a brief interview with my mission president upon arriving the in the country.  He told me that he had been given my picture and other information from my missionary application, and that he felt inspired in assigning my area (the city of Parana) and my companion (Elder Loesener).

elder loesener and smith parana argentina After about a month in the country, I had my first zone conference and accompanying interview with President Coburn. I had been having some disagreements with my senior companion, which I had mentioned in my weekly letters, as, perhaps, did my companion. President Coburn spoke very frankly to me at that time because, he said, he felt I could handle it. I felt honored by his statement, but those pleasant feelings vanished quickly as he “bajo la caña” (Spanish for “dropped the hammer”) on me.

My mission president told me to repent, to swallow my pride, to stop “kicking against the pricks”, and do better at following my senior companion, who was, in effect, my Priesthood leader. I went away from that interview fuming inside; I had never been spoken to in that manner by a Church leader.  It took me about a week, but in time I realized that President Coburn was completely right.  I tried to follow his advice and my relationship with my companion did improve.  (I also learned a valuable lesson I would never forget about sustaining Priesthood leaders.)

I will always love and appreciate President Coburn for the things he taught me.

My Second Mission Presidentpresident ontiveros rosario argentina

Sadly, I was only with President Coburn for 6 months when his term of service was up.  But my new mission president, President Ontiveros, though a different type of personality, was equally wonderful.  One thing that stands out most in my memory about President Ontiveros was a talk he gave on having your “eye single to the glory of God.”  He gave a powerful sermon based largely on the Helaman chapter 5 where Nephi and Lehi are imprisoned and fire encircles them without causing them harm.  Soon, in this chapter, a cloud of darkness overshadows their Lamanite captors.

President Ontiveros explained that these two events were physical manifestations of spiritual realities.  Since then I have always remembered that a spiritual “cloud of darkness” hangs over us when we make bad choices.  But when we choose the right and keep our eye single to the glory of God, we can withstand the fiery brilliance of God’s presence without being consumed.


Always obey, honor and sustain your mission president.  He was called of God to preside over your mission.  He will be one of the greatest influences for good in your mission, and you will develop a great love and bond with him.  He will place you where you need to be, in areas and with companions that are inspired of God.  Write good letters to your mission president every week and let him know how the missionary work is going in your area, how you are getting along with your companionship, and how you are personally progressing.  By so doing, he will be better able to counsel you and help you become the best missionary you can be.

Mission Companions

Mormon Mission Companion CollageMormon missionaries always work in companionships of two (occasionally three).  The reasons for this are for spiritual and physical protection, but most importantly, because it is a mandate from the Lord.

Why Missionaries Travel in Pairs

The Lord has commanded missionaries, in D&C 42:6, “Ye shall go forth in the power of my Spirit, preaching my gospel, two by two.”  Missionaries will be more powerful in their teaching if they work together in unity.  As it says in 2 Corinthians 13:1 “In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Senior Companion

In companionships, one missionary, usually the younger or less experienced one, is the junior companion, and the other is the senior companion.  I had a reader once email me and ask the requirements to become a senior companion.  I told him that when a mission president thinks a missionary is ready for the responsibility and is prompted by the spirit, then he would make that missionary a senior companion.  Therefore, how and when a missionary becomes the senior companion would differ from mission to mission, depending on the mission president and the prompting of the Holy Ghost.

My recommendation to this young man was to not worry even for a moment about getting “promoted” to senior companion status.  I advised him to take President Hinckley’s counsel to “forget yourself and go to work.”*   Just seek to be the best missionary you can be, and you will be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  Obey the mission rules, work hard, enjoy your mission, and it will be a success regardless of whether or not you are the senior companion.

Companionships Lead to Lifelong Friendships

Many missionaries will make friendships with their mission companions that will last a lifetime.  Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin, in his November 1997 Ensign talk titled, Valued Companions, said:

“Companionships also constitute the basic organization in the 318 missions of the Church. Just as the disciples of old, our more than 56,000 missionaries go two by two “into all the world” to proclaim the good news of the gospel. In this wonderful work of saving souls, there is tremendous fellowship and camaraderie. When Alma was reunited with the sons of Mosiah after 14 years of missionary service, he “did rejoice exceedingly to see his brethren; and what added more to his joy, they were still his brethren in the Lord.” Missionary reunions are still a great time of rejoicing.”

Companionship Inventory

Missionary companions are instructed to stay together always with reasonable exceptions for showering and using the bathroom. Missionaries are encouraged to learn how to work with and love their companions, but when you are with someone 24/7, it is likely that conflict may occur.  When disagreements occur between companions, they are encouraged to try to work it out them themselves before contacting their district or zone leaders.  Your mission president is also likely to ask, in interviews or through your weekly letters, how well you are getting along with your companion.mormon missionary companionship inventory

One thing missionaries are asked to do to keep harmony in their companionship and to quickly resolve disputes is to have a weekly companionship inventory meeting.  In this meeting, mission companions should:

  • Discuss their relationship and resolve conflicts.
  • Talk through any challenges that might be preventing the two from working together in unity.
  • Set goals to improve their relationship.
  • Start and end with prayer so as to have the Spirit of the Lord present.

Learning to get along with your mission companion will be excellent practice for getting along with your eternal companion (your wife), and keeping harmony and love always in that relationship.

How NOT to Conduct Companionship Inventory

In conclusion, here’s a funny video I found on YouTube showing how NOT to conduct a companionship inventory.

*Actually, that quote is what President Hinckley’s father told him in a letter during his mission.

Missionary Name Tag

LDS_missionary_name_tags The Mormon missionary name tag or badge is one of the most recognizable visual features our missionaries carry.  On the one hand, it is simply a name tag, while on the other hand, it is symbolic of the work missionaries have been called to do.  It is a symbol of the Church they have been called the represent and of the Savior whose messengers they are.

My Missionary Commission

The missionary tag is a sign of the commission missionaries have been given.  During my mission, several of my companions had a quote from Elder Bruce R. McConkie printed on a poster as a constant reminder of who they were and who they were representing.  It reads:

I am called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and He has chosen me to represent Him. To stand in His place, to say and do what He himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my words are His words and my doctrine is His doctrine. My commission is to do what He wants done. To say what He wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of His great and marvelous latter-day work. (from How Great Is My Calling, an address delivered while Elder McConkie was serving as president of the Australian Mission from 1961 to 1964)

My dear wifey, Heather, has an Etsy shop where she sells digital prints and other inspiring LDS subway art. She has an item in her store of Elder McConkie’s My Missionary Commission. It’s only $5 and it’s available in many colors. Then you can print it at various sizes: 16×20, 11×14, 8×10, 5×7, or 4×6. Frame it and it makes a great gift for current and future missionaries.

baptism with lds church logo on buildingA Sister Missionary’s Name Tag

In researching what I wanted to say about the missionary name tag, I found the following story from Elder Robert L. Simpson’s talk in the May 1984 Ensign Magazine called The Simplicity of Gospel Truths.

“Few are aware of the pure Christian service being administered at refugee camps in Thailand and in the Philippines by our missionary sisters. Basically, these sisters are restricted to teaching the English language and Western culture, but there is a deeper teaching that takes place through their pure love and sweet attitude toward these displaced people.

The story is told of a young camp refugee from Cambodia who was relocated in California. He found his way into one of our Church meetinghouses because the name of the Church on the sign out front corresponded with the one he used to look at each day on the name tag of the wonderful missionary sister who taught him at the camp. People don’t soon forget acts of simple kindness. Pure love can transcend all differences.”

An Outward Sign of IdentitySusan W Tanner

And finally, here is another reminder about the importance of the missionary name tag from Sister Susan W. Tanner’s talk in the May 2007 Ensign Magazine titled Daughters of Heavenly Father.

“Has your mother or father ever reminded you as you were leaving the house to ‘remember who you are’? What do they mean by that?  ‘Remember that you are part of this family, with a reputation to uphold.’ And, even more importantly, ‘remember that you are a child of God and must act accordingly.’ Missionaries wear a badge as a constant reminder that they are representatives of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This reminds missionaries to dress modestly and comely, to treat people with politeness, and to strive to have Christ’s image in their countenances. They must do these things because they wear that name tag, an outward sign of their identity.”

Prayer and Testimony

john smith missionary montrealThe following is a story about promptings from the spirit, prayer, and testimony in missionary work that I received today from my brother, Elder John Smith, who is serving in the Canada Montreal Mission.

“When I first showed up in this area 2 weeks ago I was blessed to have the opportunity to work with an investigator who had just accepted the baptismal commitment just a couple of days before my arrival.  His baptismal date is for July 18th and things are looking incredible.  His name is Hector and he is originally from Mexico, but has lived here for 3 years or so.  He has already acquired a testimony of the truthfulness of our message and continually tells us how he wants to share the spirit he has felt with everyone else.  He is sincere and humble and it is the greatest blessing to be able to work with someone who has such a thirst for the truth as this man does.

We went over to his place to teach him the lesson of the Gospel of Jesus Christ,  which is essentially the 4th article of faith in greater detail.  When we showed up Hectors girlfriend asked if she could sit in and listen, to which we replied of course.  They both sat through the entire lesson and the spirit was very strongly manifested throughout the course of the visit.  At the end of the lesson my companion asked Melanie (the girlfriend) if she would like to be jesus christ flip chartbaptized as well.  She said yes and then she proceeded to tell us of an experience she had.

Throughout the course of Hector’s investigation Melanie has been skeptical of the whole thing.  When Hector agreed to be baptized and to make the necessary changes to join the church Melanie was frustrated and told Hector that we were just brain washing him, and that we worship Joseph Smith and what not.  Hector countered her attacks by bearing his testimony to her and telling her that if she really wanted to know if all of this was true that she needed to ask God.

woman prayingShe took his advice and prayed that night about all of these things and she said that she felt the holy spirit enter into her soul.  She said she felt goose bumps.  And so with that experience and our invitation to baptism she could not deny what needed to be done.  She almost didn’t tell us about this experience of hers, and she probably wouldn’t have done it then if we had not invited her to be baptized.  Luckily my companion acted upon that prompting because I was not planning on inviting her at that time, although I did have the thought come to my head briefly.  Next time I will pay more attention to the spirit’s promptings.”

What a wonderful story of two men, Hector and the missionary, feeling the promptings of the Holy Spirit and bearing testimony.  And as a consequence, a humble prayer was answered and another testimony was gained of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saving for a Mission

The blessings of missionary work are infinite and eternal, though there are costs to a Mormon mission and sacrifices that must be made. One of those sacrifices is the need for young men to save almost $10,000 to pay for their mission.  And I believe that, as much as possible, young men should pay for their own mission, because even greater blessing flow that way.spencer w kimball

Paying for a Mission

This is what President Spencer W. Kimball said on the subject:

“Remember it costs money to go to the various parts of the world and preach the gospel. Remember, then, it is your privilege now to begin to save your money. Every time money comes into your hands, through gifts or earnings, set at least part of it away in a savings account to be used for your mission.”

A young man’s mission preparation consists of “preparing to finance his mission so it may be his own contribution, so far as possible. How wonderful it would be if each future missionary could have saved for his mission from birth. How wonderful it would be if every boy could totally or largely finance his own mission and thereby receive most of the blessings coming from his missionary labors.”

“Of course, if the boy is a convert in his teens, his years of saving are limited. If he lives in a country where the economic standards are low and opportunities are severely limited, he can still be governed by this policy so far as possible and do the best he can.”

President Kimball Speaks Out on Being a Missionary, New Era, May 1981

Mowing lawnTips on Earning and Saving Money for a Mission

  • Start early.  When my son was four years old I got him a piggy bank to start saving for his mission.  Starting early will help you develop better money saving habits, and it will also help you let interest work in your favor.
  • Find ways to earn money.  Ask your parents, friends and neighbors if they have chores you could do to earn money for your missionary fund like mowing the lawn, washing the windows, or other indoor or outdoor work.
  • Budget! Make a budget, or plan, for how much of the money you earn will be saved for your mission.  Allow your self some money to spend on fun things too, but you’ll probably want to save at least 50% of each pay check for your missionary fund.  And don’t forget 10% for tithing.
  • Open a saving account.  When you get old enough and want to graduate from the piggy bank system, opening a savings account will be a safe way to store your money and it will also allow you to earn interest on the money you have saved.mcdonalds hamburger worker
  • Get a part-time job.  When you get old enough, ask your parents about getting a part-time job.   I got my first job working at McDonald’s when I was 16 years old.  This was a great way for me to add to my missionary fund.  If your parents don’t want you to work during the school year, see about getting a summer job.
  • Talk to your parents.  For many of these options, you will need your parents’ help, so be sure to work with them to develop a plan for how your mission will be paid for.  Even if your parents can afford to pay for your mission, as President Kimball said, it is a good idea for young men and women to pay for some or all of their own mission.

mission savings calculator

Saving for Missions: Examples

The following are four examples of how young men are saving money for their missions.  They come from Mission Made Possible, a New Era article in June 2004.

Adam Sessions, age 12, Morgan Park Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake. Adam’s plan is  simple: “For every five dollars I get, I give two to my mission fund,” he says. He also always makes sure to pay his tithing.  Starting at 12 might seem early, but Adam’s really excited that he has seven years to save for his mission. He’s not old enough to have a part-time job, but he does jobs for people in his neighborhood, such as emptying recycling bins, and shoveling snow from side walks.  Along with his financial preparation, Adam has also set a goal to finish reading the Book of Mormon by the time he’s 13. He reads every day. saving for mission by babysitting

Nathan Neeley, age 15, Westchester First Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake.  Nathan started saving when he was 10.  He began by delivering papers, shoveling snow, and mowing lawns. Now that he’s 15, he babysits for some of the families in his ward. After paying tithing, he puts away 10 percent of each paycheck for his mission.  He’s had the desire to serve since Primary when he sang “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission.”  “And when my brother went,” he says, “that made me want to go even more. It made a big difference for me. He set the example. He really changed his attitude toward life because of his mission.”

David Montoya, age 17, Orland Park Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake.  David’s paycheck disappears into his mission fund so fast you’d think it was one of the coins he can make appear or disappear at will. A master of the sleight of hand, David turned his magic hobby into mission dollars when he started working at a magic store and later performing as “Magician Monte” at local restaurants and birthday parties on weekends. Now that he’s attending a local community college, he has a job as a bank teller and only does his magic show on the side.

“Your mission starts way before your mission,” David says, as he looks sage-like over the top of his glasses. He’s been preparing since he was 12, when he decided he wanted to go on a mission. Sacrifice and discipline are what David credits with his successful mission-savings plan. He started putting away half his paycheck when he was 14. At 17, he almost has all his mission money saved.

wash truck to earn money for missionAnthony Haga, age 19, Rock Island Ward, Davenport Iowa Stake.  Anthony’s first job was as a bagger at a grocery store on an air base. He saved 25 percent of his money for his mission fund at first. He later got a job at a car wash through a friend in his seminary class. He’s been working there ever since and has been saving half his earnings for his mission. A few months ago, however, Anthony realized he wouldn’t meet his goal if he maintained this saving pattern. He would have to step it up. So he cut his other expenses and started putting away much more money. And he counts it as a blessing of paying tithing that he also got a raise at work. He’s going to make it.

And it’s a good thing too, because he just got his mission call to Boise, Idaho. Because he’s been through saving for his mission, Anthony has some advice: “Be prepared to work for your money, but I can testify that when you work to earn as much as you can, then the Lord will take care of the rest.”


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.