Cost to Get Ready to Go on a Mission

Suitcases by Mandy JansenOne question that has come up often from readers is how much do missionaries need to have saved to buy clothes, suit cases, and other gear (dresses, suits, shoes, socks, garments, pajamas, toiletries, winter coat, sheets, etc.) before going on their mission. These purchases are in addition to the monthly cost of an LDS mission, but similarly must be paid for by the missionaries, and their families, themselves.

While the needs of ever mission and missionary are different, making it difficult to estimate these costs with exactness, many future missionaries would benefit from a ball-park estimate of how much to expect to spend to get ready to go on their mission. So I reached out to several families in my stake who had recently sent missionaries out and I asked them how much it cost to get ready to go on a mission. The responses varied from $1,000 to over $3,000.

One mother replied who has sent two daughters on missions. She estimated that with the purchase of temple garments, clothing, suitcases, and other things, they probably spent close to $1,000. She feels like, based on helping some nephews getting ready to go mission, that it’s probably less expensive to send out sister missionaries than elders, primarily because suits are more expensive than dresses. Of course, she notes, there are a lot of variables depending on where they go to serve. She also had some advice for parents and future missionaries–get things for the mission along the way during their teenage years, like the missionary reference library and some items of clothing,  so you don’t have to buy everything at once.

One father who has sent two sons on missions, said that each time it was around $1,500 for clothes, suitcases, bedding, etc. He remarked, though, that neither son had to buy a bike and that could have easily pushed the cost to $2,000 or more. You see, costs of getting ready to go on a mission, including clothes and equipment such as bikes, will vary depending on the specific mission needs and requirements. Some missions in the US and elsewhere even require the missionaries to buy technology such as an iPad (which they get to keep at the end of their mission).

Another mother responded who’s son went to Argentina. She kept detailed records of the costs because she has three more sons to send on missions in the coming years. His mission required two suits plus full winter gear, but she also bought him a few additional items, such as extra shoes, spending about $1,600 total on clothes alone. Additionally, she spent a couple hundred dollars on a camera and supplies for it, a couple hundred on luggage, and several hundred on toiletries and other miscellaneous items (power converter, laundry bag, shoe shining, towels, sheets, watch, messenger bag, journal, first aid kit, etc.). Then there were the costs of his Visa and Passport, and this particular son wears contacts and so there was also the cost of a two year supply of contact lenses. The grand total for getting this son ready to go on his mission was about $3,200.

So as you see, the cost to get ready to go on a mission can greatly vary. How much will you need to save? It’s had to say exactly, so if I were you, I’d err on the conservative side and save at least a couple thousand dollars. Good luck!

P.S. To calculate how much money you’ll need to save for your mission, please check out our mission savings calculator.

8 Stories: Missionary Exhibit at Temple Square

8 stories missionary exhibit temple squareA new missionary-themed exhibit was recently opened at the North Visitors’ Center at Temple Square in Salt Lake City. The exhibit explains how the teachings of Jesus Christ and missionary service affect the individuals who go on a mission, their families, and people they serve in their mission area.

A room is dedicated to this exhibit where guests can view eight short films, each about 8 minutes long, that explore the real life experiences of eight members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who served full-time missions.

8 stories missionary exhibit insideThe films feature 2 women and 6 men from all over the world who served their mission in San Diego, California: Tevita Tuituu, Jon Hepworth, Steve Bott, Janet Zaldivar, Alex Murray, J. Tyler Christensen, Laura Voyles, and Mike Moreno.

The films talks about each one of these missionaries, their life before their mission, and the things that made them decide to serve. Each film then spends a few minutes sharing meaningful experiences they had during their mission and finishes by showing the missionaries returning home and talks about the effect that serving a mission has had on their life.

8 stories missionary exhibit inside2If you live in the Salt Lake area or if you come to Utah to visit, please make time to go see this exhibit. Especially if you have young men or young women considering a mission and unsure if they should go or not, please go see these films. They’ll feel the Spirit of God and it will no doubt increase their desire to serve as full-time missionaries.

Top 10 Reasons the LDS Church Participates in Boy Scouts

Summary: This is a list of the top 10 reasons why the LDS Church participates in Boy Scouts and how those ten reasons also make Scouting a great missionary preparation tool. 

boy scout silhouetteDespite being “deeply troubled” by recent rule changes made by the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) National Executive Board to allow openly gay leaders, the LDS Church issued a statement this week saying the Church “will go forward as a chartering organization of BSA.” They said they have received assurances from the BSA that Church sponsored Scouting units will continue to be able “to appoint Scout leaders according to their religious and moral values.”

The First Presidency of the Church further stated that:

“As leaders of the Church, we want the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) to succeed in its historic mission to instill leadership skills and high moral standards in youth of all faiths and circumstances, thereby equipping them for greater success in life and valuable service to their country.”

All this news about the Boy Scouts has caused me to once again reflect on how Scouting prepares young men for missionary service. In preparing for this year’s Friends of Scouting fund raising drive in my stake, I came across this article from the Utah National Parks Council of the BSA on Why Scouting Matters to LDS Church Leaders. I found the article quite interesting, particularly the results of the survey of local Church leaders regarding why they feel the LDS Church participates in Boy Scouts.

The questions posed to the survey respondents was: what is the  most important outcome of Scouting? Here are the top ten responses according to the research conducted by Rushford Lee, owner of Research Emotion Design (RED), in the aforementioned article:

10. Learn to serve others

Boy Scouts teaches duty to God and country and the importance or serving in our communities. Scout “service projects” are a core part of the Scouting program, including the boys’ capstone Eagle Project. Mormon missionary service is also all about service. Our common vernacular of “serving” a mission is exactly right, a mission is a two-year act of service to God, the Church, and the people in the area where a missionary goes.

9. Provide young men with good role models

From his research, Lee explained, “Our young men need heroes to look up to. They need role models in their lives, at home and as they grow. Our goal [in the Boy Scouts] is to help them become men such as the great leaders and teachers around them.”

8. Develop a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ

Gary Stevenson, Presiding Bishop of the LDS Church, said “Duty to God is the heart of Scouting. It is a founding principle as old and deep as the organization itself.” (See BSA Annual Meeting Keynote Speech 2013) Duty to God and the principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ is at the heart of the Church’s involvement in Scouting. In the survey, one leader described it this way, “If we take our young men to outdoor activities and forget to have them bear their testimonies around the fire, we’ve missed the purpose of Scouting.”

7. Teach real life skills

Going through the Boy Scouts program teaches young men many practical skills that will help them throughout the rest of their life. The Scouting program is well known for teaching boys how to camp and thrive in the great outdoors, how to build fires and how to find their way in the woods, etc. But most Scouts live in cities or suburban areas and the Boy Scouts teaches practical skills for them as well, such as economics, budgeting, computers, home repairs, plumbing, communications, gardening, first aid, law, and physical fitness. You can see how many of these skills will help in the practical aspects of a mission and mission prep. On top of that, Scouting helps boys to be well rounded and teaches social and cultural skills such as the theatre, social media, painting, poetry, chess, movie making, and many more.

6. Teach strong work ethic

As a young man goes through the Scouting program, he learns the value of hard work and gains a strong work ethic. He learns of the satisfaction that only comes through hard work and perseverance as he earns merit badge, makes rank advancements, and eventually earns his Eagle. One of the survey participants noted that Scouts aids in “learning how to do hard things, gain confidence and preparing for the future.”

5. Prepare to be a husband and father

Because of many of the aforementioned benefits, teaching real life skills and a strong work ethic, Boy Scouts prepares young men to be better husbands and fathers. Additional, the core values of Scouts teaches boys to be morally straight and prepares them to be faithful to their future wives and children. One surveyed Church leader described it this way: “Life is full of difficult experiences. Teaching resilience in the early years is very helpful preparation for missions, marriage, and parenthood.”

4. Prepare to go on a mission

Church leaders who responded to the survey consistently pointed out that Boy Scouts is great mission prep. In fact, fourth highest on their list of desired outcomes for the boys in the Scouting program was that it would help them be better missionaries some day. I think if you look at this list of benefits of Scouting, physical, spiritual, and emotional, it’s easy to see why it is such a great missionary preparation system.

3. Provide opportunity to connect and interact with others

Young men’s ability to be social and connect and interact with others will make them better missionaries and Scouts helps build those skills. To quote another Church leader from the survey: “Many young men don’t have the opportunity to connect with others. They don’t have strong family ties, they may not make friends easily, don’t fit in well at school. Scouting provides an atmosphere where the kids can fit in with their peers. Our leaders try and do a variety of activities that interest all of the boys. Gives leadership a chance to reach the one.”

2. Become spiritually minded

The spiritual aspects of Scouting are at the root of the program and cannot be overlooked. One survey respondent explained the purpose of Boy Scouts this way: “To develop young men through faith in God, hard work, problem solving, achievement, and character-building activities.” Lee further clarified, “this is what Scouting is meant to be; bringing God into Scouting in a large way and making this tie together. It’s time to make the purpose of Scouting clear.” Scouting helps young men be spiritually minded and I have often thought that to be spiritually minded (see Romans 8:6 and 2 Nephi 9:39) is the key to success in the missionary training center and throughout your mission.

1. Provide young men unique experiences

Number one on church leaders list of reasons for participating in the Boy Scouts is that is gives young men unique experiences that they wouldn’t otherwise have. In the survey, a Church leader said:  “There are life learning experiences in an outdoor environment with other boys and men that give the boys a unique experience outside of the home that support what’s going on inside the home.”

In my own personal experience as a Boy Scout in my youth, I participated in service projects, went on hikes and camp outs, learned a wide variety of skills, interacted with many other men and boys, and had countless other experiences that I wouldn’t have otherwise had. The Boys Scouts of America provides young men with wonderful experiences and is an effective missionary preparation tool that I hope all the young men of the Church will take full advantage of.

10-reasons-lds-church-boy-scouts

Paying for your Mission

Summary: Figuring out how to pay for an LDS mission is one of the top things on the minds of youth and seniors who are planning to serve a mission soon. This article will discuss the process of paying for your mission.

Missionaries Should Strive to Pay Their Own Way

young man paying tithingAs I’ve discussed in my article about the costs of serving an LDS Mission, Mormon missionaries are volunteers and pay their own expenses. The responsibility to provide financial support for a missionary lies first with the individual and second with the missionary’s family. Missionaries and their families should make appropriate sacrifices to provide financial support for a mission and they will be richly blessed in return. Church leaders have even said that it is better for a person to delay a mission for a time and earn their own money rather than to rely entirely on others (see the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions). However, Church leaders have also stressed that worthy potential missionaries should never be prevented from serving solely for financial reasons when they and their families have done all that they can to pay their way.

Equalized Contribution and the Ward Missionary Fund

Many years ago, the Church equalized the contribution required to pay for expenses of missionaries, regardless of where these missionaries are called to serve. For example, missionaries in the United States all pay $400 a month, and then depending on where they serve, missionaries are allotted a monthly allowance according to their needs. The $400 a month is sent to Church headquarters through the ward missionary fund. For each missionary from a ward who is serving a mission, the bishop ensures that the monthly contribution is available in the ward missionary fund each month.

[one_half last=”no”]As a side note, this is why the new online donation website is so great because it lets members all over the world donate to the missionary’s ward missionary fund, and thus help cover the costs the ward must come up with monthly to support missionaries.  It should also be noted that the equalized contribution applies only to young proselyting missionaries. It does not apply to senior missionary couples, missionaries in non-proselyting assignments, sisters ages 40 and older, or Church-service missionaries.[/one_half][one_half last=”yes”]mission savings calculator
Ideas for earning and saving money for your mission[/one_half]

While missionaries should avoid relying on people outside of their family for financial support, there are times when it may become necessary to ask others to help pay for your mission. If necessary, the stake president or bishop, in consultation with the family, may ask members in the stake or ward to contribute to a missionary’s support by donating to the ward missionary fund. This should only be done after all family sources of financial support have be exhausted.

Personal Funds for Extras

The $400 a month and associated monthly allowance missionaries receive is designed to cover food, lodging, transportation, and other missionary service-related expenses. Additional expenses a missionary might have are asked to be paid with personal funds. Missionaries are asked to bring or receive extra personal money for additional items that are personal or not a necessity. This includes clothing, bicycle purchases and repairs, medical costs not paid by the mission, photo processing, souvenirs, and gifts. These optional personal expenses should be kept to a minimum.

Supplemental Support from the General Missionary Fund

In some part of the world supplemental financial support from the Church’s General Missionary Fund is available for missionaries who are unable to support themselves, even with the help of family and their ward and stake. Church leaders in those areas of the world will know if they qualify for such assistance.

Click here to donate to the LDS Church General Missionary Fund

Financing Senior Couples and Other Non-Proselyting Missionaries

Senior missionary couples, sisters ages 40 and older, church-service missionaries, and young church-service missionaries are not able to finance their missions through the equalized contribution system. Costs for this missions vary greatly and these missionaries must pay their own expenses, or raise the necessary money from family and friends. It should be noted though, that senior missionary couples and sisters over 40, in some cases, may receive financial assistance from the ward missionary fund if they do not have adequate means to support themselves. Talk to your bishop or stake president for more information.

Poem: He’s Been There Before

mormon missionaries riding bikesHe’s Been There Before is a great poem by Elder Troy Whittle who served in the Texas Houston Mission. It is reprinted here with the author’s permission. May  it be an inspiration to missionaries present and future to work diligently and make sacrifices of obedience and know that they are not alone and will have great success and blessings as they follow the Savior, act has his representative, and endure to the end.


The alarm bell rings at 6:30, I stumble to my feet
I grab my companions bedding and pull off his sheets

A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise?
It seems like just a second ago, I was able to shut my eyes

The morning activities follow with study, prayer and such
When it’s time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven’t accomplished much

“We have a super day planned,”
My comp. says with a grin
I lowly utter a faithless breath,
“Yeah, if anyone lets us in.”

With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the street
Prepared to face another day of humidity and heat

It’s 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through
My companion and I are riding home not accomplishing what we thought to do

We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to receive a lot
Only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate “air box”

We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete
The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet

It’s past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep
Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep

In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray
I need to talk to father, but I’m not sure what to say

“Oh, Father” I begin, “What happened to us today?
I thought we’d teach somebody, but everyone was away

My hands, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat;
If our area was any smaller, we’d have knocked the doors on every street”

“Why on missions are the days so much alike?
The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike

Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me
I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it’s very hard to see”

“Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn’t your protection enough?
People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff

Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack
I want to give them Book of Mormons, the weight of them hurts my back”

“And what about my family, They don’t have much to say
I’m sick of not hearing from home day after day after day

Oh Father, Why am I here am I just wasting time?
Sometimes I just want to go home, I’m sorry but that’s on my mind”

“My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me?”
The way he rides his bicycle, I don’t think he can see

Now you have it, I can’t go on, I don’t know what to do
That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you”

My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed
I need my rest for tomorrow, we have another long day ahead

Sleep starts to overtake me, I seem to drift away
Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day

I’m standing alone on the hill, The view is very nice
A man walks towards me and says, “My name is Jesus Christ”

Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet
“Arise,” He states, “Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak”

My attention’s towards my Savior, total and complete
He says, “Your mission is similar of what happened to me

I understand how you feel, I know what you’re going through
In fact, it would be fair to say I’ve felt the same as you”

“I even know how you felt when no one listened to you
At times I felt not quite sure what else that I could do

I know you don’t like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet
Just remember the donkey I rode wasn’t equipped with 21 speeds”

“I understand you don’t like sweating, in fact it’s something you hate
I remember when I sweat blood from every pore, oh the agony was great!

I see you don’t like your companion, you’d rather have someone else
I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth”

“It’s hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you
Much like when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews

So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack
I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back”

“Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day
I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way

It’s hard not to hear from home when your family’s not there to see
I lost communication on the cross and cried, “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”

“We have a lot in common, but there’s a difference between us you see
I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me”

He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love
With tears in my eyes I watched as He ascended back to the Father above

I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head
Listening I heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed

My companion let out a groan, “it’s 6:30 already, no way!”
I sat up and said, “Come on, I’ll even carry your scriptures today!”

No matter what we go through,
When we feel we can’t take more
Just stop and think about Jesus Christ,
He’s been there before!

By Elder Troy Whittle
Texas Houston Mission

Online Donations Website Lets You Contribute to Missionaries Around the World

online donation to mormon missionaryOne of the more frequent questions I’ve gotten over the years is from people who want to contribute to the missionary fund of a friend or relative in another ward. They want to know how to go about helping the missionary financially. Unfortunately, up until now, their options were rather limited. But now the Church is in the process of rolling out an online donation system in the United States which will facilitate paying tithes and offerings online, but also make it easy to donate to missionaries anywhere in the world.

The LDS Church Online Donation website is easy to use, but the tricky part in donating to missionaries is that you have to know the ward or branch unit number in order to contribute money to the missionary. There are a couple of ways to get the missionary’s home ward unit number: 1) you can contact the ward clerk of the missionary’s home ward or branch and he will give you this information. Many of you will have no way to get in contact with the missionary’s home ward clerk, so you’ll have to reach out to family or friends in that unit and they will have to get the unit number for you. 2) Another option is for any priesthood leader with access to the Church Directory of Organizations and Leaders (CDOL). Priesthood leaders can log into the CDOL website and look up the unit number for any ward in the world.

Once you know the ward or branch unit number of the missionary’s home ward or branch, to give money to a missionary…

  1. Log in to LDS.org, under “My Account and Ward” select “Donations.”
  2. On the “Make a Donation” tab, in the Ward Missionary Fund drop down menu, select “Missionary in Other Ward/Branch.”
  3. Enter the ward or branch unit number, and click “Continue.”
  4. A drop down menu will then appear with the names of missionaries serving from that unit.
  5. Select the missionary and type in the amount and following the remaining steps and you’re all set.

Here is a link to a video the Church has made to explain more about the online donations process.

I hope many of you will take advantage of this new technology to donate to the missionary funds of your friends and family members. As you do so, I know the Lord will richly bless you.

Related Article

mission savings calculator

My Missionary Commission

Early on in my mission, perhaps before I even left the MTC, I received a copy of a document entitled “My Missionary Commission” by Elder Bruce R. McConkie. While I found the short poem inspiring then, and still think it is good for today’s missionaries, I have hesitated to post it on this website because the document is apocryphal (i.e. it’s source cannot be authenticated). They say it came from an address Elder McConkie delivered while serving as president of the Australian Mission from 1961–64. I post it here now due to popular demand and the fact that the poem is already well-circulated. Enjoy!

My Missionary Commission

I am called of God.
My authority is above that of 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 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 in deed of the divinity of his great and marvelous latter-day work.
How great is my calling!
-Elder Bruce R. McConkie

 

Buy My Missionary Commission Digital Subway Art

My dear wifey, Heather, has an Etsy shop where see sells digital prints and other inspiring subway art. She has an item in her store where you can buy a digital subway art version McConkie’s My Missionary Commission. It’s only $5 and you can print it as a 16×20, 11×14, 8×10, 5×7, or 4×6. Print it and frame it and it makes a great gift for current and future missionaries. Click on the image below to go to her Etsy shop and purchase it. Thanks!

my-missionary-commission

Virtual Mission Call Map

pins on world mapWhen I was a freshman at BYU, during the winter semester of 1995, most of the young men in my ward were submitting their mission papers and receiving their mission calls. Our ward, like many others then and now, had a map of the world on which they put a pin indicating where each young man was going to serve on his mission. I thought it was a wonderful way for us to celebrate together and recognize the world wide influence these young men were going to have in bringing the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to virtually every corner of the globe.

In 2009, when I launched the Mormon Mission Prep website, part of my vision was to have a virtual mission call map, where men and women, young and old, could put a pin representing where they served their mission. My first attempt at this was a manual process where people emailed me their information and I then put it on a Google Map. But that was simply too difficult for me to maintain. My second attempt, a few years latter, I called the mission farewell feature, which allowed people to submit their information through a form but it lacked a graphical map interface. Today I’m announcing a new mission call map feature that automates the data collection process, making it easy for me to maintain, through a form submission, and also has a graphical map where the pictures of the missionaries will automatically appear showing where they have been called to serve.
Add Your Mission Call to the Map Here View the Mission Call Map Here

mission call map launchThis new, virtual mission call map is for not only for young people just receiving their calls. I’d love it if missionaries, young and old, newly returned or long-time returned submitted their information. When you submit your information, you will be asked for your name, mission location, mission start date, hometown, and your testimony about your mission call. Your picture will appear on the world-wide map and clicking on your picture will take users to a separate page with a bigger picture and your testimony and other information. That individual detail page is easily shareable on social media so you can share your call with all your family and friends.

I’m excited about this new feature and look forward to receiving many submissions, seeing where people are called to serve the Lord, and reading your sincere testimonies. Thanks!

 

Young Church Service Missionary Program

young church service missionaryIn 2010, I wrote about Church Service Missions (CSMs) as an excellent opportunity for members who are unable to live away from home, to contribute in a meaningful way to the building of the Lord’s kingdom by serving in a variety of capacities. CSMs were always available for young people, but in recent years, the LDS Church has expanded this and created the Young Church Service Missionary (YCSM) program.

Who Is Eligible for a Young Church Service Mission?

The YCSM program is designed for young men who have been honorably excused from serving a proselyting mission for physical, mental, and emotional health reasons or who have returned home early from a full-time mission for reasons other than worthiness.  The program is also for young women who desire to serve a mission but can’t fulfill a proselyting mission for reasons other than worthiness. The key requirement, as you are seeing, to be eligible for this program is that the youth must be worthy to serve a mission.

Other requirements to serve a YCSM are that the candidate, or the family, must be able to financially support the mission, including providing for living expenses (most YCSMs live at home), transportation, insurance, and health related needs. YCSMs must be the standard age for a mission by young adults, between 18-25 for young men, and 19-25 for young women. They must have a strong desire to serve a mission and show that they are willing and able to fulfill the assignment they are given.

What You Do as a Young Church Service Missionary?

Young church service missions are customized to meet the needs of each individual. The schedule is developed by the YCSM and the family with input from the Bishop and Stake President. YCSMs are not given regular proselyting or temple assignments, though weekly exchanges with the full-time missionaries or time for temple attendance may be included in their schedule. YCSMs usually serve with a Church department such as  Deseret Industries, Family History, Information Technology (IT), Publishing Services, Facilities Management, Seminaries and Institutes, or Welfare. They can do a variety of tasks such as office support, building maintenance, computer support, special needs assistance, event support, cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc.

Young church service missionaries typically live at home and they can serve for anywhere from 6 to 24 months. Family involvement, from parents or other extended family, is generally a crucial part of helping the YCSM succeed as they will not have a missionary companion.  YCSMs serve as close to full-time as possible and this can be accomplished with a single assignment or a combination of part-time assignments. Though assignments may largely center around temporal work, the Young church service mission should be a spiritual experience as well.

Here is a list, provided by the Church, of suggested places where young church service missionaries can serve.

How Do You Apply to be a YCSM?

If you desire to serve a Young church service mission, first meet with your bishop and discuss it with him. He will direct you to the online mission papers / recommendation system or give you the actual paper forms. Alternatively, you can download the Young Church-Service Missionary Recommendation Form. You will discuss the potential places to serve and you will begin to make those arrangements. Once the paperwork is completely filled out, the bishop and stake president will interview you, verify your worthiness, sign the application, and forward the application by email to the Young Church Service Missionary department at church headquarters, or mail it in.

How Will You Receive Your YCSM Call?

Once an appropriate mission service plan has been agreed upon by you, your family, and the Church operation, the application will be processed by Church Headquarters. The call letter will be sent to the Stake President. He will then extend to you the formal mission call, and you will be set apart as a missionary by your bishop. Your YCSM service is recorded on your individual membership record as serving a mission just as it is for a proselyting mission.

After you have been set apart, you should contact the church operation where you will be serving. The operation will supervise and train you in your mission assignment. Your stake president and bishop will remain your ecclesiastical leaders during your mission. They will interview you regularly, to see how the mission is going, and the stake president will basically serve as your mission president.

Click here to go to the official Young Church-Service Missionaries website and learn more about this program.

Young Church Service Missionary Infographic

Rural Ward: Apr 1996 to Aug 1996

After serving in my first mission area, the Gazano Branch in the city of Paraná, Argentina, I was transferred to the Rural Ward in the city of Santa Fe where I served from April 3, 1996 to August 27, 1996. This was the longest area in which I served–nearly 5 months. There are a lot of pictures, so I have broken them up into these sections:

Members of the Rural Ward, Santa Fe, Argentina

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-24

This is the Sassettis, a great family that fed us lunch frequently. The Hermana Sassetti always used the most interesting combinations of food, but it was always tasty. I think the husband was the former bishop of the ward. He was always at work when we came over for lunch, but we got to know the wife and kids really well.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-25

This another great family in the Rural ward. The Martinez family. They invited us often for lunch.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-19

This is Sergio (I can’t remember his last name) and his son Mauricio and his daughter Jessica. Sergio was not a member, but I think his wife was. His wife’s parents were the Loveras, in the ward. Sergio was very nice to us missionaries. We would visit them often to strengthen them spiritually and they would invite us to lunch or dinner at times. The husband would use this horse drawn cart to drive around neighborhoods selling fruits and vegetables.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-21

Sergio even once let me takes the reigns of his cart.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-04

This is the Andrada family. Brother Andrada is cooking some fried pastries dipped in sugary syrup. I’m sure there was a name for them but I don’t remember now, but they were a common in Argentina. They were sold in pastry shops or small neighborhood stores, kioskos. People would also sell them on the streets, which is what this family was preparing to do, to make some extra money. In fact, we met their kids my very first day in this area when they approached us and asked if we wanted to buy some pastries. This was a great family, very faithful, and I always wanted to do more to help them temporally, in the material aspects of life. Still they were happy and generous with what little they had.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-10

This was a great family; the Moyanos. Martin is 12 with the orange drink. Maria Jose is his sister in the blue jacket. Emiliano is their younger brother in the red sweater being held by his mom. The dad is the one I the blue v-neck sweater.  They fed us lunch and dinner frequently, which was very kind of them. But this was also the family that fed us huevos de torro without telling us what they were until after we had tried them. Pretty gross. There are actually two families in the photo, both of which lived in this house. The little baby I’m holding was the younger couple’s child and he was just a month or two old. Like many Latin babies, he had a ton of thick dark hair. I had hair clippers, so they asked me to cut his hair shortly after he was born. So I did.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-34

This is Emiliano Moyano’s birthday party. I was frequently amazed at how Argentines would go all out for their kid’s birthday parties. I guess a great many people in the US are just as guilty at that. Anyway, I remember many families didn’t have a camera, so they would rent one for the day when they had a birthday or special occasion.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-13

These are two young adults in the ward: Carina Campos and Fernando Benavidez. They were dating at the time and I assumed they would marry, but I guess it didn’t work out because a few years later I ran into her at BYU in a single women’s apartment complex.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-27

This was a part member family in the ward. The Alegre family (they’re name translated means “happy”. What a great name!) We visited them frequently in an effort to befriend and strengthen them. They fed us often. I can remember eating some delicious empenadas with them as well as some fried spinach rice patties. I don’t think all missionaries had a pallet for them, but I thought they were delicious.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-28

This is Obispo Picolo, the bishop of the Rural ward at the time I was there. We took this photo after a dinner appointment with them one night.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-29

This is the Benavidez family. They are a great family and strong in testimony. They had sent there older son on a mission (he is pictured above with his girl friend in the bike picture). They lived a modest life style, without many of the niceties we are accustomed to in the US, but they were happy and faithful.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-35

The Benavidez family fed us all the time. Brother Benavidez was the ward mission leader and very dedicated. It looks like we’re have giso, or something of the sort for dinner. Giso was a generic name Argentine’s often called stew or soup. And of course notice the segmented loaf of bread on the table. That was the most common form of bread in Argentina. You almost didn’t have a meal with it.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-37

This is the Craven family. Brother Craven was a counselor in the mission presidency. The Cravens had two boys and also in the picture is Elder Maynes, Sister Thomas, myself, and Sister Vallejos.

Investigators We Taught

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-18

Here I am with Lenny Marquez, a remise (taxi) driver in the city of Santa Fe that lived near us. He was from the United States originally, so he was one of the few people in Argentina, besides other missionaries, with whom we could speak English. We tried to teach him the discussion and we did have a couple of visits to his house. But ultimately, he really wasn’t interested at that time in the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Perhaps we planted some seeds, though, that may sprout and allow other missionaries to teach and baptize him.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-26

This is a family we had just found and began teaching in the weeks before I was transferred. Adrian Martinez and his girlfriend and their daughter. I’d be interested to know if they ever got baptized. Though Adrian was interested in the gospel, he needed to get married to his girlfriend before he could get baptized (an obstacle we ran into quite frequently).

Missionaries I Served With

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-07

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-06

These are pictures of Elder Pinto and I. After only one month together, Elder Pinto was transferred. When we learned of the transfer, we asked the land lady to take our picture. Her hands were shaky and somehow I didn’t think the first photo was going to turn out, so then we took the selfie. Elder Pinto was a great companion, but my time with him was difficult because he did not speak any English. He was from Mendoza Argentina. This was only my fourth month in Argentina, so my Spanish was still pretty rough. I can remember dreaming in English at night and then waking up in the morning and the dreadful thought hitting me that I would have to speak Spanish all day long without the option of communicating in English. It was difficult, but the hard work paid off and my Spanish greatly improved. My first day with Elder Pinto, he bought me hot dogs because he thought all North American’s did. I don’t like them, though, so it turned out to be a funny story. Read it here in my article about my first transfer.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-31

This is Elder Maynes, my second companion in the Rural Ward. I think I caught him a little off guard in this photo. He had just arrived from the transfer and was unpacking his things.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-08

This is a picture of me with my second companion in the Rural Ward, Elder Maynes. Also in the photo are the other sister missionaries in our district, Sister Smith and Sister Thomas.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-23

Here I am with the zone leaders, Elder Davis and Elder Rindlisbacher. I did a couple of day-long exchanges with Elder Rindlisbacher. In fact he was with me during the experience I wrote about when the power of the Book of Mormon was manifested.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-05

This is Elder Stephenson and myself at a regional conference in Rosario. I believe Elder Boyd K. Packer was visiting. Elder Stephenson was from the Frederick Maryland area like myself.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-38

Here is our Rural District with Obispo (Bishop) Picolo. We are in the chapel of one of the nicer church buildings I saw in our mission. It was owned by the Church (rather than rented was the case in many of my wards and branches there). It was two stories high and I believe it may have housed multiple wards.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-39

This is Elder Maynes and I with Hermana Thomas and Sister Epul, the other sisters in our district.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-33

This picture was taken on Preparation Day (P-Day) when Elder Manes and I went to the Church and played basketball with Jose Luis and Orlando Andrada. Notice how the basketball standard has a soccer goal under it. The soccer goal got used a lot more than the basketball. But the missionaries used it for basketball, not every week, but once in a while.

Me Cooking

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-17

Here I am making crepes. This is a Smith family favorite recipe that comes from my dad when he served his mission to France. I’m kneeling beside a propane tank with a burner attached to the top. We did not have a stove or oven in the apartment, nor a kitchen, nor a fridge, for that matter. The owners, in a house on the same property, would let us use their refrigerator if we had something that needed to be kept cold. I’m sorry the apartment appears quite messy in this photo. I assure you that we generally kept the apartment neat, clean, and organized.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-20

Here I am cooking some asado, Argentine barbequed steak. We had it served to us from time to time, so Elder Maynes and I decided one day that we would try to cook some ourselves. I don’t think it turned out as well, because we never tried it again during my mission.

Cutting Hair 

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-15

For some reason I had the thought to bring hair clippers on my mission and it turned out to be a good idea as I put it to use on other missionaries and and many members. When Elder Pinto was transferred, I gave him the hair clippers and asked my mom to send me a new set.

Here I am putting those hair clippers to good use on Orlando Andrada. The other young man is his friend, Jose Luis Osuna. I was always anxious to give the young men missionary-style hair cuts at a good price: free. Haircuts was often part of my weekly service as a missionary.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-22

Here I am cutting the hair of a member of the ward named Hermano (Brother) Aquino. This family was very poor. As you can see, there home consisted of whatever scrap sheet metal they could find. Four walls and a roof made up their modest home. They had electricity, though, and a television. Often people in circumstances like this would want to come to church, but since they had no way to lock their home and secure their belongings, they felt they needed to stay home.

Neighborhoods in Rural, Santa Fe

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-03

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-02
These are pictures from the roof of my first apartment in the Rural Ward of Santa Fe, Argentina. The first is looking into the city, the second is looking away from the city center. Our apartment was on the edge of our area. Our area went away from the city. The sisters in our district had the more urban areas of the ward because it was safer.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-09

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-12

These are two pictures of one of the more run-down areas of one of the poorer neighborhoods we visited from time to time. There were a handful of members that lived in this neighborhood, and we would occasionally find people here to teach discussions to. Though no one in this neighborhood, or in our entire area for that matter, was baptized while I was stationed there. That fact made this one of my hardest areas. It was the longest baptismal drought on my mission. I was in the Rural ward for 5 months. Anyway, back to the photo, the little cow on the left of the top one, tied to a tree by the train tracks was a funny situation to me which is probably why I snapped this photo.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-16

This is another picture of that poor neighborhood. I took this photo because the house has mud walls. That type of construction was rare but not unheard of, and must have meant the family inside was very poor as to worldly possessions.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-11

I couldn’t believe it when we came upon this piece of graffiti. It says, “Why are there so many religions if there is only one God?” This is a great lead into the first discussion about Joseph Smith and how a similar question led him to study the scriptures and pray and receive a marvelous revelation we know as the First Vision. If we only could have found the perpetrator we could have had a great discussion about the apostasy and the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ in these latter days.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-14

In our area was the soccer stadium for one of the city’s major soccer teams: Union de Santa Fe. Union was doing well this year, and I believe this was a championship game or one of the games leading up to the championship. The city was going crazy with excitement. Along the streets around the stadium were lots of vendors selling flags and shirts and other branded paraphernalia. At first we thought it presented a great opportunity to talk to the vendors about the gospel. Then we realized most were from out of town and so the teaching opportunities would be limited. I always wanted to see the inside of this or another Argentine soccer stadium but I never had the chance.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-36

This is the Benavidez family’s neighborhood, “Barrio Villa del Parque” (Park Village Neighborhood) according to my notes. Notice the “zanja” in the bottom right of the photo. The zanja is the drainage ditch on the side of roads, which in certain parts of Argentina, always seems to be stopped up and would become cesspools of filthy water. Disgusting, yes, but part of life there and part of my memories as a missionary.

Apartments in Rural, Santa Fe

io-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-01

This is a picture of our apartment in the Rural ward in the city of Santa Fe. Particularly, it’s a picture of the bathroom. While it’s pretty typical for an Argentine bathroom, it has some features that distinguish it from typical bathrooms in the U.S., which is why I snapped the photo. Notice the box connected to the shower. That device was filled with copper pipes that the water ran through. Flames instantly heated the water as it came out. Also notice that nothing separates the shower area from the sink or toilet, a common layout in Argentina. Notice the squeegee off to the left in the bathroom, that was used to clean up the floor after a shower and push splattered water down the drain on the floor.

Off to the right of the bathroom is the desk where Elder Pinto and I would study each day and our beds are right behind the person taking the photo. On the desk you can see some of the snacks I used to eat frequently in this area: Pepitos, which are were chocolate chip cookies. I couldn’t get those in all areas, so it was nice when I could. And there is a stack of wheat crackers and a little tub of strawberry jam. I’m not sure who introduced me to that combination, but for a time I was really enjoying jam on crackers. It also looks like there is a jar of Tang powder. Tang was one of my favorite drinks in Argentina, when we could get it.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-30

This is a picture of Elder Pinto taking out the trash. Who knows why I snapped this photo. It is interesting to note the yellow, orange and blue papers on the right wall. Those, as I recall, were cheat sheets to help learn Spanish verb conjugations. I think generally, Spanish is an easier language than English, but those verb conjugations could be very tricky. Click here to read more about my experience learning Spanish.

argentina-rosario-mission-rural-ward-jimmy-smith-32

This is the second apartment in Rural. Not long after Elder Pinto was transferred, we had to find a new apartment. This one was a little crammed for space, but it worked out fine. One thing this photo brings back to my memory is sleeping each night with a cap on. Winter came while I was in Rural and it started to get cold. Our apartment had no heat, which really only would have been needed at night. I found it difficult to sleep at night because my head was cold. I tried sleeping with my head under my blanket, but I felt like I was going to suffocate. That’s when I realized why the night cap had been invented all those years ago. I bought a comfortable winter cap to wear at night while I slept. Problem solved!

Other Memories of Rural

I don’t have a picture to go with these memories, but still wanted to record them:

  • In this ward there was a sister who would invite us to lunch and would make an oatmeal based chicken soup. It was a little strange to me at first, but it was very delicious.
  • There was a family that invited us over from time to time and usually served polenta with chicken and tomato sauce. Again, most missionaries I knew did not like polenta. It’s a lot like grits. But my mom is a southerner, so I grew up eating grits, and I really enjoyed the polenta.
  • During my first month in this area, I would get up an hour early to go jogging in the morning with Elder Pinto.
  • In this area we would often take the bus from the far end of our area back to our apartment when it was getting late in the evening and we needed to get back quickly to meet our curfew.