Preparing for the Temple

Of all the things we do in the church, there is nothing more worthy of our preparation than temple worship. The topic of preparing for the temple is especially applicable for soon-to-be missionaries, as all full-time Mormon missionaries go to the temple to receive their endowment prior to entering the MTC to begin their missionary service.

Scripture study, prayer, righteous desires, and complete worthiness are among the best things you can do for preparation as first-time temple attenders, as well as all who enter the temple. Those going to the temple for the first time should also consider taking the Church Temple Preparation (called Endowed from on High) from your ward or stake. The Church pamphlet called Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple is also a great resource to anyone attending the temple. That pamphlet states:

“What we gain from the temple will depend to a large degree on what we take to the temple in the way of humility and reverence and a desire to learn. If we are teachable we will be taught by the Spirit, in the temple.”

In my 20 years of attending the holy temple, the Spirit of the Lord has taught me many things. Many of those things are sacred and personal and should not be shared publicly, but many things I have learned can be shared and consist of blessings and knowledge within the grasp of all. What I have come to know is that the temple is

  1. A Place of Prayer
  2. A House of Wholeness
  3. A Sacrament of Symbols

As you understand these principles about the temple, I believe you will be more prepared for the experiences you will have in the temple and you will get greater blessings from your temple worship.

Place of Prayer

House of the Lord inscribed on the gila valley lds templeFirst, the temple is a place of prayer. Inscribed on each LDS temple is the phrase: “The House of the Lord.” The temple is literally the Lord’s House. There is no place on earth where you can be closer to God, figuratively or literally, than in His temple. As such, it is an ideal place to approach God in prayer. In fact, in the Doctrine and Covenants, the temple is referred to as a “house of prayer” (see D&C 88:119 and 109:8).

When you are facing difficult decisions or tough challenges in your life, I encourage you to go to the temple and pray. If you cannot yet enter the temple, that’s okay. You can still go to the temple grounds, feel close to God, and ponder the things of eternity. In a previous stake, I worked in a calling closely with the stake president. When he dealings with individuals with disciplinary issues that prevented them from going inside the temple, he still encouraged them to attend the temple grounds on a regular basis. He felt, and I agree, that the temple grounds, which are quiet and beautifully landscaped, will help draw people’s thoughts and desires toward God. And if the outside of the temple is a good place to approach God in prayer, just think how good the inside of the temple is.

Prayer, in the scriptures, is often linked together with fasting, and the temple is also referred to as a “house of fasting.” At one point in my life, I was earnestly praying for a new job. I had been searching for a new job for many months, and I was getting very little traction. Then I read D&C 88:119 which calls the temple a house of fasting, and the Spirit of the Lord came upon me in an unmistakable fashion. The Spirit reminded me that I had never in my life gone to the temple while fasting. If the temple is a house of fasting, I thought, I better attend while fasting, and I immediately made plans to do so. A few days later, I fasted and went to the temple and in the days that followed I received an outpouring of the blessings I sought. All of a sudden, I was getting dozens of requests for job interviews and before I knew it, I have several good leads and landed a great new job. This blessing was clearly a result of combining fasting and prayer and temple worship and strengthened my testimony of this principle.

President Thomas S. Monson, in his biography, To the Rescue, tells a story of fasting and prayer in the temple:

“[President Spencer W. Kimball] underwent open-heart surgery in 1972; the Apostles were in the temple that day, fasting, and they were “filled with hopeful anxiety” as they waited for word. When the phone rang, President Harold B. Lee left the room to take the call. “President Lee was a master at masking his feelings, and he walked back into the room as somber as he could be. He said, ‘That was Brother Nelson [speaking of President Kimball’s heart surgeon, Dr. Russell M. Nelson]. Spencer is off the pump!’” [Then] Elder Monson’s journal entry at the end of the day was tender: “We all smiled and said a prayer of thanksgiving.” (Chapter 24 of “To the Rescue”)

Truman G. Madsen once said:

“[My] testimony of the restored temple is that God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ yearn not to widen that gap but to close it. In the house of the Lord we may come to Him in light, in closeness, and in holy embrace. He promises in latter-day revelation: “I will manifest myself to my people in mercy in this house” (D&C 110:7).” (The Temple and the Mysteries of Godliness By Truman G. Madsen)

Not only do we leave our worldly clothes behind us at the temple in exchange for uniform, white clothing, but we also leave behind the cares of the world when we enter the temple. As you pray, the Lord will communicate to you about what really matters, eternally speaking. I have often gone to the temple in prayer and not received answers. Better stated, it’s not that I didn’t receive answers, it’s that my worries were the cares of the world. God, in his eternal perspective, knows what is really important and cares most about our eternal well-being and returning to his presence in the Celestial Kingdom. If answers to prayers are hard to come by, don’t confuse God’s eternal perspective with divine indifference.

There is no place on the earth where we can get closer to God and no place better to pray and receive answers to prayer than in the House of the Lord. The Temple truly is a place of prayer.

House of Wholeness

Second, the temple is a house of wholeness. By wholeness, I mean the temple is a place where the complete and full gospel is presented. The temple is all-encompassing of the whole gospel of Jesus Christ, and it is the center of all we do in His Church. All the things we do in the Church, all ordinances, all programs, and all teachings ultimately lead to the temple. Missionary work, Sunday services, family history work, and all other programs of the Church have the ultimate design to help families go to the temple and receive the ordinances there.

President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught this principle when he said that “missionary work is only the beginning” of the gathering of Israel.  He said, “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” (Thanks for the Covenant, Nov 22, 1988).

The ancient American prophet Nephi also taught this principle in 2 Nephi chapter 31 when he said:

“For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; …And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.” (2 Nephi 31:17-20)

Receiving the higher ordinances of the temple and keeping those covenants is a key part of what Nephi described as pressing forward after baptism. The path we start at baptism is not complete until we also go to the temple.

Elder David A. Bednar, in a general 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 in this talk, he said, “Clearly, when we baptize, our eyes should gaze beyond the baptismal font to the holy temple.”

Elder John A. Widtsoe, former member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, spoke of the wholeness of the temple when he said:

“The temple ordinances encompass the whole plan of salvation, as taught from time to time by the leaders of the Church, and elucidate matters difficult of understanding. There is no warping or twisting in fitting the temple teachings into the great scheme of salvation. The philosophical completeness of the endowment is one of the great arguments for the veracity of the temple ordinances. Moreover, this completeness of survey and expounding of the Gospel plan, makes temple worship one of the most effective methods of refreshing the memory concerning the whole structure of the gospel. (John A. Widtsoe, “Temple Worship,” The Utah Genealogical and Historical Magazine 12 [April 1921]: 58.)

In the temple, we are taught about the creation of the earth, the fall of mankind, and the plan of salvation through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Those doctrines are both central to the gospel and all-encompassing of God’s plan. As we understand that the centrality of the temple and the complete wholeness of the gospel teachings presented there, then we will be better prepared to attend the temple and receive the blessings promised there. Only in the temple can we reach our full potential.

Sacrament of Symbols

salt lake mormon templeLastly, the temple is a sacrament of symbols. By sacrament, I mean the generic sense of the word in which a sacrament is an ordinance. Many Christian churches have sacraments or ordinances such as baptism and partaking of the Lord ’s Supper. We have those ordinances as well in our church, but in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we also know about higher ordinances that only can take place in the temple. Sacraments, or ordinances, are an important part of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is through the ordinances of the gospel that the power of godliness is revealed (see D&C 84:20).

In the early days of the restored Church, the Lord explained that the purpose of the building temples was to reveal ordinances. “And verily I say unto you, let this house be built unto my name, that I may reveal mine ordinances therein unto my people; for I deign to reveal unto my church things which have been kept hid from before the foundation of the world, things that pertain to the dispensation of the fulness of times.” (D&C 124:40–41.)

Through the ordinances of the gospel, we make covenants or promises to God and he, in turn, promises us certain blessings. We know that the purpose of life as stated in Abraham 3:25 is for God to see if we will do the things he commands us to do. Through the covenants of the temple, God will see if we will do the things we have promised to do.

The temple and the ordinances that take place inside are rich in symbolism and meaning. If you have seen any one of our temples at night, fully lit, you get a glimpse of the symbolism. The temple stands out in the darkness and shines for a long distance. It is symbolic of the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ to shine light upon a world that seems to be sinking further and further into spiritual darkness. Many other gospel truths are referred to in the temple through symbols and not necessarily spelled out. It is up to you to study and ponder and pray and come to know what these things mean. The Spirit will be your teacher.

Elder John A. Widtsoe once said, “We live in a world of symbols. No man or woman can come out of the temple endowed as he should be, unless he has seen, beyond the symbol, the mighty realities for which the symbols stand. (“Temple Worship,” page 62.)

The Church’s “Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple” pamphlet says:

“The temple ceremony will not be fully understood at first experience. It will be only partly understood. Return again and again and again. Return to learn. Things that have troubled you or things that have been puzzling or things that have been mysterious will become known to you. Many of them will be the quiet, personal things that you really cannot explain to anyone else. But to you they are things known.”

One of the ways the Lord loves to teach us is through symbols, stories, patterns, examples, etc. When the Savior was on the earth, he frequently taught through stories, parables, and the pattern of his own life. In the ordinances of the gospel we find those symbols and patterns. In D&C 52:14 the Lord says, “I will give unto a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived.” And what is the pattern? He answers that question in the following verse: “The same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances.”

Study the ordinances of the gospel, including those recorded in the scriptures such as the Savior’s baptism, Alma baptizing Helam, the last supper of Jesus with his apostles, and Abraham receiving the priesthood. As you come to understand these ordinances and the deep meaning behind them you will come to a better understanding of the temple and you will be more prepared to receive the blessings of temple worship.

Brothers and sisters, I testify that the temple is a place of prayer, a house of wholeness, and a sacrament of symbols. The temple has the power to transforms individuals from unworthy telestial beings, to sons and daughters of God, worthily of the Celestial glory. Any and all efforts you make to prepare and enter the Holy Temple are well worth the sacrifice.

I testify of our Savior Jesus Christ lives. Through his infinite and eternal Atonement he died and was resurrected that we too may live again and be brought back to live with our Heaven Father. I know that Our Savior leads our church today through living prophets who hold the keys of the priesthood and temple ordinances. As we worthily participate in temple ordinances, we will be blessed in this life and blessed with eternal life.

President Monson on the Divine Inspiration of Every Mission Call

President Thomas S. Monson has testified that divine inspiration attends each and every missionary assignment. He has said, “Too numerous to mention are the many instances where a particular call proved providential. This I know—divine inspiration attends such sacred assignments. We, with you, acknowledge the truth stated so simply in the Doctrine and Covenants: ‘If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work’ (D&C 4:3).” (See April 1979 General Conference talk titled, The Army of the Lord)

The following story  illustrates the principle of divine inspiration attending every missionary call and appears in President Monson’s biography, To the Rescue (see chapter 26):

“While attending a stake conference in Paris, France, Elder Monson indicated, as he often does, that he would like to hear from one of the missionaries. As he looked toward the back of the hall, he saw a tall young elder whom he recognized as a son of some friends of the Monsons. He called him forward. As the missionary spoke, Elder Monson seemed to see in his mind a picture of Heber J. Grant in a Japanese garden, the same painting that was produced as a cover for a pamphlet about this famed Church President. He didn’t tell anyone about the experience and even wondered what it meant, assuming that it may have been triggered by his knowledge that President Grant was this elder’s great-grandfather. When Elder Monson returned to Salt Lake City, he looked up the missionary’s parents to give them a report on their son. He learned that another son had just turned in his missionary papers. As Elder Monson later reviewed that missionary’s application, he knew why he had received the strong impression concerning President Grant. He changed the young missionary’s assignment to Tokyo—the city and land where his great-grandfather, Heber J. Grant, had opened the work. Not only did the missionary serve in the land so significant to the family, he was present for the dedication of the Japan Tokyo Temple, an occasion, Elder Monson knew, that would have pleased his great-grandfather immensely.”

Also in President Monson’s biography is the story of when he was again in a missionary assignment meeting and he returned several times to the mission assignment of one young man because he didn’t feel right about it. Finally, President Monson asked on of the Seventies who was assisting him to read to him the entire file of the young man. This time they noticed something they had missed in their initial review–“the young man had learned Spanish ‘at his mother’s knee.’ Elder Monson assigned him to a Spanish-speaking mission, and the Spirit said, ‘Yes.’ ‘It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord can motivate and direct the length and breadth of His kingdom,’ Elder Monson has said, ‘and yet have time to provide the inspiration on the call of a single missionary.'”
inspiration of call of missionary monson

President Monson has viewed tens of thousands of missionary applications while in the process of issuing an equal number of mission calls. Again quoting from his biography, President Monson has said, “Many are the faith-promoting experiences which have occurred in the assignment of missionaries. I so testify. Hardly an assignment day goes by when we don’t have it evidenced that our Heavenly Father has, in an unusual way, prompted us to send particular missionaries to serve in locations, only to learn that this has fulfilled their earnest prayers and, in many instances, the wishes and hopes of their families” (see chapter 26 of To the Rescue).

Transferred Are Also Inspired 

Not only are mission assignments inspired, but President Monson has taught that the transfers conducted by mission presidents are also inspired. Speaking at mission president seminar in 2011, President Thomas S. Monson spoke of this experience:

I recall, as a mission president in Canada [1959-1962], looking at our list of missionaries and feeling the definite inspiration to move one young man from the city of Belleville, Ontario, to Welland, Ontario. . . . The impression came so strongly that I made the transfer. The next week when I received a letter from his companion, tears came to my eyes when I read: “President Monson, I know you were inspired in sending Elder Smith to us in Welland. We are teaching ten Italian-speaking families whose English skills are limited. In my heart I had been praying for a companion who could speak Italian. You found the only missionary in the mission who spoke Italian.” I thought to myself as I read that line, “I knew nothing about whether or not that boy spoke Italian.” With a name like Smith, you don’t think he is going to speak Italian. I was unaware that his mother was Italian and that she had taught the boy to speak in her native tongue. By listening to the Spirit and transferring him, he was able to carry the gospel to those Italian families in Welland.” (see Missionary Work is Founded on the Doctrine of Christ)

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” (see Church to Go Forward with Scouting Program, 26 August 2015). 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.

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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!