How to Write a Talk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So you future missionaries, learn these steps for how to write a talk.  By learning the gospel principles missionaries teach and by having organization to your talk as Professor Bott indicates, you will be able to deliver great sermons when called upon.  D&C 84: 85 “Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”

Restoration of the Priesthood

John Baptist Aaronic Priesthood Joseph SmithToday marks the 180th anniversary of the restoration of the priesthood of God.  It was May 15, 1829 when Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery went into the woods on the banks of the Susquehanna River and prayed to God to for the authority to baptize.  Their prayer was answered and the resurrected John the Baptist, the same who baptized Jesus Christ, descended from heaven, laid his hands on their hands and ordained them to the Aaronic Priesthood.  This event is recorded in section 13 of the Doctrine and Covenants and this is what John said:

“Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth, until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”

Restoration of the Priesthood Video

Below is a video that I found depicting the restoration of the priesthood.  The video seems to be a 1970s seminary video produced by the LDS Church, but it’s good and short (about 6 minutes).  It portrays John the Baptist restoring the Aaronic Priesthood to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery followed by Peter, James and John coming to restore the Melchizedek, or higher Priesthood.

elder david a bednarMissionary Work Inherent in the Priesthood
Elder David A. Bednar, in his Nov 2005 talk called Becoming a Missionary, said:

“All of us who have received the holy priesthood bear the sacred obligation to bless the nations and families of the earth by proclaiming the gospel and inviting all to receive by proper authority the ordinances of salvation…Proclaiming the gospel is not an activity in which we periodically and temporarily engage. And our labors as missionaries certainly are not confined to the short period of time devoted to full-time missionary service in our youth or in our mature years. Rather, the obligation to proclaim the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is inherent in the oath and covenant of the priesthood into which we enter. Missionary work essentially is a priesthood responsibility, and all of us who hold the priesthood are the Lord’s authorized servants on the earth and are missionaries at all times and in all places—and we always will be. Our very identity as holders of the priesthood and the seed of Abraham is in large measure defined by the responsibility to proclaim the gospel.”

Blessings of the Priesthood

So on this anniversary of such an important occasion as the restoration of the priesthood, I hope that we priesthood holders remember that missionary work is an inherent part of the priesthood we hold.  I also pray that we remember what a privilege and a blessing it is to hold the priesthood.  It is through the priesthood that the Lord does his work and blesses mankind.  And by being faithful in our priesthood callings, we prepare ourselves and become eligible to receive magnificent blessings from the Lord ourselves.

As it says in the oath and covenant of the priesthood found in D&C 84:33–34 “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God”

Mothers’ Role in Mission Prep

Friberg Helaman Stripling Warriors In the Book of Mormon, in Alma Chapter 56, the Nephite and Lamanite nations are engulfed in war.  A group of Lamanite converts to the Church, known as the people of Ammon, wanted to help defend the Nephite people.  The Ammonite adults, though, had made a covenant never to go to war again, so it was their sons, 2,000 of them, that volunteered to go to war to defend their families.

The prophet Helaman said of these 2,000 stripling warriors, “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.  And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” (Alma 56: 47 – 48)

The mothers of the 2,000 stripling warriors, like latter-day saint mothers today, had a profound influence on their children, which gave them faith to overcome all obstacles.  Just like with these youth in the battles of the Book of Mormon, mothers today are preparing their children to do a great work and there is probably no more vital role in mission prep.

jimmy and heather smith kids Many mothers, my wife included, may not realize the great work they are doing.  It is so easy to get caught up in the mundane, day to day routines with raising children, that we neglect to see the great work we are doing.

I want to talk today about what so many good mothers are already doing, sometimes unwittingly, to prepare their children for missionary service. Four things come to mind that my wife does daily with our children that is teaching them faith and skills that will help them become great missionaries some day.  (There are actually more than four things, but for now we’ll focus on these four.) She teaches the children to:

  • Get Along with Others
  • Be Clean and Tidy
  • Obey the First Principles of the Gospel
  • Read the Book of Mormon

I suspect most latter-day saint mothers are also doing these four simples things as well, and in the process, they are teaching vital missionary skills and doing a wonderful job raising the next generation of Mormon missionaries.

kids playingGet Along with Others

When playing with siblings or other children, my wife has two rules for our kids: be kind and be safe.  These two rules have been found to cover a multitude of situations, and they teach our children how to get along well with others.  I have talked about the important missionary characteristic of sociability in the past.  This is what Elder S. Dilworth Young said in General Conference in April 1972, “faith-building begins in the cradle…In the formative years your boy will need to learn how to give and take, how to get along, how to put up with inconveniences, how to be patient and tolerant, how to resolve differences with playmates and, later, with missionary companions.”

Be Clean and Tidy

Like any good parents, we have our children do daily chores of cleaning their rooms and other household tasks.  Helping your children learn now to stay clean and organized will help them be more productive and spiritual throughout their lives.  Again, quoting Elder Young, he says missionaries “will need to learn that bodily cleanliness goes with spiritual cleanness and that the body is the expression of the spirit…he should learn that the dusty, ill-kept room with its unmade bed is the devil’s best means of discouragement.”

Obey the First Principles of the Gospel

Like most parents of small children, we try, frequently unsuccessfully, to maintain their attention once a week for Family Home Evening.  We focus on basic gospel principles such as faith in Christ, and obedience to the commandments.  These basic gospel principles will form the foundation of what they will be teaching people across the world as they go forth as missionaries.  Again, quoting Elder Young, he says the future missionary should “learn to know that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ will give men reason for their repentance from sin, which is the great doctrine that brings hope; that baptism by immersion is both a covenant and a sign of acceptance; and that the gift of the Holy Ghost is what makes him, and his father and his mother, different from the world; and that it will make those he converts different also.”

Read the Book of Mormonmother reading to children

Nightly, my wife gathers the family for scripture reading in the Book of Mormon.  We quickly went through the illustrated versions, and though our children are still small, we have moved on the full version now.  Nightly reading of the Book of Mormon, though it may only be a a few minutes, teaches the children the importance of that book in our lives.  And though they do not understand everything, the Spirit of the Lord is there, teaching and testifying things they will not forget.  Elder Young says that by reading the Book of Mormon with your children and helping them gain a testimony of the truthfulness of that book, “you will have him on his way to becoming a missionary…He will not consider the Book of Mormon dull reading if you will make it live for him while he is growing.”

Conclusion

The mothers in the Church are doing a wonderful job of raising the next generation of missionaries.  I can’t thank my wife enough for the work she does, often without recognition, in raising our children and teaching them the principles that will help them succeed on their missions, in life and in the eternities.

And here are some concluding thoughts from Elder Young: “These young folks may become great of themselves, but with the faith and teaching of their fathers and mothers they will become greater…He depends on us to teach our children truth that they may better serve the Father of their spirits and live.”

The future missionary “will be taught these lessons at the home evening, at the dinner table, at bedtime, in camp, on hikes and journeys. And driven home at all these stages will be the theme that the greatest adventure a boy can have is to go on a mission and learn to depend on the Lord when faced with a bitter, cold, or hostile world, and that the greatest joy he can experience is to give of his all in the service of the Master in bringing souls unto him.”

Quotes from: Missionary Training Begins Early S. Dilworth Young, Gen Conf, April 1972.

Preparing Youth for a Mission

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

1. Love the Lord

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

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

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

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

2. Read the Book of Mormon

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

3. Keep the Sabbath Day Holy

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

youth basketball4. Community Involvement

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

5. Listen to Good Music

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

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

Mission Papers

missionary recommendation application form

The Mission Papers, also known as the Checklist for Full-Time Missionary Recommendation or the Missionary Recommendation Form, is the application Mormon missionary candidates, young and old, fill out to initiate the process of serving a mission. Though we often call it paperwork, it is available in two formats: 1) the physical paper forms to fill out and 2) a web-based version to fill out the information online.

Paper Forms

missionary recommend packet at LDS Store

If your bishop does not have the paper forms, he can order them from the “Unit Materials” section of store.lds.org, the online store for the LDS Church. Visit that site, login with your LDS Account, and then search for “Missionary Recommend Packet” and you will find the mission papers. Or login to the LDS Store and click this link to go directly to the page to order the Missionary Recommend Packet.

If you are looking for the forms to download in PDF format, I’m sorry but the Church just does not make them available that way. Though you can try doing a Google search for Checklist for Full-Time Missionary Recommendation, and sometimes you’ll find people have posted them.

Online Forms

You must get access to the online version of the mission application from your bishop. The Missionary Online Recommendation System, that’s that official name of the website for the online mission papers, can be accessed at lds.org/mss. In order to get past the login screen, though, your bishop must first go into the site and get the process started and grant you access. He will let you know when that is done so you can login and begin to fill out the information.

Related Articles

The LDS Mission Call Process is one of the most frequent topics that people ask me about. Below is a summary and links to other articles I have written on the subject.

  • Mission Call Process Overview: This article gives answers to questions about the LDS Mission Call Process from meeting with your bishop, to submitting the mission papers / application, and then receiving the call letter.
  • Mission Application Timeline: In this article, I give details about the steps involved in the mission call process with particular emphasis on when to begin, and how long to expect each step to take.
  • Mission Application Form: This article talks in detail about the sections of Checklist for Full-Time Missionary Recommendation. It will give you a good idea of the information and other things you will need to do to fill out the papers. 
  • Missionaries Are Called by God: In this article, Elder Ronald A. Rasband explains the LDS Mission Call Process, particularly, how missionaries are called by God through inspiration to our living prophets.
  • Mission Call Letter: Two to four weeks after the Church receives you mission application, you will receive your call packet in the mail. This packet will contain your mission call letter from the prophet, as well as other materials, including a list of mission clothing and other items to bring. Read this article for more detail on the contents of the call packet.
  • LDS Mission Cost: How much does an LDS mission cost? Mormon missionaries pay their own expenses: $400 a month for young people from the United States (that’s $7,200 for sister missionaries who serve for 18 months, and $9,600 for men who serve two-years). Read the article for more detail.
  • Day of the Week Mission Calls are Issued and Mailed Out: Future missionaries often wonder what day of the week mission calls are issued and mailed out. The answer is it depends, though the most common scenario has the call issued on a Friday and the call letter being sent out from Church headquarters on a Tuesday. Check out the article for more detail.

Learning a Language: My Experience Learning Spanish

Many Mormon missionaries are asked to serve in places far from their home where they are required to learn to speak a foreign language.  Preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the people of the world, each in their own language, is a mandate from God.  In a revelation to Joseph Smith the Prophet in 1833, the Lord said, “For it shall come to pass in that day, that every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language, through those who are ordained unto this power.” (Doctrine and Covenants 90:11)

My Language Learning Story

Prior to my mission call, I had studied French in high school, and when I filled out my mission papers, I indicated that experience and my desire to go to a non-English speaking mission.  I knew that despite two-years of French in high-school, my ability communicate in a foreign language was very poor, so I was a little apprehensive about really learning to speak a new language.  But I found faith and strength in the fact that so many missionaries had gone before me and had learned to speak a new language.

When I received my mission call to a Spanish speaking country, Argentina, I knew the challenge would be even greater than I previously thought.  After spending nine weeks at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) learning Spanish, I found myself in Argentina.  Hearing the people speak there, I wondered if they taught me the wrong language, because I could barely understand anything.  In fact, soon I found out that Argentine’s don’t speak Spanish, they speak el Castellano (Argentina’s version of Spanish). elder pinto and smith rural argentina

The missionary daily schedule has built in 30 minutes of language studying each day, but for me, I found that wasn’t helping my language skills improve fast enough.  So for the first six months I spent in Argentina, I got up a half hour early to get a full hour of language studying each day.  My companions were a big help as well.  Both of my first two companions were native Argentine’s.  The first spoke English, but the second spoke no English.  I had only been in Argentina for three months when I was placed with my second companion.  Those days of pure Spanish speaking, so early in my mission, were very difficult, but undoubtedly helped my language skills tremendously.  I can remember dreaming in English, and then waking and dreading when I realized I had to communicate entirely in Spanish.

With time, my comfort with the Spanish language improved.  In fact, in the later half of my mission I got frequent compliments on my language skills.  One brother, in the Arroyito Ward of Rosario, paid me the ultimate compliment when he said that it took him a few minutes of listening to me speak before he realized I was an American.  He said I had a very good “Porteno” (Buenos Aires) accent.  But those language skills never would have come without hard work and blessings from the Lord of the gift of tongues.

The Gift of Tongues

President Thomas S. Monson once said, “Make it known to the young people that it is not certain that the Lord will direct their paths to do missionary work in an area where the language they have learned is spoken. But if they are called to a completely different country, they will at least have the advantage of having learned well a second language. Learning another language is then usually not so difficult for them, because they have learned how to study and therefore will make rapid progress, especially when they are guided by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Elder Jacob de Jager said, “Some missionaries go to the Missionary Training Center to learn a foreign language with great fears because they are afraid they will not be able to learn the language of their assigned mission area. Let me relieve these fears. I have seen the very practical approach of language teaching in the MTC, and I believe in the gift of tongues. Miracles happen when missionaries learn to speak in a foreign language by the power of the Spirit.”

mtc missionary training center provoPresident Joseph F. Smith received the gift of tongues when, as a young man, he went out on his mission. He said: “I was in a foreign land, sent to preach the gospel to a people whose language I could not understand. Then I sought earnestly for the gift of tongues, and by this gift and by study [I am sure he put in a lot of hours], in a hundred days after landing upon those islands I could talk to the people in their language as I now talk to you in my native tongue.” (Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1939, p. 201)

Source: “Become Acquainted … with Languages, Tongues, and People” By Elder Jacob de Jager, Oct 1982.

Ideas for Language Learning

Learning to speak a new language is not easy, but there are some things future missionaries can do to be more prepared for this trial. Steven R. Wright, one time director of language training at the Missionary Training Center, said, “be sure to do these three things: study the language regularly and faithfully, use the language whenever possible, and seek divine assistance.” Here are some further suggestions from Brother Wright:

  • Take a language class. Study at a local university, take an adult education class in the evening, or try a home-study course offered by a reputable school.
  • Speak the language. Instead of merely learning about the language, have a goal of being able to speak well and understand well. Practice the language with family members or friends who have served a mission or traveled in a foreign culture and have learned this language as a second language.
  • Learn about people and cultures. Read about the people and the country. Visit with someone who is from the country or who has been there. If possible, travel to the country to gain firsthand knowledge of it.
  • Study vocabulary at home. Vocabulary is the most important area when beginning to study a foreign language. Buy a dictionary, label your home with names of objects in the new language, and practice until the words become yours. Purchase a Book of Mormon in the new language and compare familiar verses in English.

Special Missionary Preparation Issue of New Era

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

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

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

Practical Steps for Mission Prep

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

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

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

Managing Money

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

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

Learning to Cook

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

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

Doing Laundry

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

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

Mission Prep from General Conference April 2009

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

Revealed Quorum Principles by Michael A. Neider

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

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

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

Counsel to Young Men by President Boyd K. Packer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Your Best Self by President Thomas S. Monson

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

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

Get On with Our Lives by Elder Steven E. Snow

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

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

Bring Souls unto Me by Elder L. Tom Perry

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

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

Video Update: Story on Power of the Book of Mormon

I have added a video to my previous post: The Power of the Book of Mormon. I thought that instead of just putting the story in writing, I could record myself telling the story and embed the video in the post.  Let me know how you like this format.