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Mission Call Process Overview

One of the most frequent questions I get on Mormon Mission Prep is about the process of starting the paperwork, getting the application in, and details about when and how the mission call comes. This article is designed to give a high-level overview of the mission call process, from meeting with the bishop, to fill out your mission papers, to getting your call letter from the prophet. For more details on the time to expect each step in the process to take, see my article Mission Application Timeline.

lds mission call process overview

The picture above is a good illustration of the step by step process for doing the paper work and getting the mission call. Below is more detail on each step:

Before the Paper Work

  • Prepare spiritually: Study the gospel, read the scriptures, pray and build a testimony of the Savior, His Atonement, and His restored Church including Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon (so be sure to read it!). Keep yourself spiritually clean and worthy to serve a mission.
  • Prepare temporally: Save money, stay physically fit, and remove any obstacles such as unpaid debts, legal issues, weight and health problems. Familiarize yourself with the requirements to serve a mission.

The Application Processmissionarymeetwithbishop

  • Meet with the Bishop: At least four months before you’re able to leave on a mission, set an appointment with your bishop for a personal interview.  He will give you the mission application form, or the information you need to log on to the online missionary recommendation system if the online system is available in your area. Your bishop will also conduct a thorough worthiness interview at this time. He will discuss the qualifications to serve a mission and help you through the repentance process if their are any sins you need to clear up before going on a mission.
  • Doctor and Dentist Visits: Make appointments with your doctor and dentist for evaluations. In the paper work the bishop will give you will be medical forms that they will need to fill out.
  • Missionary Candidate Information: There are several sections of personal information to complete, and whether you do it online or on the paper application it will be the same.  You’ll fill out background information about yourself, including your desire and ability to learn a language, your schooling, and how your mission will be financed. You’ll be asked to submit a photo (uploading it or mailing it in) with your application, so make sure that in this photo you are dressed according to missionary standards (i.e. conservative hair and clothing styles, etc. See my post on Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards).
  • Meet with the Bishop Again: Set another appointment with your bishop after all of the forms are completed, and he will review the application. He will conduct a thorough interview to determine your worthiness to serve a mission, your ability to serve, and your testimony of the Savior and the restored gospel.
  • Meet with the Stake President: After your interview with the bishop, he will tell you how to set up and appointment with the stake president.  Your bishop and stake president will complete some additional parts including their own written recommendations for your missionary service.  This will be the final step before the application is sent to Church headquarters (usually done by the Stake Clerk).

Receiving the Mission Callmissioncall

  • Assigned to a Mission by Prophecy: Your mission application is received by the Church and you are assigned to a specific mission by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, who has been authorized by the President of the Church. The mission assignment comes after prayer and revelation. See my article about how missionaries are called by God for more information on this process.
  • Mission Call Letter: After the mission call is made, a packet is mailed to you.  It will contain information on your assigned mission, the date to report to the Missionary Training Center (MTC), a list of specific items you should bring with you, and other helpful information. See my article on the mission call letter for more information about what you’ll find in the mission call packet.

Each Call Is Inspired

Though there are a lot of mechanical steps to go through in the process of getting your mission call, it’s important not to lose site of the spiritual–the spiritual preparation by the missionary and the spirit of revelation in the issuing of the mission call.  Here is what President Henry B. Eyring said about the inspiration of each mission call:

“I have had [many] experiences feeling of the Holy Ghost…But I’ve never felt what I have felt as I have…participated in the assigning of missionaries…Because of technology, it is possible for us to have your picture and the information about you displayed. And then quickly, on that same screen, all the missions of the Church with all of their needs are displayed. Within minutes, and sometimes less than a minute, the impression comes so powerfully that it would be, if it were a single instance, something that you would never forget. Can you imagine sitting there for hours at a time, having that happen time after time without interruption? I testify to you that it is real…[The Lord] somehow not only knows you but loves you enough to ensure that your call is where He needs you to go to teach the children of our Heavenly Father.” (Pres. Henry B. Eyring, “Called of God,” address delivered at the Missionary Training Center, Aug. 26, 1997).

Mission Call Letter

An important step in the LDS Mission Call Process, and one that is the focus of much anticipation for the future missionary as well as family and friends, is receiving the mission call letter. After you’ve fill out your mission papers and submitted the application, it is a very anxious few weeks that you have to wait before finding out where you have been called to serve. And while those few weeks may seem like an eternity, eventually that envelope will arrive from church headquarters.

Some of you will choose to open the mission call packet in private, in your bedroom, or perhaps you’ll get away to somewhere in nature.  Many of you will gather around with your close family, and others will open the packet in the presence of a large number of family and friends.  Many will even have a virtual gathering, over the phone or using video conferencing, as they open their mission call packet. However you choose to do it, opening and reading your mission call letter will bring many feelings: spiritual confirmations, excitement, and tears of joy.

family-gathered-to-read-mission-callMission Call Packet

About two to four weeks after the Church receives your mission application, an envelope will arrive from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Office of the First Presidency. The packet generally contains these items:

  • The Call Letter from the Prophet
  • A Letter from your Mission President
  • A Letter from the MTC President
  • General Instructions Checklist, including a list of clothing and other items to bring

Call Letter from the Prophet

When you open your call packet, the first letter you will see will be the call letter from the prophet. It will be addressed to you and will say, “Dear Elder or Sister _______, You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the _______ mission.” This is the point where people tend to erupt into cheers and tears.  Once you’re able to continue, the letter will go on to tell you the language you will be speaking during your mission, and it will tell you where and when to report to the Missionary Training Center.

The letter will tell you your purpose as a missionary, “to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.” In the letter, the prophet also will ask you to work to become an effective missionary, to remain worthy, and he will mention some of the blessings of faithful missionary service. Finally, the letter from the prophet asks you to send a written acceptance letter, and then it is signed by our living prophet, the president of the Church.

mission-call-letter-pointing-fingerLetter from your Mission President

Another major piece of your mission call packet will be a welcome and orientation letter from the mission president with whom you will be serving. He will express his testimony of mission work and his gratitude for your choice to serve a mission. He will express his joy and congratulations that you will be joining his mission and be engaged together in the greatest cause in the entire world.  He will remind you that, as a missionary, you will become an ambassador of the Lord Jesus Christ. He will encourage you to continue reading the scriptures and preparing spiritually, including acquainting yourself with the Preach My Gospel manual. He may tell you a little about the people and places of your mission and encourage you to learn to love the people where you will serve. He may also have mission-specific instructions, in addition to those general instructions you will receive from Church headquarters, such as clothing that may differ from the norm due to weather conditions in your mission.

Letter from the MTC President

In the mission call packet, you will also receive instructions and a congratulatory letter from the president of the MTC where you will be receiving your missionary training. He will also express his gratitude for your decision to serve the Lord, and his excitement about your arrival to the Missionary Training Center. He will advise you of medical issues that need to be addressed prior to your arrival such as getting a seasonal flu shot. The letter will almost certainly discuss MTC arrival times, transportation, and other information you will need to know about getting started on your mission.  There will also be information such as your mailing address and email address, as well as contact phone numbers and web site addresses you can get more information.

General Instructions Checklist

missionary-suitcaseThe General Instructions Checklist will tell you the things you need to do right away, and things you’ll need to do before entering the MTC. It will advise you to complete any medical tests, treatments, and dental work before entering the MTC, including obtaining all required vaccinations outlined in the medical information section of the call packet. It will advise you to continue to prepare spiritually through prayer, and scripture study, especially studying the Book of Mormon. It will instruct you go to the temple to receive your endowment, and receive a patriarchal blessing, if you had not previously done those items. It will advise you of clothing, luggage, and other items to bring on your mission, and to get a missionary hair cut before arriving at the MTC and to be sure to show up in missionary attire.

There are slight variations between missions, and your mission president will advise you if that is that case, but for the most part, the clothing each missionary will need to bring is pretty standard.

Mission Clothing List: Elders Mission Clothing List: Sisters
  • 10 – 12 White shirts (some short sleeve and some long sleeve)
  • 2 Dark colored, Conservative Suits
  • 5 – 6 Pair of dress slacks
  • 5 – 6 Conservative ties
  • 8 – 10 Solid, dark colored socks
  • 2 Pairs of thick-soled, comfortable, conservative shoes.
  • 8 – 10 Pairs of temple garments
  • Waterproof, winter boots, as needed
  • Dark overcoat with liner, as needed
  • Pajamas, robe, and slippers, as needed
  • Dark raincoat, lightweight plastic or nylon
  • Cold-weather gear (gloves, scarf, ear-muffs, winter hat, thermals) as needed
  • Sweater(s), solid dark color, as needed
  • Umbrella
  • Pair of flip-flops/shower shoes
  • Shaving equipment
  • Deodorant and other toiletries
  • Set of work clothes and gym clothes (jeans, t-shirt, shorts, athletic shoes, etc.)
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Alarm clock (wind-up or battery)
  • 2 Towels, washcloths
  • Twin-size bed sheets with pillowcase
  • Backpack
  • 4 – 5 Outfits of modest design: blouses, skirts, dresses, jackets, vests, jumpers, suits. Mid-calf length. Nothing tight-fitting, or baggy; no wrap-around skirts, t-shirts, polo-shirts, denims, or leathers.
  • 12 Pairs of nylons or knee-highs
  • 2 – 3 Pairs of shoes that are conservative and comfortable
  • 1 Pair of dress shoes
  • 1 Pair of winter boots
  • 8 – 10 Pairs of temple garments
  • Personal toiletries
  • Underclothing, modest and durable.
  • Dark winter coat
  • Pajamas, robe, and slippers, as needed
  • Dark raincoat, lightweight plastic or nylon
  • Cold-weather gear (gloves, scarf, ear-muffs, winter hat, thermals) as needed
  • Sweater(s), as needed
  • Umbrella
  • Pair of flip-flops/shower shoes
  • Set of work clothes and gym clothes (jeans, t-shirt, shorts, athletic shoes, etc.)
  • Small first-aid kit
  • Alarm clock (wind-up or battery)
  • 2 Towels, washcloths
  • Twin-size bed sheets with pillowcase
  • Backpack

Of course you will need luggage to carry your clothes and personal belongings.  Mormon missionaries are suggested to bring 3 pieces of luggage that follow these guidelines: Two large suitcases (that you could check at the airport) and one smaller bag (a carry-on). The first, larger, checked suitcase should be no larger than 62 dimensional inches (height plus width plus depth), and no heavier than 70 pounds. The second piece should be no larger than 55 dimensional inches and no heavier than 70 pounds. The smaller, carry-on bag should be no larger than 45 dimensional inches. For more information, see missionary clothing needs and what should I bring to the MTC?.

Other Miscellaneous Items

mission-call-letter-in-mailboxAll together the packet can be a dozen or more pages depending on your mission and circumstances. There is frequently included a short biographical sketch of the mission president and his wife, an outline of behavior expected of missionaries, guidelines for getting ready for the mission, a section on missionary dress standards, medical requirements, a map of your mission, a short description of the area in which you will serve, and Church contact information if you have further questions.

No matter where you are called to serve, remember that missionaries are called by God through prophecy and revelation to our living prophets and apostles.  It is an extreme privilege to serve as an ambassador of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to represent his true Church on the earth today, and to be an instrument in His hands to bring people into His fold for their eternal salvation.

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.