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MTC at Home

mtc at home coverLast week we had a guest post by Rebecca Irvine, author of the book MTC at Home: Preparing the Lord’s Future Missionaries. Rebecca has generously offered to give away a free copy of the book to a visitor to the Mormon Mission Prep website. To have a chance to win the book, please leave a comment below telling what you are doing (or will do in the future or have done in the past) to make your your home a missionary training center.

Enter to Win: Leave a Comment Buy the Book: MTC at Home

MTC at Home is a book with dozens of family home evening lessons that incorporate concepts from the Preach My Gospel manual. The lessons are designed to help future missionaries learn to teach, testify, and invite. There is a CD-ROM included with the book with a wide variety of printable activity pages for children and youth of all ages.

Smith Family FHE Lesson from MTC at Home

Last week, for FHE, the Smith family decided to give one of the MTC at Home lessons a try for family home evening. We picked lesson number 6 on the four cornerstones of the restoration of the Church, based on President Gordon B. Hinckley’s February 2004 talk called Four Cornerstones of Faith. The chief cornerstone is Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer. The second cornerstone is the First Vision of the Prophet Joseph Smith. Cornerstone number three is the Book of Mormon and the fourth cornerstone is the restoration to earth of priesthood power and authority.

Here is a picture of the Lego building I built during the lesson, with a different colored brick representing each of the four cornerstones of the restored church of Jesus Christ.

lego building with four cornerstones

After the lesson, the kids did the activity from the MTC at Home book/dvd. They colored a four-side church building where each side represents one of the cornerstones of the Church.

boy coloring cutout of church

Finally, we cut out the picture and glued it together to make a church building. The kids loved it, especially when I put our FHE treat, a piece of candy, in the cutout church building.

girl holding cutout of church

Book Giveaway

As I stated at the beginning, I have one copy of the book, MTC at Home, to give away to one of the luck visitors to this site. To enter, please leave a comment below telling what you are doing (or will do in the future or have done in the past) to make your your home an MTC. Please, only one entry per person, and the winner will be selected at random one week from the date of this post. Good luck.

Making Home an MTC

[colored_box color=”yellow”]Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Rebecca Irvine, author of MTC at Home: Preparing the Lord’s Future Missionaries. We welcome her to our family of guest post authors.[/colored_box]

“Think of the power of our future missionary force if mothers considered their homes as a pre–missionary training center (MTC). Then the doctrines of the gospel taught in the MTC would be a review and not a revelation. That is influence; that is power.” (Julie Beck, Mother’s Who Know)

The Missionary Training Center (MTC) offers a vigorous instruction and preparation program for new missionaries. In 2012, in an effort to prepare for higher numbers of missionaries, Church leaders cut back on MTC training time by a third. This shifted, in part, the impetus of preparing future missionaries from the MTC to parents and leaders.

Missionary Training Center - Missionary MormonAd

Missionary Training Center: Now is the time to prepare. Home is the place to start. (See D&C 38: 40) From the New Era magazine, March 2007.

While discussing his future missionary service, my 16-year-old son revealed his biggest fear as having to teach doctrine to people. “I’m scared to have to teach people things I am just learning myself,” he noted. In learning about this fear, my husband and I determined we needed to help prepare our children to be confident and competent missionaries. In doing so we trust in the scripture, “If ye are prepared ye shall not fear” (D&C 38:30).

Following are five things we are doing to help make our home a missionary training center:

Be Familiar with PMG

The primary training manual for missionaries is Preach My Gospel (PMG). It is available online for free, or can be purchased for low cost in bookstores (in both regular or mini format). Missionaries use this manual to:

  • Learn how to find investigators,
  • Know what to teach,
  • Know how to resolve investigator concerns,
  • Recognize how to improve themselves,
  • And understand how to communicate with their companion.

Parents can use PMG in the home as either part of family scripture study time, or as the basis for FHE lessons. By letting teens lead in these teaching situations, they also will become more familiar with this key handbook.

Use Role Playing Techniques

Missionaries spend several hours each day in the MTC practicing the PMG lessons in various role play scenarios. As I have used role playing techniques at home and as a college professor, I have found most people feel awkward at first. However, practicing definitely helps. Parents can use role play on a variety of occasions—at the dinner table, during FHE, or even in the car. Ideas of role play scenarios to try include:

  • Inviting (to be baptized, to read the Book of Mormon, to attend Church)
  • Resolving a concern (investigator is not sure Joseph Smith is a prophet)
  • Teaching a gospel concept (have them role play teaching you what they were taught at Church on Sunday)

Daily Family Scripture Study

[two_third last=”no”]Continuous regular scripture study will help build a foundation of gospel knowledge, as well as strengthen cohesive bonds of family unity. Despite these incredible blessings, many families find scripture study difficult. The key is to be flexible but persistent. Many parents prefer to get scriptures done first thing in the morning. But with hectic and varied a.m. schedules, morning study does not work well for every family. Our family has had to re-evaluate our scripture study time each new school year. We experiment until we find a time that works at least five days a week.[/two_third][one_third last=”yes”][colored_box color=”green”]Also see the post by Teresa Osorio about the Best Mission Prep Class Ever: Reading the Book of Mormon with Your Children or Jimmy and Heather’s experience of Reading the Book of Mormon as a Family.[/colored_box][/one_third]

Weekly FHE

Family Home Evening (FHE) is the best opportunity parents have to give their children opportunities to teach. The current youth curriculum the Church is using, Come, Follow Me, applies strategies designed to involve teens more actively in the teaching and learning process. If parents use the same type of teaching techniques the benefits are threefold for youth: stronger testimonies, more teaching experience, and deeper understanding of Gospel doctrine. All three of these blessings help prepare youth to be missionaries.

Develop Social Skills

Missionaries spend much of their days interacting with the public. In preparation for this, parents can plan opportunities for their children to improve social skills. Behavior during dinner appointments, interaction with mission and ward leaders, and the ability to handle rejection are some abilities to consider.

Technology plays a role strongly related to missionary social skills. Recent studies have shown texting causes apprehension in using verbal communication among youth and adolescents. Delaying or limiting cell phone usage among teens may help to prevent this. In addition, modern missionaries are often required to use social media in their service. Parents should help their youth understand both how to use common social media sites as well as to exercise proper etiquette online.

Traveling to and Entering the MTC

The very last step missionaries take in preparing to go on a mission is to travel to and enter the missionary training center (MTC). The mission call packet will give missionaries and their families all the details about travel, which is arranged and paid for by Church headquarters, and information on what to bring when entering the MTC (clothing list, etc.). But for those who have not yet received their call, let’s review some of the details.

The majority of the audience of this website is from the United States, so I’ll approach it from that vantage point. I apologize to my international visitors, but you should still get value out of this because much is the same in other countries.

Reporting to an MTC out of the county

If your call letter has indicated that you’ll be going to an MTC out of the country, for example many US missionaries are being sent to the MTC in Mexico, Brazil, and elsewhere, you’ll report directly to that MTC. Your stake president will set you apart as a missionary, and within a day or two you’ll be on a flight to that country. You’ll say your goodbyes to family and friends at the airport, and when you get to the country of your MTC, the Church will have made arrangements to get you from the airport to the MTC.

Reporting to the Provo MTC

cars dropping off missionaries at the mtc

Cars arriving at the Provo MTC. Photo courtesy of Ravell Call of the Deseret News.

Still, the largest destination for US missionaries is the MTC in Provo, Utah. Several hundred new missionaries arrive there each Wednesday. In recent years, they have changed the procedure for dropping of missionaries. Nowadays, you are only allowed one vehicle per family to enter the MTC grounds. When you pull in with the car, you will be directed to a spot to park and unload. You will only have a few minutes for a quick farewell to say goodbye to your family (you’ll need to say goodbye to extended family and friends prior to your arrival). The Provo MTC website encourages you to take pictures before arriving because there may not be time to do it then, but most people report that their is enough time to take a quick snapshot.

Now that I mention it, the Provo MTC website has a lot of helpful information about entering the MTC, like:

In fact, the Church now has a section of LDS.org for each of the 15 Missionary Training Centers where you can get answers to questions like those above and many more specifically related to the MTC where you will be training. Please check out those pages or feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Sunday Walk at the Temple

Last Sunday, we decided to take our kids on a Sunday walk around the Provo, Utah Temple. Though it was February and the middle of winter, we were having an unseasonably warm day. And with the kids having been cooped up inside most of the winter, a chance for them to get out, run around (as reverently as possible because it was Sunday and we were at the temple), and enjoy the outdoors was just what they needed.

missionaries at provo temple

When we got to the temple, we noticed a large group of missionaries standing around the fountains out front.

missionaries at provo temple

We assumed this was a group of missionaries from the MTC which is across the street from the Provo Temple. They were taking pictures, and we thought maybe they were taking some farewell pictures in anticipation of leaving the MTC for their respective missions. We didn’t want to bother the missionaries, so we started walking around the south side of the temple with our kids. But lo and behold, we ran into even more missionaries!

missionaries at provo temple

This time, we had to ask one of the sister missionaries: “Why are there so many missionaries here at the temple?” She answered: “It’s our Sunday walk.” She explained that all the missionaries at the Provo MTC get an hour on Sunday to go on a walk around the temple grounds. It seemed to be one of the highlights of their week. I guess the MTC president came to the same realization about his missionaries that we came to about our kids: it’s hard to keep them cooped up inside all winter long. It’s good to let them go outside and get their energy out 🙂

Later, we ran into this group of missionaries that will be heading to Brazil soon and asked them to pose for a picture with our kids.

missionaries at provo temple

Overall the missionaries were enjoying themselves, walking around, sitting on the grass, getting some fresh air and sunshine.

missionaries at provo temple

The MTC can be an intense experience, learning gospel principles, learning a new language, learning teaching methods, etc. We didn’t get Sunday walks when I was a missionary in the MTC (nearly 20 years ago), and I’m not sure all MTCs across the world have this in their schedule, but I’m glad they give the missionaries at the Provo MTC have this Sunday afternoon break.

All of the missionaries we met were anxious to wrap up their time at the MTC and get out into the mission field, finding, teaching, and baptizing the elect of God. As I told the ones we met that day, we pray for the missionaries each day, and hope they are safe and successful in preaching the gospel and bringing souls unto Christ.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamshirt – Laundry Tips and Tricks

[colored_box color=”blue”]Editor’s Note:  This is a guest post by Jon and Jenni Theobald, founders of MissionaryMall and Sister Missionary Mall. We welcome them and encourage you to check out their website. [/colored_box]

At the far end of the MTC laundry room, there is a bin of shame. A bin filled with pink and periwinkle dress shirts, and shirts polka dotted with ink from the pens of distracted missionaries. These missionaries who ruin their shirts must now sheepishly write home that they need more shirts. Don’t be that elder, Elder!

Amazing Technicolor Dreamshirt - Laundry Tips and Tricks

Clothing care is one of the most important skills that you will need to be successful as a missionary. Too often, missionaries learn these things on their mission—when they should have learned them before you came out. These skills will serve you well for the rest of your life. As part of your mission prep, go spend some time with your mother learning to wash clothes. She will love the company, and you will love that you know what to do when you are in the field away from your favorite laundress!

To this end, here are some laundry tips and tricks that will help you look like a missionary for the whole two years of your mission.

General Basics

Sort your laundry by color and fabric content. Usually you will have one dark batch and one light batch. For sisters, you may even have a colored batch of light colors. However, beware of reds! They must almost always be washed alone unless you know for certain that they are colorfast. Make sure to wash like colors together. Also, be aware of the fabric content of the clothing. Some fabrics are to be washed in different temperature water than others. The typical elder wash loads usually go something like this: 1 batch darks that have washable dress slacks, socks, and sweaters (and maybe a washable tie or two if needed), 1 batch whites that has shirts, garments etc., and 1 batch towels and sheets that can be bleached to be disinfected. Also, don’t forget to wash your laundry bag with your clothes! Sisters laundry could also include a colored batch.

Use chlorine bleach only for disinfecting, not for brightening your clothes. Chlorine bleach will disinfect your clothing, but do not use it to brighten your whites. It actually takes the coloring out of your clothing. Unbeknownst to most people, plain cotton is not white. It is gray. It is dyed white. So, when you bleach your white garments, and white shirts, and they begin to turn gray, it is actually because you are taking the coloring out of them. A better alternative would be a “color safe” bleach, which disinfects and brightens with a little bit of bluing in the mixture (which is why the liquid is blue…) If you are serving in the US, oxygenated whitening products (think Oxy CleanTM) are a great alternative too.

Realize that you don’t have to put everything in the dryer. This applies more to sisters. Any article of clothing with a high content of polyester will come out of a good washing machine practically dry. You can save yourself some ironing by pulling these items out of the dryer and hanging them to dry. It also cuts down on the wear and tear of the item so that it looks new longer.

Take shirts right out of the dryer and hang them up immediately. By hanging up your shirts hot from the dryer, you can cut down on what you need to iron. Often you can do some finger pressing while the shirt is still warm, and it will keep its wrinkle free appearance. The same goes for washable dress slacks. Learn how to hang them properly, and you will find that they look nice without a lot of fuss. On the flip side, if you leave things to cool in the dryer, they will wrinkle pretty bad. Make sure you take them right out.

Handwashing is not as hard as it sounds. If you are serving in an area where there are no washing machines or laundromats (such as a foreign land) you may be faced with handwashing. The easiest way to manage handwashing is to start by cutting down the amount of handwashing you need to do by washing your garments when you shower daily. Keep a block of laundry soap in the shower, and when you step in, wash your garments during your shower. After you get out, hang them to dry. This will make your laundry load much less on P-day when you go to wash the rest of your clothing. Also, make sure not to let things soak together that are not like colors.

Fabric softener is your friend. Stateside, you can opt to use liquid softener, or dryer sheets. They both will do a nice job of keeping your clothing from static electricity. However, overseas there is an even bigger reason. Almost everywhere else in the world they do not use dryers like we do. So, when you hang your clothing to dry, it is stiff when you take it off the clothesline. The way to fix this is to use fabric softener. They usually only have the liquid. It only takes a little bit too. Put some water in bucket, add the fabric
softener, and after you have rinsed your clothing, wring it out and dip it in the fabric softener water mixture. Wring it out again, and hang it up. When it is dry, it will be softer.

[colored_box color=”red”]Tip: Don’t use fabric softener with any microfiber towels or blankets. It will coat the towel and make it less absorbent.[/colored_box]

If something says “dry clean only” how do I know if I can wash it? Manufacturers that sell in the US are required by law to include a care label on the clothing  they produce. The care label usually refers to the “best result” of how to care for the clothing. However, many things that are labeled as “dry clean only” can be gently hand washed or washed on gentle in the machine.

Often they are labeled for dry cleaning not because they can’t get wet or be laundered with detergent, but because the twisting and friction of machine washing is very hard on clothing and can ruin the fibers of the garment and the shape. So, the garment gets a “dry clean only” tag because the process is much more gentle.

A general rule of thumb is to look at the fiber content to see if the fiber in the garment is washable. A good example of this is that we carried a blouse that was 100% polyester crepe de chine. The tag said “dry clean only”, but we had a similar blouse from a different manufacturer made from the same fabric and it said “machine wash cold with like colors.” We  tested both, and they both did fine being washed.

White Shirt Specifics

For elders, white shirts make up the bulk of your weekly P-day laundry. The biggest trick with white shirts is keeping them white! First things first, don’t be lost in thought while loading that wash basin or washing machine. Pay attention! Make sure to remove pens, crayons, scripture markers, colored paper, gum, food, etc. Please don’t wash white shirts with dark colors, especially red. Remember, the 2-year guarantee will protect you from fires, dogs, bike wrecks, wear, tear, floods, etc. but it won’t protect you from “duh.” Many missionaries like to write their names in their clothing. That is smart, but what isn’t smart is to write your name in every single article of clothing before trying it on. We can’t take shirts back that have names in them simply because there is only one Elder Rupert Pasaquah Methuselah Rinkenhofferworth. While that is a name to be proud of, no one else wants it in their shirt.

Yellowing of the underarms is one of the biggest challenges for elders. The culprit is usually antiperspirant deodorant. The aluminum in the deodorant mixes with salt in the perspiration to create yellow stains. There are a few ways to minimize this from the source—get a deodorant with less aluminum, and allow the deodorant to dry before getting dressed, or dry the deodorant with a talc like Gold Bond(TM) before getting dressed. That will cut down on the yellow caking that happens in the shirts.

A missionary’s first instinct when seeing yellowing is to hit it full force with the bleach, but not so fast. Bleach can actually cause the problem to get worse by removing the white dye from the fabric! Our top pick is Oxyclean (TM), but if you don’t have access to that, one of the best laundry boosters available anywhere in the world is the “1-1-1.” One part baking soda, one part hydrogen peroxide, and one part water (about a quarter cup of each for each shirt). Apply to the stains and let sit for about 30 minutes. You can also use an old toothbrush to scrub at it a bit, then just wash as usual. Another alternative is to soak the underarms of the shirt in white vinegar.
Use a gentle brush (a nailbrush will do) to scrub the area with a quality laundry detergent and then rinse. It should help minimize or remove the yellow.

A few other tips for white shirts:

  • Wash them as soon as possible after getting a stain.
  • Don’t let damp shirts sit in a bag or other unventilated laundry hamper—in some climates they will mold and black mold stains are nearly impossible to remove.
  • Dryers set stains, so if possible, hang your clothing in the sun to dry.
  • Turns out that the brightest whites have a slightly blue hue to them. White fabrics with a blue hue (why are you crying?) actually reflect more light. See Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing.

Suits and Dress Pants

A suit or dress pant with a good Polyester/Wool blend will be fairly easy to take care of. Wool is somewhat self cleaning as a natural fiber and has natural antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. What this means for you is that your wool-blend clothing won’t require a lot of washing. You can gently spot clean it if you get something on it, but it shouldn’t need much washing. In some missions it is only required to wear suits during the winter, but most never need to dry clean their suits. The layer under the suit (garments or thermals) helps absorb perspiration and oils from the skin. If your suit gets muddy, wait for the mud to dry and then brush it off. If they get wet in the rain, just let them dry out for a few days before wearing them again.

There may be an occasion when you will need to clean your suit jacket. As hard as we have tried, we have never successfully developed a washable jacket. Suit jackets are complex, so getting the lining, fusing, and shell to all expand and contract at the same rate for washing and drying is almost impossible.

For suit pants, they can tolerate a little bit of hand washing with a gentle detergent or machine wash on the gentle cycle. The biggest concern with suit pants is that they will no longer match the suit jacket if washed frequently, so wash suit pants sparingly. For dress pants that don’t need to match a suit jacket, wash as often as you would like. Our poly wool dress pants are rated up to 100 industrial washings, so wash to your heart’s content.

I would suggest though that you make life easy and never put suits or dress pants in the dryer. It is so much easier to hang to dry by the hems of the pant. Again, this isn’t really a “wearout” issue, but pants lose their crease and ironing them correctly is a pain. If you do need to iron wool blend pants, grab a light weight dish towel, get it damp, and then lay it over the pants you want to press. Not only does it add steam, but it protects the fabric from getting shiny.

Ties

The word here is polyester. The super-fine modern polyester weaving techniques mean that unless you light the tie on fire, a nice polyester or microfiber tie is indistinguishable from silk. (silk burns and polyester melts, and no, the guarantee does not cover clothing that you purposefully set ablaze, though we do get a kick out of the pictures.) Polyester also won’t bleed onto your shirt in a downpour and since it is basically plastic, it won’t stain easily. If you purchase a polyester tie that also has a polyester core, you can also machine or hand wash your ties. Again, the dryer is not your friend here. Hang to dry and don’t wash them with your shirts.

Socks

Wash your socks with your darks and they are fairly indestructible. I would make one suggestion though, get only black and all the same style. The sock fairy (your dear, sainted mother) is not coming with you, so if you do this, you’ll save a ton of time mating your socks.

Sweaters

For Elders, we suggest take acrylic sweaters. Acrylic is a synthetic fiber made to mimic wool. They are just about as warm as wool, but a whole lot easier to care for. Plus they don’t pill onto your shirt or bleed onto your shirt if they get wet, and best of all they don’t shrink.

It is about at this point that we suggest you write a letter to your sweet mother. As you realize here all that goes in to taking care of your things, you should feel inclined to writing her a nice 5-6 page letter of gratitude for all of the work she has put in to making you look nice all these years.

Guest Post Opportunities

Call for Guest Post Authors

hand and computer keyboardBrothers and Sisters, since I started this website in 2009, I have made efforts to post a new article weekly on Mormon Mission Prep. At times this has been difficult, especially with a growing young family, demands from work and Church callings, and when there are many other worthy endeavors that I feel inspired to pursue. I have long felt I should make efforts to get other people involved in this website, contributing to the content and helping in their unique ways to prepare youth (and those not so young) for missionary service. Therefore, I am sending out a call for help to good Church members to contribute your mission prep talents, stories, ideas, and testimonies by writing a guest post for the website.

Contact Me about Contributing a Guest Post

Why Write a Guest Post

There are many reasons to contribute a guest post to this website, but I hope your number one motivation is to follow the Spirit, build the Kingdom of God on earth, and be anxiously engaged in a good cause. In addition to the spiritual satisfaction, a guest post can be used to promote or shine further light on a missionary-related website, product, or service you many have. The primary purpose of a guest post should not be to promote a website, but if you write a good, substantive article related to missionary work or mission prep, a link to your website or a plug for your product or service is perfectly acceptable. You’ll basically be getting free advertising that will reach the 15,000 unique visitors who come to the site each month, plus the thousands of Facebook fans and Twitter followers of Mormon Mission Prep.

Ideas for Article Topics

At one time, early in the history of the Mormon Mission Prep website, I thought I would run out of ideas of things to talk about. In reality, I have found the opposite to be true. The longer I run the website, the more ideas I have and the further behind I feel I’m getting. I have dozens of ideas for mission prep articles but I simply do not have the time to write them all. If you need ideas for a guest post topic, please consider one of the following:

  • Information and helps on budgeting and saving money for a mission
  • Adjusting to missionary life (Home sickness, technology withdrawal, hard work, recognizing and following the spirit, the MTC, country specific tips, etc.)
  • Humility: The gospel is to be proclaimed by the weak and simple
  • Sacrifice is an essential part of missionary work
  • What you learned from my mission
  • “It is not your job to convert that is the job of the Holy Ghost.” -Pres Dieter F. Uchtdorf
  • How helping other people makes you happy
  • Missionary work goes on in the spirit world
  • Preparing to receive the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood
  • Mission prep is life prep
  • Tips for getting along with companions
  • A list of mission prep scriptures (like a scripture mastery list)
  • Discerning the Will of the Lord for Me. I think this topic would help many young women, and some young men, who struggle to decide if they should go on a mission.
  • Member-missionary tips
  • Exercise tips
  • Information for Moms of future missionaries
  • Mission prep tips for primary aged children
  • Motivating teenagers to prepare for and serve a mission

Of course you are not limited to these topics, so if you have other ideas for posts that would help missionaries prepare, send it in. Just click on the button below and fill out the form to get started. Thank you.

Contact Me about Contributing a Guest Post

My First Day in the Mission Field

Note to my good friends in Argentina: Many of my initial reactions to life in Argentina were completely changed after living there. In this post, though, I tried to capture some of my first reactions, as misguided as they may have been. I love Argentina and the people there and look forward to visiting again some day soon.

map of trip to argentinaI left the MTC in Provo Utah on December 26, 1995. I flew from Salt Lake City to San Francisco en route to Miami, FL. I remember waiting in the airport in Miami, a city with many Spanish speakers, and hearing the announcements for departing flights made in both English and Spanish. I hardly understood anything when they made the Spanish announcements. I sincerely hoped my lack of understanding was due to the poor quality PA system, but honestly I knew my Spanish language skills were pretty weak and it made me very nervous.

From Miami, me and a few other missionaries took a 13 hour flight to Buenos Aires. When I stepped off the plan in Buenos Aires I was astounded by the heat and humidity, and also by the uniformed and armed military personnel standing at the end of the jetway. All of us of missionaries gathered together and none of us knew what to do next. Luckily, a local member of the Church showed up to greet us and help us get our luggage. We sincerely appreciated the assistance. We piled in to a van, and this wonderful helper took us to another, smaller airport. As we waited in this airport, I had to go to the bathroom, and when I went inside I found a toilet and a bidet but no toilet paper. I don’t recall what I did, but I guess I figured something out. Soon we got onto another plane, a small, propellered one, which took us to the city of Rosario.

At the Rosario airport, we were greeted by two missionaries, who were the Assistants to the Mission President. They took us to the mission home, which housed the mission president’s family and also served as the central office for the mission. There we had a meal with the mission president’s family, then a group meeting, and then individual meetings with the president. In the group meeting, the president’s wife spoke about sanitation, being careful of water and washing vegetables thoroughly. I was very concerned about contracting a parasite and her talk actually set my mind at ease somewhat. Still, I was wary of the water. For more detail about my first meeting with my mission president, see this post about arriving in your mission and this post about preparation day.

After a couple of hours at the mission home, the assistants took us to the bus station to catch a bus to our respective areas. I remember being amazed at the assistant’s skill with the Spanish language and the confidence with which they spoke to the bus driver. I longed for the day I could speak Spanish that well (read more on my experience learning a language here). With some trepidation, I boarded the bus and prayed fervently that I would make it to the right city, Paraná, where I had been assigned to work.

Mormon Missionaries in Paraná Argentina 1995I arrived in Paraná late in the evening. Once again I was extremely blessed to be greeted at the bus station by two Elders, the Zone Leaders. They helped me get my suitcases, and then we took a taxi to the apartment where my companion was supposed to be waiting for me. As it turned out, my companion wasn’t expecting me, because he already had a companion. None of us knew it until that moment, but we had been made into a three-person companionship.

The Elders in the apartment were kind and helped me get settled. There wasn’t a third bed in the apartment, so one of them, an American named Elder Ballou, volunteered to sleep on the floor. I was tired from the traveling, yet I still had a restless nights sleep. In the morning, I showered, studied the scriptures, and had breakfast much like I would every other morning in my mission. I was amazed at the electrical device hooked up directly to the shower head to provide hot water (read this post on what to expect in Argentina for more info on the calefón, the common shower water heating device). I counted myself blessed for not being electrocuted. I was pleasantly surprised to find a refrigerator in the apartment, though this turned out to be a luxury I had in only about half of my missionary apartments.

As we went out to work that morning, I followed the other Elders diligently. We walked many dusty roads that day, and I had some difficulty keeping up with the fast pace. We stopped by a few members houses and they each offered us something to drink. Whether it was justified or not, I still had a real fear to drink the beverages offered to us by the members. One of the first places we stopped at, the members offered us some “jugo” (juice). I didn’t want to offend them by not taking it, so I drank it and found it to be significantly watered down flavored drink mix. I didn’t ask for seconds.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped at another member’s home and they offered us some “agua fria” (cold water). I remember being so excited that I actually understood the offer, and I was thrilled just to get some normal, plain cold water to drink. It was a hot day, and when the sister handed me the cup, I gulped it down right away. Big mistake. As the beverage hit my tongue, I almost spit it out. It was carbonated water. And while it was cold and refreshing, it was not what I was expecting.

At one point late in the afternoon, we stopped at a small neighborhood store (a “kiosko”), and Elder Ballou bought a two liter of lemon-lime soda from. Finally, I thought, something good to drink. I had no fear of this drink because we had been told that bottled drinks from the store were safe. After being out in the hot sun for most of the day with little to drink, this was the best tasting drink I had ever had.

That evening, when we got back to the apartment, the Zone Leaders showed up again, expectantly. They said Elder Ballou was getting transferred to another area and he needed to leave right away. Our trio only lasted for one day. Our companionship was back down to two, per the norm, me and Elder Loesener, a native Argentine who spoke English about as well as I spoke Spanish. I was a little worried at first, but Elder Loesener turned out to be a great companion and trainer. Read more about how Elder Loesener helped me in my post on practical steps for mission prep.

It was a whirlwind of a first day in Argentina and first day as a full-time missionary in the field. All in all, I think it went pretty well. We visited with many wonderful members. I don’t recall teaching any non-member discussions on this first day, but there would be plenty of those in the days and weeks ahead (this city is where we found and baptized the wonderful Almada family). In a relatively short period of time I became more comfortable with the language, the food, the people, and the lifestyle. I grew to love Argentina. I met and shared profound gospel discussions with many great people there, and I was blessed to see many families baptized and enter the gate that leads to eternal life with Heavenly Father. Missionary work truly is the work of the Lord.

Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

Missionary Dress and Grooming StandardsThere has been a lot of buzz lately about the new, more up-to-date and modern, dress and grooming standards for Mormon missionaries that were published by the LDS Church in July 2013. Most notable is the lighter colored suits and slacks allowed for the young men: light gray and tan suits, along with khaki dress pants, are now permissible for Elders. Some major changes also took place with the Sister missionary wardrobe with the last couple of years, with nylons becoming optional and the minimum dress length going from mid-calf to the knee. For both men and women, lighter, brighter colors are now allowed.

Here are some news articles describing the changes:

The official LDS Church missionary dress and grooming standards are found on the Dress and Grooming section of the LDS.org page for missionaries. The new Church website has volumes of very detailed information, including hundreds of pictures, describing appropriate dress and grooming of missionaries. When you are ready to buy clothes for you mission, review the Church site on missionary dress and grooming, following the missionary clothing list you’ll get in your call packet, also be aware of the area specific information you will get from your mission president.

Sister Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

  • Sister Missionary Dress StandardsPersonal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Bathe daily, use deodorant, and wash your hair frequently. If you choose to wear perfume or scented lotion, make sure it is not distracting or overpowering.”
  • Hair: “The style, color, and length of your hair should be attractive and easy to manage and should not draw attention. The color of your hair should look natural and conservative.”
  • Modesty: “Maintain a high standard of modesty…You should present a dignified, clean, well-groomed appearance and be feminine and professional in style.”
  • Outfits: “Because of budget and luggage restrictions and limited closet space, you should plan and purchase your clothing carefully…Choose colors and patterns that you can mix and match with a variety of outfits.”
  • Underclothing: “Choose bras that are white or cream colored, durable, comfortable, and modest. Make sure you have slips that coordinate with the color and length of your skirts…Patterned nylons or tights should be subtle and simple in design and should not be made of any kind of mesh, fishnet, or lace material.”
  • Fabrics and Care: “Your clothing should be made of materials that are durable and easy to care for…A durable weave of cotton, wool, or polyester blends will wear well. Do not wear denim, corduroy, [or] leather.”
  • Shoes: “Shoes and boots should be practical, comfortable, attractive, and appropriate for the climate…Shoes with low heels are preferred…You may use shoe inserts to increase comfort and support. Wear a dressy pair of shoes for Sunday meetings.”
  • Accessories: “Handbags, jewelry, and other accessories should be simple and conservative…Earrings should not hang longer than approximately one inch below the earlobe. Do not wear more than one earring in each ear…Choose belts that are simple and conservative in color and design.”
  • See Female Missionary Dress and Grooming Guidelines for more details.

Elder Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

  • Elder Missionary Dress StandardsPersonal Grooming: “Be neat and clean. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and pressed. Do not wear clothing that is casual, wrinkled, or sloppy. Bathe, shave, and brush your teeth each day…Your appearance should never distract from your message.”
  • Hair: “Always maintain a conservative hairstyle. Keep your hair relatively short and evenly tapered on the top, back, and sides…Unacceptable hairstyles include faux hawks, crew cuts, mullets, and styles that are spikey, messy, or permed.”
  • Clothing: “In general, your missionary wardrobe will consist of business-style suits, white dress shirts, ties, slacks, shoes, socks, and belts…You are not required to wear a suit during regular everyday proselyting activities. On these occasions, wear a white shirt, tie, durable and comfortable dress shoes, and professional dress slacks.”
  • Suits: “Wear business-style suits in conservative colors. If you wear lighter-colored suits, choose shades of grey or brown… Suits with pinstripes or patterns should be simple and subtle in design. Do not wear sports coats or slim-style suits.”
  • Shirts and Ties: “Wear only white, conservative-style dress shirts…Ties should be simple in color and design and professional in style…String, bow, skinny, or wide ties are not acceptable.”
  • Shoes: “Shoes should fit well and be comfortable, breathable, and durable. Choose polishable shoes in conservative colors. Do not wear casual or trendy shoes or shoes made of suede, canvas, or other soft materials… Do not wear cowboy boots or hiking boots.”
  • Accessories and Belts: “Accessories should be simple and conservative and should not attract attention…You may wear one simple ring and an inexpensive, conservative-style watch…Belts should be simple and should match the color of your shoes. Do not wear large belt buckles or buckles with logos or caricatures.”
  • Outerwear: “Staying dry and warm while proselyting in wet and cold climates is very important. During regular proselyting activities you may add any of the following layers over your white shirt and tie as needed: Sweater, Suit coat, Rainwear, Winter coat…Coats, jackets, and sweaters should be in solid, conservative colors and be business professional in appearance. Do not wear hoodies [or] sweatshirts.”
  • See the Male Missionary Dress and Grooming General Guidelines for more details.

Senior Missionary Dress and Grooming Standards

Standards for dress and groom of older missionaries are relatively the same as those for younger missionaries. For specific senior missionary dress and grooming guidelines, visit the Provo MTC website.

An Ambassador of the Lord

As a missionary, you are an ambassador, or representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. The dress and grooming guidelines websites reminds future missionaries that “as an ambassador of the Lord you are to wear professional, conservative clothing that is consistent with your sacred calling and that will clearly identify you as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” To sister missionaries, Thomas S. Monson once said, “You can dress attractively without being immodest. Within the Lord’s guidelines, there is room for you to be lively, vibrant, and beautiful both in your dress and in your actions.” Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us, “we have always been invited to present our best selves. … We should be recognizable in appearance as well as in behavior that we truly are disciples of Christ.” I pray that all LDS missionaries will do this, and that through their appearance, example, and teachings, more of God’s children will desire to follow Jesus Christ and come unto Him.

LDS Missionary Clothing List

Summary: This article discusses the LDS missionary clothing list and other items to bring on your Mormon mission.

Mormon Missionary Suitcase

The General Instructions Checklist that you get in your mission call letter will tell you in more detail the clothing, luggage, and other items you will need to bring with you on your mission. There are slight variations between missions, and the letter from your mission president will advise you if that is that case. For the most part, though, the clothing, toiletries, and other items each missionary will need to bring on your mission is relatively standard. Also be advised to follow the missionary dress and grooming standards (which were updated in July 2013 to allow greater flexibility and more modern styles) when buying clothes for your mission.

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, and sewing kit
  • Alarm clock (wind-up or battery)
  • 2 Towels, washcloths
  • Twin-size bed sheets with pillowcase
  • Shoulder bag (no backpacks)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm, as needed
  • 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, and sewing kit
  • Alarm clock (wind-up or battery)
  • 2 Towels, washcloths
  • Twin-size bed sheets with pillowcase
  • Shoulder bag or purse (no backpacks)
  • Sunscreen and lip balm, as needed

Missionary Luggage

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?.

Missionary Books

Missionaries should bring their scriptures and they are also allowed to bring the following books, if they desire:

  • True to the Faith
  • Jesus the Christ, by James E. Talmage
  • Our Heritage: A Brief History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • Our Search for Happiness, By M. Russell Ballard
  • See the approved Missionary Reading List for more detail

What NOT to Bring on Your Mission

Do not bring the following items to the MTC or to the mission field:

  • Briefcases
  • Any books not listed above
  • Daily planners, including electronic planners
  • Laptop or other computers
  • Any video recording devices, or any video or DVD players
  • Cellular phones, pagers, e-mail devices, or unauthorized electronic equipment
  • Radios or clock radios
  • Musical instruments
  • Playing cards, games, footballs, soccer balls, or any other kind of sports or hobby equipment
  • Packages for other missionaries in the MTC or in the mission field
  • Weapons of any kind

For information on how much you can expect to spend on clothing and other items, see my related article: Cost To Get Ready To Go On A Mission.

Mission Prep Webinar Series Announced

After much consideration, I have decided to hold a series of Mission Prep webinars starting in January 2013. The webinars will basically be online classes, firesides, or devotionals. My hope is that the webinars will be informative and practical for mission prep, and also spiritual and motivating to help young people have a desire to serve.

Each webinar will be about an hour and we will cover a variety of Mormon missionary preparation topics both temporal and spiritual. There will also be time in each webinar to ask questions and get answers. The series will consist of three webinars: Preparing to Serve a Mission, Receiving the Call to Serve a Mission, and Gearing Up to Serve a Mission.

  • Gaining a Desire to Serve a Mission: In this webinar, we will discuss getting Young Men motivated to serve, the worth of souls in the sight of God, why the Church needs many more missionaries, and the blessings of missionary service.
  • Preparing to Serve a Mission: This webinar will discuss requirements to serve a mission, worthiness, the mission cost, and other items around temporal and spiritual preparation.
  • Receiving the Call to Serve a Mission: In this webinar we will discuss the mission call process, paperwork, the revelatory process for missionaries to be called by God, and other related topics.
  • Gearing Up to Serve a Mission: In this webinar we will discuss missionary clothing and other supplies you’ll need, reading lists, the MTC, teaching by the Spirit, and your purpose as a missionary.

Several factors have prompted me to start up these online classes, not the least of which is the new lower age requirement for missionaries. Since that announcement, there has been a great demand for mission prep classes. The Church has an official Mission Prep class offered through LDS Institutes. Many stakes and wards teach the class too. But many young people aren’t able to take this 14 lesson course, or their stake or ward doesn’t offer it.

I highly recommend that all future missionaries, if you are able, to take the full mission prep class from the Church. While my mission prep webinars do not take the place of the Church class, they will be very helpful to those who are unable to take it. And even for those who have taken or will take the Church mission prep course, I hope you join us for the webinars as well. I think everyone considering a mission will benefit from them.

The plan is to do one webinar per week. In order to hold the webinar at the best time for most people, I ask that you respond to the survey above. In late December or early January I’ll be sending out more information on dates, times, and how to sign up for the webinars. Thank you.