Preparing for the Physical Demands of a Mission

youth exercising credit churchofjesuschrist.org

“Bishops and stake presidents have the serious responsibility to identify worthy, qualified members who are spiritually, physically, and emotionally prepared for this sacred service and who can be recommended without reservation” (First Presidency letter, Dec. 11, 2002).

I have written previously about preparing for the emotional demands of missionary service, and much of this site is about spiritually preparing, but one thing I haven’t written much on is what young people should do to prepare for the physical demands of missionary service. Missionary work is just that–work, and it is often hard physically work. Missionaries should be physically healthy and be capable of performing the physical tasks common to missionary work.

Physical preparation includes getting your body physically fit through exercise, learning to follow a healthy sleep schedule, being accustomed to following personal hygiene rules, and learning to eat healthy foods, among other things. A few years ago, Donald B. Doty, Chairman of the Missionary Department Health Services, wrote an article for the March 2007 Ensign magazine called “Missionary Health Preparation.” In the article, he advised future missionaries to start habits of physical health long before their full-time mission. Here is some of his advice.

Regular / Daily Physical Exercise

“A missionary must be able to walk an average of six miles (10 km) per day and ride a bicycle 12 miles (19 km) per day. Prospective missionaries who aren’t walking more than from the car to a class or a job will likely get sore feet and blisters when they reach the mission field. Those who are not used to riding a bicycle regularly will also become very “saddle sore” when a bike becomes their primary means of transportation. A missionary who is out of shape will be fatigued by missionary work, and a tired missionary is more open to discouragement and health concerns than a missionary who is physically fit.”

“Prospective missionaries can prepare for the rigors of missionary life by establishing a regular pattern of aerobic exercise—walking, running, or cycling for one hour every day. Those whose primary form of exercise is playing electronic games or text messaging will take at least four months to achieve the level of conditioning that will allow them to actually enjoy a workout.”

Healthy Eating Habits, Weight, and Cooking

“Rather than living on sugar and fat, young people should learn to enjoy meals consisting of protein and fiber, such as lean meat, yogurt, vegetables, and fruit. Also, drinking more than 12 ounces of carbonated beverage per day is too much. The Missionary Department requires that missionaries have a body mass index no higher than 37. This is actually on the border between obesity and morbid obesity. Prospective missionaries should strive to keep their weight in the normal range, thereby avoiding obesity-related health problems. Being markedly under normal weight can also have serious health consequences.”

“Parents can help their sons and daughters learn how to prepare simple, healthy meals. I stress the word simple because missionaries often cook food on a hot plate or a single gas burner and may not have an oven. Every prospective missionary needs to know the basics of cooking and sanitary food handling.”

Adequate Sleep Habits

“Although sleep needs vary, young adults generally need to sleep seven to eight hours per day. Ideally, they should be in bed by 10:30 to midnight and out of bed by 6:30 to 8:00 a.m. Staying up until 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. and sleeping until 10:00 a.m. leaves a person feeling tired all the time and wanting to sleep until noon. Staying up all night to cram for examinations, playing video games most of the night, or working a graveyard shift can be detrimental because keeping late hours resets the body’s clock. Missionaries live a scheduled life. They are in bed by 10:30 p.m. and up by 6:30 a.m. every day. This schedule will be difficult unless prospective missionaries get into a similar routine well in advance of the call to service.”

Employment and Work Ethic

“Missionary work is just that, work. There is nothing easy about missionary work, so young people should develop the ability to work reliably. A regular job teaches such habits as getting to work on time, not missing work unnecessarily, doing assigned tasks well, looking for more work when the assigned task is completed, and not going home early. A job also helps young people understand the value of money. Where possible, prospective missionaries should plan to pay as much of the cost of the mission as possible, rather than depending on parents or donations from others. Helping pay for their own missions will help prospective missionaries learn to live within the stringent missionary allowance.”

Personal Hygiene

“Personal cleanliness and good grooming habits are vital to missionary success. Favorable first impressions are lasting. Clean hands also help missionaries stay healthy and prevent the spread of communicable diseases.” On dental health, he said, “prevention is the key to good dental health. This means a habit of brushing teeth at least morning and night, daily use of dental floss, and consistent visits to your dentist.” Not mentioned by Brother Doty, but other personal hygiene items probably applicable to some young people is getting in the habit of showering daily, using deodorant, and learning to do their own laundry.

Finally, Brother Doty encouraged young people not to wait to establish these habits of physical health. “Those who wait to prepare until the last minute or until after they have received the call to serve may not be ready and may even have their missions delayed.” Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission.” (“Becoming a Missionary,” Ensign, Nov. 2005) That includes becoming physically fit and ready for the physical demands of missionary work. And as missionaries are more physically prepared, they will be better servants in hands of God and more effective in inviting other to come unto Christ.

Mission Prep Class: Lesson 6: Preparing for Life as a Missionary – Video and Podcast

In this video (above) and podcast (below), I am teaching Lesson 6 of the Mission Preparation class from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to my teenage kids. The lesson topic is preparing for life as a missionary, particularly, how to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally.

I began planning this series of lessons (there are 15 lessons in all for the Church’s Mission Prep course) long ago but the timing could turn out to be very good for people stuck at home right now due to the COVID-19 virus quarantine. The video/audio is about 40 minutes, so you will want to set aside enough time to watch or listen to it. It could be a great Sabbath day activity to do on a Sunday. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: While I am going by the Church’s Mission Prep manual, please remember this video is not a publication of the Church. I am simply a dad, teaching my children, and I’m sharing our lesson for others to enjoy. This video is not meant to replace the Mission Prep class people can take from their stake or ward or the Church Education System, but for those people wanting to prepare for a mission and unable to take that class, I hope this digital lesson helps fill the gap.

Mission Prep Class: Lesson 5: What is the Role of the Book of Mormon? – Video and Podcast

In this video (above) and podcast (below), I am teaching Lesson 5 of the Mission Preparation class from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to my teenage kids. The lesson topic is the role of the Book of Mormon in missionary work. For investigators, an essential part of conversion is receiving a witness from God that the Book of Mormon is true. For missionaries, a personal testimony of the Book of Mormon is also essential to share their message with power. The Book of Mormon is powerful evidence of the divinity of Jesus Christ and provides another testament of his life, mission, and atonement.

I began planning this series of lessons (there are 15 lessons in all for the Church’s Mission Prep course) long ago but the timing could turn out to be very good for people stuck at home right now due to the COVID-19 virus quarantine. The video/audio is about 40 minutes, so you will want to set aside enough time to watch or listen to it. It could be a great Sabbath day activity to do on a Sunday. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: While I am going by the Church’s Mission Prep manual, please remember this video is not a publication of the Church. I am simply a dad, teaching my children, and I’m sharing our lesson for others to enjoy. This video is not meant to replace the Mission Prep class people can take from their stake or ward or the Church Education System, but for those people wanting to prepare for a mission and unable to take that class, I hope this digital lesson helps fill the gap.

Mission Prep Class: Lesson 4: Teaching by the Spirit of God – Video and Podcast

In this video (above) and podcast (below), I am teaching Lesson 4 of the Mission Preparation class from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to my teenage kids. The lesson topic is Teaching by the Spirit of God. Missionaries must teach by the power of the Holy Ghost because it is the Spirit of God, not the missionaries or their words, that cause people to be converted to Jesus Christ.

I began planning this series of lessons (there are 15 lessons in all for the Church’s Mission Prep course) long ago but the timing could turn out to be very good for people stuck at home right now due to the COVID-19 virus quarantine. The video/audio is about 45 minutes, so you will want to set aside enough time to watch or listen to it. It could be a great Sabbath day activity to do on a Sunday. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: While I am going by the Church’s Mission Prep manual, please remember this video is not a publication of the Church. I am simply a dad, teaching my children, and I’m sharing our lesson for others to enjoy. This video is not meant to replace the Mission Prep class people can take from their stake or ward or the Church Education System, but for those people wanting to prepare for a mission and unable to take that class, I hope this digital lesson helps fill the gap.

Mission Prep Class: Lesson 3: Learning by the Spirit of God – Video and Podcast

In this video (above) and podcast (below), I am teaching Lesson 3 of the Mission Preparation class from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to my teenage kids. The lesson topic is Learning by the Spirit of God. Before missionaries can teach by the Spirit, which is essential, they first must come to understand how to learn by the Spirit.

I began planning this series of lessons (there are 15 lessons in all for the Church’s Mission Prep course) long ago but the timing could turn out to be very good for people stuck at home right now due to the COVID-19 virus quarantine. The video/audio is about 40 minutes, so you will want to set aside enough time to watch or listen to it. It could be a great Sabbath day activity to do on a Sunday. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: While I am going by the Church’s Mission Prep manual, please remember this video is not a publication of the Church. I am simply a dad, teaching my children, and I’m sharing our lesson for others to enjoy. This video is not meant to replace the Mission Prep class people can take from their stake or ward or the Church Education System, but for those people wanting to prepare for a mission and unable to take that class, I hope this digital lesson helps fill the gap.

Mission Prep Class: Lesson 2: Our Need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ – Video and Podcast

In this video (above) and podcast (below), I am teaching Lesson 2 of the Mission Preparation class from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to my teenage kids. The lesson topic is Our Need for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. When young people understand the blessings that only come through Jesus and have a testimony of his role as our Savior, they naturally will have desires to share the good news of the gospel by being a missionary.

I began planning this series of lessons (there are 15 lessons in all for the Church’s Mission Prep course) long ago but the timing could turn out to be very good for people stuck at home right now due to the COVID-19 virus quarantine. The video/audio is about 40 minutes, so you will want to set aside enough time to watch or listen to it. It could be a great Sabbath day activity to do on a Sunday. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: While I am going by the Church’s Mission Prep manual, please remember this video is not a publication of the Church. I am simply a dad, teaching my children, and I’m sharing our lesson for others to enjoy. This video is not meant to replace the Mission Prep class people can take from their stake or ward or the Church Education System, but for those people wanting to prepare for a mission and unable to take that class, I hope this digital lesson helps fill the gap.

Mission Prep Class: Lesson 1: The Missionary Purpose – Video and Podcast

In this video (above) and podcast (below), I am teaching Lesson 1 of the Mission Preparation class from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to my teenage kids. The lesson topic is the Missionary Purpose–to invite others to come unto Christ. While I am going by the Church’s Mission Prep manual, please remember this video is not a publication of the Church. I am simply a dad, teaching my children, and I’m sharing our lesson for others to enjoy.

I began planning this lesson, which I hope will turn into a series with all 15 lessons from the Church’s Mission Prep course, long ago but the timing could turn out to be very good for people stuck at home due to the COVID-19 virus quarantine. This video is not meant to replace the Mission Prep class people can take from their stake or ward or the Church Education System, but for those people wanting to prepare for a mission and unable to take that class, I hope this digital lesson helps fill the gap.

The video/audio is about 50 minutes, so you will want to set aside enough time to watch or listen to it. It could be a great Sabbath day activity to do on a Sunday. Enjoy!

Mission Prep Quotes from April 2020 General Conference

compulsion compelling invitations expression of love christofferson

Spiritually Defining Memories by Elder Neil L. Andersen

“Sister Damasio told me that missionaries in her village had given a priesthood blessing to a critically ill baby who miraculously recovered. She wanted to know more. As she prayed about their message, an undeniable witness of the Spirit confirmed to her that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. At 103, she was baptized, and at 104, she was endowed. Every year after, she made the 14-hour bus ride to spend a week in the temple. Sister Damasio had received a heavenly confirmation, and she knew that God knew that she knew that the witness was true.”

“Here is a spiritual memory from my first mission to France 48 years ago. While tracting, my companion and I left a Book of Mormon with an elderly woman. When we returned to the woman’s apartment about a week later, she opened the door. Before any words were spoken, I felt a tangible spiritual power. The intense feelings continued as Madame Alice Audubert invited us in and told us she had read the Book of Mormon and knew that it was true. As we left her apartment that day, I prayed, “Heavenly Father, please help me to never forget what I have just felt.” I never have.”

The Power of the Book of Mormon in Conversion by Elder Benjamin M. Z. Tai

“As a young man beginning my missionary service, I boarded an airplane headed to Australia. Feeling very alone, anxious, and inadequate but having committed to serve, I desperately needed reassurance that what I believed in was true. I prayed and read my scriptures earnestly, but as the flight progressed, my self-doubt intensified and my physical condition deteriorated. After I had been struggling for several hours, a flight attendant walked down the aisle and stopped next to my seat. He took the Book of Mormon I was reading from my hands. He looked at the cover and said, “That’s a great book!” then handed the book back to me and kept walking. I never saw him again.”

“While his words echoed in my ears, I distinctly heard and felt in my heart, “I am here, and I know where you are. Just do your best, for I will take care of the rest.” On that airplane above the Pacific Ocean, I received a personal witness through my study of the Book of Mormon and the promptings of the Holy Spirit that my Savior knew who I was and that the gospel was true.”

He Goes before Us by President Henry B. Eyring

“Although missionary work was needed to gather Israel, the Lord inspired His leaders to teach the Twelve, who became some of our early missionaries, “Remember you are not to go to other nations, till you receive your endowment.” … In fulfillment of prophecy, preparatory temple ordinances began to be introduced… along with an outpouring of spiritual manifestations which armed those called on missions with the promised endowment of “power from on high” that led to a great gathering through missionary service. …The Lord had inspired Joseph and those faithful missionaries who went to work to achieve a harvest that must have, at the time, seemed beyond them. But the Lord, with His perfect foresight and preparation, made it possible.”

Fulfillment of Prophecy by Elder Ronald A. Rasband

“I remember when I received my mission call as a young man. I wanted to serve in Germany, like my father, brother, and brother-in-law. Not waiting for anyone to get home, I rushed to the mailbox and opened the call. I read that I had been called to the Eastern States Mission, headquartered in New York City. I was disappointed, so I went inside and opened my scriptures for comfort. I began to read in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Behold, and lo, I have much people in this place, in the regions round about; and an effectual door shall be opened in the regions round about in this eastern land.” That prophecy, given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1833, was a revelation to me. I knew then I had been called to the exact mission the Lord wanted me to serve in.”

That They May See by Bonnie H. Cordon

“The second story is about Ella, a collegiate basketball player. Her example began when she received her mission call while away at school. She chose to open her call in front of her team. They knew almost nothing about the Church of Jesus Christ and didn’t understand Ella’s desire to serve. She prayed repeatedly to know how to explain her mission call in a way that her teammates might feel the Spirit. Her answer?

“I made a PowerPoint,” Ella said, “because I’m just that cool.” She told them about the potential of serving in one of 400-plus missions and possibly learning a language. She highlighted the thousands of missionaries already serving. Ella ended with a picture of the Savior and this brief testimony”

The Blessing of Continuing Revelation to Prophets and Personal Revelation to Guide Our Lives by Elder Quentin L. Cook

“Elder Holland and I “were companions as young missionaries in England in the early 1960s, and I had a great love for him. I considered the experience a tender mercy for me. In recent years, I have wondered if the Lord was preparing me to be junior in the Twelve to an incredible missionary companion who was my junior companion when we were young missionaries. I sometimes warn young missionaries to be kind to their junior companions because they never know when they might be their senior companion.”

Come and Belong by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

“We invite all of God’s children throughout the world to join us in this great endeavor. Come and see! Even during this challenging time of COVID-19, meet with us online. Meet with our missionaries online. Find out for yourself what this Church is all about! When this difficult time has passed, meet with us in our homes and in our worship places!”

Sharing the Message of the Restoration and the Resurrection by Elder D. Todd Christofferson

In the Church, we have “hundreds of thousands [of stories], that speak of the time, treasure, and lives sacrificed over the last 200 years to share the message of the Restoration. Our aspiration to reach every nation, kindred, tongue, and people is undiminished today, as witnessed by the tens of thousands of young men, women, and couples currently serving under full-time mission calls; by Church members generally, who echo Philip’s invitation to come and see; and by the millions of dollars spent annually to sustain this effort across the world. While our invitations are without compulsion, we hope people will find them compelling. For that to be so, I believe at least three things are required: first, your love; second, your example; and third, your use of the Book of Mormon. Our invitations cannot be a matter of self-interest; rather, they must be an expression of selfless love.”

How to Receive Spiritual Guidance

How to Receive Spiritual Guidance Cycle

In my personal gospel study, I was recently re-reading a talk by Elder Richard G. Scott entitled “To Acquire Spiritual Guidance” from October 2009 General Conference. As I read it, I realized (a spiritual prompting, no doubt) that Elder Scott’s words were excellent advice for young people, particularly young women, who were trying to decide if they should go on a mission or not.

My mind then turned to my own teenage daughter and son who will soon be reaching the age to go on a mission. They will also, within a few years, be making important life decisions like where to go to college and who to date and marry. It occurred to me that there are few more important topics for older teens to learn than how to receive spiritual guidance from God. So of course, I made plans to have that be the next topic in family home evening, and I thought I’d share the lesson with this audience too.

There Is No Simple Formula

While I have organized Elder Scott’s advice into a cycle with six steps, he says “there is no simple formula or technique that would immediately allow you to master the ability to be guided by the voice of the Spirit. Our Father expects you to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and His Holy Son, Jesus Christ. Were you to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, you would become weak and ever more dependent on Them. They know that essential personal growth will come as you struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit.”

So again, the steps I have extracted from Elder Scott are steps I identified as I read his examples. I have seen this same pattern play out in my own life, so they ring true. But they are not the one and only way to receive spiritual guidance from God. Some of the elements may differ for you and learning how to recognize the voice of God in your mind and heart is a skill you will have to fully learn through your own experiences. But hopefully this will still help.

Step 1: Recognize the Spirit of God

“What may appear initially to be a daunting task will be much easier to manage over time as you consistently strive to recognize and follow feelings prompted by the Spirit. Your confidence in the direction you receive from the Holy Ghost will also become stronger. I witness that as you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear.”

Step 2: Write down the inspiration

“Now I share an experience that taught me a way to gain spiritual guidance. One Sunday I attended the priesthood meeting of a Spanish branch in Mexico City. …[the teacher’s] sincerity, purity of intent, and love permitted a spiritual strength to envelop the room. I was deeply touched. Then I began to receive personal impressions as an extension of the principles taught by that humble instructor. …As each impression came, I carefully wrote it down. In the process, I was given precious truths that I greatly needed in order to be a more effective servant of the Lord. The details of the communication are sacred and, like a patriarchal blessing, were for my individual benefit.”

Step 3: Write more detail in private

“I received such an outpouring of impressions that were so personal that I felt it was not appropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location, where I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as faithfully as possible.”

Step 4: Ponder and make adjustments

“After each powerful impression was recorded, I pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately expressed them in writing. As a result, I made a few minor changes to what had been written.”

Step 5: Apply the inspiration

“Then I studied their meaning and application in my own life. …Spirituality yields two fruits. The first is inspiration to know what to do. The second is power, or the capacity to do it. These two capacities come together. …God answers prayer and gives us spiritual direction when we live obediently and exercise the required faith in Him.”

Step 6: Thank God and ask if there is more

“I prayed, reviewing with the Lord what I thought I had been taught by the Spirit. When a feeling of peace came, I thanked Him for the guidance given. I was then impressed to ask, ‘Was there yet more to be given?’ I received further impressions, and the process of writing down the impressions, pondering, and praying for confirmation was repeated.” In other words, return to Step 1.

A Repeatable Experience “as you make this a practice in your life”

“What I have described is not an isolated experience. It embodies several true principles regarding communication from the Lord to His children here on earth. I believe that you can leave the most precious, personal direction of the Spirit unheard because you do not respond to, record, and apply the first promptings that come to you.”

“Impressions of the Spirit can come in response to urgent prayer or unsolicited when needed. Sometimes the Lord reveals truth to you when you are not actively seeking it, such as when you are in danger and do not know it. However, the Lord will not force you to learn. You must exercise your agency to authorize the Spirit to teach you. As you make this a practice in your life, you will be more perceptive to the feelings that come with spiritual guidance. Then, when that guidance comes, sometimes when you least expect it, you will recognize it more easily.”

Finding and Teaching People Digitally during Quarantine – Reactions and Tips

In the current climate, many missionaries are being forced to stay in their homes and apartments, and do what they can digitally to find and teach and invite people to follow the Savior Jesus Christ. This has been a struggle for many missionaries, so much so that the Church announced recently that some missionaries will now be given the option to be reassigned with their original mission end date OR they can temporarily suspend their mission and return to service within 12–18 months with a new end date.

For those missionaries choosing to stay and work digitally for the next for weeks or months, I want to share what some other missionaries are doing in this situation as well as some other advice and tips. The first two reactions are from my nephews who are serving full-time missions and the second two are advice from old people, myself and a friend who works at the MTC. Scroll to keep reading or click the link to jump to each person’s advice.

Nicholas Smith Email – March 23, 2020 

Nicholas Smith Layton Utah Mission“WOW this COVID-19 has gotten crazy! So Monday and Tuesday were pretty normal missionary days. We found two new people to teach and Tuesday night we went on exchanges. Then 10:22pm hits and bam! Bombshell = dropped. We got an email from the mission president saying that we are to use technology as our only means of interact with the outside world effective immediately. So yes I’m quarantined now.

“We’ve been having a lot of lessons over Zoom. We’ve also been working on finding effective ways to use Facebook to find new people to teach. With all the changes the church is putting out a lot of the missionaries here are going home including my greeny, Elder _____. He has asthma and so they’re making him go home. It sad to see him go.

“COVID-19 has really changed up the way that missionary work works. We have almost daily updates on what to do to keep ourselves safe and healthy. Despite all the obstacles we currently face as missionaries I’m just excited. I’m starting to understand even more why I was called to be a missionary to this place at this time. I know I was sent here for a reason and that God needs my talents at this time to help hasten his work. There’s nothing that can stop the work of the Lord. I know this and I hope everyone knows this. I can’t wait to see what the next couple months bring!”

Nicholas Smith Email – March 30, 2020 

“It’s been a crazy week guys, the missionaries here keep dropping like flies. Don’t be too worried, none of them are actually sick but the church is being extremely cautious when it comes to the safety of their missionaries. One of our best missionaries in the district returned home this week. It was sad to see him go. On a happier note work is really starting to pick up here! We’re figuring out how missionary work “works” under the new quarantine rules. I’ve had to actually learn how to use Facebook (can’t wait for Corona to go away so I can delete it again). I still haven’t seen much success come from it but we’re still in our trial and error phases of Facebook.

“The greatest success we’re seeing is member work. Yes, you heard that right folks, actually working with members. How does that work you ask. Well, let me tell you. We set up some lessons with members, we share a 20ish minute lesson with them and set up a return appointment with the members in a week. At the end of our lesson we say “Is there anyone that you know that really could use a message of peace through Christ right now? Do you think that you could invite them to join our call next week?” and just like that we turned the members into missionaries.”

It doesn’t necessarily come through in his email, but Nick’s mom says he’s going stir crazy, trying to keep busy and productive while staying at home and to please keep him in your prayers!

Nicholas Smith Email – April 27, 2020

“Today we are having a baptism for our friend _____! We’re really excited for her. We have only been able to teach her over Zoom (digital video conferencing) and it’s incredible to me that we’re able to help people come closer to Christ without ever meeting with them face to face. I know that the work of the Lord won’t and can’t be frustrated by anything. Not an earthquake, some virus or anything else that tries to get in the way. The Lord has given us the tools we have for this specific time to accomplish the work He asked us to help him with. I plan on doing all that I can to help the Lord with his work. Yes there are many set backs and new things to figure out but with the Lord, all things are possible.”

Thomas Smith Email – March 30, 2020 

Thomas Smith at Mexico MTC“Good morning all of you beautiful people. Elder Smith here is back in Illinois safe and sound after roughly three days of traveling through airports. It’s cool being home, although it is a bit strange. I am still trying to do missionary work, although that definitely doesn’t look the same as I am under quarantine. I’m going to try to keep my Facebook page updated with uplifting messages or something while I’m here.

“If anyone here wants me to teach them about Jesus and the Book of Mormon, feel free to let me know, because I can’t really do much else. That includes people that are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints too. I would love the chance to talk to you guys again and share some sort of message. I’m allowed to do so through video calls.”

I asked Thomas to give me more details on how he is coping as well as any tips he has for other missionaries that have to find and teach people digitally. Once he sends me those, I’ll post them here.

Tips from My Friend Who Works at the MTC

I have been having an email dialog with a friend that works at the MTC and he had some good thoughts I wanted to share. First, he said to remember that regular mission rules are still in effect for missionaries in quarantine, unless their mission president has given specific exceptions. Missionaries should still follow their prescribed daily schedule, except, of course, the part that says to leave the apartment at a specific time. Here are some of his ideas for missionaries to productively pass the time:

  • Hold relevant virtual meetings with ward specialists like the emergency preparedness leader(s)
  • Have online meetings with the ward members, and encourage them to invite their friends, on topics such as what the scriptures teach about the days before The Second Coming of Christ
  • Find a psychologist to give a 30 minute presentation on how to be mentally healthy while quarantined–invite members to join the presentation and ask them to invite friends
  • Invite a financial planner to give an online seminar on budgeting–invite members and ask them to invite friends
  • Create and post positive memes on social media
  • Post videos of your testimony or other appropriate gospel subjects
  • Paint a picture of your favorite gospel story or create another appropriate art or craft project
  • Sew or crotchet ties, dresses, or other such items

My (Jimmy’s) Ideas for Missionaries Having to Work Digitally

Last but not least, here are my ideas:

Be Active on Social Media: If you haven’t done so, start by making sure your Facebook/Instagram profile makes it clear that you are a missionary for the Church. I would then recommend trying to post helpful, interesting, and engaging things, gospel related or service oriented. As appropriate I would invite people to learn more about the gospel through impromptu video chats and set video conferencing appointments. You may also want to try to find locally based Facebook groups to join–your ward and stake groups, if they exist, but also neighborhood or city based groups. Perhaps also follow local community organizations and participate in conversions as appropriate.

Participate in Local Newspaper and Community Websites: Look online for local community based websites, perhaps the local newspaper, and get involved on that website if it allows comments. Search for articles related to faith or serving our fellow man and make comments and engage in the online conversation. Submit letters to the editor, if possible, and find other ways to contribute user generated content that the local news site accepts.

Contribute to Mormon Wiki. The Mormon Wiki is a Wikipedia-like site sponsored by a faithful group called the More Good Foundation with content all about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Add content and sources to the articles on the Mormon Wiki. Online research to find those sources would likely be required, but that’s something right up the alley of many young missionaries.

Write on a Personal Website or Blog. If you have a website or blog, write articles about your mission, your testimony, and other gospel subjects. Use the platform to share what you are learning in your daily scripture study and, of course, amplify the distribution of those articles by sharing them on social media.

Conduct Open Webinars for Missionary Lesson 1. Usually, the missionary lessons are taught to one investigator or one family, but I don’t think there is any reason not to set a time to teach the first lesson online and invite as many people as want to attend. You can advertise the virtual lesson on social media and you can encourage members of your ward to attend and invite their friends to watch and learn. If a large number of people attend, you might need to take steps to keep viewer participation organized, such as having questions or comments being submitted in writing in the call’s chat box. If you make note of attendees who want to learn more, this could be a great way to generate leads for the missionaries to follow up on with individuals and individual families.