This category of blog posts contains articles designed to help members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in preparing for a mission. The articles are on a variety of topics containing both practical tips for preparing physically as well as many posts on spiritual topics designed to help missionaries be prepared with knowledge and testimony of the restored gospel.

Practical Steps for Mission Prep

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

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

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

Managing Money

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

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

Learning to Cook

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

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

Doing Laundry

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

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

Mission Prep from General Conference April 2009

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

Revealed Quorum Principles by Michael A. Neider

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

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

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

Counsel to Young Men by President Boyd K. Packer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be Your Best Self by President Thomas S. Monson

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

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

Get On with Our Lives by Elder Steven E. Snow

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

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

Bring Souls unto Me by Elder L. Tom Perry

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

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

Temple Is Important Part of Mission Preparation

I received my temple endowment in 1995, in the Washington, DC Temple just prior to leaving for my mission to Rosario, Argentina.  It was a sweet experience as I was surrounded by my parents and other extended family.  All Mormon missionaries receive their temple endowment prior to embarking in missionary service.  Receiving the Mormon temple endowment is an important part of mission preparation because it gives individuals spiritual knowledge and power that will help them better serve the Lord.  The demands of missionary service require spiritual strength, and the temple blessings bring power to worthy missionaries. This power comes through the greater understanding of Heavenly Father’s plan, and the sacred covenants and blessings obtained only in the temple.

Here some statement by current and past prophets and apostles regarding the importance of missionaries receiving their temple endowment.

  • President Howard W. Hunter taught, “Let us prepare every missionary to go to the temple worthily and to make that experience an even greater highlight than receiving the mission call” (Ensign, Nov. 1994, 88).
  • “Going to the temple for your own endowment… [is] an integral part of your mission preparation…You cannot do this work alone. We have to have heaven’s help, we have to have the ‘gifts’ of God…This work is so serious and the adversary’s opposition to it so great that we need every divine power to enhance our effort and move the Church
    steadily forward” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Apr. 25, 1997).
  • “Missionaries …are not fully qualified to go forth, preach the gospel, and build up the kingdom, unless they have the gift of the Holy Ghost and also are endowed with power from on high…[that is] given only in the Lord’s Temple” (Elder Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary)
  • The Lord “called all the missionaries to Kirtland in the early day of the Church to receive endowments in the temple erected there. He said this was so that they could go out with greater power from on high and with greater protection” (Doctrines of Salvation, Bruce R. McConkie).
  • Elder David B. Haight,”The temple endowment gives knowledge that, when acted upon, provides strength and conviction of truth.” (A Light unto the World [1997], 49).
[colored_box color=”green”]Read a related article on how the temple is and integral part of mission work for missionaries and new converts.[/colored_box]

Here is a great video produced by the Church on why Mormons build temples.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-x_-TQivCx8[/youtube]

Go to the Mormon Missionary Preparation YouTube Channel.