5 Tips on Saving Money For a Mission

Introduction: The following is a guest post by Dennis McKonkie, who served a mission in Atlanta, Georgia for the LDS Church. His mission changed the trajectory of his life, and he feels indebted for all he learned during his two-year service. Dennis has a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science from MIT and works as a Computer Science Consultant.

Serving a full-time mission is incredibly fulfilling. It changes lives, both yours and the people you meet and teach. However, it is also expensive. While the church does a great job of crowd-funding for it’s Elders and Sisters through missionary funds, there is an added boost to your personal mission when you know you are paying for it with your own money. Here are a few tips for those future missionaries who want to start earning money now.

1. Set Up A Budget

Regardless of what you plan to do with your life after getting out of high school, setting up a budget is a necessity. Whether you decide to go on a mission or go straight to college or to a job, having a budget will help. While you are in high school (or even before), maintaining a budget will help develop important life skills that you will use forever. It might be hard to set up a budget if you are still in high school, simply due to the fact that you may not have many financial responsibilities. If this is the case, try doing what I did: Set a goal of how much money you will spend each month and save everything else. My monthly budget was usually about 100 dollars. That covered the gas for my truck, the few times I would eat out at lunch time, and some play money to spend on things like going to the movies or a baseball game. I saved the rest of the money I earned for my mission and only spent it if I really wanted something, like the time I splurged on a new baseball bat.

2. Get A Part-time Job

If you live in a rural area, you can work as a farm hand or in a local convenience store. If you live in a more populated area, you could work as a night-time janitor for office buildings (I did that for a couple of years at my father’s office). I had a mission companion who worked at a Dairy Queen throughout high school. By the time he left, he was a manager at the restaurant and made more money than his peers. He was able to purchase his own truck in high school and saved up enough money to pay for his mission.

Many restaurants will hire people who are as young as 14. This means that those who take these jobs early on will be able to save up some money for at least four years before leaving. Making $3,000 or $4,000 a year for part-time work could add up to a nice sum.

Once you turn 18, you could spend the summer before a mission selling door to door. There are plenty of options, ranging from selling pest control services to home security systems. These companies love working with returned missionaries, as they develop great communication skills and work ethics while serving the Lord. If you are a pre-missionary, you will develop many of these skills before heading out to the mission field, which will make your mission even better.

3. Become An Entrepreneur

If you’re looking to become an entrepreneur, it’s possible to get started at a very early age. You could look to meet needs that require physical labor, like mowing lawns or shoveling walks, or you could look to babysit or walk dogs. Finding out what people in your community need and then seeking to meet that need at a fair price can lead to some pretty good earnings down the road. Enterprising young people could also look to flip cheap items for a profit on sites like eBay or Amazon.com. I’ve seen a couple of my friends pay for their missions through these efforts.

4. Look For Scholarships

Many missionaries attend college for a year or more before leaving on a mission. As part of an overall plan to save money, it’s important to look for scholarships to help you conserve money that you could use to pay for your 18-month or 2-year missionary service. Some options are athletic scholarships and academic scholarships, and for readers in the United States, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Also, if you are interested in studying science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) in college, there are scholarships just for people who are studying in those fields such as this STEM scholarship. There are similar opportunities for students in almost all fields of study.

5. Save Money Gifted to You

Most teens will get a gift of some sort for major life events like birthdays and Christmas. Additionally, some cash gifts can come in around high school graduation. You should look at these gifts as building blocks toward your ultimate goals. Even a couple of hundred dollars a year could add up to $1,000 by the time you hit graduation. Graduation gifts could add up to even more.

In my family, my father gave us a rule to live by from a very young age: as soon as we got money, we were to put 10 percent away for tithing and 20 percent away for savings. The remaining 70 percent was for us to do what we wanted. Oftentimes I would put more than 20 percent into my savings account, because my needs were met and I didn’t need more money to blow on candy and baseball caps.


I promise you this, serving a mission will be one of the most challenging things you have ever done. It will also be one of the most rewarding. Paying thousands of dollars to go serve others is a tough pill to swallow, but the blessings come back to you tenfold. Trust that you are doing what is right and give it everything you have. God bless you.

My MTC Experience: Oct to Dec 1995

I was in the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, Utah from October 25 to December 26, 1995 as I prepare to go to Rosario, Argentina to serve my full-time mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This article is one of a series of posts I have written about my mission to the Argentina, Rosario mission. Click here to see them.

I loved the MTC from the very beginning; everyone I met there was so nice and the spiritual growth I experienced was phenomenal. I’ll have to tell you about it in words because I only have a couple of pictures from my MTC experience. I had a camera, but it was the first time I had ever owned a camera, thus I wasn’t very familiar with the process of loading and unloading the film. Apparently, I did something wrong in the process and all the pictures got exposed and turned out completely blank. Thankfully, my friend Mark Bigelow, who was my freshman roommate at Brigham Young University (BYU) the year before, was at the MTC at the same time as me and he donated this picture he snapped on his camera.

mark bigelow and jimmy smith at Provo MTC Oct 1995

Here’s my friend Mark Bigelow and I in front of the map at the Provo, Utah MTC.

Traveling to and entering the MTC was the typical experience in some ways, but in some ways not. I flew from my home in Maryland to Utah on a Tuesday and spent the night in Provo at the college apartment of my brother Stephen. I don’t remember getting dropped off. I presume it was Stephen, so it probably wasn’t the typical family tearful goodbye.

I liked the MTC from day. I enjoyed the spirituality and I felt comfortable. My comfort level was helped by the fact that the MTC facilities reminded me of the dorms at BYU. My MTC stay was just a few months after I completed my first year of college at BYU and all the facilities (beds, laundry, cafeteria) was just like in the BYU dorms. Check out this post for more information on the life and schedule at the MTC and what facilities and services are available.

I was amazed at how they just threw us into Spanish, teaching us to pray and contact people in Spanish, on our very first full day. I was in one of the first trial runs of the Technology Aided Language Learning (TALL) program which included a daily class in a computer lab where we had the ability to listen to native Spanish speakers and also record ourselves and play it back. I believe using this kind of technology, which was very new at the time, is now part of all missionaries’ curriculum at the MTC.

At the MTC, I felt I had a peaceful, happy life that was relatively stress-free. I had few worries about what was going on in the outside world, I just studied Spanish and the gospel and felt the Spirit God almost all day, every day. I loved learning more about the gospel of Jesus Christ and how to share it with others. I think my ability to really enjoy the MTC came from the preparation I received during my youth, at home and at church. I had been an active member my whole life, my parents held family home evening weekly, I attended early morning seminary, I had read the Book of Mormon, and I had prepared myself spiritually and physically for the mission. These things I did to prepare led me to receive a strong testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I knew the gospel was true and I knew that a mission was where God wanted me to be, and I was able to immerse myself in the work and truly enjoy it.

Of course, I know not all missionaries enjoy the MTC and the experiences there as much as I did. I have known plenty of missionaries who struggle with the transition to missionary life. Many missionaries have a hard time adjusting to life away from home, some have trouble learning the language, and many, frankly, have a hard time being spiritual all day every day. If youth have largely ignored spiritual things throughout their life, then going to the MTC can be a difficult transition. I believe that preparing spiritually is the most important thing to prepare for prior to going a mission because a firm testimony will help youth overcome any other trials. But physical and emotional preparation, as discussed throughout this website, is also vital mission prep.

I had many special, spiritual, faith-promoting experiences at the MTC, but I’ll share just one that happened after I had been there for about a month.  We had a lesson on faith and as I sat there listening, my mind and soul seemed to open up and receive knowledge from heaven. After the class, one of the other missionaries asked me what I had learned about faith, and as I tried to convey through words what I had felt the Spirit of the Lord poured over me like never before.  The other missionaries and I worth both greatly edified by this experience.

The more I learned about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, the more I realized how much I didn’t know. The more I studied the scriptures, the more I wanted to immerse myself in them and learn all that I could.  An hour a day of personal scripture study suddenly didn’t seem like nearly enough.

I came away from the MTC with more gratitude in my heart, more meekness and penitence, a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon, a firm understanding of the importance of obedience to the commandments and to the mission rules, deeper gospel knowledge, a stronger testimony of the Church and of the atonement of Jesus Christ, greater sensitivity to the Spirit, greater trust in the Lord, and joy and happiness that worldly things cannot bring.

At the conclusion of my MTC experience, I wrote in my journal, I knew I had had a life altering experience, even if I never set foot in the mission field.  While that is certainly true, oh how little I realized how much I would learn and grow once I got into the mission field. And believe me, I was anxious to get to Argentina and start real missionary work. I was in the MTC for 9 weeks, and as much as I enjoyed everything there, by about the halfway mark, me and the other missionaries in my were getting stir crazy. I remember feeling like I might burst if I didn’t get out of the MTC and start tracting and teaching people. As it turns out, once I did get the Argentina, on my first day, I wished I had made better use of that time and learned the Spanish language and the missionary techniques better. But the Lord blessed me, as he will all of you.

Here’s a video I made a few years ago about my experience in the MTC:

A Week of Bike Miracles

danielle smith riding bike mission oklahoma april 2018

My niece is on her mission in Oklahoma, Spanish speaking. We enjoy getting her emails and are glad she writes a nice letter weekly. In a recent letter in which she mentioned both things that happened to her and the lessons she learned, I was reminded of my mission to Argentina and my experiences and personal growth. Here’s the experience in her words:

This week was a week of bike adventures! Which basically means a week of bike miracles!

The Spanish speaking population here are pretty few and far between, so some days it’s a little tricky to find things to do, especially during the day. One day we decided to try to visit a family that hasn’t come to church in a while. They live seven miles away, so we biked out there and they weren’t home. But then we tried her neighbor, and she turned out to be a Spanish speaker! We gave her a Book of Mormon, and were even able to set a return appointment! We’re going back tomorrow!

On Saturday, it was cold and rainy. It was physically probably one of the hardest days of my mission. The first 45 minutes or so were kind of fun, but once the rain soaked through my boots and jacket, I wasn’t quite as excited to be out. We ended up biking about 10 miles and were outside in the rain for about 5 hours. But I think the hardness really made me appreciate more the love and sacrifices that other people have made for me.

I know my parents would have gladly ridden through the hills in the cold rain if it meant they could help me. And clearly the Savior sacrificed so much more than that for me. And it helped me realized how much I do love my Savior and how much I would give for Him. Most days it’s not to hard to get up and get out. But Saturday, I did not want to be out, I would have loved to stay inside in the warm. But as we were biking, I was thinking about what I would be willing to do for Christ, and that because I love Him, I was willing to stay out and bike the way back, and keep on talking to people. I am grateful to have had that experience, and I am grateful that usually I don’t have to bike in the rain, haha.

I love you all! Thanks for the love and the prayers!

Hermana Smith
danielle smith caught in rain mission oklahoma april 2018

My Last Day and Traveling Home from My Mission

This is another in the series of articles I have written about my mission to Rosario Argentina from 1995 to 1997. Today I’d like to talk about my last day in the mission field and about traveling home.

One day each month, the mission president would call all the zone leaders and tell them of the companionship transfers that were to take place on the following day. On that day in early November 1997, I received the call to pack up and head to the mission home to begin my journey home.

As I recall, I got to the mission home in the mid afternoon. I had an exit interview with my mission president, Presidente Ontiveros. In the interview, he thanked me for my hard work to build the Kingdom of God and gave me some advice for life. I remember he told me that the mission is designed to teach us lessons that we should carry throughout our lives, like always wearing a suit and tie to church meetings. And since then I have always strived to do that. He also counseled me to try to find a good wife and get married as soon as reasonably possible. He counseled me not to delay marriage or having children until after college graduation or feeling secure financially. He reminded me that the family is eternally important and that God would bless me for making spiritual matters a priority in my life. He told me many other wonderful things, and one of the last things he said was to remember that throughout my travels home I was still a full time missionary and the mission rules applied until I got home and my stake president released me.

That evening we had a lovely dinner with the mission president and his wife and family and the other missionaries who were heading home. Some time that afternoon or evening, I also received a visit at the mission home from Hedgars Gonzalez. I unfortunately don’t have a picture of our reunion, but I was very touched that he would come to see me off. I wrote about Hedgars in my article about serving in the Godoy Ward.

We slept at the mission home that night. There was a small building behind the mission president’s residence that served as the mission office and there was a room with some bunk beds where we slept. In the morning we got ready and headed to the Rosario International Airport, pictured here.

The Rosario Argentina airport was much smaller than the airports I was used to, but it did the job just fine. Here is our group of departing missionaries walking out to board the plane that would take us to Buenos Aires. In Buenos Aires, we would catch our flights that would take us back to the United States or wherever each missionary called home (there was at least one missionary in our group from Chile).

When I got to Buenos Aires, I found out that my flight to the US didn’t leave for several hours, so our hosts, the members of the church helping to drive us around and catch our flights, had arranged to take me and some of the other missionaries to the Buenos Aires Temple to do a session before we left the country. To my extraordinary surprise and delight, my trainer and first missionary companion in Argentina, Elder Loesener, heard of these plans and met me at the temple. Elder Loesener, by his suggestion, took this cool picture of me with the Buenos Aires temple spire in the background.

Here’s another photo of the Buenos Aires temple that I took. This was my first trip to the temple since I went to the Provo, Utah Temple when I was at the MTC. After a session at the temple, I said good bye once again to Elder Loesener, and some good volunteer took me back to the Buenos Aires airport. There was a little drama at the airport when a security guard insisted on opening and going through my suitcase. I guess he didn’t find any contraband and soon I was on my way, boarding the plane, and enjoying a 13-hour flight to Miami, Florida.

After a layover and switching planes in Miami, I got on a short flight to Washington, DC. At the airport in DC, my family was there to meet me. Above is me with my mom and six of my siblings. From left to right: Michael, Christine (my first time meeting her as she was less than two years old), John, my mom, Julie, Peter, myself, and Paul Jr.

Looks like my dad and Peter switched places between this and the last photo and Peter is the photographer now. Left to right: Christine, my mom, my dad, John, Paul Jr., Michael, me, and Julie. From the Washington D.C. airport, we headed straight to our stake center where we met the stake president who released me from my calling as a full-time missionary. And that marked the end of my mission.

My mission was one of the greatest and most formative experiences of my life. I poured my heart and soul in to the work and I hope my offering was pleasing unto God. I think it was. I was able to help many individuals and families come closer to Christ through the ordinance or baptism. I hope to meet each of them again someday, whether in this life or in the next, and have a joyous reunion.

Mission Prep Quotes from April 2018 General Conference

Young Women in the Work by Bonnie L. Oscarson

“As we consider the roles that our young women will be expected to assume in the near future, we might ask ourselves what kind of experiences we could provide for them now that will help with their preparation to be missionaries, gospel scholars, leaders in the Church auxiliaries, temple workers, wives, mothers, mentors, examples, and friends. They can actually begin now to fill many of those roles.”roles that our young women will be expected to assume

Teaching in the Home—a Joyful and Sacred Responsibility by Devin G. Durrant

“As parents, we introduce our children to Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We help our children say their first prayer. We offer guidance and support as they enter the covenant path through baptism. We teach them to obey God’s commandments. We educate them about His plan for His children, and we help them recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. We tell them stories of ancient prophets and encourage them to follow living ones. We pray for their triumphs and ache with them during their trials. We testify to our children of temple blessings, and we strive to prepare them well to serve full-time missions.”

What Every Aaronic Priesthood Holder Needs to Understand by Douglas D. Holmes

“When I was a new mission president, I was excited to receive our first group of new missionaries. A few of our more experienced missionaries were preparing for a brief meeting with them. I noticed that they had arranged children’s chairs in a semicircle. “What’s up with the little chairs?” I asked. The missionaries, somewhat sheepishly, said, “For the new missionaries.” I believe the way we see others significantly impacts their perception of who they are and what they can become. Our new missionaries sat on adult chairs that day.”

“…In much the same way that angels are authorized messengers sent by God to declare His word and thereby build faith, we who hold the Aaronic Priesthood have been ordained to “teach, and invite all to come unto Christ.” To preach the gospel is a priesthood duty. And the power associated with this duty is not just for prophets or even just for missionaries. It is for you!”increase your desire and prepare you to teach

“…Young men, as you diligently engage in your priesthood duties, you participate with God in His work “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Experiences like these increase your desire and prepare you to teach repentance and baptize converts as missionaries.”

“…Parents and priesthood leaders, can you sense the importance of President Monson’s counsel to help young men understand “what it means … to be bearers of the priesthood of God”? Understanding and magnifying the Aaronic Priesthood will prepare them to be faithful Melchizedek Priesthood holders, power-filled missionaries, and righteous husbands and fathers. Through their service, they will understand and feel the reality of priesthood power, the power to act in the name of Christ for the salvation of God’s children.”

Prophets Speak by the Power of the Holy Spirit by Elder Ulisses Soares

“There is a third important lesson in Ensign Blair’s story. Could he have prayed with such calm assurance if he had not received guidance from the Spirit on previous occasions? The arrival of a typhoon is no time to dust off the gift of the Holy Ghost and figure out how to use it. This young man was clearly following a pattern he had used many times before, including as a full-time missionary. We need the Holy Spirit as our guide in calm waters so His voice will be unmistakable to us in the fiercest storm.”

“Eighteen years ago, my wife and I received a phone call from President James E. Faust, then Second Counselor in the First Presidency. He called us to serve as mission president and companion in Portugal. He told us that we had only six weeks before we started the mission. Although we felt unprepared and inadequate, we accepted the call. Our most important concern at the time was to obtain the visas required to serve in that country because, according to past experience, we knew the process took six to eight months to complete.

President Faust then asked if we had faith that the Lord would perform a miracle and that we would be able to solve the visa problem faster. Our answer was a big yes, and we started making the arrangements immediately. We prepared the documents required for the visas, took our three young children, and went to the consulate as fast as we could. A very nice lady met with us there. In reviewing our papers and getting acquainted with what we were going to do in Portugal, she turned to us and asked, “Are you really going to help the people of my country?” We firmly answered yes and explained that we would represent Jesus Christ and testify of Him and His divine mission in the world. We returned there four weeks later, received our visas, and landed in the mission field within the six weeks, as a prophet of the Lord had asked us to do.”

Prepare to Meet God by Elder Quentin L. Cook

“Today almost 70,000 missionaries are spread across the earth preaching His gospel to gather His elect. This is the commencement of the fulfillment of the great and marvelous work Nephi foresaw among both the Gentiles and the house of Israel. Nephi saw our time when the Saints of God would be upon all the face of the earth, but their numbers would be small because of wickedness. However, he foresaw that they would be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” When viewed across the brief history of the restored Church, the missionary effort has been most remarkable. We are seeing the fulfillment of Nephi’s vision. Though our numbers are relatively few, we will continue our effort and outreach to those who will respond to the Savior’s message.”

“…Missionaries humbly serve where called. They do not attempt to serve based on worldly standards of status or preparation for future careers. They serve with all their heart, might, mind, and strength wherever they are assigned. They do not choose their missionary companions, and they seek diligently to develop Christlike attributes,29 which are at the heart of the culture of Jesus Christ.”

Saladillo Ward: Oct to Nov 1997

I served in the Saladillo Ward in Rosario Argentina from October 15 to November 11, 1997. I was surprised to get transferred to this area because it was only a month prior to the end of my mission. Being there for only four weeks, I didn’t take a lot of pictures and I don’t remember many members of the Church in the Saladillo Ward. We didn’t have any baptisms that month and there were not even any serious investigators that we were teaching. Still, it was a good month, I met and worked with a lot of great missionaries and I’m glad to had the experience.

I have a brief story to share from my time in the Saladillo Ward and after that I will post the few pictures I have from when I was in this area. As a reminder, please visit this summary page about my mission to Argentina which includes the conversion stories of people I baptized and a summary report of each of the areas or wards in which I served.

Missionary Work is a Game of Numbers

One memorable story I have from this time in my mission was when we did exchanges with some other missionaries in our zone. My companion, Elder Bandley, and I were the zone leaders and one of the companionships in our zone were really struggling. These two missionaries were not getting along and almost no missionary work was being done in their area. One of them went with Elder Bandley to work in our area for the day and I went with the other missionary to work with him in their area for the day.

I got to the other missionary’s apartment in the morning, probably around 9am, which was the time, per the missionary schedule, when we were supposed to be leaving the apartment to teach or find people to teach. I asked the missionary if they had any scheduled appointments during the day, and he said no. I asked if they had any people to whom they were actively teaching the missionary discussions, and he said no.

I asked him what they had been doing during a typical day over the past few weeks, and he said that they spent a lot of time hanging out at member’s homes. I told him that was not appropriate and that we would not be doing that. Just to clarify, visiting members can be a good thing for missionaries to do, provided it’s planned in advance and there is a spiritual purpose. That’s not what was happening in this case. I informed my missionary companion for the day that we were going to hit the streets and open our mouths, sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with everyone we saw.

I asked the missionary if there was a neighborhood or apartment complex that he suggested we go to for some door knocking and we headed out. Along the way, we stopped and talked to every able bodied adult we passed on the street. In those days, when we knocked doors or street contacted, we gave people what we called a “charla corta” which means short discussion. It was an abbreviated version of the first missionary lesson for investigators, and at the end of the charla corta, we would asked the person if we could come to their home to teach a more lengthy discussion.

We spent the whole day talking to people of the street and knocking doors and we probably gave 100 charla cortas that day. That other missionary probably worked harder than he had during any other day on his mission. It was tiring, but it was great. At the end of the day, we had about 10 or 12 appointments to return and teach the full first discussion. The missionaries in this area had the calendar full for the next week, and we felt the Lord had really helped us find some good families to teach.

missionary work game of numbers patternI later found out that of those families that had invited the missionaries for a full lesson, most, but not all, followed through and allowed the discussion to happen. Of those, about half, 3 or 4 families, accepted the invitation to receive the second missionary lesson. One or two of them eventually came to church. And one of the people we contact that day, got baptized a few weeks later, and became of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

That’s why I say that missionary work is often a game of numbers. If you approach 100 people, only half or so will hear you out. Of those half who listen to your short discussion, maybe only one in 10 will invite you for a full lesson. Of those that hear to first discussion, only a percentage will progress to the second lesson, and only a percentage of those will come to church, and only a percentage of those will get baptized. While the percentage varies from country to country and city to city, the pattern remains the same in most parts of the world. If a missionary wants to bring people to Christ via baptism, which is the missionary’s purpose, knowing these numbers means also knowing that you have to always be opening your mouth and finding new people to teach and by so doing, you’ll be able to help more people move down the funnel toward baptism.

Pictures from the Saladillo Ward in Rosario Argentina

Now for the few pictures I have from my time serving as a missionary in the Saladillo Ward:

Here’s my companion, Elder Bandley, shining his shoes in preparation for a hard day of missionary work, walking the streets, testifying to people of the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Elder Bandley turned 21 while we were together. I attempted to make and decorate a cake for him but it didn’t turn out as well as previous cakes. I’m guessing his mom sent the celebratory candles, balloons, and other stuff.

This is a picture our district basketball game on p-day. I’m the one with the basketball shooting a jump shot.

In this picture, I’m the one with the ball shooting a reverse layup.

Here’s a picture of our whole district, from left to right: Elder Smith (that’s me), Elder Bandley, Elder Bates, Elder Facer, Elder Merritt, and Elder Benitez.

Saving for a Mission: A Plan for Youth

My oldest son is getting older, he’s 13, and I’ve known that we’ve needed to put together a more formal plan to get him on track for saving for his mission. In the mission prep checklist for youth that I put together last year, I recommended that youth start small and exponentially grow their savings each year. Still liking that idea, I thought I’d put more detail around it and I came up with the following plan for my son that I’d like to share with the wider Mormon Mission Prep community. Download it below. Check it out and let me know if you’d like to see any changes to it.


Brief Instructions

Instructions on how to use this schedule for saving for a mission is included in the downloadable PDFs above, but I’ll repeat it here. In short, there are a number of boxes in the printable handout, with each box representing $100. Youth should fill in each square, or somehow mark them, when they have saved each $100 increment. When all the squares on the sheet are filled, the youth will be, financially, ready to go on a mission.

Detailed Instructions

The cost to serve a mission is $400 per month. That comes to $9,600 for a young man’s 24 month mission and $7,200 for a young woman’s 18 month mission. The main chart in the printout will have 96 boxes, or 72 boxes, for young men and women respectively, each square representing $100. When all boxes are marked off, the youth will have the money saved up that is needed to pay for a mission.

This plan recommends easing young people into saving by starting small and roughly doubling the amount saved each year and having them prepared to go by the time they reach 18 or 19. Of course, many people may end up getting a late start, so depending on when the youth starts saving, individual timing may vary. There is also a separate column on the right representing additional money the missionary may want to save to pay for clothes, suitcases, and other gear. Missionaries are expected to buy and bring this additional gear, which adds an average of around $2,000 to the cost of getting ready to go on a mission.

Try to Pay for Your Mission, but Don’t Let Money Stop You

When many youth and their parents first see the attached schedule, they may be a little overwhelmed. But remember, though youth should try to pay for their own mission, the lack of finances should not stop anyone worthy from serving. To help get youth started or to help them get caught up with the plan, parents, family, and friends may consider donating to the youth’s missionary savings fund. To get my son motivated to save and to help him get caught up, I’m telling him that I will put $100 in his mission fund when he comes with me to the bank to open up a savings account. Parents may also want to take a look at this list of ideas for earning money and saving for a mission.

Blessings of Paying for Your Own Mission

young men earning money to pay for missionLiving and past prophets have taught that God will greatly bless the young people who are financially prepared and have saved for their own mission. Elder M. Russell Ballard has said that young people preparing for a mission “ought to have a job and save money for their missions. Every mission president would concur with me that the missionary who has worked and saved and helped pay for part or all of his or her mission is a better prepared missionary” (How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary, Liahona, Mar. 2007).

President Spencer W. Kimball said to the youth, “Every time money comes into your hands, through gifts or earnings, set at least part of it away in a savings account to be used for your mission.” He further said, “How wonderful it would be if every boy could totally or largely finance his own mission and thereby receive most of the blessings coming from his missionary labors.”

Arroyito Ward: August to October 1997

I served in the Arroyito Ward of the Rosario North Stake from August 13 to October 14, 1997. I was only in the Arroyito ward for two months. It was a difficult area to serve in for a variety of reasons, yet I served happily and well during that time. There were not a lot of residential neighborhoods in our area. Rather, we had a lot of shopping and businesses, including some busy streets in this area that had a lot of stores and shoppers. We usually spent a couple hours or more each day walking up and down these busy streets, asking people to talk to us. Percentage wise, very few people would stop and speak with us, but we opened our mouths none-the-less and we had a few conversations every day. Almost everyone who did speak to us, lived outside our area so we wrote down their name and address and sent the referral to the mission home so they could send the missionaries in that area to visit them.

Please note this article is one of a series of posts about my mission. Visit this summary page about my mission to Argentina to see my other mission areas and the conversion stories of people I baptized.

People We Taught and Baptized

I had no baptisms while I was in Arroyito, but the man in this photo on the right, Alberto Gomez, was a recent convert. We were trying to teach the discussions to the rest of his family to get them baptized as well. From left to right: Damian, Susana, Romina (a cousin), myself, Carlita, Alberto, Silvia.

Members in Arroyito

This is me with a member in the ward named Claudio Rodriguez and my companion, Elder Peterson. Claudio wanted to join the church for many years as a young man but his family prevented him. When he turned 18, he investigated the Church, took the missionary discussions, and got baptized.

An Arroyito Ward Family home evening activity.

This same FHE activity. I think that hose is the iron rod in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life.

Sister Tello, her daughter Mariana, and myself. Every Sunday we ate dinner with the Tellos, including Abel, the father of the family who was not a member.

This is the Sola family. They were baptized about five years prior to this photo. Their youngest, a fourth daughter, is not in the picture. The father of the family is a chemical engineer with Exxon. They lived in a nice home and had a car and I can remember him giving a us rides a few times. They fed us dinner sometimes and once I even remember making them dinner. We had dinner crepes using my family recipe.

This is Bishop Ravello and his family. The only names I wrote down are the oldest three kids: Andres, David, and Ruth.

Missionaries I Served With

This is my first companion in Arroyito, Elder Peterson, sitting at the study desk in our apartment.

Here is Elder Peterson and I outside the Tello’s house.

This is a P-day zone activity where we played American football. The missionaries are (left to right): Elder Decuster, myself, Elder Wasden (squating), Elder winter, Elder Merritt, Elder Nasal, Elder Jeppson, Eddie Pope, Elder Bray (squatting), Elder Peterson (laying on the ground), Elder Araya, Elder Bell, and Elder Rolon. I think Eddie might have been an American who was playing in the Argentine professional basketball league and some of the missionaries must have met him and started sharing the gospel with him.

After a month with Elder Peterson, he was transferred and I had the priveledge of training a brand new missionary, Elder Lopez. Here he is writing to his family on P-day.

This is Elder Lopez and I at a zone lunch. One of only a time or two that I ate at a restaurant in Argentina. We asked the photographer to get a picture of all the cow parts that were being cooked on the grill. Unfortunately, all we got was the cook’s back. Oh the perils of film cameras. Too bad we didn’t have digital technology back then to know immediately if the picture had turned out.

This was the same zone lunch as the picture above. They had an all-you-can-eat buffet for $5. A super deal.


This is me in front of the “Vino Toro” (“Bull” brand wine) factory. Argentina is well known for their beef, so I thought it would be cool to get my picture in front of this giant cow’s head.

I had seen this Catholic Cathedral from the bus when I served in Beltran. We passed by it whenever we took the bus from Beltran to the mission home for interviews with the mission president. It turns out this church was in my area in Arroyito and we walked by it multiple times each day.


Here I am working on removing the drop down ceiling in our apartment. The plaster ceiling tiles had been falling and it was presenting a hazard. We talked to the land lord and got permission to remove all the tiles and the wood structure holding them up. It was our service project for the week.

Elder Lopez snapped this picture of me with a huge smile on my face. I’m not sure why I was so happy. As you can see, we were just coming into our apartment after getting caught in a rain storm. I guess when you’re in the service of the Lord, he blesses you with great joy inspite of afflictions you might face.

This was on my last day in the Arroyito area. I only had a month left in my mission and I assumed I would be staying in Arroyito for that month, but I suppose the Lord had other plans. I was transferred to the Saladillo ward and made a zone leader for my last month of my mission.

Godoy Ward: April to August 1997

I served in the Godoy Ward in the Rosario West Stake from April 23 to August 12, 1997. Rosario was the biggest city in my mission area and the location of the mission home (where the mission president lives) and the Rosario West was one of three stakes in the city. This was the sixth area/ward that I served in during my mission. The Godoy Ward was memorable because it was an area where I had more success in terms of baptisms than just about any other area on my mission. I also have great memories of the ward members and my mission companions there. Also please visit this summary page about my mission to Argentina which includes the conversion stories of people I baptized and a summary report of each of the areas or wards in which I served.

People We Taught and Baptized

This is the baptism of Maria Ines Theodoroy on May 4, 1997. The baptism was performed in a above ground swimming pool that the Godoy Ward put on the roof of the building they were renting for Church meetings. As I recall, many in her family had been baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints the month prior, before I arrived in the area. Around the time I arrived, she decided she wanted to get baptized, so we taught her the discussions. This was a memorable baptism for me because I remember that it was a cool fall evening and stepping into the pool was uncomfortably cold. I went into the font first, and when Maria Ines stepped into the water, I remember a warm feeling coming over me, not just spiritual in nature, but it felt like the water got physically warmer. I took it as a sign from God that he was pleased with me as a missionary. I don’t recall if I asked Maria Ines if she felt the same thing or not. I think God was also pleased with her decision to follow Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism.

May 11, 1997. The woman on the far left was named Stella. She and three of her children were baptized that night after being taught by the other elders in the ward. My companion, Elder Loertscher, and I taught the boy in the front right named Cristian. His uncle, Walter Pizarro behind Cristian and to the left, is a member of the ward and performed the baptisms.

May 18, 1997. This is the baptism of a man named German Arrieta and a young man named Sergio Arrieta (no relation). From left to right, Elder Loertscher, unknown boy, myself, Sergio Arrieta, Hedgars Gonzalez who is Sergio’s friend, German Arrieta, his daughter Evelin, German’s wife Sara, and their niece. I’ve previously written about the conversion of German and his faith and testimony. Hedgars, I believe, was the ward missionary at about 19 or 20 years old here, and he was a great member-missionary. I believe he later went on a full-time mission. Sergio was Hedgars’ friend to whom he introduced the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Here’s another photo of the Arrieta family. Back row: Me, German, and Sara. Front row: Evelin (8 year old daughter), Alba (a friend), and Ivana (a younger daughter, I think).

June 15, 1997. A friend of the Gonzalez family named Jose was baptized on this day. Jose is a good friend of Noe, the one in blue behind me. Hedgars performed the baptism. From left to right: Elder Brown, Brother Gonzalez, myself, Noe, Jose, Hedgars, Sister Gonzalez.

Also on June 15, 1997, Javier Benitez, a relatively new member himself, baptized a friend of his from work, Oscar Sosa. From left to right: myself, Javier, Oscar, Elder Brown.

Here’s another photo of the baptism of Oscar Sosa. His grandfather, girlfriend, and other friends came to the baptism. Also in the picture is Carlos Godoy, Oscar’s uncle, and the rest of the Godoy family.

Myself, Jose, Elder Brown, and Oscar after the baptismal service.

July 13, 1997. This was a great day. The Godoy family was baptized and took a step towards become an eternal family. I have previously written about the conversion of the Godoy family. It was miraculous and it was a joy to teach them the gospel and see them make the sacred baptismal covenants. From the left: Elder Brown, Carlos Godoy, his son Carlos, myself, their daughter Angelica, and Beatriz Godoy.

Here is Elder Brown and myself after the baptism of the Godoy family. I’m a little embarrassed by this now, but  made them a cake and decorated it with the words “Congratulations Godoy Family. They have chosen the right.” With a crude drawing of the CTR shield in Spanish.

This picture was taken a few days before the baptism. The Godoys had been together for many years, but like many in Argentina, they weren’t actually married. They said they always intended to do it, so when we told them they had to get married in order to get baptized, they made arrangements right away. My companion and I were able to attend the civil wedding. The Godoys had a party that night with family and friends but we weren’t able to go to that.

And here is one final picture of the Godoys. This one was taken at the home of German Arrieta during the going away party that the ward threw for me when we found out I was being transferred out of the ward. Left to right: Beatriz Godoy, Carlos Godoy (with the hair cut I gave him), Carlito, myself, and Angelica (who truly was an angel).

Members in Godoy

This is some of the Theodoroy family. Most of this family had joined the Church in the months prior to me arriving in the area. From left to right: Sister Theodoroy, myself, Matias (age 15), Dafne (age 3), Sandra, and the father, Alejandro, who had not yet joined the church at this time.

This was a ward family night. From left to right, the names I remember are: Hilda, Stella, Brother Zapato, Sister Theodoroy, Dafne, Hedgar, Sister Romero, Athenas Theodoroy, Elder Bray, Matias, Unknown Sister, Jorge, Elder Araya, Carlos Pizarro, Sergio, unknown little boy, young sister Romero, Elder Loertscher, unknown sister, young sister Marquez, Sister Zapato, Maria Ines, Sister Marquez and her daughter.

The Theodoroy family fed us lunch about once a week and we were very grateful for that. It was always very delicious and they were great to visit with. Back row: Maria Ines, Sister Theodoroy, Sandra. Front row: Athenas (age 8), Dafne (age 3), myself, and Matias.

This was the baptism of Jorge and Sandra Roma. They were taught by the other Elders in our ward, Elder Bray and Elder Redd. The other young lady in white was taught by Elder Call and Elder Guest who are in the far right of the picture. The date was May 25, 1997.

After the baptism of Jorge and Sandra Roma.

When we found out that I was being transferred out of the ward, Juan Juarez, pictured here with me, set up a surprise going away party at German Arrieta’s house.

German Arrieta, at the far right in the picture above, was sad that I was leaving. He was a good man and a good friend. Also present in the picture are the Theodoroy, Gonzalez, Godoy, Marquez, and Pizarro families.

Here’s another picture of the going away party.

Missionaries I Served With

Elder Bray, Juan Juarez, and my first companion in the Godoy ward, Elder Loertscher. Juan was a recently returned missionary. When Elder Bray’s former companion, Elder Araya, received an emergency transfer, Juan became is companion for a couple of weeks.

This is Elder Brown who replaced Elder Loertscher after we had been together for a month. This was taken when we still lived in one of the worst apartments of my mission. It was a one car garage with a make shift bathroom in the corner. We moved a couple weeks after this picture was taken.

On this day, all the missionaries in our zone got together to eat lunch and play basketball.

I love to play basketball, but didn’t get to play it a whole lot on my mission. Every once in a while, perhaps once a month, on a p-day, we would be able to make arrangements to play. This picture was the same zone activity as above.

Here Elder Brown is sporting the present the Godoy family gave him for Friends Day, a River Plate hat (River Plate is one of the big futbol/soccer teams in Argentina). The Godoys gave me a tie for the occasion. Also in the picture is Juan Juarez, who needed a place to stay for a few nights. In our new apartment, we had an extra bed and we were so grateful for his help earlier, so we let him stay.

This is the Rosario West Zone (which corresponded to the Rosario West Stake) at a zone conference.

This is a get together of the missionaries of the Rosario West zone at the Argentina National Flag Monument. It was good to see my former companion Elder Sanchez there.


This is Juan Juarez and I at a Catholic Cemetary that was in our area. We always had to walk around it and it was quite large so I guess one day we decided if we could take a look inside.

This is a photo I snapped near the Godoy’s house of a man selling fruits and vegetables from his house drawn cart. A common sight in Argentina.

Every day we walked past this statue. It is of the newest Catholic Saint, Gauchito Gil, who is said to have performed some miracles during his life.

We visited a Catholic Cathedral one day and snapped these two interesting pictures, or at least to us as Mormons it was really fascinating. The one above is a shrine to the Virgin Mary and the one below is of course our slain Savior Jesus Christ before he resurrected.


I arrived in the Godoy ward to find the missionaries living in this apartment that was no more than (loosely) converted garage. It was cold and damp and small. Living conditions in general were lower than what most North American missionaries were used to, but this apartment was pretty pathetic even compared to all the other apartments I had been in. Elder Loertscher didn’t complain, though. But still, I talked to the mission president about it right away and began making plans to move.

After my first month in the Godoy ward, we moved from that terrible garage apartment into the house of Walter Pizarro for a short time and then into this apartment pictured. Walter and Hedgars Gonzalez helped us move. The owner of the home, Theodoro, lived in the front of the house, and we missionaries lived around back where there was a separate apartment with its own entrance. This new apartment was twice as big, had little kitchen, and better bathroom facilities.

Elder Brown told me that he could tell I had been out on my mission for a long time because of all the holes in my socks. I thought it was a badge of honor for putting in all those long hours, day after day, walking the streets of Argentina, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Standard Missionary Interview Questions

young man interview with bishop priesthood leaderAs many of you have already heard, last week, on October 20, 2017, the First Presidency of the Church put out a statement introducing a standard set of missionary interview questions. They asked that all priesthood leaders across the Church use these same standardized interview questions when meeting with young men and women who are prospective candidates to go on a mission. The First presidency asked that youth and their parents be made aware of these questions well in advance of the actual interview. Therefore, I am publishing them here to help get the word out. Click the following button to download a one-page PDF of the questions, or see the list of question in the body of this article below.

Goal: To help missionaries be prepared and have a joyous experience

The supplemental material sent with the First Presidency letter sheds more light on why these standard interview questions have been established. They have been released as part of the LDS Church’s continued efforts to help future missionaries be better “spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared for missionary service.” Missionary service is a major milestone in people’s spiritual growth and Church leaders want the mission to be a positive, “joyous and faith-building experience for every missionary.” In order to accomplish that, “it is imperative that each missionary be appropriately prepared, worthy, and healthy” and these questions will help do that by encouraging conversations between youth and leaders on a variety of important topics of mission prep.

While “these questions do not represent any change in the standards for missionary service,” the Church is making a greater effort to help future missionaries and their parents better “understand the requirements for full-time missionary service.” These “questions are intended to guide” the pre-mission conversations between missionary candidates and their priesthood leaders (bishops and stake presidents) and help all parties know if the “missionary candidate may be unable to fulfill the requirements of a full-time mission” because of spiritual, physical, emotional, or mental health challenges.

Worthiness, Chastity, Sexual Purity, and Repentance

Large sections of the supplemental material give guidance to youth, parents, and church leaders about topics of worthiness, the law of chastity, sexual purity, and repentance, indicating this is a major area of concern by the First Presidency. In operating this website for many years, I too have noticed that repenting of sexual sin is one of the most read and discussed topics on the website. The material stresses that sexual sin and other “serious sins may disqualify you, either temporarily or permanently, from serving a full-time mission.” It even quotes a couple of paragraphs from Handbook 1 which says:

“A person who has been guilty of adultery, fornication, heavy petting, homosexual activity, [and] other sexual perversions …must repent before he or she may be recommended for missionary service.” And that period of repentance “could be as long as three years for multiple serious transgressions and should not be less than one year from the most recent serious transgression.”

The supplemental material also dives into tithing, the word of wisdom, keeping the sabbath-day holy, and honesty, revealing that these are also topics that are likely stumbling blocks for many young people today.

Why a different set of questions than for the temple?

The First Presidency also sent out answers to anticipated frequently asked questions, one of which was on my  mind: “Why are these questions different than for a temple recommend?” All missionaries are required to answer those standardized temple questions in an interview before their mission, so it does beg the question. Their answer:

“Many of the interview questions are similar to those asked in a standard temple recommend interview and are included to help priesthood leaders determine whether a prospective missionary is worthy to serve. However, missionary service is far more physically, emotionally, and mentally demanding than is temple attendance. The additional questions help gauge the prospective missionary’s physical, mental, and emotional preparedness to serve.”

Mental Health

Another very interesting aspect of these questions is how they dive into the mental health issues of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and autism spectrum disorder, including Asperger’s Syndrome. One of my sons has mental health issues along these lines, so my wife and I are very interested in the Church’s stance regarding his possibility of serving a full-time mission some day. Will the Church let him go on a regular full-time mission while he is actively taking medication for his condition or will they require him to do a Church Service Mission? I wish there were more answers, but unfortunately, while the topic is brought up in the list of questions, the supplemental material gave few answers regarding what youth, parents, or priesthood leaders are to do about someone who has these conditions and functions well with the aid of prescription medications. Perhaps the Church’s policy is to handle those on a case by case basis and that’s why they don’t specify further.

But enough of my commentary and analysis. Here are the questions:

Standard Interview Questions for Prospective Missionaries

  1. Do you have faith in and a testimony of God the Eternal Father; His Son, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost?
  2. Do you have a testimony that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and the Savior and Redeemer of the world? Please share your testimony with me. How has the Atonement of Jesus Christ influenced your life?
  3. What does it mean to you to repent? Do you feel that you have fully repented of past transgressions?
  4. Will you share your testimony with me that the gospel and Church of Jesus Christ have been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith and that [current Church President] is a prophet of God?
  5. Full-time missionary service requires living gospel standards. What do you understand about the following standards?
    a. The law of chastity In reference to the law of chastity, have you always lived in accordance with what has been discussed? If not, how long ago did the transgression(s) occur? What have you done to repent?
    b. Avoiding pornography
    c. The law of tithing
    d. The Word of Wisdom, including the use of drugs or the abuse of prescribed medications
    e. Keeping the Sabbath day holy
    f. Being honest in all you say and do
    Have you lived in accordance with all of these standards? Are you now living in accordance with them? Will you live in accordance with them as a full-time missionary?
  6. Do you have any legal actions pending against you? (If yes, ask the candidate to explain in detail possible legal or financial obligations. See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4.)
  7. Have you ever committed a serious violation of criminal law, regardless of whether or not you were arrested, you were convicted, or the record was expunged? (If yes, ask the missionary candidate to explain in detail what happened, the outcome of any criminal charges, whether there are criminal or other legal requirements that have not been completed, and what he or she has done to repent. See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4 and “Serious Transgressions” in 4.5.2.)
  8. Have you ever sexually abused a child in any way, regardless of whether or not you were charged, you were convicted, or the record was expunged? (If yes, and the abuse has not been reported, see Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 17.3.2, for instructions. If the abuse was previously resolved, see Handbook 1, 4.4, for direction.)
  9. Have you ever committed any other serious transgression or misdeed that should be resolved before your mission? (If yes, ask the candidate to explain in detail what happened, the outcome of any criminal charges, whether there are criminal or other legal requirements that have not been completed, and what he or she has done to repent.)
  10. Do you support, affiliate with, or agree with any group or individual whose teachings or practices are contrary to or oppose those accepted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints?
  11. Do you have any unpaid debts? How will these debts be paid off before your mission or managed while you serve a mission? (See Handbook 1: Stake Presidents and Bishops [2010], 4.4.)
  12. Do you currently have or have you ever had any physical, mental, or emotional condition that would make it difficult for you to maintain a normal missionary schedule, which requires that you work for 12–15 hours a day, including studying for 2–4 hours a day, walking or biking for up to 8–10 hours a day, and so forth?
  13. Have you ever been diagnosed with or received treatment for dyslexia or other reading disorder? If so, are you comfortable reading the scriptures and other documents aloud? Do you believe that you could memorize appropriate scriptures and other information with the assistance of your companion? In what ways do you now compensate for this disorder?
  14. Have you ever been diagnosed with or received treatment for a speech disorder? If so, are you comfortable speaking in front of others? Do you feel that you have adequate tools to help you learn, teach, and communicate?
  15. Have you ever been on medication or otherwise treated for any of the following conditions: attention deficit disorder (ADD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), or autism spectrum disorder (including Asperger’s)? If yes, please explain.
  16. If you were being treated for one of these conditions and discontinued treatment, did you do so under a doctor’s supervision? If not, why did you stop? How well have you been functioning without treatment or medication? When was the last time you were on medication for these issues?