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Guest Post Opportunities

Call for Guest Post Authors

hand and computer keyboardFor the first few years after starting this website in 2009, I made efforts to post a new article weekly. At times this has been difficult, especially with a growing young family, and demands from work and Church callings. I have long felt I should make efforts to get other people involved in this website, contributing to the content and helping in their unique ways to prepare youth (and those not so young) for missionary service. Therefore, I am sending out a call for help in contributing mission prep ideas, stories, inspiration, and testimonies by writing a guest post for the website.

Contact Me about Contributing a Guest Post

Guidelines for Writing a Guest Post

There are many reasons to contribute a guest post to this website, but I hope your number one motivation is to follow the Spirit of the Lord, build the Kingdom of God on earth, and be anxiously engaged in a good cause. In addition to the spiritual satisfaction, a guest post can be used secondarily to promote your missionary-related website, product, or service you many have. If you link to your website or promote for your product or service in your article, it should still be a substantive article related to missionary work or mission prep. If, rather than writing a guest post, you are more interested in simply advertising on the Mormon Mission Prep site, please use the contact form.

Ideas for Article Topics

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

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

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

Thank you.

Jimmy Smith

How Joseph Smith Translated the Book of Mormon

By the Gift and Power of God

Joseph Smith Translating the Book of Mormon

Painting by Del Parson courtesy of Flickr user: More Good Foundation

The title page of The Book of Mormon said it would be interpreted and “come forth by the gift and power of God.” Joseph Smith said, in the now-famous letter to John Wentworth, that he translated the Book of Mormon “through the medium of the Urim and Thummim . . . by the gift and power of God.” The three witnesses also testified that they knew the plates “have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.” In D&C 17:6, the Lord himself says that Joseph “has translated the book, even that part which I have commanded him, and as your Lord and your God liveth it is true.”

Joseph’s Seer Stone

While these statements are faithful and true, they do not explain exactly how Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon. Elder Russell M. Nelson said at a seminar for new mission presidents, 25 June 1992 that “the details of this miraculous method of translation are still not fully known. Yet we do have a few precious insights.” (See A Treasured Testament by Elder Russell M. Nelson, Ensign July 1993.) Then he quoted David Whitmer who wrote:

“Joseph Smith would put the seer stone into a hat, and put his face in the hat, drawing it closely around his face to exclude the light; and in the darkness the spiritual light would shine. A piece of something resembling parchment would appear, and on that appeared the writing. One character at a time would appear, and under it was the interpretation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and when it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct, then it would disappear, and another character with the interpretation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man.” (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, Richmond, Mo.: n.p., 1887, p. 12.)

The seer stone referred to above was found when Joseph and his brother Alvin were digging a well in 1822. It was “about the size of a small hen’s egg, in the shape of a high instepped shoe. It was composed of layers of different colors passing diagonally through it. It was very hard and smooth, perhaps from being carried in the pocket” (see Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Book of Mormon by Stephen D. Ricks from the Maxwell Institute).

The Urim and Thummim

During the translation of the Book of Mormon, multiple processes and different instruments were employed. Another way Joseph translated, which is more commonly known to the Latter-day Saints, is that he used the Urim and Thummim, also referred to as “spectacles” or the “Nephite interpreters.” Joseph explains the following in the Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith-History 1:34-35, when he tells of the Angel Moroni’s visit to his bedroom on the night of September 21, 1823:

He said there was a book deposited, written upon gold plates, giving an account of the former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang. He also said that the fulness of the everlasting Gospel was contained in it, as delivered by the Savior to the ancient inhabitants; Also, that there were two stones in silver bows—and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim—deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these stones were what constituted “seers” in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book.

There is also ample evidence that at times Joseph dictated the translation of The Book of Mormon without use of the seer stone, or the Urim and Thummim, or even the plates themselves. The question, then, naturally arises as to why Joseph Smith needed these instruments at all in the translation process. Orson Pratt reported that the Prophet Joseph told him that the Lord had given him the Urim and Thummim “when he was inexperienced in the spirit of inspiration. But now he had advanced so far that he understood the operation of that spirit and did not need the assistance of that instrument.”

Similarly, Zebedee Coltrin, an early acquaintance of the prophet, said in 1880 that he had asked Joseph what happened to the Urim and Thummim and that “Joseph said that he had no further need of it and he had given it to the angel Moroni. He had the Melchizedek Priesthood and with that Priesthood he had the key to all knowledge and intelligence” (see Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Book of Mormon by Stephen D. Ricks).

Testimony of Joseph Smith and The Book of Mormon

These sources give us much additional light and knowledge concerning how Joseph Smith translated The Book of Mormon. Yet these facts and historical quotes alone are insufficient in developing a testimony that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that he translated The Book of Mormon correctly, and that it is indeed new scripture given to us by God. That knowledge can only come from the Spirit of the Lord, and it will come through sincere study, pondering, and prayer. Elder Quentin L. Cook, in the April 2012 General Conference, said,

“The essential doctrine of agency requires that a testimony of the restored gospel be based on faith rather than just external or scientific proof. Obsessive focus on things not yet fully revealed, such as how the virgin birth or the Resurrection of the Savior could have occurred or exactly how Joseph Smith translated our scriptures, will not be efficacious or yield spiritual progress. These are matters of faith. Ultimately, Moroni’s counsel to read and ponder and then ask God in all sincerity of heart, with real intent, to confirm scriptural truths by the witness of the Spirit is the answer.”

Moroni’s counsel referred to above is found in Moroni chapter 10. In verse 4 he exhorts us to read, ponder, and pray in sincerity and faith about the truthfulness of The Book of Mormon. Then he says in verse 5 that “by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth.” I have taken this challenge and I know The Book of Mormon to be true. I have received a witness from the Holy Ghost of this and also that Joseph Smith was an inspired seer and true prophet of God. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was established by God through Joseph Smith and President Thomas S. Monson is his authoritative successor and possesses all the priesthood keys on the earth. Our missionaries bring this message and the accompanying blessings to the world, and we are blessed to be part of this great and marvelous work.

The Power of Everyday Missionaries

The Power of Everyday Missionaries is an excellent book by Clayton M. Christensen. Brother Christensen has served as a bishop, a counselor in the Massachusetts Boston Mission presidency, and an area seventy. He teaches at Harvard University, is a well-known management consultant, and has researched and written much on business innovation.

The Power of Everyday Missionaries teaches the what and how of sharing the gospel. It gives great insight and wonderful examples of how each member of the Church can use the opportunities in everyday life to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with our friends and neighbors. I highly recommend the book to all members. Though it focuses mostly on member-missionary efforts, the knowledge and techniques he discusses will also serve to help young people who are preparing for a full-time mission some day.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

Blessings of Missionary Work

  • introducing a friend to Jesus Christ“Every time you take someone figuratively by the hand and introduce him or her to Jesus Christ, you will feel how deeply our Savior loves you and loves the person whose hand is in yours.” (p. 1)
  • “Having the missionaries regularly help us as a family teach the gospel to new and old friends through the power of the Holy Ghost has profoundly affected the faith of our five children and brought the Spirit of God into our home.” (p. 6)
  • “Sharing the gospel doesn’t just require that we have the power of God unto the convincing of men. It gives us this power…It doesn’t just demand our purity. It will help us be pure.” (p. 10)

Many People Are Waiting and Ready to Receive the Gospel

  • “The Lord’s statement that the world is “white already to harvest” (D&C 4:4) doesn’t have an expiration date. The world is still ready.” (p. 3)
  • “There are a lot of people with questions. Most of them have given up on churches as a source of answers. As a consequence, we [mistakenly] categorize them as not interested in religion.” (p. 30)
  • “People will learn when they are ready to learn. Discovering what questions are on people’s minds about religion helps me to see that I actually am surrounded by many more people who are religious than I had imagined–because they have questions.” (p. 34)

Making the Gospel Part of Our Conversations

  • “Finding people for the missionaries to teach and helping them progress toward baptism can be easy and natural for all of us if we learn how to do this in ways that mirror the mind and the ways of God.” (p. 13)
  • “It is important to view normal conversations with people in probabilistic terms. If 5 percent of people have some latent interest in the LDS Church, and I open a conversational door about the church with twenty people, one of them will express interest–and I can’t judge who it will be. If we open a door to a hundred people, five of them will be interested. This is why it is so important to make the gospel a part of our conversation.” (p. 26)
  • “The Restoration of the gospel allows us to categorize things by ‘truth vs. falsehood’ instead of ‘science vs. religion.’ This has made me unafraid. It helps me to instinctively draw upon concepts from religion to solve problems in business and academia.” (p. 67)
  • coworkers using gospel to solve problems“Just as we have been taught to put footnotes in essays when we use an idea from another person, we should simply be sure that our coworkers understand where the principles came from as we use the gospel to solve problems.” (p. 68)

Open Your Mouth

  • “(Satan) simply needs to convince the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that it is awkward and politically incorrect to talk about God’s plan with others at work.”(p. 53)
  • “Every time I have set a date–first to invite someone, and then to find someone who says yes, God has blessed me to intersect with someone who has accepted my invitation to come into our home to study with the missionaries. “(p. 77)
  • “In the equation that determines whether we can find people for the missionaries to teach, God’s role is constant, not variable. He always keeps His promises. The only variable is whether we have the faith that we will be blessed with miracles if we make commitments to God and then obediently do what we said we would do.” (p. 79)
  • “Each of these members and leaders [examples of successful member missionaries] were entrepreneurs in Zion. They rightly assumed that the power was in their hands to bring to pass much righteousness.” (p. 149)

Sharing the Gospel Online

  • “We realized only a handful of youth during their teenage years have regular opportunities to share their testimonies with nonmembers. We felt that asking them to serve as digital missionaries was a perfect way to help them have regular missionary opportunities and also to help them learn how to better articulate their beliefs.” (p. 86)
  • sharing gospel online youths native tongue“In many ways, the call to be online missionaries is a calling to share the gospel in their (the youth’s) native tongue.” (p. 86)

Helping Investigators Learn and Feel the Spirit

  • “Consider the difference made by a shift in approach. Phil had regularly commanded my dad to get off the porch when the proposal was “Phil, you need the Church.” But when the pitch was, “Phil, the Church needs you,” instantly he said yes.” (p. 37)
  • “Many of us misdiagnose the reason why so many investigators don’t follow through on their commitments to read and ponder the Book of Mormon, to pray to learn if it is true, and to attend church. When investigators repeatedly fail to keep these commitments, we and the missionaries are prone to conclude that the investigators really are not interested. But often investigators don’t do these things because they don’t know how.” (p. 91)
  • “We know that we learn much more when we teach a lesson than when we hear a lesson. We now know that the same principle applies to those who are learning about the restored gospel. They learn it far more deeply when we give them the chance to reach us.” (p. 106)
  • “We can schedule meetings with our investigators in a church building before they come to Sunday services. Given them a tour of the building and tell them what goes on in every (room). …We want them to feel that the church building is a sacred place because people like to return to places that they consider sacred, places where they know they will feel good.” (p. 109)
  • “When our friends are preparing for baptism we should expect temptation and deception to intensify. This means, consequently, that our job as missionaries is to teach our friends how to identify temptation and withstand it.” (p. 112)

Missionary Oriented Wards and Stakes

  • “Every ward in the Church can bring the Spirit into their meetings. But it helps if they know which investigators are coming and what each person needs.” (p. 110)
  • “God trusted the Weston Ward. He knew that when His children prayed to Him for help and guidance, if He could just guide them to the Weston Ward or one of its members, He could trust the members to take it from there.” (p. 140)
  • “Everyone in the branch was brought by a friend, and then they brought friends.They were given responsibility the day after baptism to be proselyting missionaries. …Predictably, not miraculously, hundreds of people accepted baptism, and most of these converts stayed committed to the faith.” (p. 147)
  • “A sense among some in the Church is that obedient Saints are those that follow the programs assiduously, and that innovation is a symptom of rebellion if it hasn’t been ‘approved.’ These Saints [examples of successful member missionaries] followed the Spirit in an unscripted way.” (p. 149)

 

Mission Rules: Formerly Known as the Missionary Handbook. Now Known as Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ.

Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ

Update Nov. 15, 2019: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a new, updated handbook of instructions for full-time missionaries serving around the world. The new handbook is called, “Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ,” and can be found on the Church’s website.

The Missionary Standards handbook documents the mission rules for full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Obeying these rules will keep you safe as a missionary, and will help you be more productive and successful. The Missionary Standards handbook is one of the primary resources youth, parents, and priesthood leaders should use in preparing youth for the mission field. The Church Handbook even instructs bishops to review the guidelines in the Missionary Standards handbook with each missionary candidate to make sure they understand and are committed to obey the mission rules. The handbook outlines the rules on expected missionary behavior, dress and grooming, media, finances, communicating with family and friends, and other expectations. Let’s briefly walk through the major sections of Missionary Standards handbook. Click on one of the five links below to jump directly to that section.


Introduction to the Full-time Mission Experience

The first section of the handbook reinforces the sacred nature of your calling and reminds you that you have been called of God by a prophet and set apart to assist the Church in this great work of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world. It explains the meaning of the title of the handbook, Missionary Standards for Disciples of Jesus Christ, is because to be an effective missionary, you must be a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. And it explains how following these standards will help protect you physically, spiritually, and emotionally and help you be the disciple Jesus Christ needs you to become.

This section also encourages you to take joy in your missionary experience. It says “this is a time to rejoice and to experience lasting happiness and peace through Jesus Christ.” It says that you will get the most joy out of your mission when you are faithful to the commandments and obedient to the rules. And it also “means that you try to learn, grow, and improve; correct mistakes quickly; and take personal responsibility for your actions.” It reminds you that mission standards will bless you on your mission and help you for the rest of your life as you learn to use God’s commandments and His Spirit to guide you throughout your life.

Missionary Organization and Activities

Mission Leadership: This section explains the role of the mission president and other young missionary leadership positions. “Your mission president and his wife, who serve together as your mission leaders, are called of God and set apart to lead the mission.” Young missionary leadership positions include the assistants to the mission president, zone leaders, and sister training leaders, and the handbook emphasizes that “leadership assignments do not indicate special recognition or advancement or reflect the worth of a missionary.”

Self-Reliance and Magnifying Your Calling: This section of the handbook also teaches that missionaries are to become spiritually self-reliant, and “act for [yourself]” (2 Nephi 2:16) by trusting the Lord and following the Spirit. It emphasizes the missionary’s personal responsibilities to learn to “magnify [your] office unto the Lord” (Jacob 1:19). Open communication with your companion, peer missionary leaders, and your mission president is also encouraged in this section.

Companions: Each missionary is assigned a companion who they are to stay with at all times. Regarding companions it says, “Never be alone. You should be able to see and hear your companion at all times unless you are in the bathroom, in an interview.” The handbook teaches that one of the blessings of being in missionary companionships is that “learning patience and love, practicing forgiveness, and accepting differences in personalities will bless you throughout your life.”

Stay in Your Assigned Area: Missionaries are assigned an area, typically a section of a city of set of neighborhoods, in which they are to stay and work. It says, “concentrate your efforts in your assigned teaching area….If you need to leave your area for another reason, request permission” from you mission leaders.

Missionary Work Activities: This section is about activities such as “participating in companion exchanges and transfers, working with members, responding to referrals, teaching, participating in councils and meetings, and serving” in the community. It says that, in working with members, invite them “to join you in normal and natural ways as you find, teach, baptize, and fellowship.”

Daily Schedule: Missionaries follow a strict daily schedule of activities as well as weekly district council meetings, regular zone conferences, and other mission leadership council meetings. The following is the standard daily schedule, though it “may be adjusted by the mission president” as needed. Missionaries get up by 6:30am. They eat, exercise, study the scriptures, plan lessons, and schedule the day, and then leave the apartment by 10am to find, teach, serve others, and do other proselytizing activities. They return to their housing by 9:30 p.m, write in their journal, pray, and are to be in bed by 10:30pm. “The schedule approved for your mission will allow time to work, rest, and refocus. It is important to get adequate rest and nutrition for your spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being.” See my full article on the missionary schedule for more details.

Preparation Day: One day a week, missionaries’ schedule varies a little to allow them to get prepared for the rest of the week. “Preparation day allows you time to refresh physically, spiritually, and emotionally” and provides “opportunities to be with other missionaries in your district and to enjoy wholesome recreational activities together.” On p-day, missionaries are to do communications with their family, do laundry, get hair cuts, clean the apartment, go shopping, and rest. “All preparation day activities should be completed by 6:00 p.m.” and afterwards you should do regular proselytizing activities. See my more detailed article on preparation day for more information.

Service in the Community: Missionaries work a few hours each week in service to others. “Find opportunities to serve your companion, the people you are teaching, members, and others in the community.” The handbook stresses that “you should serve with a sincere desire to help others without any expected outcomes” and that “if someone expresses interest in your message, reply very briefly and arrange to meet with them at a different time and location to share a message.”

Missionary Conduct

This section describes missionary standards of behavior and includes the characteristics of Christ you are expected to exemplify during your mission. As a missionary, you should conduct yourself at all times in such a way that everyone who sees you will recognize you as a representative of Jesus Christ.

Christlike Behavior:  This section talks about how to put into practice more Christ-like behavior and includes a discussion on respecting “the customs, religious beliefs and practices, and sacred sites in your area at all times.” Says the handbook, “Pray and work to develop Christlike attributes as described in the scriptures and in Preach My Gospel, including gratitude, kindness, love, humility, patience, empathy, and obedience. With the Savior’s help and your own sincere and diligent efforts, you can develop Christlike attributes”

Temple Worthiness: Missionaries are expected to remain temple worthy at all times. “Keeping temple covenants of obedience, sacrifice, and consecration will empower you and help you become more like the Savior.”

The Law of Chastity: One important part of worthiness is keeping the Lord’s law of sexual purity, the law of chastity. “Do all you can to protect yourself, your companion, and others from sexual temptation that could lead to breaking this sacred covenant.” This includes but is not limited to sexual intercourse, same-sex activity, oral sex, sexting, masturbation, and pornography.

Honesty: Missionaries are, of course, expected to be honest in all their interactions. This includes “giving accurate reports of your work and how you have spent your time throughout the week in your weekly reports.”

Interactions with Others: Missionaries should keep their language dignified and avoid using slang. Missionaries should “not counsel adults about personal problems. [Instead], refer members to their bishop if they need counseling.” Missionaries should, “never be alone with anyone younger than age 18.” They should “be cautious about playing with groups of children” and “whenever possible, get a parent’s permission to interact with a child.”

Recreation: Missionaries are encouraged to participate in wholesome recreational activities on p-day such as visiting historical and cultural sites, museums and parks. “You can learn to more fully love the people you serve by taking sincere interest in their culture, history, land, and traditions through visits to local places of interest, generally on preparation day.” Missionaries are cautioned to not participate in high risk activities “because missionaries have been seriously injured while participating in risky activities.” Therefore, missionaries should not do: contact sports, gymnastic, winter sports, water sports, mountain climbing, rock climbing, motorcycle riding, horse riding, firearms or fireworks.

Videos, Music, Online and Offline Media: Missionaries have strict guideline regarding the type of media they can consume. There is no “television, movies, video games, and unauthorized videos”, no “audiobooks, music, and reading material”, and no “social media, mobile apps, and online media” except those specifically allowed for missionaries such as the scriptures, Church magazines, and Church social media.

Photos and Videos: “Photos can help you share your mission experience with people at home and can be meaningful reminders of your mission”, but be sure to “ask permission before taking and sharing photos or videos.” And also remember that “taking certain photos may be offensive or illegal in some cultures and places.”

Communication with Family and Friends: Communicating with family and friends should only take place on your preparation day. “You may communicate with your family on your weekly preparation day via letters, emails, text messages, online messaging, phone calls, and video chat.” But remember that you, the missionary, should be the one to initiate all the communications with your family. Also, “prioritize your time on preparation day by communicating with your parents first and your mission president second.” Also remember that “generally, family and friends should not visit you during your mission.”

Weekly Letter to Your Mission President: “Write a letter to your mission president weekly on preparation day. Generally, you will submit your letter to him using the [online] Missionary Portal.” In that letter, “be open and honest so that he can understand any concerns you have and provide relevant counsel and feedback.”

Physical Well-Being

Nutrition and Food Preparation: “Proper hydration and nutrition are important to your well-being” therefore missionaries should “eat balanced meals that include vegetables, fruits, grains, healthy fats, and protein [and] limit junk food, carbonated drinks, processed foods, and restaurant fast food.” Missionaries should also to remember to observe the safe food preparation guidelines set out in the handbook and only drink “clean water and pasteurized dairy products are safe.”

Exercise: The missionary schedule provides time each day to exercise. “Exercise keeps you healthy and helps relieve stress. Make it a part of your daily routine.” But do remember that missionaries “should not exercise at public or commercial gyms.”

Stress Management: Following the rules for healthy eating, regular exercise, and sufficient sleep will help you manage stress. You may also want to consult the Adjusting to Missionary Life pamphlet available from the Church to help you manage your stress. And “if you have been prescribed medication for stress, follow the prescription and your doctor’s directions.” Also check out this article I wrote on preparing emotionally for a mission.

Medical Care: “Nonemergency visits should be approved in advance by the [mission] medical coordinator.” “If you have a health emergency, take common-sense actions for your immediate safety or care. Call local emergency services (such as 911 in the United States) unless you have been given other instructions in your mission. As soon as possible, contact your mission leaders.”

Dangerous Situations and Threats: “Many possible dangers can be avoided with common sense and by observing mission standards,…[but] If there is a problem, immediately report it to either of your mission leaders.” “Leave immediately if you or your companion feel uncomfortable about a location, person, or situation.” Stay away from unsafe areas and avoid situations that could lead to confrontations such as public demonstrations.

Money: “The funds donated by you, your family, and Church members to support you on your mission are sacred funds and should be used responsibly and honestly.” Your monthly mission allowance includes money for: food, transportation, hair care, personal hygiene, laundry supplies, postage, and internet expenses for weekly communications home. Personal funds (i.e. money sent from home) will have to be used if you need money for additional items such as: bicycle maintenance, some medical expenses for preexisting conditions, traffic fines, repairs to housing if you cause damage, music, video devices, souvenirs, and gifts. “Become [financially] self-reliant during your mission by creating and following a spending plan,” aka, a budget. Read my article for more info on the cost of a mission.

Dress and Grooming: “Your dress and grooming should be a demonstration of humility, respect, and faith.” Follow healthy grooming standards such as bathing daily, brushing your teeth regularly, using deodorant, wash your hands regularly, and wearing sunscreen. “Choose a neat, professional hairstyle that is easy to maintain.” See more detail here about the dress and grooming standards for missionaries.

Completion of Your Mission

You are expected to follow all missionary rules until you have returned home and been released by your stake president. The Church strongly prefers for missionaries to return home directly. “This is especially important if you are serving in a country other than your own where visa requirements are enforced. Delaying your return home could make it difficult for future missionaries to obtain travel visas.”

“When you return home, continue to live the gospel standards.” Make sure to continue the habits you developed as a missionary to pray and study the gospel daily, and attend church meetings. Also attend the temple as often as circumstances allow, go to institute classes if you can, continue your education and seek meaningful employment. Also remember to “continue to communicate with those you have taught and worked with on your mission,” including people you taught and baptized, former companions, and other mission leaders. “Support and strengthen them through your words and example, and celebrate important events in their lives.”

A Note for Couples and Senior Sisters

Couples and sisters age 40 and older are not expected to follow the same proselyting schedule of younger missionaries, though most of the other rules still apply. As older missionaries, the younger missionary will look to you as an example. Be aware that to meet the needs in your area, your mission president may assign you responsibilities other than those you received with your call. Even if you have an office role or a non-proselyting assignment, all missionaries should seek to share the gospel.

Conclusion

Living the missionary rules found in the Missionary Standards handbook will help you feel the spirit of missionary work. When you accepted your call, you promised to live by these standards. Always keep in mind the importance of your service and strive to magnify your calling. As you obey the rules you will show the Lord your love for Him, earn the trust and confidence of members and non-members, and be able to have a more full measure of the Holy Ghost with you. “Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (D&C 64: 34).

Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Summary: When missionaries are in the right place at the right time, they will have the Spirit of the Lord with them which will bear testimony that what they are teaching is true, a crucial element of the conversion process.

Mormon Missionaries Knocking Door

Photo Credit: Tyler McFarland

The principle of being in the right place at the right time applies to all of us. It means to do what the Lord expects you to do at the time the Lord expects you to do it. It applies to missions, temple marriage, and everyday opportunities to serve our fellow beings. For today, I’d like to focus on what it means for young men and all missionaries to be in the right place at the right time.

The Right Place for Young Men is on a Mission

First of all, for young men in their late teens or early twenties, the right place to be at that time in your life is on a mission. The prophets have long taught that every young man should serve a mission. Recently, at the October 2012 General Conference, President Thomas S. Monson said, “We affirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve.”

It was in that same talk that President Monson announced the reduced age for missionary service for young men to be 18 years old. Said Pres. Monson, “I am not suggesting that all young men will—or should—serve at this earlier age. Rather, based on individual circumstances as well as upon a determination by priesthood leaders, this option is now available.” The prophet has never said that young men need to leave on their mission right at age 18. He gives young men the flexibility to find a good time to go, to wrap up school or work or athletics, and then go on a mission. But certainly by the time that young men reach their early twenties, if they are going to school or working or involved in athletics instead of being out in the mission field, they are not in the right place at that time in their life. The age limit for men to serve a mission is 25, so for young men in their early 20s, the right place to be at that time of life is on a full-time mission.

Following the Missionary Daily Schedule

The second aspect of being in the right place at the right time that I would like to discuss is about mission life, obeying mission rules, and doing the things you are supposed to do at the times you are supposed to do them. Mormon missionaries are expected to work hard, be obedient, and keep a strict schedule. Here’s a quick overview of the daily routine:

  • 6:30 a.m. Wake up, pray, exercise, eat breakfast, and do other preparation for the day.
  • 8:00 a.m. Personal study: the Book of Mormon, other scriptures, chapters from Preach My Gospel, etc.
  • 9:00 a.m. Companion study: share what you have learned during personal study and prepare to teach.
  • 10:00 a.m. Begin proselyting: teaching appointments, finding people to teach, etc.
  • Lunch and Dinner: You may take an hour for lunch and an hour for dinner at times that fit best with proselyting.
  • 9:00 – 9:30 p.m. Return to the apartment and plan the next day’s activities. Write in journal, prepare for bed, pray.
  • 10:30 p.m. Go to bed.
  • This schedule may vary a little in some countries and missions. For example, in the Rosario Argentina mission, where I served from 1995 to 1997, we were expected to be out proselytizing by 9am and we had our companionship study after lunch.
Mormon Missionaries in the Rain

Photo Credit: Tyler McFarland

Even when it is hot, or snowy, or rainy, or cold, it is important for missionaries to keep this schedule. The schedule helps you as a missionary be in the right place at the right time, and as you do so, the Lord will bless you. It is important to be out of your apartment, meeting people, and sharing your testimony at the most opportune times. If it is mid-morning, 10:30-ish, and you are still in your apartment, then you are not in the right place at the time time. If it is mid-morning and you are knocking doors, meeting people, and sharing your testimony, then you are in the right place at the right time. If you have been lingering at a member’s home after a dinner appointment and you have been there for over an hour, then you are not in the right place at the right time. If you keep your dinner appointment to under an hour, thank the members for their hospitality, and then you get on your way to your next teaching appointment, then you are in the right place at the right time.

You get the point. Keeping this schedule is an important component of being obedient to the mission rules. And as you are obedient to the rules you are asked to live by, you will have the Spirit in greater measure. You will be guided by God and be more successful in your missionary labors.

Examples of Missionary Success By Being in the Right Place at the Right Time

Virtually every family I taught and baptized was a result of being in the right place at the right time. I know that had I not been obedient to the missionary daily schedule, then I would have missed out on many opportunities to meet families, and eventually see them join the true Church of Jesus Christ. Here are some examples:

  • Finding Juan Carlos Lopez. I had just been transferred to the area and it would have been easy to justify lingering longer in the apartment to unpack my suitcases. But it was 9am, and we knew we were supposed to be out working. And it was that morning that my companion and I ran into Juan Carlos Lopez, who eventually got baptized.
  • Reconnecting with a Family in Rosario. We had taught a family in the city of Rosario and they had been progressing well, when all of a sudden they lost interest in meeting with us. We didn’t see them for a few weeks, but one day when we were out working, we happen to run into them on the sidewalk and we resumed the discussions. They got baptized soon thereafter, and this wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been out working at the appropriate time.
  • Finding teaching and baptizing the Lescano Family wouldn’t have happened if we hadn’t been in the right place at the right time.
  • Also, meeting and getting an appointment with the Godoy family is another example to led to a family being baptized.
  • The examples could go on and on.

“I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place…for the salvation of souls”

The Lord spoke to the prophet Joseph Smith about being in the right place at the right time in order to bring about the salvation of souls. In D&C 100: 4- 8, the Savior says, “Therefore, I, the Lord, have suffered you to come unto this place; for thus it was expedient in me for the salvation of souls. Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say. But a commandment I give unto you, that ye shall declare whatsoever thing ye declare in my name, in solemnity of heart, in the spirit of meekness, in all things. And I give unto you this promise, that inasmuch as ye do this the Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say.”

Future missionaries, you will be called by God as a missionary and sent to the place where the Lord would have you serve. There are people in that area that need the gospel and need you to bring it to them. Please be in the right place at the right time in order to do the work and bring the blessings of the gospel to the people of the world according to your call from God. Be where you are supposed to be. Do what you are supposed to do. Open your mouth, preach the gospel, bear testimony of the Savior, and teach by the Holy Ghost. The Spirit will testify to the hearts of the people that what you are teaching is true and you will have more power to convert. I know that as you do this you will be blessed and you will be an instrument in the hands of the Lord in bringing to pass much righteousness.

Teaching by the Spirit

Teaching by the Spirit is one of the most important skills you can learn as a missionary. If you have the Spirit of the Lord with you in all your mission activities, teaching, tracting, reactivating, etc., you will be a more effective instrument for God. 

Teaching Spirit to Spirit - Sister MissionariesPresident Ezra Taft Benson once said: “The Spirit is the most important single element in this work. With the Spirit magnifying your call, you can do miracles for the Lord in the mission field. Without the Spirit, you will never succeed regardless of your talent and ability” (see Preach My Gospel, 176).

The missionary lessons that you will teach from contain the gospel doctrines and ideas for teaching, however, the lessons will not tell you exactly what to say. Instead, as a missionary, you are responsible to study and understand the principles of the lessons and then teach by the Spirit in your own words. By teaching through the Spirit, you will help others strengthen their faith in Christ, have a desire to repent, and then enter into covenants with God through baptism (see Preach My Gospel, 19).

Blessings of Teaching by the Spirit

The Preach My Gospel manual points out at least five reasons why missionaries must teach by the power of the Holy Ghost in order to be effective. The Spirit will…

  • Teach you new truths and bring the doctrines you have studied to your remembrance (see John 14:26).
  • Give you words to speak in the very moment you need them (see D&C 84:85).
  • Carry your message to the hearts of the people you teach (see 2 Nephi 33:1).
  • Testify of the truthfulness of your message and confirm your words (see D&C 100:5–8).
  • Help you discern the needs of the people you are teaching (see Alma 12:7).

In teaching the gospel, as a missionary or in other callings in the LDS Church, you should not rely primarily on your intelligence, teaching expertise, or personality but rather you should to have the influence of the Holy Ghost present (see 2 Nephi 4:34). As you make yourself a conduit of the Spirit, the Lord will use you to move His work forward.

Spirit to Spirit

When we teach by the Spirit, our message is carried directly into the hearts of the audience, which is a far superior form of communication that oral or written language. Elder D. Todd Chistofferson said, in his April 2012 General Conference talk, “The Spirit does not need to be limited to words; He can communicate Spirit to spirit with a language that is unmistakable because it has no words. It is a communication of pure knowledge and intelligence from the Spirit, and I have come to know that it truly is the best way to acquire knowledge. It is stronger and longer lasting than touching or seeing; we can come to doubt the physical senses, but we cannot doubt when the Holy Spirit speaks to us. It is the surest witness.”

Similarly, Elder M. Russell Ballard said in his October 2004 General Conference talk, “The missionaries are now preparing to teach the lessons, not as memorized dialogue or a rote presentation; but rather, they will outline gospel principles in an organized way, calling upon the Spirit to direct how they communicate gospel truth to investigators, spirit to spirit and heart to heart.” Read 3rd Nephi 19: 31-34 for more information on the spirit to spirit and heart to heart communication.

An example from my mission of teaching by the Spirit

german arrieta familyIn the latter half of my mission, when I was in the Godoy ward in West Rosario, Argentina, I remember during this time that I felt particularly guided by the Spirit in all aspects of our missionary work. I felt the subtle promptings of the Spirit helping my companion and I know where to go, what streets to tract, what to do, and what to say to help the members and investigators in this area.

I specifically remember one lesson that we taught to German Arrieta and his family. It was not one of the official six missionary discussions of the time, but as we sat with him one night, I felt prompted to talk in detail about our pre-earth life. I taught about the council in Heaven, the plan of salvation, the role of the Savior, and how we all sustained the plan that would allow us to come to earth, gain a physical body, and be given the opportunity to prove our worthiness and progress back to our Heavenly Father’s presence. The Spirit was present during the lesson, and perhaps it was exactly what the family needed. The lesson was well received and German was baptized soon thereafter.

Teaching by the Spirit doesn’t negate preparation

To teach by the Spirit does not mean that preparation is not needed, on the contrary in fact, teaching by the Spirit often means you will need to prepare more and then be flexible in your lesson delivery. I love this quote from the Seminary and Institute manual called Gospel Teaching and Learning: “Teachers should keep in mind that teaching by the Spirit does not remove their responsibility for diligent, thoughtful lesson preparation, including using the curriculum that has been provided. On the other hand, teaching by the Spirit requires more than merely following every curriculum suggestion without prayer, thought, or possible adaptation. In addition, teachers should not be so focused on rigidly following their lesson outline that they are not open to receive and follow impressions from the Spirit during class.” (GTL, p. 13)

Tips for being prepared to teach by the Spirit

The Preach My Gospel manual gives the following tips to help missionaries (and future missionaries can start these steps now) to be prepared to teach by the spirit:

  • Daily personal and companion study strengthens your faith and your ability to teach by the Spirit.
  • Pray for the Spirit (see D&C 42:14).
  • Purify your heart (see D&C 112:28).
  • Keep the commandments (see D&C 20:77, 79)
  • Diligently treasure up God’s word (see D&C 11:21; 84:85).
  • Teach so that others understand your message and are edified (see D&C 50:13–22).
  • Exercise faith (see Moroni 10:7).

I’ll conclude with a wonderful scripture from the Book of Mormon about teaching by the Spirit.  The prophet Moroni is speaking here and discussing the importance of being led by the Holy Ghost in conducting meetings in the Church. “And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.” (Moroni 6:9) I know that if you, as a missionary and throughout your life, teach by the Spirit, then you will always be led to do and say the right things, and you will have great success in building up the kingdom of God.

Missionary Preparation Class

youth-mission-prep-classSpencer W. Kimball, 12th President of the Church, once asked this of future missionaries: “Will you be a valiant and effective one or merely a set-apart missionary? This will depend on your preparation.” (from Advice to a Young Man: Now Is the Time to Prepare)

A missionary preparation class is a great way for young men and young women to further their mission prep. Missionary preparation classes are usually available from several sources:

  • From your ward or stake (branch or district). If you are under 18 and would like to take a mission prep class, talk to one of your local leaders (your young men’s president, or bishop, etc.) to see if your ward or stake offers a class.
  • From a Church college (BYU, etc.). If you are attending a Church-sponsored college, see about signing up for one of the mission prep classes they offer.
  • From an LDS Institute of Religion: If you are attending another college, see if there is an LDS Institute of Religion nearby. They likely offer a missionary preparation class.

Mission Prep Institute Classes Open to All: Ages 18-30

According to the Church’s Institutes of Religion website, single and married young adults, postsecondary students, and all young single adults (generally 18-30 years old) are also welcome to attend Institute classes. That means that if you are a young person thinking about going on a mission in the next year or two, if none of the other sources of a mission prep class are available, you could attend a course at Institute. Institute classes are free of charge, and you can find one near you with Institute of Religion Locator. Now is a great time to sign up for a mission prep class as new classes start in January at many Institutes.

Topics Covered in the Missionary Preparation Class

Whether you take the class from your ward or through an official Institute class, your teacher will likely use the official Church Mission Prep Student Manual. Subjects covered in this official Missionary Preparation course are:

  • Understanding the call to serve a mission
  • Learning the gospel by study and also by faith
  • Teaching about the Apostasy, the Restoration
  • The importance of living prophets and latter-day scripture
  • Understanding, recognizing, and teaching with the Holy Ghost
  • Personal worthiness and developing Christ-like attributes
  • Physical preparation and using time wisely
  • The conversion process and preparing investigators for baptism

Online Mission Prep Webinar

For those of you who cannot attend a mission prep class, please check out my Mission Prep Webinars. You can watch the video presentations or download the PowerPoint slides.