Part I of Advanced Missionary Prep -
(stay tuned for Part II !!)
with photos of mission life, zone conferences and transfers . . .
with photos of mission life, zone conferences and transfers . . .
A while back a popular LDS Magazine shared an article by Jeremy Goff entitled -
"7 Ways to Come Pre-Trained for your Mission".
It is an excellent article!
It is absolutely true that there are many things young men and young women of the Church can and should do so that they will enter the mission field more prepared and effective upon their arrival. The Lord is hastening His work of Salvation, there can be no doubt. We are seeing both the challenges and the blessings of increased emphasis coming to pass all around us daily. We see an outpouring of the Spirit and blessings upon those missionaries who have the desire and come prepared to serve.
Not very long ago young men and young women of the Church had an opportunity to spend a lengthy time in the MTC's (Mission Training Centers) of the Church located throughout the world. Amongst many things, a particular purpose was to educate and train them to be more effective missionaries, to help them comprehend gospel principles they did not yet understand, to help them increase the strength of their testimonies. Young people do not have such a luxury at this time. They need to come prepared. Although to loved ones, two years or 18 months seems like a long time . . . and it is . . . the time passes rapidly. You will want to make use of everyday!
Missionaries come from many different backgrounds . . .
We see that not all missionaries come to the mission on equal footing. They come with many and varied experiences in the gospel. Some missionaries arrive after learning gospel principles from their days of Primary, Young men / Young Women and seminary and institute classes. Many missionaries, especially outside of the United States arrive in the mission field as new converts to the Church. Each has a fervent testimony and a desire to share, but their experience in the gospel is somewhat different.
The most important convert of a missionary is him or herself. Each missionary will see long term blessings related to missionary service. Yet, the missionaries of the Church are the mouthpiece of our Heavenly Father and Savior in proclaiming His restored gospel here upon the earth. They are called and set apart by Priesthood authority to be representatives of the Savior and to teach in His name. They can fulfill their sacred calling more effectively and have more meaningful experiences by taking the time to come well prepared.
I would advise young people (and ALL people really . . . for are we not ALL missionaries and representatives of the Savior?) to read carefully the article referenced above.
In addition to strengthening your testimony and gospel knowledge in the weeks and months before your mission, there are some other important preparations to make.
The Importance of Emotional Preparation
Speaking to future missionaries, Elder L. Tom Perry explained, "Missionary service is emotionally demanding. Your support system is going to be withdrawn from you as you leave home and go out into the world . . . "
This can be a very difficult emotional time for new missionaries. All missionaries go through a period of becoming more comfortable, and it will be easier if you are emotionally prepared to serve. Your new emotional support will be in the form of your companion, district and zone leaders, sister training leaders and your mission president and wife. Yet missionaries need to be prepared to act as adults, live and prosper in an adult world, and they need to make this transition rapidly.
The Challenges of Missionary Life -
Suddenly you will be budgeting a limited source of money to provide for all your expenses, perhaps dealing with homesickness, living with an assigned 24x7 companion, perhaps in a difficult culture or environment, adjusting to a busy schedule of long days that begin very early. Frequently those learning a new language will not understand their new companion for weeks, or anything those they are teaching or the Church members and leaders surrounding them are saying. Some may struggle with weaknesses they are still trying to overcome.
All these experiences contribute to how quickly you can feel comfortable in your new role as a missionary.
It's not unusual for missionaries newly arrived in the mission field to experience stress related physical symptoms. They are no fun! Sometimes it can be headaches, back pain, heart palpitations, insomnia, fatigue, stomach problems, dry mouth, frequent colds and flu bugs. Sometimes stress can even lead to panic attacks, anxiety, depression and difficulty functioning on a daily basis.
Growth through New Skills and Talents -
Your Mission President and his wife, and other leaders will help you to learn new coping skills as very likely, the coping skills from your past will not be available. You can't phone a friend . . . enjoy a relaxing game on your latest game system, watch TV, hug your dog, go for a swim, enjoy some alone time, read a novel, text message and tweet. But you will find new skills that will strengthen and bless your life, not only during your missionary service but for all the challenging times that the future holds in store for you.
Yet, wouldn't it be much nicer if you came to the mission already prepared! Already prepared with some great skills and advanced personal strengths!
President Gordon B. Hinckley phrased it very well when he said:
"This work is rigorous. It demands strength and vitality. It demands mental sharpness and capacity . . . Missionary work is not a rite of passage in the Church. It is a call extended by the President of the Church to those who are worthy and able to accomplish it . . . Good physical and mental health is vital . . . There are parents who say, 'If only we can get Johnny on a mission, then the Lord will bless him with health. It seems to not work out that way.
Rather, whatever ailment of physical or mental shortcoming a missionary has when he comes into the field only becomes aggravated under the stress of the work. We simply must face up to the facts. We are spending millions of dollars on medical care and countless hours assisting those with problems that make it impossible for them to perform the work . . . There are other areas where those with serious limitations may work and have a satisfying experience. And the Lord will bless them for what they are able to do . . .
Permit me to emphasize that we need missionaries, but they must be capable of doing the work . . .
Mental and emotional health is critical to the success of a missionary in serving the Lord with -
"all your heart, might, mind and strength"! (D&C 4:2)
You can do it!
It is a great blessing in our lives to serve with young men and young women of the Church who have come from all over the world to serve as representatives of the Savior and bring the blessings of the Atonement to people everywhere. They are fulfilling the words of the Prophet Joseph Smith who foresaw the day when -
"the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated
every continent, visited every clime, swept every country." ( 4:540)
As prospective missionaries seek to become more prepared in every way, they will experience all the choicest blessings our Heavenly Father has reserved for his Latter-day missionaries, who are serving in this great period of hastening . . . as our Heavenly Father hastens his work to restore the gospel throughout the world. As they share the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they will receive some of the most sweet and richly rewarding moments of their lives.
(Now that I've helped you realize the importance of preparation . . . you'll have to come back for many practical and important ideas you can put into practice!
I should have it available soon!)