San Pedro Sula East Mission
2013 - 2016

Friday, August 21, 2015

Are you Ready for a Mission (Part II)

Previously . . .

In our previous post . . .
We shared ideas and thoughts for advanced mission prep.  I've been trying to get this update prepared through all our interviews and mission traveling this month, so thank you for being patient.

Are you Ready for a Mission?

A while back a popular LDS Magazine shared an article by Jeremy Goff entitled  -
"7 Ways to Come Pre-Trained for your Mission".

If you haven't had an opportunity to read and study the linked article, please do so.
I also suggest you read our post, Part I , so you understand that these remarks are continuing on from the foundation laid in the previous two articles.

Hastening the Work of Salvation - 

As our Heavenly Father hastens His work of salvation, it is up to us as members of His Church to keep pace.  I am inspired by the words of Elder David A. Bednar from instruction given at the Seminar for New Mission Presidents in 2014

"The hastening of the Lord’s work requires His followers continuously to learn, to change, and “to press forward with faith in the Savior . . . Elder Bednar suggested that members ask themselves if they as individuals and as a Church will choose to keep pace with the Lord’s hastening. “Or will we insist on doing things the way they have always been done, or the ways we are accustomed to or comfortable with?”
When it comes to missionary work missionaries must now enter the mission field better prepared to serve!  We no longer have the long stays once possible at the MTC's (Mission Training Centers) and CCM's (Centro de Capacitacion Misional).  Stays are brief, focusing for many on learning necessary language skills and a brief introduction to the missionary lifestyle and Preach my Gospel

(scenes from our last multi-zone conferences)

From Day One!

Upon arrival in the mission field missionaries begin teaching and testifying from day one!  You will have an assigned trainer and companion who will lead you through the prepared lessons of the booklet "The First 12 Weeks" as you become familiar with and gain a testimony of missionary work and the gospel principles and doctrines of the Church found in Preach my Gospel. 

The following video describes the importance  of "The First 12 Weeks" program and the great blessing it is for missionaries as they begin their mission.

Come prepared to study! 
Most people outside of the mission field do not have 3-4 hours every day to study subjects of any topic, especially gospel principles.  This is in my opinion one of the greatest blessings of missionary work.  This is your time!  Come prepared to make good use of this time.  Developing good study habits will do more to bless your mission and your life after the mission than almost any other missionary principle.  It is through your personal and companionship study, your additional study of the principles found in the booklet described above, that your understanding, knowledge and appreciation and testimony of gospel principles will increase and bless your life.  Come prepared to study everyday!

The mission experience is different for every missionary.  I do have some suggestions that I think would be helpful to plan for in advance.  Some suggestions that might make your transition easier, might make your service more meaningful, might make you a more effective missionary.  If you are interested in hitting the ground running, making the most of every moment, you might want to give some thought to implementing some or all of these as your time for preparation permits.

What next?

But first . . . be sure you begin with the suggestions from the article linked above!  These are wonderful important principles for all missionaries!  
What does it mean to come pre-trained for a mission?  And what does that look like?  
One needs to come with a firm testimony and understanding of the gospel, and how to do missionary work.  These things cannot be taught in the MTC, the time is too short.  When you arrive in the mission field you will be focused on many other things - being away from home, when can I eat? What if I don’t get a good companion, will I survive in the mission field? Learning a foreign language, not feeling well, different food than you are accustomed to . . .

This can be challenging for everyone but especially challenging for those fairly new to the gospel, who are also trying to live and learn basic gospel principles.

A mission is a privilege.
You must be physically well, mentally well, spiritually well. 
It is hard!

Come with desire!

As you put into practice the suggestions found in the linked article you will come "Spiritually prepared" to serve!  But there's more . . .

(Preparation Day activity with our Mission Leadership Council)

Preparation for physical wellness . . .

Exercise - All missionaries have 30 minutes each morning for exercise.  This is an important part of the missionary daily schedule.  The schedule is found in both Preach my Gospel and the white handbook, the missionary manual.  Begin well before your mission to participate in a daily exercise program!  Think, study, and discover ways you can do this without going to a gym, or without any equipment.  Some suggestions we have found helpful are running / jogging, jump rope, calisthenics, or a routine of warm up / cool down, with 10 2-minute exercises in the middle.  (i.e., jumping jacks, running in place, marching, push ups etc)

In many missions across the world, missionary work is very physically demanding.  You need strong backs, legs, arms and core muscles to endure the rigorous physical activity of missionary service.  You carry bags each day with food and snacks, water, scriptures, pamphlets, personal items.  Missionaries are on their feet for 8 hours or more daily. They participate in challenging service projects. Frequently proselyting in an area requires hiking and hill climbing.  Daily exercise is the best way to maintain good body strength, fitness and flexibility.  Be prepared to exercise daily!

(saying farewell to so many wonderful missionaries!)

Nutrition - What you eat is an important part of staying physically fit.  Be determined to eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.  They are usually available in most areas and fairly inexpensive to purchase locally grown fruits and vegetables.  It will be up to you to find these items, wash them well, usually with a few drops of bleach and purified water. Plan to incorporate them into your meals daily.  For missionaries this usually means breakfast, snacks, or before bed, as many missionaries frequently receive their lunch and dinner from cooks or members and investigators.  Not all the food offered to you will fulfill your daily nutritional requirements, so you must be responsible to add the missing ingredients, usually, fresh fruits and vegetables.  Be prepared to take charge of your nutritional health!

A good multiple vitamin is also an excellent and important suggestion for missionaries to maintain a well balanced diet.  You may want to bring them from home, as they can be difficult to find in the mission field.

(newly arriving missionaries - July 2016)

Learn to cook some basic foods!  In Honduras and many other places in the world eggs are plentiful and an inexpensive source of protein.  Learn to cook eggs in many different ways.  They make great sandwiches also, either fried or boiled and mashed with a little mayo and salt and pepper.  Make your sandwiches with three slices of bread to be more filling! Because eggs are plentiful . . . so is chicken!  Learn to cook chicken, in a small frying pan, with a few fresh vegetables, or a microwave baked potato.  Pasta can be very tasty served with just salt and pepper and butter or margarine.  Potatoes are another filling food and can easily be prepared in a number of way.  Breakfast food such as pancakes, french toast also make great lunches or dinner, or before bed snacks and are inexpensive to prepare. If you really want to be prepared, learn how to make no bake cookies!  Be prepared to cook!  

Basic First Aid - 
Brush up on your basic first aid skills!  Be familiar with how to treat bee stings, dog bites (which can be very potentially serious in third world countries - so always let the mission nurse know if you receive a dog bite, or other animal bite!), mosquito bites, ticks, small cuts and scrapes (or large ones), muscle strains and sprains (very common!)  Be familiar with what to do when you catch a cold, or flu bug, when you have diarrhea, or the opposite! What to do if you are nauseated and vomiting. If you can, bring a small first aid kit like the one described in this post.

(training for all our District Leaders)

I saved the best part of physical fitness for last!  

Be Clean!  Both Inside and Out - 

Learn how to clean . . . here in the Central America area that means sweeping and mopping floors. Cleaning all surfaces with a few drops of bleach in a bucket of water, scrubbing sinks, toilets and showers in bathrooms.  Practice cleaning toilets . . . because your momma won't be here to do it for you!  Be prepared to clean VERY dirty toilets . . . You have one day a week, every preparation day to do your laundry and clean your apartment.  It's more important to live in a clean environment where the Spirit can be present than it is to go play games or do activities with your zones.  Learn to divide up the tasks and each person have their responsibilities to maintain a clean living environment. 

Be clean within . . .

You will be studying, teaching and testifying of the Savior's Atonement daily.  It's much better to put the atonement into practice in your own life before coming into the mission field.  Clear up anything that may be troubling you with your priesthood authority promptly and early.  You can then be prepared to share a personal testimony of the blessings of the Atonement in your life.  This will contribute to your physical, spiritual and emotional health during your mission as you testify daily with a clean conscience.

(more District Leader training)

Take a moment to read and study this article from Dr. Donald B. Doty on Missionary Health Preparation.  

Fortunately, many of the health problems that missionaries encounter are preventable with proper preparation. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles stated, “The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission.”

(Restaurante Casa de la Misión!)

Preparation for Emotional Health - 

The missionary lifestyle is very different from life at home surrounded by friends and family.  A little advanced thought and preparation can lead to a smoother more rapid adjustment to your new lifestyle.

Open Your Mouth -

A difficult concept in the beginning of missionary service is to become accustomed to speaking with everyone!  Everyone you meet . . . store clerks, people on the park bench, your neighbor on the bus . . . you can practice this skill easily before the mission.  Think about greeting everyone you meet. Ask about their family, their health, what brings them to where they are . . . you will soon find a way to introduce a brief message and testimony of gospel principles.  Don't worry . . . you don't have to teach them a full discussion in the first 10 minutes . . . as you share a brief testimony of the Savior you will find many who are interested in learning more.

"Yea, verily, verily, I say unto you, that the field is white already to harvest; wherefore, thrust in your sickles, and reap with all your might, mind, and strength.  Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness." - D&C 33:7-8
And your whole labor shall be in Zion, with all your soul, from henceforth; yea, you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do, for I am with you.   - D&C 30:11
“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.” -D&C 100: 5-6 

Be Prepared to be Obedient -  

The happiest and most well adjusted missionaries are those missionaries who have resolved to do the will of the Father during their missionary service.  Those who have resolved to live according to the missionary manual and the principles taught concerning missionary service in Preach my Gospel.  Obedience in missionary service is critical . . . it is primarily in place for the safety of all missionaries.  Be prepared to study the missionary handbook and put into practice each line and paragraph. It will not be easy . . . there will be many companions who may not agree with your determination.  Be obedient anyway.  You will be blessed for each act of obedience you choose to participate in.

There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—  And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated. - D&C 130:20-21
I believe this with all my heart and have witnessed countless instances where this is true, and sadly many occasions where some choose to not be obedient and experience the loss of the Spirit and other consequences.  Come prepared to be obedient!

(the man with the money, our financial secretary is always very popular)

Budget . . . what Budget? -

Now is the time to learn the basic financial principles of budgeting money.  That means to estimate what your expected expenses will be . . . and know what your income will be . . . and PLAN to set aside the finances and monies necessary to meet your expected expenses. 
In the mission you will likely need to budget for food, laundry (or do your own), haircuts, personal hygiene items, transportation, postage, teaching supplies, occasional treats.  Each missionary receives an appropriate amount of money from the mission each month to cover their basic expenses.  Gifts and souvenirs and all expected to be paid for with personal money. 

Be Positive! -

Some people are just naturally positive.  They think positive thoughts from the time they get up in the morning.  You can be that person!   Each day will present it's own particular challenges.  Decide now that challenges won't get you down or distract you from your missionary purpose.  The power of the adversary is particularly attentive to missionaries.  We can expect that attention from the adversary due to the import nature of missionary service.  You have the calling, power and authority to bring a message of the Savior to all people.  You can expect to feel the adversary present in your life during your missionary service.  Get up each morning and begin the day with cheerfulness.  Put on a smile, think of the many good things that can happen in the day.  In the evening, make an account of all your blessings during the day.  Some may be subtle and very hard to find.  But learn to give thanks in all things.  Learn to give thanks for the lessons you learn as you overcome difficult situations.  You have the power to change your thoughts from negative ones to positive ones.  As you learn and memorize scriptures, you will find that just focusing on a particular scripture for a few moments can change your outlook to become more positive.  The same can be said of favorite hymns or stories.

(Morazon - our newest branch in the mission)

Come expecting to work hard, experience long days, to get up when you are too tired to get up, and to walk when you are too tired to take another step.  You can do it! You have been called by our Heavenly Father, through the prophet and apostles to be a special servant of our Heavenly Father.  He will rejoice in all of your labors and will bless you daily for your efforts. 

 . . . for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. - D&C 84:88

Prepare to experience ministering angels in your service, prepare to feel the Spirit daily nourish you in your sacred calling.

Last Suggestions . . . 

Be prepared to use your special gifts and creativity in your missionary service.  Make teaching and sharing the gospel fun.  Think creatively.  
Don't wait to be commanded in all things . . . you can do many good things of your own free will and choice.  As long as you are obedient to the missionary handbook . . . use your own creativity to bless your service.
Come prepared to serve . . . as we forget ourselves and reach out to all in love and service . . . we find the most wonderful and memorable experiences.  These are the times that will bless your life forever.
In our mission we memorize 10 scriptures that teach of the Atonement of the Savior.  Start now to search and find your favorite scriptures on the Atonement and commit them to memory.  It will be a tremendous blessing during your service.

Be prepared to use and teach from Familysearch.org.  Right now . . . become familiar with it and find your own family names to take to the temple.  You can testify powerfully of the importance of temple covenants and ordinances as you participate in this aspect of the work of salvation.

Come prepared to love those who are difficult to love.  There is good in everyone of our Heavenly Father's children.  Learn to find it . . . 

Come prepared to develop patience . . . you might as well start now.

Come prepared to set personal and companionship goals . . . Set a goal and see it through . . . list the steps necessary to accomplish your goal.  Plan how you can accomplish each step.  Take the initiative to be in charge of the preparations for your mission.  That would be a great goal . . . what do you need to do to accomplish it?

Some miscellaneous things you may want to bring that you hadn't thought of before . . .

  • Good high quality insect repellent - for instance 40% Deet
  • A debit card that doesn't expire during your missionary service. (Emergency use only)
  • An MP3 player and small speakers (no devices with internet access are allowed, a iPod Nano or shuffle may qualify)
  • You may want to treat some clothing with Permethrin
  • I suggest you bring permethrin for use during the mission
  • A flashdrive to back up camera photos
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer to get you started - but expect to buy more in the mission!
  • Photos of your family to show to investigators
  • The Gospel Art Book from Church Distribution

There isn't any way possible to prepare completely for your missionary experience.  Each one will have their own unique, varied, wonderful, challenging, inspiring, humbling experience filled with blessings and inspiration especially for you.  Stay close to the Spirit.  Remember you have been called by your Father in Heaven, through modern prophets and apostles, set apart by priesthood authority present on the earth today to do our Heavenly Father's work.  He will not leave you comfortless.  You are part of the most prayed for group of people upon the earth! You have loved ones, members, family, church leaders, temples praying for you daily.  

Do your best to prepare to serve with all your heart, might mind and strength.
Trust the Lord to watch over and bless you as a missionary.

Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.  Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.  Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;  For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;  And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.  Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.  Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be

opened unto you. Amen. - D&C Section 4

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