I love hearing about how many missionaries are signing up to serve right now! It really does excite me! Every RM and fellow member will tell the missionaries their advice but remember to take advice with a grain of salt. Every person’s mission is different and unique and is perfectly made just for them. For me I listened to what everyone had to say as though I would feel and do just the same but that wasn’t true. They may have dreaded tracting and you may love it! Try not to let other people’s opinions sway yours if it will be dedtremental. However, listen to every opportunity you get to get advice! I love hearing different perspectives and ideas for being a better missionary. Try to become the best missionary that you personally can be.
My mission was full of immense joy and love for others I had truly never felt before, and so often. I also had times of loneliness, heartache and frustration. That’s the way it’s supposed to be!
Lots of missionares go into the MTC on fire! They are so excited to get out there and work hard. I remember the excitement for myself and nothing was gonna tear that away. Although I maintained the excitement to serve, the MTC is hard on many of the missionaries that enter which is just fine. While I was in the Provo MTC they had firesides on Sunday evenings and once had us stand up if we had thought of going home. Almost all the missionaries did! We all laughed looked around, a little shocked and sat back down. You’re not alone if you feel lonely or sad or especially, not good enough or inadequate. Missioanries are God’s Army, of course Satan is going to try extra hard to make them feel these things-but just pray and come close to God and you will be able to move forward and have the hope and happiness that you need. Don’t be afraid, but be aware, the mission is not a cake walk. I don’t tell you this to scare you and make you not want to go-I tell you so you don’t feel ashamed IF you do feel these feelings.
On that note let me add one more thing that is a tender subject to me. The MTC is hard, it is a refiners fire to go out into the field, but it is also one of the coolest places in the world, to put it lightly. The Spirit is so strong and it is a time in my life I will always cherish. Don’t give up. The MTC scares a lot of missionaries into going home, not solely because they weren’t worthy to begin with-but because it is so hard. Don’t go home. In all honesty, you will regret that decision the rest of your life. It has turned faithful saints into angry less active members. It is heart breaking for all involved, please stick it out. Pray hard and let God help you. Don’t be afraid to talk to others about your concerns such as your teachers or Bishop. But if you are worthy to be there-you should be there. Don’t go home.
Wouldn’t you rather return home after two years of working your little hiney off and become the man or woman you were meant to be? Stepping off that plane-knowing you did all you could for the Lord and the people in your mission is a truly incredible feeling. Don’t throw that opportunity away. Yes the mission is hard-but I am convinced the rest of your life will be harder not because of others but because of how you feel from choosing to go home. And for those who have done it, I mean no offense or criticism. I am saying this because I have seen loved ones do it, and it broke my heart and I hate watching what they are going through now because of that decision they made. But of course, I will always love them and I truly do not think less of them, I only want them to be happy.
So if you must come home for worthiness or other reasons-get back out there! I have seen it happen and words can’t describe how amazing that is. As for health reasons, we all know that cannot be helped and no one will judge you for that! We all have a different plan in life that we may not understand at this time.
As others, I have lots I can say on serving a mission. I will try to keep it brief but it takes me forever to say what I want to say!
1) Love the Lord.
Be honest with God, tell him everything. Let him be your best friend and greatest ally on your mission. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. No missionary is perfect. God does not expect you to be perfect, He expects you to try. When times were tough for me I would get on my knees and just unload on the Lord. When I didn’t want to go on anymore, I felt His love for me, His strength pushing me onward. When I felt like I wasn’t doing enough-he helped me feel how proud he was of me. Whenever I felt like I wasn’t doing enough, I would pray and talk to God about it and at times felt so much overwhelming love from Him it was unbelievable. God loves you. He is proud of you! Pray hard and often and with feeling. Read this article about this: It saved me on my mission.
2) Love your companion.
My husband and I were talking about our missions and how we fondly remember the times when we loved our companions and worked hard. Every person you are with will do things that bug you and you will bug them. Facts of life. So be honest and open with each other. Pick and choose your battles. You are with your companion for a reason. If you are struggling, pray to love them. I would ask God what He loved about my companion so in turn, I could feel that love and love those reasons too. Ask Him to feel the love that He has for your companion. It’s a cool shortcut.
It is so important to have the Spirit with you two as you go teach. People can instantly tell if you aren’t getting along and it makes them uncomfortable and the Spirit cannot be felt. You cannot teach without the Spirit so fix up that relationship! Don’t ever belittle your companion in public OR any other missionary. I know at times it can be frustrating but be kind and loving and chat about problems in private. You are not better than your companion and never will be. You both need to work on things and just because they are new or you see them struggling with something you aren’t-doesnt mean you are better than them, don’t be prideful. What can you learn from your companion? What do they excel at? Don’t be afraid to compliment them and tell them what you admire in them. Enjoy your time with each companion, it won’t last forever.
3) Serve the ward or branch you are in.
Many missionaries get this arrogant mentality that the ward is there to serve them and help them baptize members. Please don’t get caught up in this. You are there to serve them. So often missionaries find members that are willing to help give rides or have friends over to teach and burn out those members quickly. They have lives too. Often busy lives, where they sacrifice time to serve you. Be grateful with that time and use it prayerfully. Be thankful to them openly for all they do. Ask them what you can do to serve them. Yardwork, moving, painting..whatever it may be. You are here to serve them and if you forget that, you are forgetting your call as a missionary. Christ was constantly serving others. If you are late-call them. Apologize. Grow up. Be responsible. If you mess up, apologize instantly. Sorry we will be a few minutes late to dinner. Or sorry we didnt’ call earlier.. Whatever it may be.
Help the ward with what they need. Offer to teach a primary sharing time. Get those kids jazzed to go on missions! Offer to help with the youth activities-they need you to be involved. When you were a kid didn’t you look up to the missioanries? They were rockstars in your eyes. Wouldn’t it have ment the world to you if they came to your mutual activity and talked about their missions with you or anything at all for that matter. You are setting the example for future missionaries and ward members in general. Be awesome!
4) Be yourself-and have fun!
Missions can be a blast! I am serious, I had so much fun on my mission. I laughed so hard and did fun things. P-Day isn’t the only day you can have fun. Joke with your companion, don’t take yourself too seriously. I’ve been yelled at by other missionaries for having fun but honestly-I just think they need to calm down. If God wanted boring people to spread his gospel, He probably wouldn’t ask for 19 year olds to do it. He wants you to enjoy yourself! If you are having fun, people will be drawn to that. I had a blast with my comps and I don’t regret that one bit. So many people told us they were drawn to us because they could see us laughing and enjoying ourselves.
Don’t go crazy and start rappin 50 Cent in the street, but be yourself! Don’t become a robot and but don’t become a goofy careless missionary either. Just be who you are and ya at times reel it in a bit and know there is a time and place for everything. As a missionary you are bound to change a bit. You are bound to stop tellin perverted jokes and singing nasty songs but that doesn’t change who you are. You can still be yourself and be a rockin missionary. Lightin up a bit. God is a joyful cheery man not a stone cold angry tyrant.
5) Be polite
I grew up in the south so my mentality of what is polite is different then others. I enjoy it when strangers call me mam respectfully, as others on the west coast are appalled and get all bent out of shape about you it. But I am talkin more about saying thank you. Apologizing when necessary. Letting people know you’ll be late. Calling ahead of time-making sure people know you are coming over for dinner. Being responsible. But also looking for ways to serve others and be gracious. The missionaries here have not called me back once when I was supposed to serve them dinner. They haven’t told me about the referrals I gave them either. (Follow up with the members!!)
A missionary came over to our house and left a simple index card that said thank you for dinner! My mom really liked that, and so did I! I also loved it when the missionaries came over and offered to help my mom who would often say she was fine. But it was nice to hear them offer. Better yet-offer specifically what you can do. Take your dishes to the sink or put it in the dishwasher. Say: “Sister So and so can I help set the table?” Ya maybe you’ll find that one lady that will get offended, but you meant it out of love so people will be offended randomly no matter what. Don’t let that get to ya.
For me, when people apologize after they mess up, I am so easy to forgive and I completely forget about it. But if they don’t apologize when they are an hour late and didn’t say one word to my mom-I will go balistic! That’s my problem, but still.
6) Work hard, but be realistic
Don’t be a lazy bum. Get up on time. If that is hard-talk to your comp about how you can accomplish this. Ya it sucks sometimes, but you will NEVER regret working hard. You will regret being lazy. If you are sick, be honest. If you keep pushing yourself too hard you could make yourself worse.
Elder Scott told us in the MTC his wife got sick on her mission and pushed herself too hard and ended up having to go home early because of it. Just be smart about it. There will be nights where you are exhausted and want to go back to the apartment early..but if you don’t cool stuff happens! I know it stinks going to someone’s house when it’s dark out-but often that person will be home that needs to be or you will find someone walking in the street that needs to be talked to. Work the whole day through. It feels awesome. Remember, your mission does not last forever. When you are finished with your mission how do you want to look back on it? Looking for ways to get out of work, or remembering how hard you worked and you even blew your self away with what you accomplished.
7) Follow the rules-they are for your own safety..but don’t be Nazi
In the MTC we were told that holding kids and tickling them may seem harmless, but there are weirdos in this world who are just looking for reasons to pull a lawsuit on you. Elder Holland told us that we may think that those grumpy old men apostles got together and came up with rules to make us miserable, but really it was because they wanted to keep us safe and have a good mission. There are reasons for all the rules. If you go to walmart on pday shopping not dressed in your correct attire-you may not be recognized by someone that needed the missionaries that day. Just follow the rules.
But on the other hand, if your comp needs medicine go to the store you dummy and buy some. Don’t wait a week because it’s not Pday. Let’s be realistic here. If your comp isn’t following one of the rules, don’t get angry. Just sit down and talk to them about it. I’m sure you aren’t perfect either. I have seen missioanries go pyscho over rules, at times even myself. We all make mistakes. My mission president had to remind me that the Elders weren’t trying to make me mad, they just didn’t know any better. It blew me away. Of course they weren’t tryin to drive me crazy! I was way too hard on them, and myself. A friendly reminder is often more than enough. Pick your battles wisely.
8) Love everyone.
Don’t judge people, it won’t get you anywhere. Pray to love people, it feels awesome. As a missionary you get to talk to complete strangers all day every day and hear their life’s story and see them cry and cry with them. I miss feeling Christlike love for someone so strongly and often, when I just met them. Enjoy that!
Tell them you love them, and that you pray for them. Pray for these people’s lives and teach them what they need to be taught- not just what you want to teach them. Should we teach them the first lesson about Joesph Smith if their Dad just died? Probably not. Teach them that they will see their Father again and that he is in a better place and you can be a family forever.
You are here to serve these people, so serve them. What do they really need? Who would be a good friend for them in the ward? Who is struggling to come to church and how can you help them? The members don’t just need to lvoe their missionaries, they need to have friends in the ward. Play matchmaker and find people those friends. After you are long gone will they still be going to church? Read President Hinckley’s talk on 3 Things Every New Convert Needs.
And of course, keep in mind their needs above your own. Are they truly ready to be baptized? Are they truly converted or are you just baptism hungry? Be honest with yourself. Don’t baptize less actives just to boost your ego.
9) Talk to everyone
I was not the best at this, I’ll be honest. I tried my darndest but I would still get scared! Just do your best. I know that I never regretted talking to anyone, even when they may have been rude to me. I was just doing what God wanted me to. Yes, you may be awkward. Yes, you may say something stupid. Yes you may not know the language and your companion looks at you and rolls their eyes cuz you suck so badly. Who cares! Talk to everyone. That’s how you get better, in your own language or in your second language. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are trying, that’s all anyone can ask of you. Don’t look at someone and think they won’t wanna listen. You don’t know that. I see the missionaries weekly where I live and often I won’t say anything or give off a ‘don’t talk to me vibe.’ I have no idea why I do it, but others will do that to you. I love talkin to missionaries I just get shy. So do they. Just smile and say hi! A smile can go a long way. But don’t be a robot. Talk to them like a human being. They can tell the difference.
10) You will never be the perfect missionary, that’s ok!
God is pleased when we try. That’s all he asks. Yes we need to learn from our mistakes-yes we need to work hard and follow all the rules, but sometimes we won’t. It’s just a fact of life. Don’t compare yourself to other missionaries whom you may think are perfect. They aren’t. You have something to offer that no one else has. You may stink at tracting but your comp may rock at it. Cool, that’s why you’re a team!
You are expected to try to do your best but you aren’t ever expected to be perfect. That’s what the Atonement’s for. If you forget-pray, talk to God about it. He will overwelm you with love and you will realize, whoa He really is proud of me, isn’t he? Life is too short to get hung up on everything we do wrong. Look for what you do well.
For me, I struggled with learning spanish my entire mission. I felt that everyone else’s grammar and vocabulary was better than mine. But I realized, that may be true but my skill was that I could mimic the accent really well. I didn’t have flashy vocab or beautiful spanish grammar but I could mimic that accent like I grew up in Michoacan no problemo. I constantly felt inferior to other missionaries and wouldn’t speak spanish in front of them because I was afrad they would make fun of my spanish, and sometimes did. That fear kept me from growing. Making mistakes is not something to be afraid of. Heck, when I got home I realized I say the wrong things in english too! So don’t be hard on yourself. Whatever you are good at-use it! Be proud of it. God gave you that talent so use it. If you have stuff you need to work on that’s good, cuz we all do. God will help you become better.
I truly loved my mission. Truly. I poured my heart and soul into it. At times, I didn’t want to be there I wanted to be home and married to Josh and longboarding and going to concerts. But then, I would kick myself into gear again and go to work. Whenever I was bummed out-I would talk to people and help them in any way I could and it made me forget myself. I loved teaching and testifying. I loved being bold and honest with people. I loved praying for them and watching them grow and sometimes even get to see them be baptized! Although I saw many miracles with others, the greatest miracle was myself. (Read the talk that helped me change my attitude on my mission: The Fourth Missionary)
Looking back I can’t believe who I was able to become through Christ. I just let it all go. Let go of sports and tv and just dove into the work. It feels so much better to just let go and do whatever God asks of you. Doing it willingly is so much better than doing it grudgingly. Remember Laman and Lemuel? They went to the Promised Land, but they complained the whole time and were a pain. You can finish your mission but how will you serve it? You can be on the outside the most successful missionary ever..but if your heart and soul was never in it-what is the point? Let the mission change you. Don’t be afraid, God has a great plan in store for you. Write it all down in your journal. The mission truly does go by fast. So make sure you absorb every minute of it. When you do come home, don’t forget about it. Ponder on it whenever you can. Talk about it whenever you get the chance! My husband will tell you-I talk about my mission more than anyone. I am not ashamed! People sometimes ask me “how long have you been home?” Like I’ve been home a week because of how much I bring up my mission. When you’re home get back into the grove of things and move on with your life, but always remember your mission.
Best time of my life. Words cannot express how grateful I am for it.
Click here to view a blog on Gift Ideas for Missionaries!
Click here to view a blog I wrote on my mission about why I loved being a missionary!