How to prepare for a full-time mission

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Serving a full time LDS mission requires physical, emotional and spiritual preparation. The missionary lifestyle can be overwhelming to many missionaries, according to Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. He advises young men and women to “become” missionaries long before entering the mission field.

“You will not suddenly or magically be transformed into a prepared and obedient missionary on the day you walk through the front door of the Missionary Training Center. What you have become in the days and months and years prior to your missionary service is what you will be in the MTC,” Elder Bednar said in the October 2005 General Conference of the church.

In the March 2011 issue of the Ensign magazine, Robert K. Wagstaff, former mission president and president of the Philippines Missionary Training Center, said missionaries leave the MTC confident about their ability to teach the gospel. However, there are some other concerns he sees missionaries deal with. Some of these include homesickness, difficulty adjusting to missionary lifestyle and trouble adapting to a new culture.

“Because of these challenges, it is important that future missionaries do all they can to prepare emotionally for full-time missionary service,” Wagstaff said.

Austin Hirsche, a 23-year-old college student, remembers August 262014 vividly. He was flying home from New Zealand where he had served a full-time LDS mission. The night before, he had said goodbye to the people he had grown to love like family. He cried as he bid farewell to his mission president. He wasn’t ready to return home.

“The mission was the best experience of my life, and I’ll never tell you any different,” Hirsche said.

Although Hirsche successfully served a full-time mission, he did not have the traditional missionary experience. His journey of preparation was unique and trying. (Watch the video documentary below to hear his story.)

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Preparing for a Mission Checklist

    According to lds.org, a missionary’s most important preparation will be spiritual preparation. Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 states, “First seek to obtain my word, then your tongue shall be loosed.” Suggestions for spiritual preparation include daily prayer and scripture study, frequent temple attendance, spending time with family and close friends, and bearing testimony as much as possible.

    According to lds.org, a missionary’s most important preparation will be spiritual preparation. Doctrine and Covenants 11:21 states, “First seek to obtain my word, then your tongue shall be loosed.” Suggestions for spiritual preparation include daily prayer and scripture study, frequent temple attendance, spending time with family and close friends, and bearing testimony as much as possible.

    Alma 53:20 says, “They were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all — they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.”

    Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve has said that “(prospective missionaries) need to be able to handle the physical demands of missionary work. Being physically tuned up enhances mental capacity.”

    Tips given for physical mission preparation includes daily exercise, establishing healthy eating habits and meal preparation skills, visiting an eye doctor to get the correct prescription.

    Missionary Department Health Services Chairman Donald B. Doty says serving a mission is a complete change of lifestyle, and that physical and mental preparation should begin at least two years before a full-time mission.

    Ways for mentally preparing to serve include learning to control one’s emotions, finding healthy ways to cope with stress or disappointment, working a job, becoming comfortable with living away from home, and staying organized.