Most students enter the dorms after leaving home for the first time. Without guidance, students can easily become distracted by things of no value.
Freshman year habits and dorm life can either serve as a training school for a mission or a distraction. Appropriate social interactions and spiritual preparation can pave the way to a prepared and worthy missionary.
New students will find there is always something going on. Learning skills of social interaction can be very helpful on a mission, but many students easily fall into the trap of accepting every invitation that comes their way.
Constant socializing can lead to a lifestyle where students stay up late every night and struggle to keep up with their school work and scripture study. Fred Nelson, a public health student from Santa Barbara Calif., experienced this firsthand.
“You want to have fun more than get serious and think about the mission,” Nelson said.
As a freshman, Nelson’s stake president suggested each stake member should go on dates weekly. He said it wasn’t an order for students to date seriously, but to get to know different people and interact on a one-on-one basis. Nelson believes dating can be a good thing for students to do before the mission, but suggested using dating as a learning process rather than a selection process.
“I think dating before the mission is great,” he said. “Before the mission, I think you really need to keep an open mind and look for the type of girl you think you want to marry rather than a specific girl to marry.”
All worthy male members of the Church are asked to serve missions. An emphasis can be put on the word “worthy.” Some people may come to BYU with expectations that it is a type of Utopia. However, the same problems that plague members of the Church outside of BYU are also present at BYU.
While both the men and women at BYU have high standards and desires for righteous living, people do fail to make the right decisions when they put themselves in the wrong position. Avoid situations where you may be influenced to compromise your standards.
Gaining a testimony of the gospel and its teachings is essential before serving a mission. BYU offers numerous religion classes and devotionals that help students increase their understanding of gospel doctrines. Above and beyond class study, students should personally study the scriptures and cultivate their own testimonies. Part of this will involve reading the Book of Mormon in its entirety.
“For one, you need to know what you’re going to be preaching,” Nelson said. “But also, I think you need to have developed a testimony. It comes from reading the whole Book of Mormon.”
Three things to read and study in preparation for a mission
1. The Book of Mormon
The Book of Mormon is the main proof of the restored gospel. Without a knowledge and testimony of the Book of Mormon, missionaries will struggle to teach others with the Spirit.
2. The New Testament
The majority of Christian denominations focus heavily on the doctrines taught in the New Testament. Missionaries should be able to reference truths from the New Testament to doctrine in the Book of Mormon. This will be helpful in relating to those of other Christian denominations and other beliefs.
3. Preach My Gospel
Preach My Gospel is an inspired book, compiled by the modern-day prophets and apostles. It was created to help missionaries teach inspired lessons and become greater disciples of Christ. Gaining a testimony of Preach My Gospel will be necessary for every missionary as they go forth to serve.