Jaws dropped, phones rang and excitement ensued when President Thomas S. Monson made the historic announcement lowering the minimum age requirement for LDS missionaries.
According to the Deseret News, more than 7,000 LDS applicants started mission papers within two weeks from the time President Monson announced the age change. Now these young men and young women are gearing up for “the best two years” (or 18 months) of their lives. BYU students who have already served their missions share advice with those preparing to go.
Learn how to teach doctrine
Daniel Rellaford, from American Fork, served in the Madagascar Antanarivo Mission and has been home for about one year. Rellaford now works as a teacher in the MTC, and said missionaries will be in the MTC for a shortened period of time in the new MTC program, so they need to prepare before they arrive.
“With the new missionary system, the missionaries going English speaking are going to be in the MTC for 12 days,” Rellaford said. “The time to learn the doctrine is already passed by the time they get to the MTC. It’s really important to read and know ‘Preach My Gospel’ and the Book of Mormon.”
Tiffani Mohrman, from Payson, served in the Uruguay Montevideo Mission. She said missionaries must not only know the doctrine, but they must know how to explain it.
“Learn as much as you can about the Book of Mormon and the principles in chapter three of ‘Preach My Gospel,'” Mohrman said. “Know them so when people ask you a question, you can say more than that you believe the principles, but you (can’t) explain them. I know that’s something you learn on the mission, but having a solid foundation on the doctrines of the scriptures will help a lot.”
Brian Fernandez, 24, from Medford, Ore. served in the Argentina Cordoba Mission. He said from personal experience that humility is essential to have and understand on a mission.
“Humility is something I felt I had, but I realized that I didn’t have,” Fernandez said. “I feel humility is easy to get into our head, but it is a little bit harder to get into our heart. I felt like I knew the Book of Mormon backwards and forwards before my mission. I thought I was the coolest ever because of that, but it was a hindrance to me in the MTC and in the mission.”
Hayley Hsieh, from Taipei, Taiwan, who served her mission in the New York New York South Mission, said humility also helps in challenges like dealing with difficult companions.
“Strip yourself of pride before you go on a mission,” Hsieh said. “You need to remember your companion is not perfect, but neither are you. Strive to see them through the eyes of God and pray for patience.”
Remember you can make mistakes
Mohrman, who has been home for about two years, said one thing she wished she knew was that she did not have to be a perfect missionary.
“I wish I knew I (could) make mistakes,” Mohrman said. “The mission is not an event you have to perform at. It’s like a school and you’ll have good days and bad days, and you’ll make mistakes. If you treat it as a school instead of a production, you’ll learn from it and you’ll improve step by step as you should.”
Trust in the Lord
Hsieh, who is also a convert to the Church said she chose to serve a mission because she wanted to provide the same opportunities to others that the missionaries provided to her family. However, she said as she prepared to go, she experienced many challenges and trials, but learned to trust in the Lord. Hsieh advised future missionaries to rely on the Lord despite temptations and challenges.
“You will have a lot of challenges before you go,” Hsieh said. “Satan does not want you to go on a mission. I had to go to the hospital before I left because of a serious infection in my mouth after I got my wisdom teeth pulled. The medical bills got really expensive, but I knew I still needed to serve a mission.”
Mohrman, who has been home about two years, said those preparing to serve must have a personal answer from the Lord and continue to trust Him throughout their entire mission.
“When you received that answer from God to go on a mission, which I think you need to have, you should write it down and keep it with you, so you can remember that throughout the hard times,” Mohrman said.