Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints age 18-25 are invited to set aside two years or 18 months to serve as a full-time representative of Jesus Christ.
Their purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel.” Although a missionary’s purpose is to help others come to know the truth, throughout their time serving, missionaries participate in and experience spiritually defining and converting experiences.
Mission memorabilia help connect missionaries to those defining moments.
Several returned missionaries keep physical and tangible objects that act as an anchor to this unique time in their life. These objects range from flags, stickers and posters to cultural artifacts; but all have special meaning to the missionary that owns them.
Ethan Boyle is a returned missionary from the England London Mission. He has several objects to remind him of his mission — the most consistent one being a pin he wears on his suit coat every Sunday. Boyle said that by taking time to remember his mission he is inspired to become better.
“It reminded me of a time when my testimony was very strong and helps me try to achieve that again after coming back from the mission,” Boyle said.
Piero Salazar agrees with Boyles’ claim of how mission objects can act as a spiritual motivator. Salazar served in the Tennessee, Knoxville mission from 2021-2023. According to Salazar, the physical reminders of his mission help him to remember his personal “why” both on and off the mission.
“Remembering my mission will keep me on the right path. Because I spent two years of my life inviting people to be active in the gospel, not passive, remembering that helps me to do the same.” Salazar said.
Salazar commented on the importance of remembering, acknowledging and maintaining the change a mission brings to an individual — specifically the change to become more like Jesus Christ. Sara Holbrook agrees with the importance of retaining this change.
Holbrook served in the California Ventura Mission from 2021-2023. Her apartment is sprinkled with several keepsakes and mission merchandise to help her to retain the change that she made on her mission.
“It’s really important for me to remember my mission because I changed so much in so many different ways for the better. My testimony grew, I developed more compassion and charity, I made lifelong friendships, I learned another language, I recognized my blessings more and stopped taking things for granted so much.” Holbrook said.
Holbrook credits her mission for who she has become today. She believes that in order to maintain that change she needs to remember what it was like to serve.
“If I don’t remember my mission and the things I learned and the people I met and the love I felt, then it’ll be a lot easier to fall back into the person I was before,” Holbrook said.
With several physical reminders of her mission, such as a necklace in the shape of California, a California flag, a Spanish language copy of The Book of Mormon and her mission name tag, Holbrook is reminded of this sacred time in her life on a daily basis.
Emma Langford served as a missionary in the Brazil São Paulo North Mission. Similar to Holbrook, it is important for Langford to take time to remember her mission.
“I take time to remember my mission, because of how crucial it was in making me who I am today. I gained so much life experience, my testimony was strengthened and I am a more confident and bold person,” Langford said.
Langford met her husband while serving her mission, and their home is now covered in mission memorabilia. In addition to decorative reminders, Langford refers back to her mission journals to connect her to her mission.
“I wrote in my journal every single day of my mission. I have a whole stack of journals that detail the good, the hard and the miracles. Reading those entries helps me remember what I felt and who I became because of my mission,” Langford said.
Sidney Gatus served in the Philippines Quezon City North Mission, and similar to Langford, she often reflects on the impact her mission had.
“I experienced both my most spiritual high and my most spiritual low while on my mission. Reflecting on what I felt and experienced helps me in my personal life now when I’m struggling. It reminds me of the importance of obedience and diligence in all things. Whenever I’m struggling to do something or struggling spiritually, I remember the things I overcame on my mission and I’m reminded that with Christ, I can do anything,” Gatus said.
Gatus is grateful for all the reminders, physical and spiritual, that connect her to her mission. Several companies and organizations understand the eternal importance and connection returned missionaries have to their missions, which is why multiple companies cater and produce merchandise that can be personalized to an individual’s specific mission.
One of those companies, Strapz, was started by two returned missionaries, Ethan Harris and Isaac Duncan. According to its mission statement, Strapz offers “a physical product with a purpose rooted in a life of goal-oriented living and personal fulfillment.”
Strapz belts can be personalized by adding a name, location, scripture and years of service on the strap, thus serving as a daily, tangible reminder of mission work.
Alette Walker served in the England Leeds Mission from Jan 2019-July 2020. Walker is grateful for all the personalized mission objects that she has that connect her to her mission everyday.
“Not only was my mission a big part of my life because of the 18 months that I spent there, but it was a great time of growth and maturing. This is why I feel that it is so important for me to remember it. I felt so spiritually strengthened and feel like I came back as a changed person,” Walker said.
This period of time dedicated to personal development and spiritual growth deserves to be remembered.