This weekend my Sister-in-law gave me a sort of interview. She is preparing to serve as a full-time missionary for the Church in Argentina. This weekend she spoke in Church on the topic of preparing to serve a full-time mission.
As I came home, I thought more about our interview and what I said, and felt like it would be worth elaboration. I thought the topic was important enough to share my feelings, and perhaps offer some condensed advice for anyone currently preparing to serve.
Why would I serve a mission?
Nine months after I came out of the waters of baptism, I received my call to serve in the Tacoma, Washington area. I had been at tenting church for three years when I landed in Washington.
My motivation to share the gospel was, and still is simple – I know it’s true.
Anyone who desires to share the gospel must have the conviction in their hearts, a burning testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and that His Church has been completely restored to the earth, preparatory to His Second Coming.
How is the best way to prepare?
Looking back, I was preparing for a mission before I was even baptized. I was placed in situations that required me to teach and stand up for my then new found faith. Most days I spent several hours studying the scriptures. As the youth of the Church prepare to serve, they should invest a great deal of their time in the scriptures. Study them, memorize them, and understand them. The deeper the understanding the easier it will be to teach.
The implementation of Preach My Gospel has helped thousands of missionaries prepare to teach the gospel. I can’t recommend enough for future missionaries, and members to familiarize themselves with Preach My Gospel as the prepare to serve.
Before you even receive your call, and especially once assigned, pray for the people in your mission. Pray that their hearts will be open to receive you and your message. Pray that you will have the courage to speak out and convey the feelings of your testimony.
What makes a mission difficult?
Even though missionary service can be extremely rewarding and gratifying, it comes with a great deal of sacrifice. For many, this is the first time on their own. Such was the case for me. I did a year of college locally and lived at home before I left. It took me about three months to fully adjust to being on my own. Some good advice for this is to befriend everyone around you, especially your missionary companions. Develop a sincere friendship with them, and overcoming the homesickness will be easier.
People can be downright rude. As you’re studying through the New Testament, and reading about the Apostle’s missionary travels, you’ll notice that they ran into some pretty rude people too. Not everyone is this way. Many will politely decline your invitation to share your message, and many will be open to listening, which makes it all worth it. However, some people will be rude, and you’ll just have to move on from it. I took comfort from these words:
“If the church were not true, our enemies would be bored rather than threatened, and acquiescent rather than anxious. Hell is only moved when things move heavenward.” -Neal A. Maxwell
The hard times you face will be made up for when you see lives change (your own included) through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
The biggest sacrifice of all is yourself. Whether it’s for two years or eighteen months, you are fully invested in the work. In the temple we covenant with God to consecrate our lives to the work of building the kingdom of God. As the hymn promises, “Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven.” Take that promise literally.
There is a reason members of the Church who have served recount stories from their missionary service until their dying days. Missionary service, along with transformative power of the Atonement, allow God to mold you into the very image that you were created to be – His. It is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your life, and it is work that you can find yourself engaged in even after full-time service has ended.
My hope is that as the youth prepare to serve, they will feel ready. They will feel motivated by the conviction in their soul. They will feel as did Paul:
“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses. In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in castings; By pureness by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left. By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” -2 Corinthians 6:4-10
Make the most of your mission. There is no better way to follow in the very footsteps of the Savior than by sharing His message of life.