The Young and the Restless

As I’ve been talking to  friends who are preparing to serve their missions, it is guaranteed they say one thing. “I just want to go!” Indeed, these young 18, 19, 20-year-olds are restless. 

My cousin Tasha, who is going to serve in Brazil, has been waiting since November to leave. Now she’s only a month away! Still, five months is a long time for a scripture happy Mormon girl…especially a cute one who probably had to fend boys off with a baseball bat. 

The feeling of anxiety to leave is not uncommon in our young pre missionaries, or premies, as I call them. Although the wait is grueling, any returned missionary (or RM) will testify they would not trade their mission for anything. 

I have another friend, Robbie, who just returned a few months ago from the Paris, France mission. According to him it was hard work without many tangible rewards. His baptism rate was low, and at times, his heart was lower. 

However, Robbie worked hard despite his misfortune. Though he would never go back to France for a mission, Robbie still says he was so changed by the work he did for two years he would never trade it for anything. 

Missions teach these young adults to be self reliant. Though the church pays for their housing, they are in charge of buying their own groceries, doing their own laundry and getting themselves out of bed in the morning at 6:30 and into bed by 10:30 at night. 

Missions also teach patients with others, even when it is hard. Our missionaries are with an assigned partner, or companion, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When not in the safety of their own home, these companions are never far from each other. Now imagine doing that with someone who rubs you the wrong way. You are in for a long stretch of mission. 

The most recent mission call has been that of my friend, Caleb, who is called to serve in the San Diego, California mission. I was lucky enough to talk to him the night he got his call. His voice was airy with excitement and all he could say was how excited he was. He couldn’t even form a coherent thought that wasn’t mission related. 

In my mission preparation, I’ve had people tell me I’m straight up bat-crazy for dropping out of school, and life as I know it, for a year and a half. Then they learn I’m paying my own way (a whopping $7,200) and they find the closest institution for the insane. What they don’t understand is that this is something that will have the greatest effect on my life and will prepare me for motherhood (my ultimate goal) better than anything else. 

Gordon B. Hinckley, the 15th president of the church, said something along the lines of this: The best thing a woman can do to prepare for motherhood is serve a mission. 

And so I, being very young and very restless, begin my preparation to serve God. 

 

White shirts and ties

I say ‘Mormon’ you say [insert your word here]. So what was the word? Three hour meetings? Rules? No-freaking-coffee?

Or maybe you thought of those guys in white shirts and ties, riding their bikes all over the place, knocking on doors. Well, those are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are usually not native to the area they are in and they are somewhere in their two year journey.

The purpose of our missionary is to “bring others to Christ,” plain and simple. There are a couple ways they do this. They knock on every door they see; they get referrals from members of the church; they talk to anyone and everyone about our church.

The process of becoming an LDS missionary isn’t a particularly difficult one, if you’re prepared. Before a person even think about their mission papers, they have to prepare themselves spiritually and temporally.

To qualify for a mission, you have to be an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. You have to have regular prayer and study of scriptures, pay a full tithe, live the law of chastity (sexual purity) and live the Word of Wisdom (a code of health).

Justin Anderson is called to the Brazil, Belo Horizonte mission. He reports to the Missionary Training Center (MTC) on April 24. He said, “I studied the scriptures and Preach my Gospel (the missionary manual) prayerfully, served others, and fasted primarily among other things.”

These missionaries are leaving for two years (for men; a year and a half for women) to solely talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Not only must they be familiar with the doctrines, having a familiarity with the Bible and Book of Mormon is invaluable. And missions are no cakewalk! There is a certain level of toughness that should be obtained. Knocking doors all day can be discouraging when no one wants to talk to you.

Kaylie Nowels, a 21-year-old, is called to serve in the Brazil, Fortaleza mission. She reports to the MTC on July 10. Of preparing for a mission she said, “The biggest thing is learning to fully listen to the spirit when I get the promptings from him and actually doing it.”

Preparing temporally can be just as hard. LDS missionaries are in charge of getting their own money together. The Church doesn’t pay for it. For men who serve for two years, they need $10,000. For women who serve only a year and a half, its $7,200. This is a budget of $400 a month.

Anderson’s money came from a habit of saving a bit of every paycheck he got and putting it into a savings account from the time he was little.

Nowels moved back home from school once she decided she was going to serve. She also got a job that would give her 40 hours a week so she could save.

Once they are ready to start their paperwork (which can be turned in 120 days before the missionary’s availability date) they must first have an interview with their bishop. The Bishop (similar to a Pastor or Preacher) will give them the necessary information to start the paperwork.

The candidate must then visit a doctor and a dentist to get a checkup and work out any problems that are found. Wisdom teeth often need to come out.

Then comes the paperwork, or in Mormon jargon, “mission papers.” This includes your personal history, schooling, your feelings of learning a new language, and how your mission will be financed. These are submitted with a picture clearly showing your face.

Once more, you set up an interview with the bishop to asses your worthiness and ability to serve a full-time mission. He will direct you to an interview with the Stake President (the leader of a large area known as a stake) who will conduct a similar interview. Once he’s written a recommendation, your papers are sent to the church headquarters in Salt Lake where your call is issued.

After you receive your call, you just have to wait until you leave for the MTC.

Check back for more information on the MTC!