Monday, March 11, 2013

The Why and Some Unsolicited Advice

     I'm not really a blogger, but recently I wrote something for One Year, Six Months, Forever, so I thought I would share it here too. Just an explanation of how I made my decision and what I've done to prepare.

     As soon as President Monson made the announcement of the mission age change, a black hole opened up in my stomach. My first thought was, “Oh no.” I knew it was an amazing thing that would affect the world so much, but for me personally I was just dreading having that major decision pushed to the top of my list. Honestly, I had never seriously considered serving a mission because I still had 2 years before I needed to think of that. I knew it at least warranted my consideration, so I spent about a week weighing the pros and cons and praying about it. But truthfully, I’m the kind of person that if I’m to the stage of weighing pros and cons, I have really already made my choice. 

     After a week or so, I felt that my answer was that the Lord was leaving it up to me. I got no strong promptings for or against staying, and my reasoning was that I’ve never met a single person that regretted going on a mission. From my several RM friends, I knew a mission could help ME so much, teach ME so much, do so much for ME. I also wanted to go because the announcement was so historic, and (as we’ve seen since) it would be such a huge chapter in church history and the history of the world. Who can resist the opportunity to make history? So my initial reasons for going were somewhat selfish, but I figured all that the Lord required was that I was willing, worthy, and able, and I met all three requirements. 

     I submitted my papers on December 4, 2012. After that, I started going to mission prep and talking more openly about the Gospel to my non-member friends. That was really what sealed the deal. I realized that sharing the gospel made me happier than anything that I would be doing for the next 18 months otherwise. I got my call on December 20, 2012, and my life has been a lot more Christ-centered since. 

     Seriously, preparing for a mission has been one of the best times of my life. I feel a lot closer to my Savior. “Churchy” things that I used to roll my eyes at and be bored with are now what I fill most of my time with. My understanding of the gospel has expanded and I’ve never been so happy and at peace with my life. Hopefully my suggestions can help you feel the same way.

     To prepare temporally:
  1. If you are having trouble finding an actual job to earn money, I would highly suggest spreading the word like crazy around your ward/stake/town that you are preparing for a mission and are willing to do odd jobs like babysitting, cleaning, painting, etc. I’ve worked almost every day and made at least $100 a week doing this, and I don’t really even feel like I work too hard. People are really generous when they know you are going on a mission.
  2. I’ve also been trying to get on a better sleeping schedule. I go to bed no later than 11, and try to wake up by 7:30. Sometimes this doesn’t work out because I’m up late spending time with friends or family, but in my opinion getting off schedule sometimes is worth being able to spend that time with people you won’t see for a while. 
  3. I should be exercising more often, but I don’t. Be better than me. 
  4. I’ve also been looking up practical things that will help me in the field, like quick hair styles, recipes, and workouts. I print off the good stuff to take with me in a little folder I’m compiling.
  5. For shopping for mission things- THRIFT SHOPS. If you pay more than $10 dollars for a single item of clothing (excluding coats and shoes), I’m judging you. It may take a little more time to find the good stuff, but an investment of time is a small price to pay for saving hundreds of dollars (that can instead be used to get necessities/gifts in the field). 
     To prepare spiritually:
  1. Read scriptures, duh! Study, study, study. Get to know your scriptures well. Study the crap out of Preach My Gospel. 
  2. Memorize scripture mastery. When you run out of those, memorize D&C 4, the Missionary Purpose, the Standard of Truth, and the First Vision. When you run out of those just choose other good scriptures to memorize. I plan on continuing this through my whole mission.
  3. I read almost every talk or book concerning missionary work I’ve come across. I also read a lot of blogs (which I've already made a post about). *
  4. Go to the temple a lot. Chances are you won’t get to on the mission. Take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Lord’s house. 
  5. Go to mission prep and institute. This is where the bulk of my pre-mission learning has been taking place. 
  6. Talk to the missionaries, maybe go out on splits. Be a missionary now by sharing with your nonmember friends.

     The best advice I’ve received for my mission is probably that, “they won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Love the people- members, converts, companions, etc- and show it. You won’t get anything done without love. 
     Also, keep both feet in the mission. If you try to keep one foot at home or in other interests, you will have a hard time adjusting when you get home because you’ll want to go back out and do it right. Do it right the first time so you don’t have regrets. 

     Most issues we have in preparing and in the field can be solved by remembering one simple thing. “Forget yourself and go to work.” (President Hinckley). It’s that easy.
     If you are ever having doubts, go read your mission call or watch the video of you opening your call. That never fails to get me excited and reset my focus. Be humble, but don’t focus too much on all your shortcomings. If you are working your hardest, God will make you equal to the challenge. You can do this! But only with His help.
“Ordinary people who faithfully, diligently, and consistently do simple things that are right before God will bring forth extraordinary results.” – Elder David A. Bednar
*Books I read: Way to Be! and Standing for Something by President Hinckley, Know Before You Go by Chris Deaver, What I Wish I Would Have Known Before My Mission by John Bytheway, Soul Singing by Vanessa Hartsell.
Also, search Pinterest for Sis Missionary boards, they have links to a lot of helpful sites.

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