Whenever one of our children receive a mission call, the rest of us take him to lunch and share with him our very best missionary advice. I write it all down and put it in a journal I make for the soon-to-be-departing missionary. They all tell me what a strength this advice has been on their mission and how much it has helped them know what to expect, how to make it through the tough times, and how to become the best missionary they can possibly be. Maybe it can help your child, as well.
Here it is:
**Keep every single rule—every single time! Show the Lord (and your mission president) that you can be trusted to always do what’s right
**Pray as if everything depended on God and work as if everything depended on you.
**Be an example to every missionary—even those who have been there longer than you.
**Be dedicated and devoted to your study time. It will make a HUGE difference in how much you grow spiritually the next two years.
**Things may be hard sometimes. But that’s OK….because YOU CAN DO HARD THINGS!
**Remember: things always look brighter in the morning.
**Support your mission president in everything he does. Imagine if that were Dad…and remember…he is doing the very best he can.
**Write LONG emails to us. Tell us every detail. We need to hear from you…it keeps us going!
**Just look at everything as a big adventure. Enjoy the journey!
**Believe in yourself. Whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies.
**Be loyal to your mission president FIRST—your companion second. If your companion (or any other missionary) is doing something wrong, you have an obligation to tell the mission president.
**If you ever get robbed, do NOT be brave. Just give them everything you have.
**Avoid the missionaries who will pull you down. The Spirit will tell you who they are.
**Forget yourself—that is the quickest way to adjust on a mission.
**Start a list of your favorite scriptures and read over them often.
**Don’t look too far ahead. Just look at today. YOU CAN DO TODAY!!
**If your thoughts are turned outward (towards others) and not inward (towards your own needs, feelings, etc.) your mission will FLY by.
**Trust your instincts. You’ll know what to do in different situations. Your instincts are really the Holy Ghost….pay attention to those inner feelings.
**If anything is wrong or if you aren’t happy, don’t just let it fester. Email me. Talk to your mission president. Do something about it so it doesn’t grow and get worse.
**Things will be hard sometimes. But you are a strong person. You have a strong spirit. You can do it!
**Be yourself as your serve the Lord, but also remember to be the missionary the Lord wants you to be.
**Sustain your mission president. Don’t second guess his rules. Believe me, he has a very good reason for every rule he makes, even if you might not know what it is. You don’t have to know the reason for everything. You just have to be obedient.
**I remember interviewing a missionary when he first got to Boston. He said, “President, I don’t care where I serve or who I serve with. Just put me wherever you feel the Lord wants me to be. I’m here to work. I’m not here to mess around.” That was about the best thing a mission president could hear. Have that attitude when you have your first interview with your mission president. He will love you forever!
**Be nice to girls in the ward and the Sister missionaries, but don’t get too friendly. Just a little attention and they will think you are flirting—and so will your mission president. Keep your distance. Make sure your companion does, too.
**A mission is designed to focus your dependence on the Lord. It is the reason you leave your family and friends and also leave the world, so to speak. Go to Him often. He listens. He answers prayer. A mission forges a relationship between you and the Lord like nothing else.
**See the bright side of things. See the funny side of things. There is always a silver lining.
**A mission is about 99% attitude. It is exactly what you make of it.
**A missionary in Boston once asked President Boyd K. Packer, “What is the most important thing I can learn on my mission?” President Packer answered, “Obedience. If you don’t learn obedience your mission will never start. When you learn obedience, your mission will never end.”
**Shine your shoes.
**Work to keep new members strong. Keep them focused on going to the temple.
**Learn the language of the Spirit—the way the Holy Ghost speaks to you. Once you hear it, have the courage to follow it.
ADVICE FROM CHAD AND SHAWN TO TYSON
**Sometimes there is nothing you can do in the hard times except to wait them out. Just try to relax and don’t worry about so many things (companion, district, etc.) As I look back on some of the hard times of my mission, I realize now that things weren’t really that bad. As a matter of fact, my companions that seemed the hardest were the ones I was the saddest to leave when I went home—they became my best friends. Elder Dwyer (Chad’s comp) was Maori and blind in one eye. He wrecked his bike like 6 times because he couldn’t see in the dark. It was so frustrating. Now I look back at that as one of the best times of my mission.
**When times are hard, just think of it all as an adventure. Sometimes I would stop and think, “I’m in the middle of nowhere in Japan, biking up a steep hill in the snow…” and I would try to think of it in perspective and realize it really was an exciting adventure and that I would remember it all of my life!
**Some of my best memories of my mission are some of the most challenging times I had. I can laugh about them now because they weren’t really that bad at all. Even my hardest areas now give me the fondest memories.
**If you have a companion that doesn’t want to work, just drop hints and keep giving suggestions. If it becomes a problem, though, you need to tell your mission president.
**Don’t worry about numbers of baptisms. Measure your success by how hard you work and how tired you are at night. The best feeling in the world is coming home after a hard day of work…all sweaty…taking a shower…putting your pjs on and sitting around with the other Elders talking about your day. It is the thing I miss the most about my mission.
**Just be yourself. Don’t carry on a conversation out of a grammar book. As you talk to people, think more about the quality of your conversation. If the quality of your conversation isn’t good, they won’t take you seriously.
**It is a little awkward at first to talk to people, but you just have to force yourself to do it. That’s how you progress—by constantly pushing yourself to do things that are uncomfortable.
**Always try to do things you don’t know how to do. Be willing to embarrass yourself.
**Be friends with the people you meet.
**Don’t hold back or be self-conscious. The best thing is to just dig in and get going. The sooner you do that, the sooner you will feel comfortable.
**Don’t get discouraged when you look at missionaries who are, say, a year ahead of you. You will be able to do all that they do by the time you’ve been out as long as they have. Don’t let them intimidate you.
**The most important thing in the MTC is getting along with other missionaries and being friends. Just be friendly and nice to everyone.
**Everything you do, look at it as a big adventure. Imagine you are in a movie or something.
**Laugh at yourself. Every situation will be bearable, but will even be easier if you keep a sense of humor. Don’t let anything get you down to the point that you forget how to laugh!
**Accept people’s idiosyncrasies. No one will be just like you and that’s OK.
**DON’T LOOK TOO FAR AHEAD! Just take one day at a time.
**Don’t try to be “cool”…just leave the world behind…give up on the style. Don’t be afraid to look like a nerd.
**Throughout your mission—sometimes even at the end—you are out of your comfort zone. You are constantly adapting to new situations. But learning to do this make you more able to handle that when you get home. It makes you more able to get along will all kinds of different people.
**A mission is a lot of hard times with some really great moments mixed in that really keep you going. I had a companion who used to quote Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” It is one extreme and then the other. But as you go through these extremes, you find yourself.
**Sometimes you might not think you can do it. Sometimes you might even feel like crying. But you CAN do it. You just have to wait it out and things will get better.
**I know it’s hard, but you have to try not to think about home. You can’t be worried about what is happening at home. You might think there’s all this fun stuff going on at home. Be careful not to build it up too much in your mind because there really isn’t anything exciting going on at home. There isn’t anything that you’re missing at all! Sometimes you have this image built up in your mind that when you get home there will be elves throwing candy up in the air or something. You are not missing ONE THING by being on your mission. After you actually do go home, after a couple of weeks you think, “Well…this really isn’t so great after all.”
**Mom used to tell me: “This too shall pass.” Just concentrate on studying and working. The bad times will pass. Your mission will go so fast. Just enjoy it!
**Some missionaries think the fun thing to do is to go hang out at member’s houses and watch their kids play Nintendo and try to avoid working. Those are the longest days. They really aren’t fun at all. I remember trying to work 70 hours one week. That was so fun! It made the time go fast and it made us all feel so good to work so hard.
**The best days are the ones you come home and say, “I really did something meaningful today.”
**When teaching people, focus on their needs. Listen to the spirit. Don’t just try to get through a discussion so you can say you did it. Ask yourself (and the Lord) what this particular family really needs from you.
**Hard things help you grow. They really shape who you are. You just have to face them with a good attitude and realize they are making you a better person, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
**Be bold but not overbearing. You want to leave a good impression with them about the church. You must find the middle ground between being bold and having common sense.
**If you know someone who is breaking rules that could get them sent home, you have to talk to the mission president about it or you’ll be in just about as much trouble as they will be. If you feel uncomfortable being around your companion after you’ve had to tell the president something about him and you really can’t handle it, tell the mission president and ask him what to do or if he can transfer you.
**Make working hard the cool thing to do.
**Remember—working hard makes your mission go faster.
**Keep your mind occupied with good things all the time.
**Do things that make your day different than yesterday was—go on splits, etc. Find ways to bring variety into your days.
**Focus on baptizing—not just planting seeds. Be bold.
**Don’t become a robot---be yourself!
**Be friends with everyone.
**Make it your goal to be every one of your companion’s FAVORITE companion.
**Become interested in others—that’s the way to get to know them the fastest. The best way to show them that you are interested in them to ask them questions.
**Be fearless…why not? You have nothing to lose.
**There is peer pressure on a mission too. You cannot care what others think as long as you are doing the right thing.
**You can get sent home for something someone else did if you knew about it and didn’t tell your mission president. Don’t keep any secrets from him.
**When you get to the mission field, you have to change your mindset and let your primary motivation be the fact that you want to help people and change people’s lives.
**It’s hard at first. Hang in there—it gets better. It even gets fun!
**In the MTC, get involved in anything you can (choir, etc.) It will break up your day and be more fun than you think it will.
**Don’t let yourself feel inferior to any missionaries at the MTC… everyone is new there! Some of them may have been there a few weeks longer than you have and try to make you feel like you aren’t as smart as them or something. Just ignore it.
**Let people who aren’t like you just entertain you. Don’t worry if you don’t relate perfectly to other missionaries, companions, etc….just find something humorous about things they do and say.
**When things don’t go just right, or when you are in an uncomfortable situation, just step outside yourself and look at things and say to yourself, “This is hilarious.”
**Being happy on your mission is all about perspective and attitude.
**Be outgoing and it will be more fun.
**Missions are so much more fun than you think.
**Be willing to be a dork.
**Us the time you have to grow spiritually. Being obedient is the fastest way to feel the Spirit and the quickest way to grow spiritually.
**Every day, try to make one memory. When something is hard, just laugh at it. Those will sometimes be your fondest memories when your mission is over.
**Meet people in your wards and branches and find out interesting things about them. It’s really fun to have those friends when you come back home at the end of your mission.
**Remember: stressful things eventually become funny. Don’t let them effect you in a negative way. You’re going to laugh about them later anyway…why not just laugh about them when they happen?
**Take time to teach the members, as well. A lot of them will do things differently than you’re used to. Don’t criticize them. Just patiently teach them the right way to do it.
**The best way to deal with stress is to get outside and talk to people. Just talk to everyone you see. You can’t believe how much that helps.
**Find ways to break up your day. Write in your journal. Draw. Do things to give you some variety in your day.
**Don’t punch anyone in the face (ha ha)
**Be creative about the way you contact people. Be real and genuine. Talk to them. Don’t give rehearsed speeches at people’s doors.
**Feeling the Spirit is the best way to deal with homesickness. If you are feeling homesick, do something that will immediately bring the Spirit—read the scriptures, pray, teach someone the gospel.
**Tell your mission president everything. Don’t try to protect missionaries that are doing things that are wrong.
**If your trainer is sleeping in…if he isn’t showing you how to be a good missionary…you HAVE to tell the mission president. He needs to know! He has trusted this Elder to train you. If he isn’t doing it, the president needs to know.
**Remember: you CAN be happy and obedient at the same time.
**Your main goal---ALWAYS---is to serve people. If you always look at your mission that way, you will always have something to do.
**Be bold but don’t care if you get denied. So what.
**Have fun. It really will go SO fast.
**Look forward to small things…zone conference, splits, district meetings, transfers. Don’t look at two years. It’s too much. Just have small things out in the future to look forward to. It will make the weeks and months and years fly by.
**The cure all for anything hard on a mission: WORK. Talk to people.
**Every missionary will have one word that pretty much defines them to other missionaries. Happy. Funny. Hard Working. Goof-off. Decide what you want YOUR word to be and then live up to that. The best reputation to have is that you are a missionary who talks to everybody. THAT’S what you want to be known for.
**Make yourself important to people. Make an impact on their lives.
**Take pride in being obedient.
**Look ahead to the last day of your mission. Every day, ask yourself: What will I want to see? Will I be sad from regret? Or will I be happy for what I have done?
**Being disobedient is NEVER cool. Disobedience NEVER looks cool to anyone. Other missionaries, no matter what they say, always look down on the disobedient missionaries.
**Create your own identity. Decide the kind of missionary you want to be and BE IT.
**You may not believe it at first, but it’s ALWAYS true---leaving your mission will be one of the hardest, saddest things you’ll ever do.
**You aren’t missing a thing at home…when you get home and look at the guys who haven’t served missions and where they are in their lives, you’ll realize they’ve just wasted those two years. If you were here, you’d be wasting them too.