Saturday, August 24, 2013

Writing your acceptance letter

When you get your mission call and look through the booklet the Mission Office will send, in the back of the book is a sheet for you to write your mission acceptance letter to the First Presidency. The main thing I've heard from RMs (returned missionaries) and parents is to write your letter prayerfully. This is a declaration of sorts as to what kind of missionary you'll be and your willingness to follow the will of the Lord in all things.

I honestly had no idea how to write the letter, so I looked at a few examples online and they were very different from each other, but they gave me an idea of what was acceptable to write. I prayed about what to write and pondered, before writing a rough draft and then composing my final letter. My final letter changed quite a bit from my rough draft, but there's only so much space for you to write so I went with what I felt was best. Your bishop will look through and endorse the letter before it's sent off to the First Presidency, so don't be too worried about writing something inappropriate. If you're uncertain of what to write, try to follow your gut and write a rough draft and have your bishop look it over before writing your final letter. I know he would be more than willing to give you honest feedback.

My advice is- follow the Spirit, be mature but not flowery and get to the point. This is to let them know you have accepted the call and are taking this sacred calling seriously. Here is what I wrote for my acceptance letter to give you an idea of how to write it. Please follow the Spirit and use your own words when writing your letter.

Dear Brethren:
I am pleased to accept the call you and the Lord have extended to me to serve in the Indiana Indianapolis Mission. I feel that this is truly an inspired call and that I am fully capable of bringing God's children to a knowledge of His love and His great plan of salvation. 
I have been and shall continue to prepare for this mission by praying, studying the Book of Mormon and other materials for the use of missionaries. I have great respect for this sacred calling and pray everyday that I may be strengthened and refined so I may be an example for those around me. I strive always to be worthy of the Spirit and to be led by the Spirit in all things. 
Thank you for this calling and for your inspiring faith in Jesus Christ.
Hannah Marie Ruth

Called to Serve

Dear Sister Ruth:

You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the Indiana Indianapolis Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. 

You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, November 6, 2013. You will prepare to preach the gospel in the English language. Your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission president. 

I GOT MY CALL!  This last Wednesday, I received my call in the mail and was able to open it with most of my family there. I'm incredibly excited and feel so humbled to have the chance to serve in Indiana and in my native tongue. I think there are many missionaries out there that desire to serve foreign, and I'll admit, I was one of them. But as it got closer and closer to receiving my call, the more I got the feeling I would serve state side and I was getting more excited than I ever thought I could.

I feel like there is so much I will be able to accomplish in Indiana as I follow the Spirit and the Lord. There is a reason I was called to my mission and I want nothing more than to accomplish the will of the Lord.

From the time I got my call to the time I will enter the Provo MTC is 11 weeks. Just enough time to get all of the shopping done that I need and to finish reading the Book of Mormon and studying Preach My Gospel. When you get your call, you will also receive a booklet with basics about missionary service, what's needed and your mission and mission president. From what I've learned once you get your call you'll get extra information from your mission president, so I am waiting for that.

Here's what to expect in the mission booklet:

  • Mission President and his wife's bio
  • Map showing your mission and the areas you'll serve in
  • General Instruction Checklist consisting of:
    • Your purpose
    • Things to do immediately
    • Before entering the MTC
    • Reporting to the MTC and what to and not to bring
    • Money
    • Email and mail service
    • Personal Items
    • Drivers License Info
    • Music and Miscellaneous
  • Medical Information which talks about medical records, insect prevention, Missionary Medical, immunizations and which are required or merely suggested
  • Dress and Grooming with pictures of what is acceptable 
  • Items specific to your mission- meaning wardrobe and what you need to bring
  • Missionary Travel including how to get to the MTC (especially if you have to fly in), airport info and baggage information
  • Missionary Call Acceptance - you will want to write this immediately and get it endorsed by your bishop to send back to the First Presidency
  • Immunization card (where you record what you've received and when) and MTC Ticket Request (which you'll need if you are flying in to your MTC)
I'm finishing my acceptance letter today because I have my temple recommend interview with my bishop tomorrow, so I can take it with me and have him endorse it then. Other than that, I'm just following the instructions in the booklet on being prepared.


Every mission will be unique in what is required pertaining to wardrobe and other supplies, but there are some generals that I think apply to any mission. Here is a list with a printable word document. (Anything with and asterisk* is what is specific to my mission and can be bought in the field.) And yes, there's a lot!

  • Umbrella (1): sturdy, solid in color
  • Clothes hangers
  • Camera: simple and inexpensive. You're not allowed to use the video feature during your mission.
  • Towels: 1 bath towel, 1 hand towel, 2 wash cloths
  • Bedding: 2 twin-size sheets (flat), 2 pillowcases
  • Personals: make-up, toothbrush and paste, floss, mouthwash, shampoo, deodorant, lotion, shaving supplies, combs, shoe polish, etc.
  • First-aid kit: current prescriptions (bring enough for your MTC training and first month out in the field), multivitamins, cold/allergy meds, decongestant, thermometer, fever reducer, pain reliever, anti-diarrhea meds, antibiotic/anti-itch ointment, anti-fungal cream/spray, bandages, 25-35% DEET mosquito repellant, medical ID bracelet (if applicable). **Pack your bug repellant in your luggage if you're going through an airport otherwise it will be confiscated.**
  • Sun screen and lip balm with minimum of 30 SPF and ointment for heat rash if in a warm climate.
  • Prescription eyeglass (if applicable). Contact lenses are discouraged due to risk of injury or infection.
  • Miscellaneous: small sewing kit, wind-up/battery alarm clock (without a radio!), laundry bag, small flashlight and batteries, plain and inexpensive watch, moleskin for blisters, extra eyeglasses or contact lenses/solution.
  • Music: contact your mission president to see what is acceptable. Remember, any music must be conducive to the Spirit and should never interfere with personal prep or proselyting. You may also bring a music playback device but speakers are required. Headphones are not allowed and the device cannot receive radio signals, play videos or access the Internet.
  • Insurance cards
  • Copy of your Immunizations: make a copy of the card in the back of your booklet with the kinds and dates of all immunizations received. 
  • Outfits (6-8)
  • Garments (8-10 pairs)
  • Thermal underwear:* (2 pair)
  • Shoes (2)
  • Winter boots (1)* 
  • Exercise clothing: jogging suit, 1 pair Capri-length pants, modest t-shirt (no inappropriate logos or sayings), and athletic shoes and socks.
  • Other activities: one set of clothing for service activities. Pants must be full in length
  • Winter coat:* heavy with a zip-out liner for warmth
  • Cold weather accessories:* gloves, scarf, ear-bands, winter hat
  • Sweaters (1-2): Cardigan styles are recommended. Sweaters should be in solid colors to match your outfit. They must be modest in style and fit.
  • Pajamas (1): robe and slippers, as needed.
  • Shower sandals
Whew, that's a lot! But it's all necessary. Now if you're wondering HOW you're going to get it all packed, here are a few links that I found on Pinterest that look like they might be useful. When it comes to me actually packing, I'll make another post about that. Also, remember that depending on the time of year you are leaving, some things you'll want to buy in the field and other things you can have your family send directly to your mission if you won't need it all in the MTC.

How to pack a carry-on for 10 days

I will definitely write more as I get more information about my mission and as I'm buying the supplies I need. Please remember to do everything for your mission prayerfully, even if it feels silly. The Lord knows that there's a lot to get done beforehand, and He will be with you every step of the way as you try to figure out what shoes will be best or how to really strengthen your testimony as you study. If it matters to you, it matters to Him.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mission Papers are in!!!

Last night I got an e-mail from my stake president. He informed me that my papers have officially been sent in! Not sure if it was last night or another day, but they're in! I should be getting my call anytime in the next two weeks.

I'm beyond excited to know where I'm going. I always thought when I was young that if I went on a mission, I'd want to go foreign. And although I still think that would be way cool (especially if I got to learn another language), I've come to a point where I'd be perfectly happy in Idaho, Montana, California or New York. Anywhere stateside would be just as exciting as going out of the country.

All I can say about waiting for your call is- be strong, remember why you're serving (it will not be a vacation!), and be excited! You've been called by the Lord to serve His children- to bring them knowledge of the one, true gospel!

If anyone so desires, I've created a Facebook page here, and you're more than welcome to guess when and where I'll be going!

Gah! XD Two weeks....

Friday, August 9, 2013

God's Own Time and Service

"I am called of God. My authority is above that of the kings of the earth. By revelation I have been selected as a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is my Master and He has chosen me to represent Him. To stand in His place, to say and do what He himself would say and do if He personally were ministering to the very people to whom He has sent me. My voice is His voice, and my acts are His acts; my words are His words and my doctrine is His doctrine. My commission is to do what He wants done. To say what He wants said. To be a living modern witness in word and deed of the divinity of His great and marvelous latter-day work (address delivered while serving as president of the Australian Mission, 1961-64)." -Elder Bruce R. McConkie

Last night I learned that my mission papers will soon be resubmitted to the Mission Office! They have or will shortly have the extra information they needed so I will hopefully have my call by September if not even sooner. It's been difficult waiting but over the last several weeks, I've learned a lot about God's time. He isn't going to allow us to do certain things until we're genuinely ready. He wants us to be the most effective missionary/teacher/mother/athlete/etc. we can be. Sometimes the timing seems horrible- you have to wait weeks, months or years to participate in the activities we desire, but in hindsight it is much easier to accept His reasons.

Although I still wish things could have moved forward when I originally planned they would, I realized I'm still going to be able to go out within the time frame I desired and more importantly- I'm still going to go. Nothing has set me back permanently in becoming a full-time missionary. I feel like I am better prepared (although I still have a lot of study to do!) and I will be able to enjoy my service so much more.

While waiting for my call, I've been called as a Relief Society teacher in my YSA ward. To be perfectly honest I was intimidated with the call but as it got closer to my first lesson I was starting to get excited to teach. This Sunday will be my second lesson and I'm still nervous, but it's a good nervous. I'll be teaching from Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, chapter 15: Faithful, Energetic Service in the Kingdom of God.

No joke.
It's kind of perfect, isn't it?

I'm trying to open myself up to opportunities to provide whatever service I can for others. At work I'm trying to do more than just my job- I'm trying to serve my co-workers. Sometimes there's not time in the day to do anything other than what is on my schedule, but whenever I have a spare moment I try to help the others get their rooms cleaned, instruments sterilized for everyone or get notes started for them so they can get through their day with a little less worry. Whenever I am able to something for someone else, I'm happier. No matter how bad the rest of my day goes I can say, "At least I did one thing right!"

While looking through my lesson I found some quotes I wanted to share with you all about service. In 1851, President Snow was serving in Italy. He and others of the Twelve received a request to return to Salt Lake City. He had planned to travel to Malta and from there to India to serve with the missionaries under his direction. God had other plans and President Snow was not able to reach India. While he was temporarily stranded in Malta he decided to go to work and said this,

"I feel that much good will result from the manner in which the Lord may direct the employment of the time now at my command, as I am surrounded by an interesting people, and in a most important field of labour, where a great work will be accomplished, extending to adjacent nations." 
I loved this quote for the sheer confidence President Snow had in the Lord's will and for the humility he speaks with in conjunction to the work he was participating in. Think about it this way- We (as members of the true church of Christ) are ambassadors of Christ. It is our privilege and our DUTY to share the gospel with as many of the human family that we can. How else are we and our brothers and sisters to gain salvation? We must testify that we KNOW that Jesus is the Christ and the only means by which we can gain eternal peace and happiness. We must be worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost to have him as our constant companion to guide us and inspire us in how to teach/share a lesson or a doctrine so it might touch the hearts of men. We must testify that we know that Christ and our Heavenly Father revealed himself to Joseph Smith, and through Joseph Smith restored the gospel and continues to reveal things to us through our living prophets.

We can't sit back and watch as the world falls apart and not feel anything. Every day that passes that we don't try to help someone in need or find an opportunity to share the truth is a day wasted. Of course there are opportunities beyond the grave for those that didn't have the chance to hear and accept the true gospel, but we need to realize that we will be held accountable for every opportunity that we didn't take advantage of. We are privy to knowledge and doctrine that the rest of the world is not. Let us teach and serve and share what we have so much of and do so with great excitement. Don't be afraid of what the world will say or think of you- God is on our side, especially as missionaries. His work will not fail- therefore if we follow His counsel

                We Cannot Fail.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Completing the Process

Submitting your papers. 

You should have been given physical papers which you will take with you to your medical and dental exams. Once you have those completed with the rest of your papers, you will submit them to your bishop who will in turn review them, interview you and recommend you to serve as a missionary to your Stake President.

Now for those that are completing their papers online, you will need to give your medical papers to your bishop who will send them to the Stake President so they can be sent to the Mission Office. They will need to see the actual papers which your dentist and physician have signed off or made notes on about your physical abilities.

If, like me, the Mission Offices ask for addition evaluations, tests or information, comply- and comply without getting upset about it. Yes, it's hard to wait several more weeks like information is relayed and as they reprocess everything but there is absolutely no point in getting frustrated about it. We're taught from a young age to endure all things and endure them well. If you are struggling with negative feelings and doubts while you wait, pray for strength and get busy with your callings, service, family, work, anything righteous to keep your mind off things and it will go by so much faster and you will find that it isn't that big of a setback in the eternal perspective.

The Interviews.

You will be interviewed by your bishop before he sends your papers to the Stake President, then interviewed by your Stake President before he sends them off to the Mission Offices to be processed and assigned. Each interview is much like the interview you go through when receiving a Limited-Use Recommend to perform baptisms in the Temple. The questions aren't scary but like I've said before, be honest. Sometimes it's hard to admit to things until it's the last minute. While it's definitely better to confess during these interviews than a few days before you're set-apart or after you're in the field, really examine yourself and your actions and take care of things BEFORE you even start this process. You will feel so much better about your decision if you do things in the proper time and the Lord will bless you and strengthen you.


Once your interviews are complete, your papers will be in and it will be anywhere between 2-6 weeks for your call to get to your home. (At least, that's what it currently is as I understand it.)

Be proactive. 

While you're waiting, do everything you can to make sure you are prepared. While the physical and spiritual preparation should start long before your papers are submitted, we all have little things we can improve upon and add to our daily routines to help us be ready for the MTC. Ask anyone and everyone you know that's served a mission for things they did well before their mission and things they wish they had done or known beforehand. Here are some things I've been doing to prepare that you can do as well:
  • Study, study, study.
  • Memorize! If you've got a lot of these things memorized before hand, that's one less thing you need to worry about once you enter the MTC. (Ask the missionaries in your ward or anyone that's recently returned from a mission what passages they were required to learn in the MTC for additional study.) Here are some resources with scriptures that I think might come in handy.
    • Your Purpose on the first page of Preach My Gospel
    • The Standard of Truth
    • Scripture Mastery
    • The Articles of Faith
    • Doctrine and Covenants 4
    • Your favorite scriptures
    •  Your favorite hymns/primary songs
  • Take Mission Preparation at the institute or if you don't live in Utah, ask your bishop if there is a ward/stake Mission Prep class available. 
  • Take Temple Prep- I suggest starting this class as close to when your papers are going to be submitted as possible. No point in taking it months before and forgetting everything. Ditto as above if you're out of Utah. 
  • Attend all of your meetings, duh! (Sacrament meeting, Sunday School, Relief Society/Priesthood, Mutual, FHE at home or in your YSA ward, etc.)
  • Write a list of questions you have or principles/doctrines you don't understand and then go research them.
  • Get a gym membership or start some sort of routine at home. The last thing you want to worry about in the MTC is getting used to riding a bike or doing strenuous activity for long periods of time.
  • Get with your mom or dad (whoever normally does the cooking) and learn how to cook some basic things (and not just Top Ramen or Macaroni) like Shepherd's Pie or potatoes. Seriously, make sure you can turn on a stove and not burn the house down. 
  • If you haven't figured out how to do your own laundry, do it now.
  • Learn the basics of fixing a flat on a bike and putting the chain back on.
  • Learn how to change the tire of a car and put oil in, just in case.
  • Learn basic first-aid/ CPR. In fact, you may want to become CPR certified. Who knows what will happen with your companions.
  • SAVE YOUR MONEY. Look at your financial situation and discuss with your parents, bishop (and maybe your grandparents) how you will be financing your mission. Remember:
    • For sister missionaries, the total is about $7200 ($400 a month)
    • For Elders, the total is around $9600 ($400 a month)
Ok, so I think you've got the picture. Make your own list of how you can prepare, specifically where you can improve. Above and beyond that, just use your head as to what you should and should not do physically and spiritually. Go to the temple to do baptisms until you receive your endowment, then go as often as you can before you leave to do sessions because in most missions, you might get to go to a temple once or twice. Some missions where there aren't temples nearby you may not get to go PERIOD.

Stay faithful, be honest, study and pray. The Lord loves you and will help you every step of the way. Good luck, fellow missionaries!


Beginning the Process

The process of becoming a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints can be a daunting one. If you're anything like me, you probably feel alone in the fact that you don't really have anyone to ask about what to do and how to do it and what you will experience in the MTC or the field. A great resource for you to turn to is here on

My experience getting ready to serve has been an up and down roller coaster. While beginning the process of completing and submitting my papers I was praying for patience. God answered my prayers very obviously. There has been one thing after another to set my papers back. I couldn't start/submit my papers until I changed wards which took about three months due to some random computer glitches and once I submitted them, the Mission Office informed me they needed some additional information which has kicked the whole process back about six additional weeks. Between that and some stresses in every day life, I struggled with my decision to serve. I began doubting whether I was really meant to go and then I remembered a quote from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland:

"If it was right when you prayed about it and  trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don't give up when the pressure mounts. You can find an apartment. You can win over your mother-in-law. You can sell your harmonica and therein fund one more meal. It's been done before. Don't give in. Certainly don't give in to that being that is bent on the destruction of your happiness. He wants everyone to be miserable like unto himself. Face your doubts. Master your fears. 'Cast not away therefore your confidence.' Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you." -"Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence", BYU devotional March 1999.

That made me remember why I originally desired to serve and the answer I had finally received after months of thought and prayer. God had answered me with a yes to missionary service. And maybe I'm not going out as soon as I had planned, but the point is I am going to serve. I can serve now in my family, ward, town and workplace and I can certainly serve as a full-time missionary when I receive my call in the Lord's own due time.

And I've learned my lesson not to pray for patience and humility while making life-altering decisions (just kidding!).

Here's what I discovered about preparing to serve.


First and foremost- know why you want to serve.

  • Is it because of the age-change announced by President Monson in 2012
  • Because you want to see the world or learn or a foreign language? 
 Or is it because you have a desire to serve the Lord and bring others unto the one, true gospel of Christ?

Once you have established why you want to serve, ask yourself these things:
  • What do I know about the gospel?
  • Do I have a testimony?
  • Am I worthy? Have I upheld the standards of the gospel?
  • Am I willing to do whatever it takes to become worthy and to serve others in and out of the mission field?
  • Have I dedicated myself to the callings God has given me thus far?
  • Can I take care of myself (i.e. laundry, cooking, cleaning, navigating)?
  • Do I follow through with promises and goals?
  • Am I capable of walking six miles or biking twelve miles in a day in harsh climates? (Here are the physical requirements and preparation suggestions in full.)
  • Emotionally, will I be able to handle being away from family and friends? (Here is a great talk about emotional preparedness)
  • What have I done/can I do financially to pay for my mission?
Your bishop will be able to discuss these things with you further and help you figure out why you want to serve and how you can get started. Don't get caught up in the hype of great talks, friends going or the glory of serving. This is a very important task- perhaps THE most important task you may ever participate in. Just helping one person be converted to the Lord could bring hundreds, if not thousands of progeny and friends to the truthfulness of this gospel as well as increase your personal testimony and the testimonies of your family and friends.


Pray about it. 

I prayed for months before and after the age change and didn't receive a sure answer from the Lord until this year after I had started vocational training to become a Dental Assistant and had started looking for a job. This was certainly His timing (here is a great talk about the Lord's timetable and missionary work) and I got very lucky with the office that hired me seeing as they are all LDS and supportive of my missionary efforts.

For females in the Church, it is not and has never been a requirement nor a commandment to serve as a full-time missionary in the field. Much of the time, we are encouraged to get an education, to decide what occupation we wish to pursue and to search for an eternal companion. There is no shame in any of this and I want to remind you to make certain you are not being pressured one way or the other to or not to serve. Sometimes, we start school or a new job and God says it's time to serve Him as a full-time missionary. Other times, you may be pursuing a mission and then suddenly God presents a different opportunity for you. No matter which road you go down, you can faithfully serve your God in all things.

Research it, ponder it, pray about it. Be confident in the answer you receive. 


Talk to your bishop. 

Discuss anything that might hold you back from serving whether it be minor or serious. Be honest. Do not be embarrassed or worried about what he will think- everything you say is between you, him and the Lord. Your bishop and his counselors love you and they will do everything in their power to help you overcome your past or your concerns if you are willing to open up. This may take time if you have more serious transgressions to overcome, but DO NOT GET DISCOURAGED. That is Satan's way of trying to convince you that you will never be worthy enough to serve. I promise you, you can and will be worthy if you endure to the end and submit yourself to the Lord's will.

If you do not have anything holding you back or if you have successfully come unto the Lord, your Bishop will either give you a physical set of mission papers to complete or he will have you go on and complete them online. (For those filling them out online, you will find the Online Recommendation System from the home page under the tab Resources > Missionary (under Callings) > Online Recommendation System (left-hand side). You will need an LDS account with your membership record number to sign in and complete them.)


Fill out your Mission Papers.

These papers will include personal information about where you live, languages you may speak, talents, insurance information, health and dental information, emotional disorders, etc. They will also need to know if you have a valid Driver's License if you are to serve in your native country (but don't count on being able to drive). Again, BE HONEST. They ask for this information so that they can properly evaluate the capacity in which you can serve and where you will be most suited for. Obviously, the ultimate decision is made by the Lord through revelation to His servants, but He wants to know that you're going to be honest with His servants and honest with yourself when it comes to your capabilities.


Medical Exam

Don't worry about the physical for your medical papers. They can be embarrassing but remember why you are getting this done. For Elders, you most likely know what the physical is going to entail or you can ask your father/brothers about it. (And you may want to skip the next paragraph.)

Sisters, you may or may not need a full physical (meaning a visit to your Gyno). It's the standard in the U.S. to encourage annual exams and/or pap smears starting around the age of 21, BUT if you haven't been sexually active (and even if you have been), many physicians will not require it dependent upon your circumstances. Talk to your physician about it and be honest about your past. Remember, you are not confessing all over again. If something happened and you've taken care of it be factual and discuss any concerns with an open mind. If you have had problems with severe pain during menses, endometriosis, poly-cystic ovarian disorder or anything else, let your physician know so it can be treated or medication prescribed.  Remember, the Lord needs you to be at your physical best. Missions are tough!

Now that the potentially embarrassing is out of the way, what other things will be discussed/done at your physical? They will check your height-weight ratio, blood pressure, mobility as well as complete a series of tests. These tests include: a urinalysis, blood tests for irregularities/diseases, TB  (tuberculosis), and perhaps a few others. They will also check your immunization records (DO NOT FORGET TO BRING IT!) and schedule dates for you to complete them if you haven't. For those in the U.S., you will likely have them completed already since the public education system tends to require updated immunizations before starting kindergarten. You may, however, need to check if your Hep A and Hep B series have been completed. My Hep A had been started, but never finished so I will be going in at the end of the month to get my last booster.


 Dental Exam

This exam is potentially the simplest thing you will do for your mission. Even if you have no cavities to speak of when you go in, you will most likely need to get your wisdom teeth removed. This isn't really that big of a deal. My best friend didn't swell or have any pain when he got his removed and I was the complete opposite, but I had a great surgeon and didn't need my medication for very long after. Every case is individual so go to a dentist or oral surgeon that you trust and be prepared for the worst, but plan on the best. I've seen many patients who only need their pain medication for the first day or two and then they are fine with Ibuprofen. Just follow what they tell/prescribe you, do your exercises and don't eat anything with seeds.

P.S. Any orthodontic treatment that has been prescribed or that you have begun MUST be completed before you begin your service (this doesn't include wearing a retainer).

Continued in Completing the Process.