A Day in the Life of an MTC Missionary

sister-missionaryDo you ever feel like leaving your missionary at the MTC is like dropping them into a black hole?What is their schedule like? What do they do all day? Let’s face it. Sometimes missionaries’ emails can be a little lacking in detail.

If you’re sending a missionary to the MTC, check out this schedule so you know what they’re up to (generally speaking). Every missionary’s schedule varies according to classes and language.

Here’s what you (and your missionary) can expect as daily life in the MTC.

The Schedule

6:30 AM – Arise and Prepare: missionaries wake up, get dressed and get down to the cafeteria

7:00 AM – Breakfast: missionaries get a half an hour to eat the most important meal of the day

7:35 AM – Gym Time: missionaries receive generally 30 minutes to get their heart rates going to keep them in good health

8:25 AM – Prepare: missionaries shower and change to get ready for the rest of the day

9:00 AM – Classroom Instruction: missionaries are instructed by teachers in both language and doctrine principles

11:55 AM – Lunch: missionaries head back to the cafeteria for another meal

12:45 PM – Zone Teaching: teachers from the missionaries’ MTC zone come in to help the missionaries’ district teacher; during this time, more missionaries are helped on an individual basis with their specific concerns and questions

1:45 PM – Personal Study:  missionaries are given an hour to delve into the scriptures and other approved materials on their own

2:45 PM – Companionship Study: companions spend an hour discussing what they’ve studied and missionary topics

3:45 PM – Doctrinal Study Time: missionaries are taught the basic lessons (Restoration, Plan of Salvation, the Gospel, etc.) early on in their stay at the MTC

4:30 PM – Dinner: missionaries receive 45 minutes to eat a good dinner (however, for circulation purposes, meal times can vary between 4:30 and 6:30)

5:15 PM – Classroom Instruction: missionaries spend more time with their districts as their teachers instruct them

8:15 PM – Doctrinal Study Time: missionaries are taught the basic lessons (Restoration, Plan of Salvation, the Gospel, etc.) early on in their stay at the MTC

9:00 PM – Daily Planning Session: companions plan out the next day of events and discuss what they will be studying

9:30 PM – Personal Time: missionaries get ready for bed and have time for journal writing or other personal pursuits

10:15 PM – Quiet Time: all goes quiet in the MTC

10:30 – Sleep/Companionship Prayer: missionaries pray and go to bed

*Certain times of this schedule may change according to the needs of the MTC, but this is the general outline of what your missionary can expect!

How to Give a Chapel Tour

lds-churchDo you remember the Work of Salvation broadcast where Elder L. Tom Perry made the historic announcement that missionaries would be using Facebook, iPads, and other means to share the gospel? He also mentioned that missionaries would start doing chapel tours to help people learn about the Church. It’s a great way for ward mission leaders and full-time missionaries to give a personal tour or host a member missionary focused activity. But how do missionaries and members do this?  Hopefully this article will help. To watch the video of Elder Perry, click here.

The church tour is a seriously underused tool to teach the gospel! But where do you start? Of course, you’re not just going to sit around the church all day and wait for people to show up. There are many ways to promote this. For one, you could use it as a street contacting conversation point, or even place signs and flyers in the surrounding area. For those investigators who live close to a chapel, you can invite them to visit the church building to learn more about our meetings. You can also start teaching lessons on a regular basis in the church building to help your investigators associate feeling the Spirit with going to church rather than just “feeling good” at home.

How do you set up the building for a tour if you’ve never done this before? When you do the tour, make sure to schedule it for a day when the church will be empty so there will be no distractions from the lesson. Be sure to check with the building coordinator and reserve the building for that night in advance just in case an auxiliary decides to throw a party at the last minute. Make sure to clean all rooms where you will tour and turn on the lights in the hallways.

Key Locations

There are a few key rooms in the church building that would be good to tour. Each of these rooms do not have to be used depending on the needs of your investigator, though each room can be used to teach key doctrines. As with everything missionaries teach, it is important to remember thatthe focus on the lesson is centered on Jesus Christ. The tour should take around the same time as a regular lesson. A good tour lasts around 30 minutes but no longer than 45 minutes.

1) Relief Society Room

In many Relief society rooms, there are pictures of temples and other framed documents like “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” that you can focus on. Here you can briefly talk about the importance of the family and the covenants that can be made as families and individuals in temples. If your investigator brings up controversial topics such as women and the priesthood, you could address the importance of women in the Church in leadership positions and also as faithful and devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

2) Primary Room

If your investigator does not have children you may want to skip this room while still comment on it in passing. You can also use the room to teach a principle of your lesson or to ask and answer questions.

From experience I would suggest to use this room regardless of whether or not your investigator has children or is a child. If you do want to use this room in the tour, you could take a few different approaches. Most Primary rooms have a picture of the Savior with little children. You may want to explain that we are all children of God and how He loves each one of us because He is our Father. For another example, you may also want to use Mosiah 3:19 or Matthew 18:3 to explain that unless we become as little children we cannot enter into the Kingdom of God.

If your investigators are coming to church but their children are not, it would be a great idea to encourage them to bring their children to Primary class so their children can form friendships with children in the ward and also to help their children learn about the gospel of Jesus Christ.

3) Sunday School Room

Of course, you don’t want your investigators to just go to sacrament meeting then leave. You want them to feel the Spirit more, to learn, and to create friendships through attending their other classes. For those who are not attending these meetings, this is a great room to visit. Locate the room where Gospel Principles is held and direct them there. Focus on explaining why we go to classes rather than just telling them to go because it’s a good idea.

4) Chapel

When asked what the most important thing is that missionaries could teach, one general authority once said, “Teach the Atonement. Teach the Atonement. Teach the Atonement!” The Spirit always testifies to the truthfulness and divinity of Christ’s Atonement when the environment is right. As Preach My Gospel says in Chapter 11, Keeping Commitments, “When you testify, you help create an environment for investigators to feel the Holy Ghost confirming your witness of the truth. This prepares them to accept the commitments you will extend.” The chapel is the perfect place to teach with power and authority.

The best way to do this is to reverently enter the chapel and lead your investigators to the sacrament table. If you already have the sacrament table set up when you walk in, it will have a powerful effect during teaching. Teach about the Atonement briefly and ask your investigators if they would like to have that in their lives. Then teach them about the covenants they make at baptism, reading the sacrament prayers from Moroni 4-5 or other sources. Teach them about the sacrament and how it is the way we renew those covenants and feel the love of Jesus Christ and our Heavenly Father each and every week.

At some point during this part of the tour, this is when you want to invite your investigators to make a commitment. You could invite them to be baptized, or for less active members, to come to church to take the sacrament.

After the tour is over, walk your investigators to the exit, thank them for giving you the opportunity to do a tour, ask if you can schedule another lesson, then end with a prayer. This is a good transition to end the lesson.

Additional Suggestions

These places can be used to teach certain points of doctrine, but are not essential to the tour.

1) Baptismal Font

If the person you are teaching is not baptized, you may want to go to this room during the tour as the Spirit directs. It is best to do go here near the end of the tour but before the chapel.

What should you teach here if the sacrament table is the highlight of the tour? You could explain what baptism is and what it does for us using John 3:5, but reserve the explanation of the covenants until you are explainingthe sacrament. The baptismal covenant is best to be explained while talking about the sacrament in the chapel because the Spirit is the strongest there. You may want to make reference to the Atonement and then head to the chapel to explain it in more detail. Focus on the importance on the sacrament and that baptism is the way to fully access the blessings of the Atonement.

2) Young Women room

This room isn’t necessary for a good tour, however if you are teaching a youth age investigator, this room is definitely worth a visit. But why the Young Women room specifically? It is usually decorated more than the room where the Young Men do their meetings, and it is a great place to explain some of the non-Sunday activities. You may give examples of some activities take place to excite your investigator to come.

3) Cultural Hall

If your investigators are into activities, you could invite them to play church basketball or participate in other activities. You could also use this room to set up props or pictures on easels to help you teach, though it would be best to keep most of the teaching to the other rooms.

4) Bishop’s office

If you would like to teach your investigators about tithing, you could take them to thebishop’s office and show them how to fill out a tithing slip. This is best done another time than the chapel tour as not to detract from the message taught. It can also be done after sacrament meeting, and is a great way to introduce them to the bishop.

How I Found My Long-Lost Investigator

men-talkingWhile serving my mission in Salt Lake, I taught a man that I became close friends with. I taught him for seven and a half months. During the time I knew him, he became like a brother to me. We went over to see him almost on a daily basis since he lived right down the street from us. He wanted so badly for him to be baptized and get his life in order. Then one day due to old issues, he had to go to jail for six months.

During that time, I lost contact with him. After he got out, I heard that he was living in Provo but I wasn’t able to get in touch with him while on my mission. When I went home, I tried to call his cell phone but the number I had for him was out of service. I contacted a number of people who might know how to get in touch with him, but I couldn’t find anything to help. I searched for months but had no luck.

A short time after I finished my mission, I ended up moving to Provo for school. A few times since I had been in the area, I had a subtle prompting that I shrugged off as nothing more than a random thought: I needed to call his father. I had the thought to call him before, but because I knew they weren’t on the best terms I hadn’t seriously considered actually doing it. Eventually the prompting got stronger and more frequent, so I decided to follow it. It took some time to get in contact with people that had his number, but I finally texted him and asked for his son’s number.

I texted the number hoping that it was the right one. A few hours later I got a reply from my friend saying that he was living in the Provo area. I gave him a call and it turned out that he lived just a few blocks down the road from me. I was overjoyed. Later that night I went by to see him. He had told me that he was struggling financially, and he hadn’t eaten in two days. I brought some food for him to eat and talked to him for close to an hour. We caught up and I asked him how things had been going.

We visited for a while, and then he asked what made me call him. I asked what he meant, and then he said that his new phone had only been turned on three days earlier. He had been trying to get in touch with me since he got out of jail seven months ago. He said he called everywhere looking for me, including my old mission phone, the mission office, and even the bishop of the old ward I covered in Salt Lake. But they all said they didn’t know how to get in touch with me. He was amazed that “out of random” I decided to call his father and get in touch with him just days after he got a phone. Finally, we had found each other after months of searching. Although I am definitely no prophet, at that moment I felt as Joseph Smith did when he wrote to W. W. Phelps, “Come on, dear brother, since the war is past, for friends at first, are friends again at last.” Though we had both had many “wars” of trials and hardships since we lost contact, we were finally reunited as brothers in Christ.

This was truly a miracle for the both of us. Our faith was increased, and our desire to live the gospel and love the Lord was stronger as a result of it. And though I am no longer a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I will always be the Lord’s full-time servant. I love the Lord. I love the tender mercies He brings into our lives as a result of our faith. I love the real relationship I have with Him as His returned missionary and also as my Mediator and Advocate with the Father. And although I have never seen Him in the flesh, I can testify beyond a shadow of a doubt that I know He lives.

3 Ways to Make Adjusting after a Mission Easier

thoughtful-woman“Okay, I’m home now. Now what?”

I’m sure every returned missionary has asked himself or herself this question at least once. As I have recently come home and received that “RM status,” this question is still fresh on my mind. I’ve had a lot of time over the past few weeks to think about what I need to do to adjust to life as a “regular” member of the Church, so hopefully this article will help others adjust as well.

My last companion gave me a piece of advice that has echoed in my mind ever since he said it. “You can go home, but never return.” Though he probably thought what he said went in one ear and out the other, I’ve thought of that little phrase quite often since I’ve been home. It reminds me of the talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland about the story when Christ’s apostles returned to their normal lives after His death. He said that once we are changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ, we can never go back to the way we were ever again. We can never return to our old habits. We can return home from our missions, but not return to what we used to do. Elder Holland takes some non-scriptural libertyin quoting the Savior when speaking to Peter on the shore of Galilee, “Wasn’t it obvious then and isn’t it obvious now that if I want fish, I can get fish? What I need, Peter, are disciples—and I need them forever.”

What the Lord needs is missionaries, and He needs them forever. Missionaries who will go home and still faithfully do their callings and remain active and strong and anxiously engaged in the gospel. I recently overheard my mom talking about an email she got from a missionary who used to serve in our ward. He mentioned a quote spoken by Elder David A Bednar: “If we keep doing what we’ve always done, then we will get what we’ve always gotten.” He said in his email that if a missionary goes home and starts doing the same things he did before then he will become the same person he was when he left. And for all the missionaries who have ever been changed by their missions, that is one of their worst fears.

Here are 3 departments of your life that may need some adjustment once you come home.

1) Spiritual

To keep it simple, in order to stay spiritually strong after coming home, just do the things you’ve been inviting others to do for the past 18 to 24 months. Continue a habit of daily scripture study and prayer, church and temple attendance, and obedience to the commandments. Accept any and all callings given to you by your church leaders. Just be obedient. Not because you don’t want to get in trouble, but because you love the Lord.

To quote the Missionary Handbook, strive to fulfill what the President of the Church expects of you, as expressed in your call letter: “You have been recommended as one worthy to represent the Lord as a minister of the restored gospel.” While you don’t have to fully live by the rules of the handbook anymore, you can continue to pick out rules from it that you think will keep you spiritually strong. For example, you may want to start watching TV again, but if you like the daily schedule and planning guidelines, then continue to follow that rule. There’s nothing wrong with that.

A few other tips? Pay a full tithe and continue to pay a generous fast offering when you fast. The more you give the Lord, the more He gives back! Be there to support the missionaries when needed. Give them referrals and go out with them often. As an RM, you know the need for members. Do all you can to help the missionaries in your ward to find, teach, and help them fulfil their purpose.

Also, be honest with yourself. If you feel you are slacking, do something about it! Make your own game plan and revise it when necessary. Set goals and follow up with yourself regularly to see if you have met those goals. After-mission life is when you put into practice everything you learned on your mission.

2) Dating

Now that you’re off your mission, this is the real deal. No more practicing for the game. Dating is serious now. Your next companion will be your eternal companion: your spouse. And yes— that is scary news. Just remember one thing: your goal should be to get married in the temple to the person you love and endure to the end of your lives with that person and then on into the eternities. Don’t do anything to forfeit that.

I’m not here to give you a specific time frame on when you should get married. It also doesn’t matter if you only date one person before getting married or dating a dozen of them. As long as you achieve your goal of a lasting temple marriage, nothing else matters. What does matter is loving the Lord, putting your trust in Him, and enduring to the end with your eternal companion.

I guess what I’m saying is if it truly works for you, then do it. And do it in the temple. Again, be honest with yourself. There is no “one size fits all” guide to dating. Dating is a personalized experience for each individual. Just beyourself. Follow the counsel by modern prophets and apostles, and you’ll be fine.

3) Education and Finances

I don’t have much after-mission experience in this area, but I do have just a few tips on what has helped me so far.

As far as schooling and a career goes, I echo my mission president and his sweet wife. They said that money is important, but it is not everything. They said that we need to remember that as long as we live the gospel, everything else will fall into place. We need to do what makes us happy. We can have the highest paying job in the world but still be unhappy. Again, as long as we have our priorities right and put everything in its proper place, then we don’t have to worry.

Budget your money! Be thrifty and wise with how you spend it. Yes, you do have a little bit more freedom with how you spend your money. Just remember, do not spend more money than you take in. Elder Bednar said that is how the Church stays out of debt because that is how the Lord designed it. If it works for the Church, it will work for a person.

Additional Info

-One of the biggest things you will struggle with when you come home is seeing how relatively little your friends and family have grown spiritually compared to you. That isn’t to say that they didn’t grow largely, but your accelerated spiritual growth compared to theirs is very noticeable. Don’t let it get you down. Just help them grow spiritually like you have.

-You will notice a decrease in revelation, guidance by the Spirit, and ability to do certain things you were able to do as a missionary. This is because you no longer have the mantle of a missionary. You don’t have the need for revelation for others like on you did as a missionary. You don’t need to have all the answers like you did before. This was one of the hardest things for me to deal with, but I have mostly gotten over the fact that it isn’t my duty anymore to receive the kind of revelation to the same degree that I did as a missionary.

-After the first little while you’re home, your mission will begin to feel like a dream. Just like your “home life” did while you were in the mission field. Is that a bad thing? Nope. That’s the way the Lord designed it to be. If you weren’t a strong journal keeper on your mission, I would keep a “random mission memories” journal and write down every mission memory that randomly pops into your head. I’ve done this and had some great memories written down that I would have otherwise forgotten.

If you have any further suggestions or ideas on how to adjust after coming home from a mission, please leave a comment below!

What’s the Most Important Lesson to Learn as a Missionary?

young-man-thought-bubbleOf course, it’s hard to nail down something as “the most valuable” lesson learned on my mission when I learned so much. As I think back on what I’ve learned over the past two years, many things come to mind. First is scriptural knowledge that comes from reading, studying, and pondering. Then there comes learning by faith, which Elder David A. Bednar speaks of often.

Whenever we act on a gospel truth, we exercise our belief in that principle, and our faith grows as a result. Hence we “learn by faith” by learning of a surety that a gospel principle is true. For example, if someone lives the law oftithing, they will see the blessings that follow. They learn by faith that tithing is a true principle. As another simple example, someone can study a whole lifetime about the Atonement, but until they experience applying it to their lives, they don’t truly know what it does for them personally.

I like learning by faith more than by study. Generally, learning by faith sticks with someone a lot longer than learning by study because it lets them act rather than be acted upon. (2 Nephi 2)

The most valuable lesson I learned was something I didn’t consider a lesson. It was a change that took place in me rather than something I learned. You see, when you spend two years of your life immersed completely in the gospel of Jesus Christ, you change. Your behaviors and mannerisms change. The way you see things and the way you react to things is different. You love things pertaining to righteousness more. Your desire and capacity to love others increases.

This last Sunday, I reported to the stake high council, and one of the members asked me what I had learned. Though to be honest, I told him I hadn’t learned anything. Of course, I learned scriptures and facts about gospel topics, but how those things changed me was more important to me than what I learned.

To answer the question of what I learned, I told him that I learned the blessings of exact obedience. Not blind obedience, mind you. Rather, having faith that being obedient will bring forth miracles simply because you did what the Lord asked. It’s as simple as that. The Lord tells us in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 that if we do what He says then He is bound to keep His end of the deal. The only thing we have to do is be obedient.

In addition to the benefits of obedience, if we “keep the rules,” Heavenly Father promises to forgive our sins, give us an increased measure of the Holy Ghost, and protect us from the fiery darts of the adversary. Those things are essential to real joy and satisfaction in the gospel. I could list off a thousand more reasons to be exactly obedient and a million more blessings that come from it, but I’d rather you “learn by faith” to discover them yourself!

So, what was the most valuable lesson I learned as a missionary? Be obedient! It’s worth it every time.

How to Cope With Post-Mission Depression

”Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8: 22)

thoughtful-manDear recently returned missionaries,

By now you have probably realized that you will have good days and bad days at home, just like you did while on the mission. Some days can even be really, really bad, and some may even develop what I have labeled as Post-Mission Depression, or PMD.

The symptoms of PMD may include, but are not limited to, random bouts of crying for no reason, a broken heart, the urge to help people or teach the gospel all the time but being unable to do so, not finding joy or satisfaction in doing day-to-day or menial tasks or activities you love, feeling guilty for just sitting around or wasting time, among other symptoms which are commonly found in returned missionaries with PMD.

Post-Mission Depression is a serious physical and emotional condition that, if left untreated, could possibly lead to damaging one’s spiritual, social, and mental wellbeing.

Is there a cure for PMD? Many will suggest common treatments such as going out with the local missionaries, doing service for others, or reading the scriptures. While these things do help those affected by PMD in the short run, a common response to such treatments by patients has been, “It’s just not the same.”

There is no man-made cure for Post-Mission Depression at the moment. There is no “magic pill” or treatment that has been discovered.

The only “cure” for PMD is time. That, and putting into practice what you’ve been teaching for the last two years by living the gospel of Jesus Christ. Using the Atonement daily is the only hope in treating Post Mission Depression. The first week or so after the missionary is released, the patient will most likely remain in a surreal state of shock. After that is when PMD really begins to kick in, however within three to four weeks, symptoms will start to fade away. If the medicine is used correctly and in the recommended doses, PMD can be cured within a relatively brief period of time.

For specific direction from an apostle on how you can conquer this feeling of the lack of the Spirit, watch this video of Elder David A. Bednar answering a recently returned missionary’s question:

Hopefully this information will be useful in helping those self-diagnosed with PMD and their loved ones. If there are any further questions on this subject, or if you have found another way to help treat Post Mission Depression, leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

Sincerely,
Dr. Logan Hill*

*Please note, Dr. Hill is not an actual doctor. He is about as credible as Dr. Mario or Dr. Dolittle, and his advice comes from the school of personal experience rather than formal schooling on the matter.

How to Never Feel Trunky

trunk

“Trunkiness” is something that many missionaries encounter. So how can they avoid it and how can you help them focus on the work?

How does one avoid being trunky? Well first let’s define what “being trunky” is. One of my former companions, Elder Choe, defined “trunkiness” as follows: “Trunky is when any missionary, elder or sister, is at a point in the mission where they have a foot in their luggage. They’re there, but they aren’t there.”How true those words are! I’ve always thought of it as being ready to go home, get married, and start a family. If at any time during your mission you have thought those things, chances are you have been trunky. So, how do you avoid being trunky on your mission? To be honest, you really can’t. Every missionary will at some point be trunky to some degree or another. You just have to learn to deal with it.

You will often come into contact with things that remind you of things back home. For example, in every single one of my seven proselyting areas, there was always a car that looked like mine. Every time I would walk by them, I would think to myself, “Oh how I wish I could drive that.” And because the areas in my mission were only a couple of blocks in size, I would have to walk by those cars a few times per week. Yep, trunky.

Although you will always be tempted to be trunky, the following suggestions are a few things that helped me. If you apply these principles, you will be able to be “embrace the trunkiness” without it bringing you down.

1) Have hope!

Hope (as known in the gospel) is a knowing that God will fulfill His promises to you if you keep your end of the agreement with Him.Have hope that the Lord will provide for you. That hope includes things such as receiving big and small blessings from serving a mission, finding new investigators, helping people join or come back into the Church, and other blessings. As President Eyring said in one of his recent talks, “If the foundation of faith is not embedded in our hearts, the power to endure will crumble.”We must have hope!

2) Don’t focus on yourselffocus on others!

Lose yourself in the work. Don’t go through the mission; let the mission go through you. Love the people you are serving. Though cliché, these common sayings really do wonders for any struggling missionary. By the end of your mission, you won’t want to leave the mission or the people there. You won’t want to go home. That was the hardest part for me. You will feel like Ammon as he spoke to King Lamoni, “Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.”

3) Don’t count the days, make the days count.

If you count the days they go slower. As President Uchtdorf said, “Doesn’t it seem foolish to spoil sweet and joyful experiences because we are constantly anticipating the moment when they will end?”Enjoy your mission while it lasts. The missionary handbook says, “Time is one of the most precious resources Heavenly Father has given you. The period when you are able to serve the Lord with all your time and all your efforts is extremely short. Use it fully and wisely. Such an opportunity is a privilege.”

4) Laugh!

During the last transfer of my mission, my companions would repeatedly say, “Trunky, trunky, trunky,” as a joke whenever they noticed that they or I were feeling trunky. Usually afterward, the trunky feeling left. It is easy to play off a sudden trunky thought, but if you are only concerning yourself with how long you have left, it will not be as simple as just laughing it off.

5) Rely on the Savior.

Of course, if you’ve been serving for a while you know what it’s like to use the Atonement often. Learn to rely on the Savior always, but especially in time of need. Don’t turn away from Him or your mission leaders when things get hard. Remember gratitude in all things. Continue to be obedient to the mission rules. Work hard. Be diligent. Pray fervently. Study the scriptures. Christ will help you keep pushing when you can’t push anymore. He is the balm!  Allow the Savior to heal you. The Atonement doesn’t just cover sins; it covers all unfair or hard things in life. With His help, you will succeed. Two men can do anything as long as one of them is Jesus Christ.

How a Missionary Can Answer Any Investigator’s Question

missionary-questionI had a totally confused look on my face as my mind raced to understand what he’d just said. My new mission language was still really tough, so it took me a few moments to comprehend the question. He then repeated himself again, this time a little slower. “Why are there no crosses in Mormon churches?”

My investigator had a good point. “Why didn’t we have any crosses in our churches?” I thought to myself. Even though I’d been a member my whole life I didn’t really know the answer to this question. I could have tried answering with an educated guess, but I didn’t really know.

Little did I know that that moment was just the tip of the “I don’t know” iceberg.

Like most missionaries, I spent the MTC experience hoping no one would find out how few scriptures I’d memorized or little I knew about (cue deep echoing voice) “THE OLD TESTAMENT.”

Most missionaries in the MTC believe that they need to become a “super human bank of knowledge,” able to answer any question, anywhere, for anyone. And this gets them pretty stressed out. Is this really the expectation the Lord has for us?

The missionary purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ.” It doesn’t mention anywhere answering everyone’s questions with sound gospel knowledge. Maybe that expectation is too big.

I think our objective should be to develop our ability to teach anything, anywhere, to anyone. But teaching doesn’t mean we have to be the smartest person in the room. We don’t need to memorize tons of facts and figures. We need to learn how to simplify what we know and continue our learning based on the needs of those we teach—especially according to the Spirit. Experience in the mission field will shape what you “need to know” over time. Believe me, you won’t figure that out until you have someone to teach.

For example, there was one investigator who we taught, the importance of the Sabbath day and then invited her to come to church. She didn’t say yes or no; she responded with a question, “Why in some faiths is the Sabbath day on a Sunday, and others, a Saturday?”

This question was really important to her. Her late husband (who had introduced her to Christianity) had gone to church every Saturday until he died at around age 40. Of course it was natural that she was confused about the division of understanding in regards to which day the Sabbath day should be.

My companion and I didn’t have a solid answer for her. It wasn’t something we’d ever considered or done any research on. We didn’t know any more than she did on the subject.

So I responded with, “We’re not too sure, but we can see that this is very important to you, so we will go away and study this together, come back later, and teach you what we learn in tomorrow’s lesson.”

The next morning, we franticly searched through our books together, trusting God would help us find an answer. Our investigator hadn’t been to a church in years, and we wanted to help her reconnect with God. We felt that finding an answer to her question was the key to unlocking this blessing.

We searched the Bible Dictionary and references in the four standard works on the topic of “Sabbath day.” We cross referenced Old and New Testament passages with Preach My Gospel. It was like a Da Vinci Code-style puzzle to solve, and it became really interesting.

I won’t tell you what we discovered, I’dhate to spoil all the fun, but in the end we did find what we were looking for. That helped us to teach our lesson with real power. Our investigator was so taken back by the effort we’d made that she came to church with us that Sunday—the first time she’d been to church since her husband’s passing.

If we want to “invite others to come unto Christ” we need to be willing to work. Missionary work is not a sales pitch; these people are not customers, and we certainly can’t bluff our way into “closing the deal.” Sometimes it’s good to identify when we don’t know something.

In that moment, I understood what a mission was all about. Loving your investigators! Which isn’t about “having all the answers” or sounding really smart. It’s about making an effort to go the extra mile, listen to the Spirit, and trust that God will help you say exactly what they need to hear. That’s the real way to answer any question—at any time, about anything, for anyone.

For more mission tips like this, check out www.missiongeek.net. You can also find Mission Geek on Youtube or Facebook. cartoon-head-shot The Mission Geek

How to Return Home Looking Fabulous

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Surely everyone wants to finish their missions looking “fabulous.” Most missionaries dream of that moment when the airport doors slide open, and they reveal their new and improved selves to family and the . . . more-than-just-friends.

I’m sure we’ve all seen someone we know go out on a mission and return with, let’s be honest, a more attractive change. It’s partly physical, but it’s also emotional, spiritual, physical, and mental. There’s just something amazing about RMs.

But what most people don’t realize is that this “look” isn’t a result of a focused determination to “look good”—it’s a product of their dedication as a missionary. Don’t believe me?

Let me give you an example:

One of the best transfers of my mission started with a question from my new companion. “Hey, elder, do you like running?” Now, I’d done some amateur running before my mission. (OK, it was just jogging really.) So I instinctively said, “Yeah, I like running.” His face then lit up like it was Christmas morning. What he hadn’t told me was that he was a state champion runner.

He was dying to find a companion who would run with him, no one had up until this point. If I’d have known how good he was, I may not have been so keen.

In that moment, right there, we created a binding agreement to run every morning at 6:33 am. I was in OK shape, but my companion was about forty-seven-times fitter than I was and at least three-times faster. We ran a circuit around the back of our house that took exactly twenty five minutes. I kept a slow pace and my companion ran ahead of me, backwards and forwards at a much faster pace. It was exhausting. I don’t know how he did it.

Every day, we returned home, took showers, got dressed, ate breakfast and then started our studies. Even though it was difficult to wake up and get out of the house every day at 6:33am it was totally worth it.

The results were amazing. I was more alert for studies, more focused in lessons. Being in a companionship was easier. I felt healthier, and it was easier to be obedient to the rules. Not only did I feel a physical change but a spiritual one too. I felt clearer direction from the spirit and we found more success in our area. In fact it was my most successful
transfer (if we’re just looking at stats).

Did I return home looking fabulous? Of course I did—especially with my two-year tan. But it wasn’t down to ‘pumping weights’ or going crazy with a high-protein diet. I didn’t have to break any rules, and it didn’t take my focus off the work . . . In fact it had the opposite effect. It all started at 6:33 every morning. Not 6:45, not 6:50 . . . 6:33am.

For more mission tips like this, check out www.missiongeek.net. You can also find Mission Geek on Youtube or Facebook.

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The Mission Geek