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The Salt Lake West Mission is a relatively new mission, beginning July 1, 2012. The mission is located in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah and covers only the cities of West Valley City and Magna.
The “West Mission” is a pilot mission for the Church. One of the mission’s primary focuses is on “real growth” or establishing the Church. This is done by increasing the number of people who attend sacrament meeting regularly. The mission focuses also on retaining converts and reactivating those who have become less active in the Church.
Originally the mission started off as the “West Zone” as part of the Utah Salt Lake City Mission. At its inception, the West Mission only had three zones and there were only around 75 full-time missionaries, including senior couples and office staff. However, there are currently seven zones and close to 150 missionaries.
The senior couples in the mission are all local. They are full-time missionaries just like the younger missionaries and serve in their own stake and live in their own homes. They work closely with the younger missionaries and help them in both temporal and spiritual matters.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a strong presence in the Utah Salt Lake City area. State averages show that over half the population are members of the Church and both convert baptisms and retention is high.
There is a large amount of inactive or less active members of the Church in this area. A lot of the teaching done by the missionaries here is focused around retaining and reactivating these members.
Food can be inexpensive. Missionaries receive adequate money to purchase groceries though they are expected to be thrifty and wise with how they spend their allotted funds. Members are also eager to feed missionaries. Most missionaries are regularly fed dinners by members. Many missionaries are served dinner almost every night of the week except for Mondays because of Family Home Evening night. Dinners often include pot roasts, casseroles, pizza, pastas, Hispanic cuisine, lasagnas, and various American-style dishes.
Missionaries bike or walk for transportation. The assistants to the president travel by car due to the size of their area and time required of them. No other missionaries ever usually receive cars. Missionaries are welcome to buy their own bikes on arrival, but many missionary apartments already have bikes for missionaries. Missionaries generally walk or bike throughout the day but frequently have members with cars to go teaching with them during the evening hours. Because the Salt Lake City West mission is somewhat compact, the distance between teaching appointments can be short enough to walk.
Recently returned missionaries reported no mugging or robberies recently in the Salt Lake City West Mission. Some have reported minor petty thefts. Utah has a lower crime rate than many areas of the United States. Missionaries often live in apartment complexes or homes with other members, who serve as watchful neighbors. Locking up bikes is still a good idea throughout the day, but the mission recommends that bikes be stored in the apartment or home’s garage if possible once the day is done. The customary “Jesus the Christ” picture is not allowed to be displayed in windows or on doors to prevent those wishing to cause harm to missionaries to identify missionary homes.
The culture of West Salt Lake largely mirrors the LDS and general American cultures. Utah has a strong family-centered mindset. Pioneer Day is a Utah state holiday that celebrates the day the Saints crossed into the Salt Lake Valley. In past years, missionaries have participated in parades and Pioneer Day festivities.
A warm coat and winter gear is recommended for every missionary. Winters in Utah are dry, but cold. Days and especially nights are below freezing, and snow stays on the ground for months. Shoes with insulation are also recommended for winter months. Utah can also reach hot temperatures in the summer, so light clothing is also recommended. Missionaries say if potential missionaries purchase the recommended items on the checklist in the mission packet, all needs should be covered. However, extra clothes can easily be purchased at local stores if needed.
Packages should be sent to the missionary’s local address. The mission office is a gated Church building and the post office is unable to deliver packages inside the gate. Family members and others who live close to the area or who are visiting can take packages to the office staff for their missionary to pick up as long as they have no contact whatsoever with the missionary. Letters are also advised to be sent straight to the missionary’s residence, not to the office or the PO Box. The mission’s PO Box is generally only to be used for official mission purposes. The address to the mission office is not available to the general public.
Some missionaries serving in this mission answer online chats for Mormon.org in addition to other proselyting and teaching duties. The missionaries in the Utah Salt Lake City West Mission use iPads and other social media outlets to hasten the work under the direction of the mission president and the brethren. The Church Missionary Department and the brethren work very closely with the mission in pilot programs and training the missionaries with how the Church expects this mission to run.
The online proselyting programs and new Church technologies are heavily integrated with almost every single aspect of the work in this mission. Ward leaders and other members are able to communicate instantaneously with missionaries with the use of e-mail, cell phones, Facebook, and iPads. Missionaries are able to report to ward leaders on the progress of the area and the people in their teaching pools through the iPads and the new missionary-only Area Book app. Each missionary initially is given his or her own iPad that is provisioned and filtered by the Church to run the programs the Church has developed to hasten the work, though this may change with the recent announcements about missionaries buying their own iPads.
Backpacks are not allowed to be carried while proselyting. A shoulder bag, satchel, or messenger bag is preferred, though not required. It may be best to wait until the missionary is in the field to buy one of these bags so he or she can determine what the best fit is for them. Sister missionaries are allowed to carry purses as long as it still fits the guidelines set forth by the Church dress and grooming standards found online and in the Missionary Handbook.
Preparation Day is every Monday and starts at 10:00 a.m. and ends at 6:00 p.m. Preparation Day activities are usually done together as a zone and generally include doing things such as playing basketball, board games, or other approved activities. All shopping is done between these hours and missionaries are expected to return to proselyting by 6:00 p.m.
As usual in Utah Salt Lake missions, the missionaries here are able to take their investigators and others they are teaching to Temple Square. The local missionaries can either teach by themselves or coordinate with the sisters serving on Temple Square to set up a custom-tailored tour.
Missionaries in this mission are only able to attend the temple once per quarter unless otherwise authorized by the mission president. Such cases include events such as converts or returning members going through the temple to receive their own endowments or being sealed to their children and spouse. There are a few different temples missionaries here are able to attend, however the mission is within the boundaries of the Jordan River temple district. Missionaries will attend the temple as a zone or district depending on what the mission leadership decides. Missionaries are not recommended to bring their own temple clothes to the temple or on their missions because the temples rent the clothing to full-time missionaries for free.
(Please send pkgs to local missionary’s address)
PO Box 702010 (letters only!)
Salt Lake City, UT, 84120
Websites not yet available.