By Emmaline Wilson, author of What Sisters Know: Mission Advice from Sisters to Sisters(justforthesisters.blogspot.com)
Your papers have been turned in. Your call has come, and travel plans, and even a topic assigned for your talk. It’s settled! You’re going on a mission! Now, how can you become that awesome missionary you want to be?
Let’s face it, sisters: chances are, you have the words “Live, Laugh, Love” somewhere. Pinned to some Pinterest board or physically on your wall at home. This phrase can help remind you how to be and become a stellar life-long missionary.
Live. Practice gospel-based habits and learn to live worthily in your own way. Choose to be cheerful. Please, remember to be yourself! As saints of the last days, we emulate the Savior’s actions, His character, His gospel message, but not necessarily His teaching style (or anyone else’s). Live as He lived, the way you can best figure out how. Try to remember that missionary work is a lifelong endeavor, not an eighteen-month stint.
Practical tips: before your mission, try to live a few days with the missionary schedule. You know, normally 6:30am to 10:30pm. Practice cooking your own meals with a reduced budget or perhaps reduced cooking implements (mission apartments aren’t known for having a great variety of utensils). Try not hugging… or texting… boys or other friends. (What?! It happens. Obviously, your boyfriend may not appreciate this…). Study the scriptures for a full hour in the morning. Make an extra effort to smile and reach out to others. Look for spiritual connections in your everyday conversations and make opportunities to invite others—whether it be your parents, roommates, friends, random strangers, or even yourself—to live gospel principles more fully. Living mission standards can’t help but bring extra light and joy in your life. (And likely more sleep, too…)
Laugh. I am so grateful for counsel from a friend who called me a few days before I entered the MTC. He was complimentary, the whole “you’ll be a great missionary!” spiel, you know the drill. Then he advised me, “Don’t forget to have fun!”
Seriously. Sometimes missionaries are so focused on preaching they think they can’t have “fun.” That’s false. We are to be of good cheer, no?
As you know, laughter shouldn’t be hollow or light-minded; but it’s never silly to look for humor in your everyday situations. I remember the first door I knocked on in Pennsylvania. A young boy answered, and we asked for his parents (note: always a good idea.) After a minute, he came back. “My mom says she’s not home,” he reported.
Hmmm… your mom says she’s not home?
Instead of being disappointed, or feeling personally rejected, laugh. When the next week some lady opened the door, and, in a creepy whisper, informed us that she had found the true church and it was (a highly unusual organization in the area) we chose to laugh (um, after we left her doorstep. We were kind!). When my companion’s skirt fell off while tracting later that day? We almost died laughing. Not only is it good for the people you are around, but as light cleaveth to light (D&C 88:40), those around you will be interested in your light. And… it’s never bad to have enjoyable memories with your companions, investigators, member friends, and others.
>Practical tips: Find out what you find humorous. Look for appropriate, uplifting sources of humor. Make a funny spoof that relates to the joys and trials of missionary work (there are plenty out there!). Seek to brighten others’ days. Choose to laugh instead of crying when you get embarrassed. Find joy in peaceful things. Smile often.
Love. They say that “love is a verb.” So it follows that if you want to find love, love. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is centered in… love, because as 1 John 4:16 informs us, “God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” Our Savior’s actions were all centered in love, from the creation of the Earth and a plan of happiness, to His birth, life, atonement, and resurrection, to His guidance today.
Hint: becoming like the Savior is definitely a good start to becoming an awesome missionary.
Practical tips: Study and ponder “charity and love” in Preach My Gospel chapter 6 and in the scriptures generally. Look for new ways to serve. Make your little brother’s bed. Seek ways to respond with love instead of anger, hurt, or even mere shallowness. Give a gift of time to someone in need. Call an old friend. Mend a broken relationship. Express your love out loud. Give a hug. Write a nice note to an acquaintance or stranger.
Live, laugh, and love your way to a wonderful mission—and beyond. For other great ideas on serving and serving well, see: