Archive for the ‘missionary preparation’ Tag

Preach My Gospel

Reading: Preach My Gospel (PDF), “Preach My Gospel – The Unifying Tool Between Members and Missionaries,” Erich W. Kopischke, Liahona, November 2007

A couple days ago I resolved to read Preach My Gospel.  I am planning on buying a copy once I get back home, but yesterday I asked to look at my brother’s copy.  I was very surprised by how much information was in the book.  The lessons they teach to investigators is only a small part.  Most of the book is about how to be a misisonary, with information on how to study, how to teach, how to relate to people, and so on.

In the above talk Kopischke talks about how powerful a tool Preach My Gospel is in the mission field.  He encourages members to read the book in order to become better member missionaries.  I haven’t yet had the oppourtunity to do more than to look through the book, but just looking at the heading I’m sure reading the book would be a powerful help to anyone wanting to be better, period.

The following is the names of each chapter of the book:

  • What is My Purpose as a Missionary?
  • How Do I Study Effectively and Prepare to Teach?
  • What Do I Study and Teach? (includes the four lessons for investigators)
  • How Do I Recognize and Understand the Spirit?
  • What Is the Role of the Book of Mormon?
  • How Do I Develop Christlike Attributes?
  • How Can I Better Learn My Mission Language?
  • How Do I Use Time Wisely?
  • How Do I Find People to Teach?
  • How Can I Improve My Teaching Skills?
  • How Do I Help People Make and Keep Commtiments?
  • How Do I Prepare People for Baptism and Confirmation?
  • How Do I Work With Stake and Ward Leaders?

I am very much looking forward to reading more from Preach My Gospel once I get my own copy.  My resolution for today is the same as a couple days ago: read Preach My Gospel, only louder.

Have you read Preach My Gospel?  What benefits did you gain from it?


Ammon and Missionary Preparation

Reading: Mosiah 27, Alma 1718

Today I decided to read about Ammon, the great missionary from the Book of Mormon.  I read looking for how Ammon prepared for his mission to the Lamanites, and was surprised with what I found.

First, we know that Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah, including Ammon, went around tearing down the church until an angel appeared to them and told them the error of their ways.  I think at first glance you can get the idea that if you do mess up, you can always repent real quick before you go on a mission.  But this was not the case.  First of all, repenting was hard work.

Alma spent two days in tormet, “repenting night unto death.”

Next, Alma and the sons of Mosiah spent a good long time making up for the bad they had done:

And they traveled throughout all the land of Zarahemla, and among all the people who were under the reign of king Mosiah, zealously striving to repair all the injuries which they had done to the church, confessing all their sins, and publishing all the things which they had seen, and explaining the prophecies and the scriptures to all who desired to hear them.

It was only after all this that they left on their mission to the Lamanites.

What they gained from this experience, though, was a first hand strong testimony of the truth of the gospel.  They knew that the church was true, and they knew that through repentance all mankind could be saved.  Because they were saved!

Looking at the account of the beginning of Ammon’s mission also reveals many of Ammon’s traits that served him on his mission. Including:

  • Patience, as demonstrated in the way he dealt with King Limhi when taken prisoner
  • Knowledge of the gospel, as demonstrated in the way he was able to teach others the gospel
  • Humility, as demonstrated by the way he always gives credit to God
  • Faith, as demonstrated by the way he goes into a strange land totally trusting in the Lord
  • Enthusiasm for the gospel, as demonstrated by the way he is excited when bad things happen because they are opportunities to show the power of God
  • The ability to teach, as shown in the way he is able to teach those around him in a way that they can understand

If Ammon was not prepared to go before he left for his mission, he would not have succeeded.  He is such a great example of a missionary because he was so strong in the gospel before he ever left.

One thing I found particularly applicable to my life right now is that Ammon (and his brethren) were not just perfect from day one.  They had to work hard to develop the attributes that would later lead to their success on their missions.  Sometimes I feel down because I’m not a better person, and I feel like I’ll never be “good enough.”  But, I can follow Ammon’s example and become a better person through help from God.  God is always ready to help us become better people.

Today I am going to remember Ammon’s example and not be so hard on myself.  I’m going to instead pray for help with those things I wish I was better at.  Like, being more patient with people are doing better at remembering little daily stuff to do.

What other ways did you notice that Ammon was prepared to go on his mission?  How can we better prepare ourselves to be servants of the Lord?

Questions and Answers on Missionary Preparation

Reading: “How to Prepare to Be a Good Missionary,” Elder Russell M. Ballard, New Era, March 2007

I am glad I found this talk because it gives a lot of policy statements in regard to missionary work.  It makes things clear that otherwise are unclear.

Like, for example, his statement on whether women should go on missions:

A full-time mission is totally appropriate for a young woman, if that is what she wants to do and she is worthy. Holding the priesthood comes with the obligation for young men to carry the message of the Restoration to the world. Young women are invited to participate in missionary work as it is appropriate to their circumstances. If they have prospects for marriage, that is a higher calling. But young women who are in a position to serve make great missionaries. They are good teachers, they have empathy, and they can relate particularly well to women. I don’t think that we have a mission anywhere in the world where the mission president wouldn’t be thrilled to get more sister missionaries.

He also makes it clear what is the most important preparation for a mission:

Attitude is the key. Young people need to commit themselves early in life to the idea of a mission.

Lately the church has been emphasizing spiritual preparation and not talking so much about other areas of preparation, such as practical and financial concerns.  In this talk Elder Ballard makes it clear those are still a consideration, although not as important as spiritual preparation:

Missionaries need to be self-reliant. Young people ought to learn to take care of themselves and not be so dependent on their mother or father.

They need to be able to handle the physical demands of missionary work. Young people should keep their weight under control and be physically fit. The missionary daily schedule has built into it a 30-minute-a-day exercise program. Being physically tuned up enhances mental capacity.

Prospective missionaries need to learn to work. They ought to have a job and save money for their missions. Every mission president would concur with me that the missionary who has worked and saved and helped pay for part or all of his or her mission is a better-prepared missionary. Working and saving for a mission generates enthusiasm for serving and gives a young man or a young woman a good work ethic. Whatever else missionary work is, it is work!

Working toward a mission and being accountable for their own lives helps young men and young women emotionally as well. They know within themselves that they can succeed no matter where they are sent and no matter the circumstances. They know they are tough enough to handle anything in a world that is becoming less interested in the things of God. We need missionaries with that kind of self-assurance.

Sometimes people get the idea that a mission to one’s own country is inferior to a mission to a foreign country.  Elder Ballard makes it clear that a missionary is called where he or she needs to be:

Let me assure you that calls are a matter of revelation. Missionaries serve where the Lord wants them to serve. We need good, capable missionaries in every mission. For example, let’s say there’s a young man, a leader in school, living in Virginia in the United States. He opens his mission call and is shocked to learn he is being sent to Salt Lake City. But he isn’t there long before he knows precisely why the Lord called him to serve there.

Elder Ballard stands firm on the higher requirements of missionaries:

In 2002 we raised the bar for missionary service. That means the requirements to be a worthy missionary need to be understood and lived by young people early on. They need to avoid the mischief of the world. Of course, repentance is possible and is a great blessing. But those who stumble must make their repentance true and complete, and that could take time. It may even require First Presidency clearance before they can serve. Raising the bar doesn’t exclude anyone; it just requires more thorough—and sometimes very difficult—repentance. I plead with the youth, don’t get into that! Don’t put yourself through that. Just stay worthy to serve.

But then offers some consolation to those missionaries who are maybe too hard on themselves and don’t feel worthy:

Now, there may be some young people who consider themselves unworthy or incapable of serving in spite of what they hear from their bishops or branch presidents. But here’s the reality: priesthood leaders have the keys of endorsement. If the priesthood leaders indicate that a person is worthy and he or she is called, then he or she should exercise faith in that call and serve the Lord in full confidence that he or she is worthy and able.

Elder Ballard also makes it clear that a missionaries strength and blessings comes not from the mere fact he is on a mission, but from obedience and diligence:

This empowerment comes from their obedience, dedication, hard work, and enthusiasm. If they are not obedient, if they are not working hard doing the best they know how every day, they won’t have the same impact as those who radiate the spirit of the gospel.

Nowadays the church is also more likely to emphasize the work required of the missionary, rather than emphasizing what good a mission will do for him.  Here, Elder Ballard is able to point out the blessings that come from a mission:

Dedicated missionaries who do their very best learn lessons as important or even more important than anything they can learn in university study. I’ll give you an example. Missionaries learn how to relate to people, how to talk to people, how to help people. Whether they are going to be doctors, lawyers, merchants, or something else, the ability to relate to people can be the difference between being successful or not in that career.

A second great blessing is that missionaries become doctrinally anchored to the reality of the Atonement. There comes to them a love for and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ that will absolutely bless them and their families in mortality and on into eternity. The most powerful learning experiences we can have are when we teach someone else. And that is what missionaries do. They internalize the doctrine; they internalize the reality of the Atonement. And this will bless them in all future Church assignments.

Another great blessing is that as missionaries reach out to rescue and pull into the light of the gospel families who are wandering in the darkness, they see what they don’t want in their own lives. The experience clarifies for them the values they want to live by, the kind of family they want, the way they want to teach their children, and the goals they need in order to claim the promised blessings of the temple. A mission is the greatest education in the world.

And, lastly, Elder Ballard tells those who are not able to serve a mission for medical or some other reason that they should not feel guilty, but rather seek out ways that they can serve. I especially like how he pointed out that not all members of the twelve apostles were able to serve a mission.

Young men and young women with serious mental, emotional, or physical limitations are excused from full-time missionary service. They shouldn’t feel guilty about that. They are just as precious and important to the Church as if they were able to go into the mission field.

But while they don’t serve full-time, they can take every opportunity to find and help people join the Church. They can be member missionaries in college, at work, and in their neighborhoods. They ought to go forward, have a wonderful and full life, and help build the kingdom wherever they are. Not all of the Apostles serving today were able to serve a full-time mission in their youth, some because they were required to serve in the military. But they all did missionary work. They all brought people into the Church.

Now, usually I would not do so many quotes, but I thought it was appropriate for this talk.  It does a great job of bridging the gap between pre “raising the bar” talks on missionary preparation and post “raising the bar” talks on missionary preparation.  I thought it best to have his answers here in their entirety in case anyone wants to find this information.

At one point in this talk Elder Ballard states that men and women should read Preach My Gospel, and that women will use this kind of preparation whether they go on missions or not.  I know this is true!  That’s the main reason I’m writing this blog – becuase I know my own spiritual preparation has a huge effect on my children and I want them to have a solid foundation in the gospel.

I have not yet had a chance to look at the Preach My Gospel materials.  So, I am going to try and seek them out and then read/study them.

Were any of your questions answered by Elder Ballard’s talk?  Is there anything else that you would want to know?

Areas of Missionary Preparation

Reading:”The Field is White Already to Harvest,” Gordon B. Hinckley, Liahona, April 1987

Sorry about the lack of posts for the past two days.   I have been on the road to California.  My brother comes home from his mission this afternoon and I get to be there at the airport when he arrives.

This talk by President Hinckley is a little older and focuses on the different areas where a missionary should prepare.  The ones he list include:

  • Spiritual
  • Mental
  • Social
  • Financial

I found especially interesting this statement about financial preparation for missionaries:

We urge adherence to the rule of missionary support which has been in effect from the beginnings of the Church—namely, that it is the responsibility of the individual and the family to provide support for the missionary. This must be encouraged, even though there may necessarily be some delay in departure. Better that a young man delay his mission for a year and earn money toward his support than that he rely entirely on others.

He also quoted a young man who listed ten things he did to help prepare for his mission.  They included things like participating in scouting, teaching primary, taking part in family home evening, and so on.  When I asked my husband what he did to prepare for his mission, he also stated that he had done many things throughout his whole life that helped him to prepare.

Right now I am just starting out as a mom.  What I have learned for me, from this talk, is that I should be preparing my children, especially my sons (when/if I have some), for missionary work from the time they are very young.  Of course, I also will be preparing them to go to the temple and to be parents themselves.

How do you help your kids prepare for a mission?  What did you parents do that helped prepare you for a mission?

Making the Team

Reading: “Preparing for Missionary Service,” Elder Daryl H. Garn, Liahona, May 2003

If you have as a goal to someday play on some kind of elite sports team, then you will do all you can to make yourself good enough to get onto that team.  You will practice, you will study strategies, you will talk with experts and learn from them.

In this talk, Elder Garn makes the point that preparing for a mission should be like preparing to get onto a sports team.  You do not join a team hoping that you will learn how to play during your participation.  So, you should do all you can before you serve a mission to be ready to be part of the greatest missionary team in the world.

He quoted President Hinckley as saying:

We simply cannot permit those who have not qualified themselves as to worthiness to go into the world to speak the glad tidings of the gospel. (First Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting, Jan. 2003, 17)

I remember hearing all kinds of stories as a youth about how young men went on missions with weak testimonies and came back with strong ones.  The idea was that if we can just get them to go on a mission, then we can save them from whatever bad things they have done in their life.  You can quickly see how this attitude would have a detrimental affect on missionary work.  If you send out unprepared, feeble missionaries, they may become stronger over time, but it will be at the cost of the work they could have done.  You will lose investigators and the work of the Lord will be diminished.

This reminds me of a scripture:

And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed. (Alma 34:33)

Whether it is a missionary work, or going to the temple, or death, we are always tempted to put off our preparation until the last minute.  It seems like there will always be more time, and there are more immediate things to work on.  Now is always the time for me, for your, for everyone to prepare to serve and to meet God.  If we put off our work we may find that we do not have the skills necessary to, in essence, “make the team.”

Today I am going to come up with a plan to improve our family prayer and scripture study.  Between the move, my husband going back to school, and just general life business we have not done so well lately.  I have been putting it off, thinking it will be better to wait until the house is unpacked, or I come back from our trip, or my husband is more settled into his new routine.  However, I now am sure that NOW is always the best time to prepare spiritually for the future.

What are you doing, or what do you need to do, to “make the team”?

Learn Commitment

Reading: “My MTC: Missionary Training Commitment,” C. Scott Grow, New Era, March 2008

Continuing with my theme of missionary preparation, today I read a talk by Elder C. Scott Grow on just that. In the talk he lists several ways he recommends to prepare for a mission.  These include:

  • Pick the best friends, and live gospel standards
  • Be determined
  • Be guided by prayer
  • Know the Savior and His prophets

One thing I have been asked specifically to mention is how by brother prepared for his mission.  When Elder Grow mentioned how being passionately involved in something helped him to develop commitment and to learn to work hard, I instantly thought of all things my brother did both in high school and college that taught him the same thing.  He was deeply involved in the music program in high school, where he had to put many many hours into rehearsing and performing.  In college, he was actively involved as a volunteer for a service organization at Snow College.  He has always been a hard worker, and you can see in his letters how he applied the same kind of commitment to his mission.

Now comes the part where I apply this to myself.  I keep trying to draw parrallels between motherhood and missionary work because I haven’t gone on a mission, and this blog is supposed to be all about personal application.  This is one thing I think you can equally apply to being a mother.  Moms also require a lot of work and commitment.  I can definitely see how the activities I was involved in helped prepare me to be willing to work hard as a mom.

I can’t really think of a take away from today’s talk, except that it is important to encourage my own children to participate in these kinds of extracurricular activities.  Sometimes people try to get involved too much, but we shouldn’t just avoid all of them, but rather learn to balance.

What kinds of things did you do as a kid that helped prepare you for activities later in life?

The Bar

Reading: “The Greatest Generation of Missionaries,” M. Russell Ballard, Liahona, November 2002

In November 2002 Elder Ballard gave the famous talk that “rose the bar” for missionaries.  Essentially, in his talk he told the young men of the church that they must be better prepared for their missionary service.  And, he instructed bishops to only recommend young men (and women) for service who they felt were truly prepared for the call.  And, indeed, after this talk the standards for missionary service were raised and many who may have gone on missions unprepared before simply no longer were called to missionary work.

It is my opinion (after reading this article) that every person who wants to serve a mission should read this talk closely.  It is a forthright challenge to the young men of this church to rise up to a higher standard.  It covers all the necessities, in my opinion, of missionary preparation.

One thing I wanted to do was to make a quick list of all the descriptions Elder Ballard uses of a prepared missionary.

  • Worthy
  • Qualified
  • Spiritually energized
  • Meticulously obedient
  • Faithful
  • Exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity (Alma 53:20)
  • True at all times
  • Vibrant
  • Thinking
  • Passionate
  • Know how to listen and follow the spirit
  • Clean from sin
  • Honest
  • Solid testimony of the restored gospel
  • Hard working
  • Covenant makers
  • Covenant keepers

Sometimes people like to share stories about how much missionaries were changed by their mission, with he message being that it could change an unprepared, less that faithful young man into a strong young man.  Elder Ballard comes out and says that is not right, that missionaries should be prepared before they leave for their missions.

We don’t need spiritually weak and semicommitted young men. We don’t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings. We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to receive a testimony. We just don’t have time for that. We need you to be filled with “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5).

When I first thought of what I would talk about in preparing for a mission, a list of things came to my mind, such as regular scripture study, or getting up early, or things like that.  As I am reading these talks, though, I am realizing that prepartion should be deeper – it should involve your whole heart and soul.

I found Elder Ballard’s talk to be very energizing.  I love to make lists.  I have an analytical mind and writing things down in lists helps me get a grip on things that otherwise seem to big or too hazy to understand.  However, it is clear from both Elder Bednar’s and Elder Ballard’s talk that true discipleship does not come in lists.  It is about an inner transformation into the Lord’s servant.  This is just as true in my life as it is in those who are preparing for a mission.

Today I will think about what it means to become a disciple of God.  I am striving to be better all the time, of course.  But, if I were to become a true disciple of God, what would I act like?  What would I look like?  What would I think like?  How would I be different from what I am now?

What about you?  What do you perceive as the difference between just doing the right things and becoming the right person?

Become A Missionary

Reading: “Becoming a Missionary,” Elder David A. Bednar, Ensign, Nov 2005

My brother comes home from his mission next week.  The following weekend, I have been asked to speak in the ward where I grew up the same day he reports.  My assigned topic is how to prepare for a mission, including examples from my brother’s mission preparation.  So, in preparation of that talk I hope to do several posts on missionary preparation.

Elder Bednar, in this talk, makes some beautiful points about the gospel and missionary work.  He sayd that missionaries should not just go on a mission, but should become a missionary, and should do so before they go on their missions.  He states,

You will not suddenly or magically be transformed into a prepared and obedient missionary on the day you walk through the front door of the Missionary Training Center. What you have become in the days and months and years prior to your missionary service is what you will be in the MTC.

Often, I think we expect outside things to change us, like a mission, but we could be so much more powerful and better if we seek first to change ourselves.

Elder Bendar then shared that we are all missionaries throughout our whole life.  We are so because we are the seed of Abraham, and that group of people is called to serve the rest of the world. It is our inheritance and role as descendants of Abraham, holders of the priesthood (for the men), and members of this church to bring the gospel to all the world around us.

My beloved brethren, you and I, today and always, are to bless all peoples in all the nations of the earth. You and I, today and always, are to bear witness of Jesus Christ and declare the message of the Restoration. You and I, today and always, are to invite all to receive the ordinances of salvation. Proclaiming the gospel is not a part-time priesthood obligation. It is not simply an activity in which we engage for a limited time or an assignment we must complete as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Rather, missionary work is a manifestation of our spiritual identity and heritage. We were foreordained in the premortal existence and born into mortality to fulfill the covenant and promise God made to Abraham. We are here upon the earth at this time to magnify the priesthood and to preach the gospel. That is who we are, and that is why we are here—today and always.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I’m doing much missionary work.  After all, I live in Utah.  I am (currently) a stay at home mom, so I don’t meet many people except at church.  I am really really shy, and I have a hard time asking strangers the time of day, let alone telling them about the gospel.  I have never served a mission.

However, I have often reflected that while God calls the men and Priesthood of the church to teach the old people and to serve as leaders and missionaries in the church, the chief calling of the women in the church is to teach the young people, who are so much more receptive and whose teaching will affect them at a more basic level and for the rest of their lives.  The greatest mission I have right now is to my own family, especially my daughter.

So, today I am going to think about what similarities there are between motherhood and missionary work.  The idea is that if I can tie what work I am doing for this talk into my own life, then I will become more engaged in it and will give a better talk.  Plus, perhaps I can be a better mother in the process.

How would/did you become a missionary, versus just going on a mission?  In what ways are you a missionary right now, assuming you are not currently serving a mission?