How to help young people emotionally prepare for missions

Encourage dependence upon the Lord. When emotional difficulties arise, people usually respond with their most basic behavior patterns: stress, anger, withdrawal, fear, etc. If reliance upon the Lord becomes the most basic behavior, the reflex to first turn to Him will overcome more "natural man" responses.

This can be done through such things as family home evenings, family councils, regular family and personal scripture study and prayer, seminary attendance and regular Church attendance as a family. In addition, parents can be examples of turning to the Lord during a crisis. What children see as their parents' first response to a crisis becomes the children's first response in their later lives.- Encourage responsible behavior. Be positive with them as they undertake new tasks, regardless of their initial level of success. Give additional responsibilities as young people prove themselves.

Encourage hard work. Assist them to seek and obtain employment. Request their help on home improvement projects as well as daily chores around the house. Hard work is a key to success in the mission field.

Encourage cooperative task management. When engaged in family projects or youth activities, facilitate the development of negotiation skills by using differences of opinion as learning opportunities. Emphasize flexibility and the usefulness of several perspectives in completing tasks. This will help missionaries in companionship relationships. - Timothy B. Smith, Vermillion, S.D.

What we did:

Family life

My daughter, upon introducing herself to a member of another stake, was surprised to have him reply, "Oh, you belong to that family that likes the missionaries so much!"

Having the full-time missionaries to dinner, occasionally, allows us to see beforehand the joys and struggles of mission life so we can better prepare. Our family goal is to read the Book of Mormon 10 times through and to memorize 50 missionary scriptures and 50 hymns before each child leaves home. We ask each new missionary who comes into our home what his/her favorite missionary scripture is. Then each child puts the missionary's name in the margin next to that reference, and we memorize it as a family.

Each summer, we have a family missionary preparation activity in our home. One of our children teaches language, one teaches culture, another manners, etc. All eight of our children have something to teach us that will prepare all for their missions.

In our family, we believe that life is a mission! - Anita Erb Bunker, Payette, Idaho

Felt the Spirit

What I have done to help prepare emotionally for my mission is that I try to go with the missionaries or whatever they need help with at least once a month. When I went with them to an investigator's house, I felt the Spirit the strongest I have ever felt it in my life. Now, the investigator is planning her baptism. I have noticed that especially when you are born in the Church some may take missions for granted. I always thought, "I'll learn about it later. It doesn't affect me now."

But it does. - Tyler Bangerter, Forest, Va.

Part of life's journey

The pre-mission emotional roller coaster ride can become fun for the whole family as everyone focuses on the great event about to happen - sending a family member off on a full-time mission.

Each of our eight children has been concerned and anxious about their missions as they prepared to leave home for 18 months or two years, but the knowledge that they had a solid support group behind them at home made it easier to serve.

As parents, we gladly serve stake missions when called and rejoice in that service, setting the example as adults. We talk of the wonderful day when it will be our turn to serve full-time. The children assimilate missionary work and sharing the gospel as a way of life, a lifelong expectation of Latter-day Saints. Frequent family discussions and great family home evenings have helped solidify the desire to serve. Attending missionary reports and being at the airport to send missionaries off and to welcome them home seals the feeling that a mission is a great, important happening as a part of life's journey - and not just an isolated event. - Jim and Karen Johnston, Pocatello, Idaho

Good attitude

Most important is one's attitude. Is the glass half empty or half full? Different events are inevitably going to happen to us. So the trick is to always be optimistic. A lot of doors will be slammed in your face, but if you can always walk away smiling, you've already won. The glass is always half full.

Also effective is to prepare physically, spiritually and socially. If you are well versed, can endure miles of walking each day, and can get along with others, then you already have that much less to worry about. - Noah Blue Edvalson, Riga, Latvia

Loving home

When I was turning 19, I was debating whether or not to serve a mission. My parents expressed their desire to me to serve a mission and then backed off and let me make my own decision. I believe their basis for this approach is that they had raised me in the gospel and in a loving home environment, and they trusted that I would make the right decision. I did. - Ted Timmons, Baltimore, Md.

`When, not if'

Recently, we accompanied our son, Scott, to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. He has been called to the Dominican Republic Santo Domingo West Mission. Throughout his life, we prepared him emotionally by using the sentence, "when you serve your mission," not "if."

We consistently invited the missionaries to dinner as the opportunity was available to interact with Scott and our daughter, Amy. The missionaries shared mission experiences, their excitement of the gospel and their testimonies.

Positive, uplifting experiences through Young Men, Scouting, Especially for Youth and seminary have been emotional building blocks. Continued family support and love, conversations, pats on the back, and physically being involved in his life have strengthened his emotional desire in arriving at his decision to serve a mission.

Using positive verbal encouragement, interacting with missionaries in our home, utilizing Church programs, and giving emotional and physical family support have all contributed to his emotional preparation in serving a mission. - Deborah Brown, Greenwood, Ind.

How to checklist:

1 Teach reliance on the Lord; urge scripture study, prayer, Church attendance, service.

2 Strengthen coping, social skills; teach them to work.

3 Make preparation part of everyday family life; don't wait until they are of age.

4 Familiarize them with mission life; get to know missionaries.

Write to us:

Oct. 3 "How to strengthen your marriage when your spouse is less-active or non-LDS."

Oct. 17 "How to make a will that will foster love, not jealousy, between children."

Oct. 24 "How to cope with multiple personal tragedies at one time."

Oct. 31 "How to avoid seasonal depression."

Nov. 7 "How to make the hymns more meaningful in our lives."

Nov. 14 "How to make the holiday season more meaningful."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to avoid greed," "How to make transition from being newly married to becoming new parents," "How to plan ahead for the different stages of life," "How to avoid the gambling trap."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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