Congratulations! You got your call! You know the where, when, and what language, but now what? Preparing for a mission can seem daunting, and if you're anything like me, you have no idea where to even start. Here are 6 things that you can do to prepare for this life-changing opportunity!
Read the Book of Mormon
Maybe you've read it hundreds of times, maybe you've read only 1 Nephi hundreds of times. No matter your experience with the Book of Mormon, it's time to pull it out and read it. The Book of Mormon is your teaching material. Read it, study it, mark it up. You'll use it everyday, so it's good to get familiar with it now! When testifying of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith said, "...a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” What better way to prepare to serve God than by getting nearer to Him through the Book of Mormon?
Read Preach My Gospel
The First Presidency Message at the beginning of Preach My Gospel says, "Preach My Gospel is intended to help you be a better-prepared, more spiritually mature missionary." When I got to the mission field, I realized I was woefully unprepared because I was extremely unfamiliar with Preach My Gospel. My mission president and companions all expected me to serve and teach based on the principles in Preach My Gospel, and I'd barely opened it before! It's a good idea to read through all of Preach My Gospel, but I recommend focusing on Chapter 3. That is the chapter you will use most often as you teach others. If you're learning a language, study Chapter 7 as well!
Attend the Temple
I mistakenly thought that I would have plenty of opportunities to attend the temple as a missionary. However, I only had one chance as a special Christmas gift from my mission leaders. Many missions still don't have temples, and if they do it takes too much time to get there. So it's a great idea to take advantage of any temples near you while you still can. Remembering the promises made to you in the temple can bring great strength and hope on your mission.
You may have heard that missionary work has switched over to social media, and you may be hoping that means you won't have to tract. It is true that the Lord has given us social media as an incredible tool to further His work, but that doesn't mean we put away the old tools! Depending on your mission, you'll still be doing a lot of walking and biking. Going on a walk or bike ride everyday before you leave can be a great way to get your body ready for how physically demanding missions can be.
Talk to People
I always knew I wanted to go on a mission, but I dreaded talking to perfect strangers. It's ok to feel nervous about that! After all, we grew up being told to stay away from strangers. Setting a goal to talk to one or two new people everyday can help build your confidence. If you decide to bear your testimony during those conversations, even better! If not, that's ok. Just do your best to get comfortable talking A LOT! And don't worry, it does get a little easier the more you do it.
Get Advice from Returned Missionaries
You're not the only one who has ever had to prepare for a mission! Ask the returned missionaries in your life what they did to prepare. I'm sure they'll have plenty of advice and recommendations. Don't be tempted to leave out the older folks either. They may not know what it's like to be a social media missionary, but they probably have great advice about how to be a good companion, how to wash clothes in a third world country, and how to cook on a budget. Any advice is helpful, even if you don't end up using it.
As you prepare, just remember that there will always be curveballs. You can do all you can to prepare, and it will still be hard to adjust. Keep a good relationship with the Lord, and trust that He loves you and wants what's best for you. Ultimately, He's the one who is truly prepared to help you. You've got this with His help, and it will be an incredible experience!