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Journaling on Your Mission

Journaling on Your Mission

I remember that soon after being set apart and beginning the home MTC, my dad came into my room to say goodnight. He asked if I'd been journaling about my experiences, and I was proud to tell him that I had. I knew I'd regret not keeping a journal, so I'd already begun recording what life was like as a missionary in the home MTC. My dad told me he was glad to hear that, and then he made me promise that I would write in my journal every day of my mission. He said that even if I wrote one sentence, or even if what I wrote was embarrassing, I should write it. I promised him I would, and I didn't break that promise. I wrote in my journal every single day of my mission, and I continued the habit until today (almost 2 years since returning home!).

I don't say this to toot my own horn, because I was definitely horrible at keeping a journal before my mission. But somehow, I knew my mission would be something I'd want to remember, and something my descendants would want to know about. I served during COVID-19, which made my experience somewhat unique. Even though you may be serving in what seems like a "normal" situation, your mission is unique too. Your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will love to read about your experiences and learn from your mission.

The Lord has commanded many people in ancient and modern times to keep a record. Think about what would have happened if Moses had decided not to record what the Israelites went through. Or if Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John just assumed they'd remember every detail and share it by word of mouth. Or if Joseph Smith decided no one would want to read about the vision of a 14-year-old farm boy. It may not feel like it, but your mission journal can have the same kind of impact on those who will read it generations from now. Keep the record.

Here are some ideas to get you started and to keep you going:

1. Just write something, ANYTHING. Even if you didn't do anything interesting, or you're too tired to hold the pen, write something. I've had a lot of entries that simply say, "It was a long day, and I'm tired."

2. If you miss a day (or a few days), don't stress too much about catching up. Before my mission, I would get so hung up about catching up, that I wouldn't write for months at a time. Just start on the day you start. It's ok.

3. Write about the hard times too. Missions are hard, and it's ok to write about that. Your future children who serve missions will appreciate knowing you had hard times too.

4. Make it interesting. I laugh about it now, but my first mission journal is very colorful. Each day I would write in a different color pen. I also have journals where I chose to write two things I was grateful for at the end of each entry. Currently, I write at least one miracle that I have seen each day. It keeps your entries interesting, and it gets you thinking about your day.

5. Don't worry about writing every single detail. You don't need lots of details! Just write the key moments and favorite memories.

6. Follow the Spirit. I often will take a minute to listen to what the Spirit is telling me as I write. Sometimes I'm prompted to include or exclude details. Other times I reminded of important spiritual experiences I had throughout the day that I should write. Just listen, He knows what you should write.

However and whenever you choose to journal, keep this quote in mind from President Kimball: "Get a notebook, my young folks, a journal that will last through all time, and maybe the angels may quote from it for eternity. Begin today and write in it your goings and comings, your deepest thoughts, your achievements and your failures, your associations and your triumphs, your impressions and your testimonies...Some of what you write may be humdrum dates and places, but there will also be rich passages that will be quoted by your posterity."