The following are some Frequently Asked Questions that we field daily in our stores. They concern more of the physical aspects of missionary service. For a full complement of excellent questions and answers about missionary work itself, we refer readers to the LDS church website. www.lds.org/callings/missionary This particular section of the Church website has many great answers to common questions.
The answers here are based on the experiences of returned missionaries that have filled out surveys in our stores, our many employees that have served in the field over the 20 years we have been in business, and our research in talking directly with the Missionary Department and the MTC as well as our own missions. These answers may change from time to time, and of course often the answers can vary based on your mission president or circumstances in the world. For the most part, however, we feel confident that these answers are meaningful and helpful in most circumstances.
1. Can we take slip extenders on our mission?
This one we know for sure. It is explained clearly in the dress and grooming guidelines that skirts themselves should be long enough to cover the knee. (see http://missionary.lds.org/dress-grooming/sister/faq/?lang=eng#bookmark5) We have spoken with both the MTC and the Missionary Department and both have said that they do not want slips to extend beyond the length of the skirt. So, slip extenders by definition are inappropriate. Purchase skirts that are the correct length. We carry them in appropriate lengths for sisters, and offer alterations to make sure the length is right for you, depending on your height. Also, now with the “maxi skirt” being readily available, you can alter any extra long skirt to the proper length.
2. How long is knee length?
We are often asked this question, and the easiest way to explain it is a skirt that covers the knee completely—both front and back—when sitting and standing. We have actually had customers ask, “if a skirt hits the top of the kneecap, does that count?” No. Skirts must be long enough to cover the knee.
There are some skirts that cover the knee completely when standing, but are straight enough that when sitting they will come above the knee, such as a pencil style skirt. If that is the case, you might find it more appropriate to wear a fuller skirt or wear the slimmer skirt style in a little longer length. Also, if serving in a bike mission, or a mission where you are sitting on dirt floors, a fuller skirt is a better choice anyhow and will be more versatile.
Ankle length skirts aren't appropriate, but you can have them hemmed to the right length.
3. Will I be hot in dark colors in a hot climate?
We get asked this one a lot. Your comfort level will have more to do with the thickness, weave, and fiber of the fabric than the color. Don't be afraid of lightweight polyester fabrics since they stay dry and cool throughout the day unlike their cotton counterparts.
Many a sister has loved the basic, conservative dark skirt. Some of the “pros” of wearing darker colored skirts are that they hide figure flaws easier, hide dirt easier, and don't stain as easily.
4. What fabric is the best for humid climates?
The three main things to consider when dressing for a humid climate are the thickness, the weave, and the fiber content of the garment.
In hot, humid climates, choose lightweight fabrics in a looser weave that are made out of fibers that dry quickly. We suggest taking blouses made from artificial fibers, or cotton blends that are lightweight.
In cold, humid climates, we suggest layers of thinner fabrics under thicker fabrics. Choose fabrics that are a tighter weave of fibers that maintain body heat. One of our favorites is wool blends, because even when wet, wool still insulates. (unlike cotton that just stays wet in humidity.)
Many people think cotton is a good choice in humidity, but it is not the best choice unless it is in a blend. When blended with an artificial fiber like nylon or polyester, plain cotton is more durable and dries more quickly. The blended fiber also helps with wrinkle resistance. 100% cotton wrinkles terrible in humidity, and when you sweat, it can be uncomfortable. In a hot climate, the cotton is just wet, and in a cold climate, the cotton holds moisture that can chill you when you go out into the elements again.
5. Isn't it better to wear completely flat shoes than something with a little heel or pitch?
Wearing a shoe that elevates the heel a little will make your foot more comfortable, and ease the pressure on your joints while walking. The American Medical Pediatric Association has also linked bunions to wearing shoes that are too flat (see www.apma.org), and other foot problems like plantar fasciitis can be aggravated by wearing shoes that are too flat. So, don't be afraid of finding a shoe with good support—even if it means wearing a little more of a heel than you thought.
6. Should I bring enough toiletries to last my whole mission?
This is a question often asked of us by missionaries called to serve overseas. Generally we suggest against this. They add a significant amount of weight to your luggage, and many comparable items are available in areas outside of the US.
Even so, there are some areas where thinking ahead can serve you. This is where it can pay to talk with someone who has visited or served in the area where you are serving. Some of the more common suggestions we have heard are to take antiperspirant deodorant, toothpaste with fluoride, and feminine hygiene products. As for the heavier things (think shampoo and conditioner), they are generally available worldwide.
7. I am going to “third world” country, should I take a water bottle with a filter?
This is usually unnecessary, but you might want to contact the mission to make sure. Most mission residences where you will live as a missionary will make arrangements for you to have filtered water.
8. Are they going to count my items in my suitcase to make sure I didn't bring too many clothes?
No. However, be aware of the weight requirements of your luggage and plan accordingly. If you are serving overseas in a place that is remote, you may want to risk having to pay the extra baggage charge to make sure you have what you need. It is better to pay a little more up front than to be stuck in the field unprepared or having to pay a lot of money to ship needed items.
9. Should I take vitamins with me?
It is a good idea to bring a multi vitamin with you on your mission, but check with your president too. In some places where nutritious foods are expensive or unavailable, the mission often provides vitamins and supplements to the missionaries. If you are going stateside, it is a great idea to have a multi-vitamin just because it is good for general health.
10. Do they sell feminine hygiene products overseas that I use here I the US?
This is probably the most frequently asked question for sisters serving overseas. The simple answer is that every country will have something that they carry, but depending on the culture, it may not be what you are accustomed to using. In underdeveloped countries it is far more common to find sanitary napkins than tampons, and the quality is not the same as it is in the US. In many places there are also more cultural taboos against unmarried women purchasing tampons in public, and the prices are high. So, this is one area where we highly recommend taking enough for your mission or making arrangements for your family to send them to you in the field if that is what you use. We also suggest taking them out of the box, and putting them packed flat in ziploc bags so they aren't ruined by humidity, rain, etc. On that same note, be aware that they may not have the same type of pain reliever you use here in the US, so it is a great idea to take a large bottle of tylenol or ibuprofen in your checked luggage.