Tips for Preparing Your Missionary

In preparing for my mission, I wanted to do my best to meet the challenges of being away from my family and the comforts of home for two years. My preparations blessed me and enhanced my ability to serve. Following are ideas parents might use to help their teenagers prepare for missions and other opportunities away from home.

  1. 1.

    Become familiar with the scriptures. In the Book of Mormon, we learn that the righteous were those who followed the teachings of the Lord and “believed those records which were brought out of the land of Jerusalem” (see Alma 3:11–12). Wherever I travel or live, my standard works and other Church publications go with me. Make family and personal scripture study a priority in your home.

  2. 2.

    Be friendly. Encourage your children to make friends with neighbors and trusted individuals wherever they go. Emphasize the importance of remembering people’s names. Having a circle of good friends will enrich your teenager’s experience.

  3. 3.

    Appreciate other cultures. People respect visitors from other countries who enjoy the culture. Your children may encounter new foods or ways of dressing, communicating, and socializing. Help them learn to appreciate appropriate traditions found in their new surroundings.

  4. 4.

    Learn about the new locale. No one has to be a geography expert to learn where the local post office, market, police station, library, and other facilities are located. It is also essential that young people develop good map skills to navigate their way successfully, independent of your assistance.

  5. 5.

    Develop a talent. Wherever I go, I want to enrich others’ lives. Prior to serving my mission, I learned to play the piano to accompany Church hymns and teach piano lessons in the wards and branches where I would serve. Encourage your children to develop talents that will help them grow as they share with others.

  6. 6.

    Learn to cook. Before my mission whenever my mom cooked, I tried to assist her and write down her recipes. In the process, I created my own recipe book to use on my mission. It is also helpful to teach your children other household tasks to encourage their self-reliance.

  7. 7.

    Become a smart shopper. To be frugal with their funds, your teenagers will need to look for bargains. When I shop, I’m careful to get the most for my money. In many countries, parents can teach their children to compare weekly grocery advertisements or in-store displays and product labels to discern which product sizes are most economical.

I have continued to use these skills to help me with school and other aspects of my life. I wanted to prepare well for my mission, and in doing so, I have prepared well for my future too.

Mbaba Manasseh S., Ibadan Fourth Branch, Ibadan Nigeria District

[illustrations] Illustrations by Joe Flores

Using Church Magazines

During a visit from our high councilor to our ward, he gave a short but profound talk encouraging us to read the Church magazines with our families. Referring to Lehi beckoning his family toward the tree of life, our high councilor admonished us to read the magazines and “partake of the fruit.”

To help our family, I first divided the magazines into different “bite-size” portions that we could easily read on several occasions.

1. Read a short article or parts of an article aloud at family council each Sunday. Suggest that one person choose an article from a magazine and share a message in his or her own words.

2. Read aloud one or two articles at dinner or bedtime. By doing this, we gradually make our way through an issue of the Friend.

3. Study an article at family home evening. Once a month have the family choose an article to focus on from old or current Church magazines. (Past issues of the Church magazines are available on the Internet at Pair older children with younger siblings so they can read aloud to them. Others read silently for a few minutes and then come back together to share what was learned. This is a time of feasting for the family when everyone contributes to the process.

4. Make a goal chart to encourage reading. Create with your children a reading chart of articles they would like to read from the different magazines. Hang the chart in a location where they will see it daily. A sticker can be placed beside each completed article as family members finish their various readings. Then discuss with your children what they liked and learned. To help encourage your children, make a chart for yourself and let them play the role of marking it and asking you questions about what you read. When the chart is completed, you could give a small reward or treat to celebrate the achievement of your goals together.

Whether you choose to incorporate the Church magazines into your family life in large or small bites, they can have a significant influence on family unity and spirituality. Though choosing to make them a part of your life takes some planning, the resultant blessings are well worth the effort. “Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).

Cynthia Mar Thomas, Oak Hills Second Ward, Provo Utah Oak Hills Stake

Taking Care of “Family Business”

Throughout the years, our family home evenings have changed to meet our growing family’s needs. One practice that has helped us accommodate change has been what we call “family business.” After the opening prayer and song, we take time to discuss the week’s schedule: Who needs to be where and when? Who is taking the car? Sister Smith needs help; could we help her on Thursday? We also discuss family policies: Could we change the way we are doing the dishes? I don’t agree with the 10-minute phone rule. Could we discuss it?

“Family business” is an important part of our family home evenings. It is often the best time to listen, compromise, and enforce where needed, instead of during the heat of a debate. During the week I sometimes find myself saying, “Let’s think about that and discuss it at home evening,” giving me the time needed to seek insight and inspiration. Of course, not every issue will wait for a Monday-night discussion. But if your family has already practiced problem-solving skills together, it will be much easier to resolve conflicts whenever they arise.

Cecelie Costley, Mink Creek Ward, Preston Idaho North Stake

[illustration] Illustration by Beth Whittaker