Mission Made Possible


Young men in Illinois are making their future missions possible through planning and saving in their own unique ways.

Welcome to the New Era files. Go ahead. Walk into our make-believe room full of filing cabinets, and pull open a few drawers. You’ll notice some of the drawers are labeled “Good Examples” or “Activity Ideas” or “How I Gained My Testimony.” Now go to the file drawer labeled “Saving Money for a Mission.”

It’s time to take a look into the files of a few Latter-day Saint young men in the Chicago, Illinois, area. These young men have two things in common with each other: They are saving for their missions, and they’re doing a great job.

Name: Adam Sessions Age: 12 Ward: Morgan Park Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake Preferred Title: Service Man Adam

As you look in the first file you’ll see Adam’s plan. It’s simple: “For every five dollars I get, I give two to my mission fund,” he says. He also always makes sure to pay his tithing before he sets aside the 40 percent for his mission.

Adam started saving while trying to fulfill his goals in the Duty to God program. One of the goals is to start saving money for a mission. “I just opened a bag, stuck some money in, and started,” he says. He plans on opening a bank account right away.

Starting at 12 might seem early, but Adam’s really excited that he has seven years to save for his mission. He’s not old enough to have a part-time job, but he does jobs for people in his neighborhood, such as emptying recycling bins, shoveling walks, and putting newspapers on the front doorsteps of a few elderly widows. He’s up early in the morning to get his jobs done, and he counts his jobs as small blessings that will one day help his mission fund add up.

“A mission is one of the most important parts of your life. Save up now, and go for two years to help people come to the gospel, and you will be blessed,” Adam says.

Along with his financial preparation, Adam has also set a goal to finish reading the Book of Mormon by the time he’s 13. He reads every day. He’s also trying to magnify his calling as a deacon, so he will be prepared to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood when the time comes. His dad went on a mission, as did his grandpa and great-grandpa Sessions. He’s looking forward to following in their footsteps.

Name: Nathan Neeley Age: 15 Ward: Westchester First Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake Preferred Title: Babysitter Extraordinaire

Nathan started saving when he was even younger than Adam. When he was 10, he began delivering papers, shoveling snow, and mowing lawns. Now that he’s 15, he’s what he likes to call a “Babysitter Extraordinaire” for some of the families in his ward. He loves spending time with children, so it’s a great job for him. After paying tithing, he puts away 10 percent of each paycheck for his mission.

He’s had the desire to serve since Primary when he sang “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” (Children’s Songbook, 169). “And when my brother went,” he says, “that made me want to go even more. It made a big difference for me. He set the example. He really changed his attitude toward life because of his mission.”

Going on a mission is really important to Nathan, not only because his dad thinks it’s really important or because his older brother set the example. He says, “It’s a commandment. I really need to go on a mission. It’s an important thing.”

Name: David Montoya Age: 17 Ward: Orland Park Ward, Chicago Illinois Stake Preferred Title: Magician Monte

Now you see it; now you don’t. David’s paycheck disappears into his mission fund so fast you’d think it was one of the coins he can make appear or disappear at will. A master of the sleight of hand, David turned his magic hobby into mission dollars when he started working at a magic store and later performing as “Magician Monte” at local restaurants and birthday parties on weekends. Now that he’s attending a local community college, he has a job as a bank teller and only does his magic show on the side.

“Your mission starts way before your mission,” David says, as he looks sage-like over the top of his glasses. He’s been preparing since he was 12, when he decided he wanted to go on a mission. Sacrifice and discipline are what David credits with his successful mission-savings plan. He started putting away half his paycheck when he was 14. At 17, he almost has all his mission money saved.

He’s been preparing in other ways, too, like staying fit, studying the scriptures, and learning how to talk to people about the gospel. “Saving money is very important because it gets one thing out of the picture so you can focus on the spiritual things,” David explains. He also tries to magnify his callings and set an example. “I think it’s very important as a priest to set an example for the teachers and the deacons.”

David’s dad set the example for him. He loves to hear his dad’s mission stories and enjoys setting an example for others. But “even if they weren’t in my life,” he says, “I’m sure I’d want to go on a mission because it’s a commandment.” He also makes sure he fulfills another commandment by faithfully paying his tithing.

Name: Anthony Haga Age: 19 Ward: Rock Island Ward, Davenport Iowa Stake Preferred Title: Elder Haga

The last file we’ll look at is probably the biggest. It’s been around the longest. Anthony’s first job was as a bagger at a grocery store on an air base. He saved 25 percent of his money for his mission fund at first. He later got a job at a car wash through a friend in his seminary class. He’s been working there ever since and has been saving half his earnings for his mission. A few months ago, however, Anthony realized he wouldn’t meet his goal if he maintained this saving pattern. He would have to step it up. So he cut his other expenses and started putting away much more money. And he counts it as a blessing of paying tithing that he also got a raise at work. He’s going to make it.

And it’s a good thing too, because he just got his mission call to Boise, Idaho. Because he’s been through saving for his mission, Anthony has some advice: “Be prepared to work for your money, but I can testify that when you work to earn as much as you can, then the Lord will take care of the rest.”

He also counsels other young men and women preparing for missions to be spiritually ready. He reads his scriptures every night and morning, studies Church history, memorizes the scripture mastery scriptures, and listens to advice from his parents, among other things, all in preparation for his mission.

Like Nathan Neeley, Anthony also remembers being inspired when he sang “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission” in Primary. Through his faith, diligence, and preparation, the hymn he’s singing now is “Called to Serve” (Hymns, no. 249).

Your Mission

As you close the filing cabinet on these Illinois young men and walk out of the room, don’t forget their examples of hard work as they prepare for their missions by saving and becoming spiritually and physically prepared. Oh, and on your way out, don’t try to peek in the “Tips for Finding an Eternal Companion” files … they’re not accessible until you come back.

How Much Does a Mission Cost?

Missionaries have a set amount of money each month for rent, travel, food, etc. Besides the monthly cost, however, there are some other expenses you might need to consider as you plan for your mission. (Amounts listed in U.S. dollars.) Monthly cost: $375 (That adds up to $9,000 for 24 months and $6,750 for 18 months.) Immunizations: Anywhere from $50 to more than $200 Passport: $80 Emergency cash: $60 for Missionary Training Center, $100 for mission

After you receive your mission call, you will be sent a list of necessities such as luggage, a shoulder bag, the missionary library, a first-aid kit, a sewing kit, bedding, and clothing (for men: a suit or two, white shirts, ties, shoes, coat, work clothing, and baptismal clothing; for women: dress shoes, nylons, coat, work clothes, and dresses or shirts and skirts).

[photos] Photography by Shanna Butler

[photos] Adam Sessions and Nathan Neeley do odd jobs and babysit to earn mission money.

[photos] David Montoya’s money magically appears when he performs his magic shows. He also works as a bank teller. Anthony Haga earned his mission money cleaning cars. His hard work will pay off on his mission in Boise, Idaho.