30 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Mission

Hind-sight is one of the best teachers. So why not learn from someone who has already lived through it? For those who haven’t yet served a Mission, here are just a few things that I could think of that would have made my life easier to know ahead of time.

  1. Writing the Mission Home address gets taxing. Before leaving on your Mission, buy some of those printable labels from Walmart. Then, whenever you write a letter, you can just stick that on the letter instead of having to write it out by hand.
  2. Keep a small notebook of “Spiritual Thoughts” with you at all times. You never know when you’ll get called on, or when you need to share a dinner message and your mind will go blank.
  3. Hate writing by hand? Me too. I bought one of these on my Mission. It was a LIFESAVER. And consecrated, too. I would write all my journals and letters on it, and then upload it to the computer on P-Days.
  4. One thing you have to remember: You cannot help everyone. Some people simply need counseling. And until they get that, they won’t be able to accept you or your message.
  5. You will be stuck with that one companion that you wish you never had. Live it up and make the best of it while you can.
  6. Whenever you hear/find a good talk, print it off and add it to a binder. It makes a great tool to study throughout your Mission.
  7. Buy a few extra “magnet tags” from the Mission Office. They can be used as magnets on the fridge, and it’ll make your Mom think of you daily. Also, they can be given to members when you leave an area and help them remember you.
  8. Weekly Planning is boring. Each week, just to switch things up, plan at a different location just to break up the monotony. The park, the church, etc.
  9. Take at least one picture a day. You only serve a Mission once. Even the most stupid pictures at the time will turn into precious gems after the Mission. And in this digital age, you can always delete them when you get home if you don’t want them.
  10. Buy flushable wipes and keep them in your bathroom. I made fun of companions who did this. I tried it and it changed my life. Nobody wants a stinky bum.
  11. In my Mission, the Work and the Tribute to the Prophet by Nashville Tribute were very popular. Anyone who is anyone knows the songs on these CDs. Other popular ones were the Lower Lights, and Nearer. Of course, be sure to run these by your Mission President to see if they’re accepted or not.
  12. If learning a new language, carry a small notebook with you at all times. Whenever you hear a new word that you don’t know, write it down. Ask the members or someone what it means. You will learn SO much faster this way. I used the front of the notebook for my words, and the back of the notebook for my spiritual thoughts (see number 2).
  13. Know the Gospel. This sounds like a stupid point, but I’m serious. I didn’t know the lessons or the doctrine before the Mission. When we were going over the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the MTC, I thought to myself, “Dang… This sounds a lot like the 4th Article of Faith.” Know the lessons BEFORE you get to the field. It’ll put you just that much farther ahead of everyone else.
  14. In the MTC, no backpacks are allowed in the cafeteria. They’re pretty serious about it, too. I tried to take mine in, and it got confiscated.
  15. Wear your watch face down so that it’s on the inside of your wrist, rather than the outside. When you’re inside a lesson and need to check the time, you can do it a lot less conspicuously and not make the person you’re teaching feel like you’re bored or in a rush.
  16. Instead of buying shoe polish, buy shoe “paint”. It’s about $4 at Walmart. Each morning before leaving the apartment, you can quickly touch up your shoes rather than taking a long time to polish them.
  17. Buy a box of matches ($1) from the store and place them in the bathroom. After using the bathroom, light a match, let it burn for a few seconds, and then blow it out. The smoke will mask those unwanted bathroom odors.
  18. During suit season, I found that my suit would get super dirty, since we had to wear it whenever we were out and about. Instead of wearing you suit coat, you can buy a cheap fleece jacket to wear over your suit. It keeps your warm, is washable (no dry cleaning), and it still looks presentable. This may not be allowed in your Mission, however.
  19. Because I was serving the Latino people, we would get fed all the time, often throughout the day. Regardless of what we would say, investigators and less-actives insisted on feeding us. When we got to our dinner appointment, we would often be so full we wouldn’t be able to eat. In order to not offend the members, we would call ahead and tell them, “We have an appointment soon. Do you think we could pick up the food?” That way, the members don’t get offended, you don’t have to overstuff yourself, and you’ll have lunch for the next day.
  20. The same can be done for members who cook gross food. Instead of suffering through it, you can simply call ahead and say, “Hermana, we have an appointment. Can we pick up the food instead?” If it’s good, you can eat it at your apartment. If it’s gross, you can toss it without upsetting your stomachs or hurting the members’ feelings.
  21. In order to save money on food costs, I would see some Missionaries who would eat nothing but oatmeal for breakfast, skip lunch, and then pig out on dinner. It would make the members feel like you really enjoyed their cooking, too.
  22. At dinner appointments, you can ask if you can take over the leftovers, too. That way you don’t have to spend money on lunch the next day.
  23. Another way to save your money is to not buy any groceries, and eat off of the dollar menu every single day. After 30 days, that’s only $30-$60, and you’ll still have a lot left over.
  24. I never did this, but I knew some Missionaries who would line the inside of their backpacks with a plastic bag. In the case of gross food, when the member isn’t looking, you can quickly throw the food into your backpack and throw it away once you get home. I prefer to use point number 20, though.
  25. Walmart’s “Great Value” brand toilet paper is incredible — inexpensive and absorbent!
  26. Don’t take the MTC so seriously. It’s such a short experience and you can only do it once. Joke, run around, ask like a fool. You can be serious in the field. Upon looking back, you’ll thank me.
  27. Wear flip-flops in the showers at the MTC. People have gross feet, and you can attract different fungi from so many people showering in the same place. Flip flops are sold in the MTC bookstore.
  28. My suggestion would be to buy just one suit coat, but three to five pairs of washable slacks that match your suit coat. That way your jacket goes with any pair of slacks you’re wearing, and you can just throw it on quick. This also prevents you from “high-priesting” it.
  29. Upon walking into the MTC, they’ll give you your name tag. On your name tag will be a bright orange “dork dot.” It’s to signify to others that you’re brand new. After a day or two, you’re able to take it off. Don’t just throw it away, though. Instead, save it in a journal or place it on the back of your tag. It’s a great memory.
  30. Don’t bother packing hangers in your suitcases. They take up a huge amount of space during transfers, and most apartments have lots of leftover hangers from previous Missionaries. And if you do decide you need more, you can buy 24 of them for $4 at Walmart. To me, $4 is worth the space that I could use for something else more important than hangers.

Do you have your own you’d like to add? Leave us a comment below, and we’ll add it to our list!

6 thoughts on “30 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My Mission

  • As a returned missionary who served Among the latinos, i was horribly offended by your food tactics. Throwing away food and calling ahead to not eat with people is horrible. You eat with the members and less active so they get to know you and trust you. It does not seem like throwing their food away or lying about appointment times would lead to them trusting you. Secondly, your time in the mtc is sacred time and is very serious. You are learning to be a missionary. It is sad to read your advice for new missionaries because it encourages them to be selfish and unkind.

  • Explanation on the No Backpack inside the cafeteria rule! It’s a fire code hazard to have bags all over the floor. We don’t have enough room to fit everyone’s bag. We’re not doing it to to be rude, so please do us a favor and don’t bring your bag to meals! (Don’t leave it out in the hallway, it’ll get taken there as well.)

  • I love a lot of your suggestions, but agree with Whitney that you are way off on the food issue. Members and non members alike sacrifice so missionaries can eat. If you don’t like it, eat a little of it. It is important that as missionaries to spend time with those who feed them. Often it is a dual purpose – to bring the spirit into the home and to feed the missionary. The return address idea is fantastic wish I had thought of it. Also, make sure you have plenty of office supplies. You will use them more than you realize.

  • Abandoning people from their meals is very rude, I agree, but even if the food is gross you can just eat a little bit and say you had a big lunch, instead of blowing them off. I love when the missionaries come to eat, so at least show up. If you really can’t be there than tell the truth.

  • I was very disappointed and confused when I read your odd suggestions. it was rude and inconsiderate of you to present such a biased opinion online. I am from South America and I had lived in two very different countries there; Argentina and Brazil. What you have said about “Latinos” does not in any way apply to all of the people there. I served a mission in S.L.C., Utah and I’m happy to say that I did not concentrate on the way a member cooks. I was grateful to have something to eat and people were kind enough to invite me into their homes. It is the worldwide opinion that someone who is ill-mannered will deliberately refuse to eat at someone’s house when they are the honored guest. It sets a bad example for missionaries and makes them seem “mal educados”. the MTC is an amazing experience and needs to be taken very seriously. Concentrate in serving the Lord and not in the food.

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