Tuesday, May 3, 2016

FAQs about Missionaries

As I’ve been going through this process I’ve had a lot of people ask me questions about missions. I decided to make a post answering some of these questions because I’m sure many people have similar ones! If anyone has any more questions about LDS missionaries or LDS beliefs, feel free to ask me!

How was it determined where I was sent?
Before all of my paperwork was sent to the missionary department in Salt Lake I had several interviews with my various ecclesiastical leaders. I also met with doctors, a dentist, an oral surgeon, an optometrist, and a psychologist. I filled out a lot of paperwork and wrote about many things including my family, language ability, grades, talents, and driving history. It took me about two months to complete all of that, then my application was sent off.

A missionary assignment meeting is held weekly. The assignment is made by a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostle, and he is assisted by someone in the missionary department. To learn more about my belief of a living prophet and apostles, see this article https://www.mormon.org/beliefs/restoration . He goes in fasting and sincerely prays about where each missionary should go and prays to know “perfectly” where each missionary should be assigned. He spends several minutes reviewing one screen with the missionaries’ application and one screen with the needs of the various missions around the world (around 420 missions.) Prompted by the Spirit, he makes the assignment.

Elder Oaks making an assignment.

How will I learn Spanish?
Before I go to Houston I will receive six weeks of training. My training consists of classes about how to be a missionary, as well as Spanish classes. This will take place at the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. There are fifteen MTCs around the world, and I was assigned to this one. It is the only one located in the United States.Language training at the MTC is intense and consists of learning in classes almost all day. I have also started studying Spanish on my own!

What will I be doing as a missionary?
As a missionary my purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ. I will be teaching others about Christ and His restored gospel. I will help others develop faith in Christ. I will also spend a lot of time serving the community in Houston. Missionaries spend a lot of time performing service, from helping an elderly woman with yard work to serving at a community food bank.

Are missionaries paid?
No. LDS missionaries are volunteers and receive no financial compensation (but lots of blessings!) LDS missionaries must pay their own way. My family will be financially supporting me while I am gone.

How long will I be gone?
I will be serving for eighteen months. I leave June 8th, 2016 and will return in December of 2017.

Will I come home to visit?
Nope, I will stay in the Houston area the entire time. My family will not be visiting me while I am gone, as well.

How will I stay in contact with my friends and family?
I will communicate through weekly emails. I can also receive and write letters. I will video call my family on Christmas and Mother’s Day.

Will I go back to school after my mission?
Yes! Since I will return in December I will start school again that January. I will continue studying French Education and will add a second major in Spanish Education. I plan to spend a semester studying in France, and then it should take me another five semesters to graduate.

I am so happy for the opportunity I have to serve as a missionary! Everyday I feel more and more blessed. The gospel has made me so happy and filled my life with so much peace, and I cannot wait to share that joy with others! I am not going on a mission to force my beliefs upon anyone, but if someone wants to know more about my faith I will be happy to tell them all about it! I know I was sent to Houston, speaking Spanish, for a reason. I do not know all of the reasons yet, but I cannot wait to find out! I am not going on a mission because anyone expects me to go or because I am taking a break in my life. I am going because I want to invite others to come unto Christ. I want to help prepare the world for His second coming. I know it will not be easy riding a bike around Houston in the middle of the humid summer, trying to find people who will listen to what I have to say, and trying to communicate in Spanish. But, I know it will be worth it, and Heavenly Father will help me. With Him, all things are possible.

Doctrine and Covenants 6:36
Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, fear not.