5 Things I wish I was told before I served a mission
As a returned missionary, I often think of things I wish I had learned or was taught before I went on my mission or even earlier on my mission. These things would have changed how I taught, and my approach to my missionary work. These are the 5 Things I wish I was told before I served a mission.
1st. Learn how you learn, and how others learn, then teach them how they learn.
A University of Alabama Study found that 65% of people learn visually (link). I never connected this, I always thought I was different, and most people were auditory learners. I have found that when you start teaching someone, it is good, to begin with saying “Our desire is to help you learn, and understand what we are teaching about Jesus Christ and His Gospel, how do you normally learn best?”
Right off the bat you know what you need to do, you know if you need to use “hands on” lessons (Tactile learning), or maybe you need to use object lessons or analogies (Visually learning), or if reading right out of the scriptures, and teaching them orally is best (Auditory learning).
It is VITAL that you teach them how they learn. Countless people on my mission remembered next to nothing of what they had been taught because they were taught in a different manner than they learn.
2nd. Don’t forget how you feel the Spirit.
Many missionaries felt the Spirit for the first time via music, during an EFY or something like that. Many of them when you ask stories of when they felt the Spirit also tell stories of powerful songs.
However, for some reason when we become missionaries we don’t use music??? I learned on my mission, the POWER of sacred music. I can’t tell you how many times singing a song like “O My Father” has brought someone to tears. If you can’t sing, don’t worry. God always uses imperfect servants!
President Grant Said the following. “It is not the eloquence that you possess which will carry conviction to the hearts of the people, but it is the Spirit of Almighty God that is burning in your hearts, and your desire for the salvation of souls…the singing of the songs of Zion, though imperfectly, with the inspiration of God, will touch the hearts of the honest more effectively than if sung well without the Spirit of God. Sing with the Spirit of God. Love the words that you sing. I love the songs of Zion.”
Take this story for example.
“Elders J. Golden Kimball and Charles A. Welch, neither of whom claim to sing well, while on a mission in the Southern States, were about to baptize some converts; a mob had assembled, and the brethren were given to understand that if they carried out their intentions of baptizing that the mob would throw them into the river. The brethren determined to go ahead no matter what the result might be. Before doing so, however, they sang a song. The song seemed to have such an effect upon the mob that they were almost transfixed.
The brethren proceeded with their baptisms, and then went some distance to attend to confirming the baptized. A message came from the mob asking them to come and sing that song again, and the request was complied with. The leader of the mob, Joseph Jarvis, afterwards joined the Church, and he stated to Elder Kimball that the sentiments of the hymn, and the inspiration attending the singing, as above related, converted him to the Gospel.” (Teachings; Heber J Grant)
Never underestimate the power of hymns, and songs, like “O My Father”, I remember my mission president sharing a story with us. At Temple Square, they decided to hold a survey about what they enjoyed the most. And, they said the number one thing people enjoyed was “How they felt when the Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang”and the overwhelming song that most people remembered and loved was “O My Father”.
“We get nearer to the Lord through music than perhaps through any other thing except prayer.”
President J. Reuben Clark Jr.
3rd. Earn the Lord’s trust, always follow the Spirit.
Near the halfway point of my mission, my mission president gave us this gem. “It is better to be trusted than to be loved” ~David O. McKay. It hit me, God loves everyone, but does He trust me? Have I earned His trust? Do I trust Him?
These things were swirling in my mind as I watched “On the Lord’s Errand” on Pday. While I watched the movie, a story comes where he fails to listen to the Spirit, and someone dies. When this said. “Fighting back the tears, Thomas S. Monson turned and walked back into the night. He vowed then and there that he would never again fail to act upon a prompting from the Lord. He would acknowledge the impressions of the Spirit when they came, and he would follow wherever they led him, ever to be “on the Lord’s errand.” (See this talk by Jeffrey R. Holland)
Then at the end, President Monson shares this.
“The sweetest experience I know in life is to feel a prompting and act upon it, and later find out that it was the fulfillment of someone’s prayer or someone’s need. And I always want the Lord to know that if He needs an errand run, Tom Monson will run that errand for Him.”
~Thomas S. Monson.
This changed my mission, I prayed that day and told God, I want to say the same. I want to be on Thy errands. And, it changed everything. The power and frequency of the promptings increased as I acted on them. I wish I had learned this earlier. As many times, it led us to either those who were ready to be baptized or those who were ready to come back to the Church.
4th. It might very well be the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
You will be with another person 24/7 for months on end (6 months was my longest companionship, luckily we got along very well). Learning how to communicate is vital. Learning how to set up expectations is important. You MUST learn to love your companion.
You also need to learn how to work. Working hard is an important trait of missionary work. Tracting is not fun. However, you can learn to enjoy what you can about it. It is a lot more enjoyable to tract with a friend, who you can talk with than tracting in silence. Learn to love it. Serve one another. Pray for your companion’s family and friends during companionship prayer. It melts anger away like the sun melts the morning frost.
5th. The “Ah-ha” moment is worth everything.
It is hard to express how amazing it is when you love someone, and you’re praying for them, and then during a lesson, they have the “Ah ha” moment. You see it all it click, and they say, “It is true”. All I can say is that the Spirit when that happens is something so powerful, it makes you feel like a million bucks and that you would be willing to knock a thousand doors if it meant you experience it again.
If you liked this one, you might like 7 Ways to Come “Pre-Trained” for Your Mission. A Mission Prep Guide!