I went to a missionary farewell this past Sunday. This future missionary just happened to be my husband’s cousin. We don’t see them too often, so it was nice to be able to go hear him speak. I was very impressed by his poise and his ability to give such a great talk pre-mission. He hardly had any notes he was following either. I don’t think I was that well spoken before serving a mission. But, he did a fabulous job, and sounded like a young man that was ready to do what the Lord expected.
I went up to his Dad afterward and said that I was really impressed by how well he did. He responded that his last semester at school he took 5 institute classes! He said that was what prepared him to give such a great talk and have such a firm testimony already. I definitely think those institute classes prepared him to become a spiritual powerhouse that will have a wonderful mission in South America.
I thought a little bit about myself and my own preparation. I was not totally prepared. I had what I always thought was a strong testimony until I entered the missionary training center. Then, I felt like my testimony grew like crazy, and I realized that my core beliefs prepared me to gain an even stronger testimony in the future both on my mission, and afterward.
Yet today, the young men and women are stronger. They prepare more. They are expected to already have gained that knowledge BEFORE they leave. How can they do it? Here are a few ideas:
It is never too young to prepare. I remember on my mission a little family that had a 4 year old boy that had already memorized, Called to Serve. I was impressed. In addition to that, if he acted up, they told him the mission president was going to be upset and give him a call. Since he had two returned missionaries for parents, missionary work was emphasized in the home at a very young age. I have no doubts that little boy is still preparing for his mission.
If you don’t have that kind of home environment, soak up the Spirit wherever you can. Read scriptures, go the temple ( or even visit the grounds often), study Preach my Gospel, and surround yourself with others that are encouraging or preparing to serve missions themselves. Listen to uplifting music and watch old conference talks online. Subscribe to the mormon channel and watch uplifting videos. There are countless ways to stay connected to the Lord through the Spirit. Take 5 institute classes if necessary.
Gain a testimony of Joseph Smith. As a missionary, everything hinges on whether or not you can gain that testimony that he truly was a prophet. If you can gain that testimony before your mission, you will be that much better off in teaching others about the Gospel.
Sacrifice something now. Missions come with a lot of sacrifice. Prepare yourself by giving up something now that you love. Maybe you do this for a short period of time, but it will show you that anything is possible with the help of the Lord, and it will prepare you for all the sacrifices you will have to make as a missionary.
I could go on and on, but you really can never be too prepared to serve a mission. It will strengthen your testimony, but the challenges will also help you grow in ways you never imagined.