Friday, June 20, 2008

More Misson Prep.

In an earlier post, I mentioned ways families can help young people prepare to serve missions. Suggestions included having regular Family Home Evenings, having consistent scripture study and prayers, setting an example of faithfulness, encouraging high-school age children to attend seminary, providing opportunities for children to gain and strengthen testimonies, and finding time to discuss the gospel.

In addition to these, other areas in which parents can help future missionaries prepare include:

1. Personal Fitness

My son was not interested in sports at all in high school. He was involved in theater and constantly amazed me with his performance skills. However, when he began his mission, he wasn’t as physically fit as he might have been. A mission is not only hard spiritually and emotionally, it’s also physically demanding. The more a young man or woman can become physically fit, the better.

2. Finances

If a prospective missionary hasn’t learned how to balance his funds, difficulties may arise while he is far from home. Allow a future missionary to have a checking account and teach him how to keep it balanced.

Despite my attempts to explain the income/outgo process as it relates to finances, some of my kids still seem to think there’s a big money tree that grows in the backyard. Now that my oldest daughter has attended college for a year, she’s much more aware of money and what it takes to survive. A year or more of living on their own will certainly teach future missionaries how to handle finances.

3. Social Skills

Those who learn how to communicate and socialize with others will be better missionaries. Young men and women who have associated with many different people will be better able to relate to those investigating The Church. Learning to be compassionate and understanding of others’ beliefs and situations will make prospective missionaries more effective as they go out into the world with the gospel message.

4. Household Skills

Young men and women should know how to wash clothes, iron, sew, and cook.

I admit, I’ve failed my children at this. Sure, they can pour cold cereal, boil water for some Top Ramen, or make spaghetti, but I haven’t given them a course in cooking. Nor have I turned over laundry to them. In fact, I had to write laundry instructions on a piece of paper just before my son entered the MTC (I’m talking a few minutes before we walked into the building with him) so he wouldn’t ruin his clothes. I was pleased to hear that his shirts were still white and he hadn’t washed them with his jeans after his first few weeks at the MTC. I’ve also been relieved to know that he hasn’t attempted to wash his suits. Maybe I haven’t been such a failure after all.

The more we can help our sons and daughters prepare to serve missions, the better missionaries they’ll be. The most effective missionaries are those that are well-prepared before entering the mission field.

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