Editor’s note: Choosing to serve a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is a commitment to a life of discipleship, and to a disciplined life. Missionaries volunteer for service, and pay their own way. For the duration of their missions (18-24 months), they seek to devote themselves completely to the service of their fellowmen, and their God. To enhance awareness of spiritual feelings, and improve their attention to the people around them, missionaries strive to minimise selfish pursuits (such as compulsive shopping), refrain from time-consuming entertainments (such as computer games), and willingly abstain from most forms of media (such as tv, film, radio, magazines, and Facebook). They even temporarily forgo very worthwhile and important aspects of life, including educational programmes, career advancement, romantic relationships, the comforts of home, and the companionship of friends and family.
So why are young men and women of the Church currently applying for missionary service at the rate of about 4,000 applicants per week? Could this kind of life truly be appealing to young adults? Why do they do it? For answers to these questions and more, read on…!
A Day in the Life: A Photostory
(concept and content provided by Sestra Jones; post written by Mrs Jones, her mother)
4 March 2013
Ahoj vs’etky! Welcome to the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah. My name is Sestra Jones, and I will be your tour guide for the day. So please keep your arms and hands in the vehicle at all times, and fasten your seatbelt because it’s going to be a thrilling ride! And it all starts with an early morning.
Welcome to the Provo MTC!
It’s 6:15am, and we are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and engaged in a little light housekeeping. (Yes, you know you’re in the U.S.A. when you’re packing a vacuum cleaner on your back!) The main point of missionary service is the SERVICE. It’s a doing word, so if there’s anything that needs doing, we’re there! This morning the big gym needs a clean.
Who ya gonna call? Sister missionaries!
This massive gym is just one example of the excellent sport and exercise facilities available at the MTC. By day, the volleyball and basketball courts allow missionaries to engage in some friendly competition and vigorous activity, which provides a welcome respite from frequent contemplation and rigorous study! In the evenings, the gym can also be used as a venue for large meetings.
“My soul longeth…for the courts of the Lord” Psalm 84:2
Mission life requires a good deal of physical stamina, and missionaries are encouraged to maintain their health and fitness by exercising daily, excepting Sundays. All that exercising can make a body hungry; I wonder what’s for breakfast?
Breakfast: the “brown bag” version, for missionaries on the go. There’s something to suit most tastes. Here we have fresh fruit, brown bread, boiled egg, cold milk, and to satisfy the whims of nostalgia, Lucky Charms cereal. (Yes, it is 25% marshmallows. Lucky, indeed!). Hopefully, all of that daily exercise is doing something to counteract the poisonous effects of all those tasty little pink heart, yellow moon, orange star, green clover, and blue diamond-shaped sugar bombs. But we don’t have time to sit here pondering the statistical probabilities of developing Lucky Charms induced diabetes! We’ve got more urgent matters to attend to…
Breakfast, to go.
It’s studying time. Having already studied the scriptures this morning, both with other missionaries, and on our own, and devoted ourselves to a period of prayer and meditation, we are ready to take on the Slovak language! We also learn a little of the history and culture of the Slovak Republic. We practice teaching techniques, as they help us become better communicators: more responsive to the impressions of the Spirit, and to the feelings and needs of those we converse with. It’s more about listening, than speaking. And when you can barely speak any Slovak, that’s a comforting thought!
Slovak grammar. Questions, anyone?
But it’s not all blackboards and role plays in the MTC! There are many language resources available here, such as this language lab. Just because we have sworn off tv and the internet for 18 months doesn’t mean we’re technophobes. Reviewing Slovak verbs on the computer is almost as much fun as playing “Civilization”, and is nearly as educational, too!
Individual study adds variety to the day.
Wow! Lunchtime already! In our former lives, we may have only just now maxed out the “snooze” function on our alarms, and dragged ourselves out of bed. As missionaries, we’ve already been up for hours: we’ve worked, exercised, prayed, gained greater proficiency in a new language, improved our teaching skills, pondered life, the universe and everything, and shared meals, testimony, conversation, laughter (and maybe even tears!) with those around us. This is all very enriching… but don’t we ever go out? Yes!
Singin’ in the rain.
Even on rainy days, a walk around the temple grounds and gardens provides refreshment to mind and body! We take the opportunity to serve in the temple each week.
Other highlights of the day include “mail call”. The joy of receiving loving letters and thoughtful gifts from friends and family is beyond all reason, and therefore defies description. But trust me, it’s a seriously awesome and humbling experience, and one that every person on earth should have at least once. Five times, if possible. I’m sure we would have peace on earth as a result.
My uncle has sent some of his famous homemade bread: absolute bliss!
The day is marching on, and so are we: back to class for more study. We practice conversing with and teaching one another, and we also enjoy visits from volunteers who practice with us. Their encouragement is very reassuring, and it is helpful to hear different voices. We’re so grateful for their support and friendship.
“And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:
them also I must bring…and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.” John 10:16
Our teachers are former missionaries who served in the Czech/Slovak mission, and are an inspiration to us. We are keen to learn all we can, so that we can be of service to the people of Slovakia.
At your service.
I’m already feeling so much love for the Slovak people, and am anxious to help my brothers and sisters there in any way I can. I feel so honoured and excited to be called to Slovakia! I’m eager to use what I’ve learned and get to work.
Evening falls, and it’s the end of a long, busy day! The events of the previous hours all begin to blur together; the Church leaders who came to address and instruct us, the friendships formed and deepened, the challenges faced, the goals achieved, the spiritual feelings experienced, and the many, little highs and lows of the day.
Full day; full heart.
Everything winds down now, and we share a few laughs and quiet conversation with our 5 roommates, whom we’ve grown so close to in these past weeks together. As we say our prayers and drift off to sleep, our hearts are filled with a warm, satisfied weariness; the contentment of a day well spent, and the anticipation of greater things yet to come.
“We are all enlisted til the conflict is o’er…
So, what do missionaries do at the MTC? Basically we get up at 06:30 and work until 22:30. We study all day, pray a lot, and are the happiest people on earth.
…Happy are we!”
“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:
and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”