Monday, September 29, 2014

Tips for Sisters Preparing for Missions

Being a sister preparing to head out into the world for 18 months to preach the gospel of the Lord can be somewhat of an intimidating thing; during the last few weeks of my own pre-mission preparations the inside of my skull was heavily populated with a wide variety of questions and concerns. I can't tell you how many times I googled and pinterest-searched "sister missionary tips" between the time I received my call and the time I actually got set apart as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-- but I know it was excessive. 

That being said, after gaining my own MTC experience, I feel a genuine desire to help out those who are currently preparing to enter the beloved MTC. I don't care how long you will be staying there, the MTC is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that should be enjoyed, not endured

First of all, coming from a girl who has spent her entire life deemed as a "night owl," getting used to the missionary schedule is definitely a tough thing! You'll be far better off if you start working on getting on a missionary sleeping-schedule prior to entering the MTC. I can't tell you how many nights I laid awake staring at the darkened underside of a bunk bed. It's like a form of torture! You're exhausted and you know you've got to wake up in just a couple of hours-- but old habits die hard!

As for missionary clothing-- I didn't know the first thing about what to look for or what to get. BUT, after a few weeks in Korea I learned quite quickly that my choices of missionary clothing were not exactly what I'd hoped they'd be! It's possible to be cute AND comfortable. If you have a shirt or skirt that you're not sure about when you're packing for your mission, then don't pack it! If you hesitate even for a second then you'll likely never actually wear it when you get out there.

Buy one of the metal clip things from the MTC bookstore for your name tag. Actually buy two. I used those every single day. I didn't like the pin name tags because it would put holes in all my clothes, so I'd just pin those name tags on the little clippy-gadget and life was a million times easier. 

Also- if you're planning on staying at the MTC for an extended amount of time, go to the MTC bookstore and ask them for the "ID card clippy thingy." I don't actually know the term for it... but they'll know exactly what you're talking about.

People always worry about what towel to bring... but I found the world's most perfect mission towel! It takes up very little space, isn't very heavy, and works like a charm. You can find it HERE.

Bring a soft, comfortable blanket from home. Just pack it in one of those vacuum-zip bags so it doesn't take up too much room. 

Have a little book with you where you can record addresses of friends, family, etc. And collect addresses (both house addresses and email addresses!) before you leave because you'll find yourself every now and then wanting to write a letter to an old friend and you have zero way of contacting them. 

Bring a photo album. You never realize how much pictures will mean to you until it's all you've got to remember your family! Plus, they turn out to be super valuable teaching-tools in street contacting. The people you teach will love to see your family photos. 

If you're going abroad, bring all your favorite medicines. (i.e. ibuprofen, sleeping medicine, cold medicine, etc.) People in different countries use different kinds of meds... but also medicine just seems to be so over-priced when you're a poor missionary! (But I'm including tampons in the medicine category because Asia sure didn't believe in them... )

Make sure you take the time to get your patriarchal blessing shrunk and laminated at the printing center at the MTC. It fits perfectly into a journal, scriptures, etc. And it's SO good to have with you on days where you're feeling a little overwhelmed. 

Bring NOT only a normal, every-day journal, but also a study journal. You'll want somewhere to record all the things you're learning and spiritual moments you'll have. And definitely take that journal with you to the devotionals and firesides. 

Another fun thing to do is take yet another journal (we called them memory books) that functions kind of like a yearbook. You give it to people you love and they fill it with words, pictures, and memories (duh). It's one of my favorite things I have from my mission. 

Bring either a hard drive or several little flash drives with you to put all your photos on (to back it all up just in case something happens to your camera or memory card) and to store all the fun photos you get from other missionaries as well. It's suuuuper nice to have, just saying. 

FOUR-wheeled suitcases. One of my suitcases only had two wheels and every time I had to move I wanted to kill myself. Life is so much easier when you purchase four-wheeled suitcases. I promise! 

Bring a little photo frame along with a bunch of mini pictures of quotes that you can find and print off from Pinterest. It's a brilliant desk decoration that is super easy to mix up often.

Create an 18 month calendar that is covered in pictures of the people you love and your favorite memories. It's the most wonderful thing to hang over your desk. Plus, it can kind of become a journal in and of itself. I always wrote a couple fun things on each day to help me remember little details of each day. 

Bring good music! Seriously-- it makes all the difference to have good music playing at nights when you're getting ready for bed, in the mornings when you wake up... or just whenever. 

Make a book/collection of 30min work out plans for the mornings. You've only got half an hour to work out and time in the morning seems to slip away super fast. You don't want to waste any of it sitting around trying to decide what you should do!

Buy a mini PMG. They give you a big one at the MTC, but nobody wants to carry around the giant PMG in their purse when you're going to district meetings or zone conferences. That being said, get a mini Book of Mormon for you to carry in your purse (mostly for foreign language learning sisters) so that you can have something to refer to when you look up a scripture on the street while you're contacting. 

Bring lots of hand sanitizer. I can't tell you how many times that came in handy for me. Also, tide to go pens. They are magic. 

Don't throw away your letters. Take a little box or something with you where you can keep all of your letters organized and safe. 

If you're curious about what mission life is like, get in contact with the sister missionaries in your area. When you're actually a missionary you will see JUST how important it is to have members with you at lessons. Plus, it's a good way to prepare for your own mission. 

Don't pack your suitcases so full that you won't have room for stuff you buy. I promise, it's way less stressful for you when you have room in your suitcases on the way there because you'll definitely need every last bit of space in your suitcases for the plane ride home!

Um. If you're going to a foreign country, bring the kind of bleach that won't turn your garments gray when you try to use it. They change to not-so-white colors pretty fast so it's good to have a way of making them white again!

I personally bought a new set of scriptures for my mission and I LOVED it. I was able to mark them all up in specific ways that helped me study better and prepare better for lessons we had with investigators. 

Sticky notes, stickers, and coloring books are always a good idea for church. And sticky notes are the best just for day-to-day missionary work. They come in handy probably forty times a day. I kept mine on the back page of my planner. 

If you're learning a language, don't be afraid to mess up. I learned the most from just TRYING to speak. Korean is SO hard to learn, but I didn't really start learning until I let go of the fear of messing up in front of other people. Just open your mouth and speak!

Make up fun games and competitions with your companion/ other missionaries when you're out and about proselyting. It's not always an easy task, but we're sharing a message of happiness so it's important to BE HAPPY when other people see you wearing the Savior's name upon your heart. 

I could sit here and spit out hints and tips about missionary work all day long... long story short, you'll be fine. Somehow, as a missionary, everything always seems to work out. I'm not really sure how, (magic? the priesthood?) but it does. So even though it's scary and it's hard, just remember that the Lord provides a way for His children to do the things He asks us to do! So put on your biggest smile, say a little prayer, and get out and get to work. Being a missionary truly is such an honor and it's important to really enjoy all the little things as a missionary because we're only missionaries for a very short period of time.

So make it a happy, growing, wonderful time. 
If you have any questions or concerns don't be afraid to ask below! 



Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Obstacles on the Path.

On July 24th, I fell very ill. I woke up in the middle of the night with rather severe stomach pain and consequentially I spent the remnant of the night vomiting. The next day, we laid low for a bit hoping that maybe I'd just eaten something funny and that it would all kind of heal itself. But alas, it did not. 

We found ourselves in the emergency room that night in order to prevent any potentially serious issues.... we were there practically all night... and yet we went home still unsure what was causing the problem. What was worrying us the most the the pain-- we didn't know what it was or what to do. From that point until now, I found myself at the hospital on thirteen separate occasions in attempts to find the problem and conquer it; but we had no luck. For some reason, despite our numerous attempts and constant battling, we couldn't seem to defeat the sickness. And believe me, we did everything we could possibly think of doing in order to try and fix things. 

Needless to say, after a month of struggling through all of this, the decision was finally made to send me home. I was absolutely heartbroken. The only reason things went on for as long as they did in Korea was because I was set on staying on my mission. So the decision to send me home was... painful. I can honestly say that it's been one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. 

On Friday, I boarded the plane in Incheon Airport in Korea. I arrived home that same Friday in Utah. For now, I'm still doing all I can to battle this fun little situation. My greatest desire is to return to the Korea Seoul South Mission and finish what I started! But as for now, we're not really sure what will happen. I just wanted to say thank you for all the love, prayers, and support that have been sent my way. 

This is the hardest thing I've ever had to do... but I know that the Lord has a purpose for everything. He knows all things. Maybe I don't have all of the answers right now, but I know that the Lord loves me and I know that He has a very specific plan for me. So I know it's going to be okay.


Sister CaLea Bagley