//As for shirts. I found that a lot of the shirts I took on my mission (the first time around) were sheer just because that's the "style" these days. No. You can take a few sheer shirts, but I promise you, as one sister missionary to another, life is so much easier when you don't HAVE to wear anything under the shirt. Obviously if it's going to be freezing where you're serving then it doesn't really matter because you'll be wearing a thousand different layers anyways. But I always preferred to wear the shirts that were cute and low maintenance. (And again, DI/thrift stores are the BEST!)
//Since I keep bringing up thrift stores, I'll explain once again why I like them: they're cheap, you find unique clothing, there are so many long skirts available, and most of all, you'll likely leave all your mission clothing in your last area when it's finally time to come home. So why spend all that money on something that will only last you eighteen months? Solution: thrift stores. (I really am just obsessed with them. If you want, I'll take you and be your personal thrift-store-trainer.)
//Keep a little book with you at ALL times that you can write in. I don't care what you put in there, feelings, frustrations, spiritual thoughts, amazing experiences-- whatever. It's a little journal full of an assortment of little things and it's such good therapy when you're out serving the Lord.
//My companions and I LOVED telling stories via video. We'd record ourselves telling a story (funny experiences, weird moments, you get the idea) and then when Monday rolled around, I'd store it on my little hard drive and forget it even existed. NOW those little silly videos are total gems. It is such a blast to go back and watch some of those old memories.
//Print out and take your favorite conference talks with you. In fact, make a little binder full of them. It really does make all the difference when you're out in the field.
//For language learners: when you hear a word you don't know, write it down and then ask others what it means. For some reason, this was the most effective way for me to learn new words. They always stuck.
//For the record, at the MTC no bags are allowed in the cafeteria. Leave all your books and stuff in your classroom and only carry your bag with you twice a day: when you go from your room to your classroom and from your classroom to your room. Your MTC classroom is literally your entire world for the time you're there. You're only in your room for an hour at the end of the day and a small amount of time in the mornings. So leave everything in your classroom! There's no use in lugging everything around for no reason!
//Do personal study ALWAYS in your native language. The whole point of it is to strengthen your understanding and help you to receive inspiration for your investigators. The spirit speaks to you in your native language so save reading the scriptures in your mission language for language study. ;)
//Wear your watch on the inside (bottom) of your wrist rather than on the top. It's much easier to sneakily check the time that way when you're in a hurry or needing to end a lesson.
//It says pack hangers-- don't. There are always hangers available in the apartments from the sisters that leave. The houses kind of just accumulate left-over things from all the sisters that live there and move on.
//Tell your family all about dearelder.com and then teach them how to use it before you go. Because you get mail like twice a day at the MTC and getting dearelders are the BEST. Plus, they're the easiest ways to send letters to the MTC for your friends and family.
//They always tell you your first few days there, "Just make it to Sunday!" They're not lying. Those first few days will likely be the longest days of your life... but enjoy it! And, just hang in there until sunday. :)
//Always go to the salad/soup bar. It's located near the back of the cafeteria (kind of?) But they have these "wraps" there that are awesome and I'm pretty sure I ate those as like 78% of my meals. Ask me if I got "sick" at the MTC. Nope!
//Go early to devotionals to get good seats! But bring your scriptures and a study journal so you can get some good study time in while you're there waiting for it to start.
//Relax-- just take moments to breathe it all in and appreciate the fact that you're a missionary! You've only got so long to be one, so enjoy it!
//Get REALLLLY familiar with PMG. Especially if you're learning a new language. Teaching is so much less stressful when you've got all the lessons down and you know them like the back of your hand.
//I never really got homesick on my mission. Of course, there were days... but I'd say the best way to avoid homesickness is to just stay busy! Study, study, study, and serve, serve, serve. When you don't leave time to think about home there's no time to be homesick!
//Keep a journal, dang it. If you don't like writing, draw cartoons. If you don't like writing or drawing cartoons... write a sentence a day. COME ON, it's not that hard. But it's so important to keep a record of the things you learn, see, and experience while you're on your mission. Figure out a way to make journaling fun for you and then just DO IT.
//Pack all the liquidy stuff (lotions, hairspray, whatever else you need) in plastic bags just in case they spill. It protects your suitcase and all its contents and makes the clean-up process a lot easier.
//Make it your personal goal to be the kind of companion that every missionary deserves. IT'S NOT EASY. But life is so much better when you have that mindset, I promise. Serve your companion and love your companion and missionary work is FUN.
//Have a nice water bottle and KEEP it with you. Water bottles are lifesavers, I'm tellin' ya.
//Bring a hard drive or flashdrives to keep a back up of all your pictures and videos on. I saw too many missionaries lose their cameras and along with it alllllll their mission pictures! SO SAD.
//Be content but not satisfied. Don't beat yourself up because you're not as good at the language as you want to be or because of this, or that, or whatever-- be happy. Be content. But also be determined to keep working and keep improving no matter what.
MISSIONARY LIFE IS THE BEST. I've never been happier than I was on my mission. So don't let the hard times get you down. Let the good times keep you going. It's hard, I'll be the first to tell you that. But in all honesty, it doesn't FEEL too hard. Not ever. Because you've got angels helping you on your left and your right and you've got the message of the restored gospel in your life. You're a part of GOD's grand army. So just remember to keep on fighting, soldier. Time passes much faster than you can imagine, and before you know it, it's all over. So make it count!