Hi! I served a mission in the Sweden Stockholm mission several years ago and am now married to a returned missionary and starting a family.

Please share this blog with others so we can help as many future missionaries as possible. Feel free to add your own advice. I hope this can help many young people preparing to go on a mission, but most specifically, sisters.

Have fun and let me know if you have any questions or any post ideas!

Mormon Messages


Looking for a Christian Church

Last week my husband, our kids, and I were able to go to the beach. Yay! Since we're from Utah, we haven't had that many opportunities to go to the beach. It was wonderful. My husband played in the water with the 2 year old while I watched with the baby. A lady, who was also watching her family in the water, came up and started talking to me. It started with the usual stuff - babies, the beach, where we're from, etc. Then she asked if we were Christian. I, of course, said yes. This started a conversation about what we believed in. She said she and her family were looking for a Christian church to attend. I gave a very brief summary of our beliefs and asked her if I could give her information to the missionaries. She said yes! She also said that she believed in prayer and personal revelation and would pray about what the missionaries said to see for herself if it was true. Isn't missionary work amazing?! I don't really feel like I did much... that opportunity pretty much just dropped from the sky and landed in my lap. But, I was in the right place at the right time and was able to answer her questions. This is what missionary work usually is. Have a desire and pray for opportunities. Be in the right place at the right time and be prepared to help with whatever they are seeking. Listen to the Spirit and trust yourself! You can do it. :) My husband and I were pretty bummed that we didn't have a copy of the Book of Mormon to give her. We have given her information to the missionaries though so now we just pray that everything will work out. Missionary work makes me so happy! There's nothing in the world like it.

Teaching about temples

"Why are there so many Mormon Temples? What goes on inside them anyways? Why are you guys always so 'secretive' about it? Why can't I go inside?"

If you haven't been asked these questions yet, I'm sure you will some time in your life, especially as a missionary. How do you answer these questions? What can you talk about when it comes to temples? Most members of the church have a hard time with this. The Church just came out with this wonderful little video answering all of these questions. Whether you are wondering these questions yourself, or wondering how to answer them for others, I recommend watching it. 

I want each of you to know that I have a strong testimony of temples. I know that because my husband and I were married in the temple, we will be together forever. My beautiful little family will be mine forever! What a wonderful blessing! I love the gospel. 

Missionary power

A few days ago, my family and I moved. Again. We move a lot for my husband's job. Anyways, when the sister missionaries in our ward found out we were moving, they offered to come help me pack. This really meant a lot to me. My husband works a lot and we are thousands of miles away from family and most of our friends. They came over for about an hour and a half and helped pack up the kitchen and the kids' clothes. They helped us pack, yes, but more than that, they brought such a wonderful Spirit into our home. It just gave me such hope and such peace that everything would work out. Missionaries can be so powerful. Never forget that. We try to keep the Spirit in our home with appropriate media, scripture study, prayer, etc, but I don't think there's anything quite like the power of a full-time missionary. As a representative of Jesus Christ, you'll spread His light wherever you go.

Advice from a 6-month-old missionary

More advice from my missionary sister! (To read her Live from the MTC advice, click here.)

So it's been six months and five days since I left home to go on what's been THE neatest adventure of my life!

... it's in Idaho, yes. But still an adventure nonetheless! How could being part of the hastening of the work be anything less?
And in the last six months, I've gathered some information that has seemed pretty useful, so I thought I'd pass it on to the world via my sister dearest.

1) Study Preach My Gospel. Study Preach My Gospel. Study Preach My Gospel.
I can't say it enough. Seriously. This stuff is scripture. It's revelation from God to convert both us, the missionaries, and the rest of the world! Use it in everyday life, because it applies to everyday life! And do *not* skip over the scriptures, especially the Bible Dictionary ones. Those are super valuable.

2) Find scriptures by topic (faith, repentance, prophets, etc) that explain what they are really simply and shortly. Write them down on a sticky note in the back of your scriptures for quick reference. You'll start to memorize these as you use them, but for now... it's WAY useful.

3) Don't be afraid to be yourself! You're put where you are because your unique personality will stand out to or connect with someone else. Plus, people can tell when you're being fake. It impresses no one. Realness makes them open up, which helps you know their needs, which helps you help them come unto Christ! Let them get to know you and learn to trust you!

4) Learn how to listen. Don't think about the dog chewing on your bag. Don't worry about how you're going to fit in a scripture or end right on time. When they're talking, listen to what they're saying, what they're implying, and what the spirit is telling you they need to hear. The lesson is not about you learning how to teach, it's about them and their needs, and helping them come closer to God.

5) It's okay to be scared. Everybody is. It's scary talking to strangers, eating with strangers, sharing what's most important to you with strangers. It's scary moving to some seemingly random place and being expected to actively be a part of a life you've never experienced before. But the fear passes. You learn to trust in the Lord, in your companions, and in yourself. You learn that you can do hard things. And people understand and relate to your fear most of the time, anyway!

6) Love your companion! Your companion is your one ally. (Besides your Heavenly Father, of course.) Do everything you can to make that relationship a good one. Be open. Be honest. And be kind. You'll notice little things that will be annoying sometimes, but get over it. Everyone does little things like that. Find ways to serve them and express appreciation for them. Point out their strengths. Be humble enough to let them help with your weaknesses. They can become your family in the field if you let them.

7) Love your peeps! The only way you'll be willing to work hard for these people and consider their needs is if you care about them. If you're struggling in the work, it's because you don't love the people enough. So pray for help to love them, because loving people is hard!
Well, that's my 7 bits of knowledge. Hope it helps! Keep moving forward and remember that this is God's work and he will not let you fail!

Work hard, Pray hard, Play hard!

"Together we'll learn"

Being a parent is such a humbling experience. When many people become parents, they can't help but wonder if they are really good enough to take on such a task. Many young people preparing for missions wonder the same thing. While it is important to have a strong testimony and a keen knowledge of the gospel, no one has to know everything to be a parent or to serve a mission.

One of my favorite songs to sing to my kids is Teach Me to Walk in the Light. I especially love the second verse. (Text and music by Clara W. McMaster)

Come, little child, and together we'll learn
Of his commandments, that we may return
Home to his presence, to live in his sight--
Always, always to walk in the light.

"Together we'll learn." When I start doubting myself and wondering if I can really do this mother thing, I remember these words. I am learning right along with my children. My mom always said that she was often learning with me since I was her first child. I finally really understand what she meant. It's okay that I don't know everything. It's okay that I am not the "perfect" mother. I am doing my best to learn and to become a better mom every day as I teach my children. It's the same way with missionary work. It's okay that you don't know everything. It's okay that you are not the "perfect" missionary. As long as you are doing your best to learn and to become a better missionary every day as you teach others.

P.S. Congrats to my cousin who is leaving for the MTC this week!! I'm so excited for you. You'll be awesome. :)

Mission Exercising

Anyone who knows me knows that I am NOT an exerciser. Especially running. I hate running. It was really hard for me to wake up every morning as a missionary and exercise for 30 minutes. Part of that was because I really didn't know how to exercise other than going running or doing crunches. And you already know how excited I was about running.

So my question to you is... Do you know how to exercise? It may seem like a simple enough question, but when you have 30 minutes to exercise, what do you do? What if it's really cold outside? Okay, most of you probably know a lot more about exercising than I did. But, it's still something to think about. Remember, you won't have access to a gym, or a treadmill, or work-out DVD's. They will give you an exercise band at the MTC (or at least they did when I was there, anyone know if they still do?) but most of us didn't know how to use it. So you will have the floor, probably a towel or a blanket for an exercise mat, and possibly an exercise band. I ask again, what would you do? If it's good weather, you could go outside and run. Would you get bored of just running all the time? What if your companion is like me and doesn't run? Remember you have to be within sight of your companion at all times. What outdoor exercises are there other than running? You might have a bike, you might not. It depends on the mission and the area.

Today's tip is this: Make sure you have a list of different exercises before you leave for your mission. Make sure you know how to do these exercises correctly and that they help strengthen the part of your body and/or the skills you want to focus on. Also, be sure you find exercises you will enjoy doing. You will be doing them at 6:30 in the morning so make it something worth getting out of bed for! And if you're obedient, you'll be doing it every morning (except Sundays) for 18 months or 2 years so you'll want a variety. You don't want to get bored with it.

I am probably the last person you'd ask for advice about exercising so I will need help from all of you out there. Please comment! RM's, what did you do for exercising on your mission? Anyone have specific work-out DVD's they like? What about Wii Fit Plus or other exercising video games? While you won't have these on your mission, they might be good to use now to get ideas. I bet you could also find tons of ideas on Youtube.

Well, I hope this post was helpful. In a nutshell, learn how to exercise before you leave. You won't regret it.

Packing a suitcase

My cousin posted this little video on Facebook. I haven't tried it, but it looks awesome! Someone should try it out and then let me know how it goes. :)

"Come Take Your Place"

This is a song that has helped me on multiple occasions in my life, but particularly as a missionary. It will always have a place in my heart.
I want all of you to know that I know these words are true. I know that you are a child of God and that you have a "place in the Father's design." I also know that everyone you come in contact with as a missionary and throughout your life is also a child of God and has a "place in the Father's design."
"Come take your place" as a servant of our Savior, Jesus Christ. You can do it!

Come Take Your Place by Hilary Weeks

Can you hear it, Can you hear it,
Angels are calling your name.
Do you feel it, Do you feel it,
Heaven is lighting a flame.
There's a voice in your heart
Whispering who you are.

Can you see it, Can you see it,
Your place in the Father's design.
Are you ready, Are you ready,
This is your season to shine.
There's a voice through the dark
Gathering noble hearts.

You carry the light of His Son
and running through your veins is royal blood.
You're the brave and the strong, you're the faithful.
You have been saved for this moment in time.
You hear the call, you feel the flame, you've been prepared.
Come take your place.

Can you hear the angels calling you
Do you recognize your name
Can you see your part in His design
No one else can take your place.
There's a voice clear and strong,
You're right where you belong.

You carry the light of His Son
And running through your veins is royal blood.
You're the brave and the strong, you're the faithful.
You have been saved for this moment in time.
You hear the call, you feel the flame, you've been prepared.
Come take your place.

You are the brave, you are the strong, you are the faithful ones.
You are the brave, you are the strong, you are the faithful ones.

You carry the light of His Son
And running through your veins is royal blood.
You're the brave and the strong, you're the faithful
You have been saved for this moment in time.
You hear the call, you feel the flame, you've been prepared.
Come take your place.

~Check out more of her music at hilaryweeks.com

How do I stay focused as I prepare to serve a mission?

It is so overwhelming preparing for a mission. There are so many things to think about. "How am I going to find everything I need?" "How do I know what to bring?" "There's so much I want to learn and study before I leave!" "What if I don't know enough? What if my testimony isn't strong enough?" "I don't know if I can do this... am I really good enough to go on a mission?" Here are some ideas to help you stay focused as you prepare.

- Start incorporating a missionary schedule. Wake up at 6:30 am, exercise, study for a half hour or more. Starting your day this way will help you get used to the missionary lifestyle, will give you a great boost for the rest of the day, and will invite the Spirit into your day. Make sure to go to bed by 10:30 pm too! :)
- Study scriptures. Study by topic, or read a story and apply it to your life. See how all four of the standard works link together. Read missionary stories in the scriptures.
- Study other books by the Church. Learn more about Church History and individual prophets.
- Study Preach My Gospel. Study each subject and each principle you will teach about as a missionary. One way to study the lessons is to take each bold heading (for example, God is our Loving Heavenly Father) and write three sentences for each of them. Then practice describing each section as simply as you can out loud. This is something my sister has done in the mission field and it has helped her a lot. Too often we throw so much information on our investigators when really, we just need to focus on the basics. Simple, powerful statements.
- Study "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage. Be careful with it, though, it is best in small dosages. There are a couple of chapters that focus particularly on the apostles and their relationship with Christ, as well as their growth as ministers of Christ. It is wonderful to learn from that book, that they too were inexperienced once, and vastly unprepared at first to be Christ's messengers. But their relationship with Christ was tender and helped them grow, the same way our relationship with Christ helps us meet our challenges.
- Read conference talks about missionary work.
- Read missionary stories from family history. Ask family members and friends for mission stories - both positive and uplifting stories and difficult and discouraging stories.
- Attend mission preparation classes.
- Pray sincerely. Talk to Heavenly Father like you would your best friend. Tell Him what's going on in your life and how you feel about it. Thank Him for the opportunity you have to serve a mission and ask Him for help preparing. Be sure to pay attention to how you feel and to listen for any answers He may have for you.
- Go on exchanges with the missionaries.
- Be a member missionary! Invite any friends who are not members or who are less active to activities. Don't be afraid to open your mouth and talk about the gospel. Befriend any investigators, new converts, and less actives that come to church with the missionaries.
- Attend  the temple often. I would recommend at least once a week, if possible. It helps to be spontaneous too and go whenever you feel like it instead of planning ahead. This way Satan doesn't have a chance to stop you.
- Meet with your bishop/branch president regularly. He can help you stay focused on a more personal basis. He can also give you any encouragement that you may need.
- Try to think of Heavenly Father and Christ at all times and ask yourself if you are currently serving Him. Try to see other people as He would see them. As a missionary, more than ever before, you will be constantly thinking of Heavenly Father and Christ and your relationship with them, and you will be thinking "I want to help that lady over there trimming her hedges to have a relationship with God, too."
- Do your best to have a positive attitude with whatever is going on in your life and with anyone you interact with. Pray for help, if you need it. I have a family member who texts uplifting thoughts to her friends and family members a few times a week. This is a great way to keep happy thoughts going not only for you, but for those you know as well.
- Write lists. Write a list of things you want to do to help stay focused. Write a list of items you still need to get. Write a list of things you want or need to do before you leave. Set goals and make plans of what you want to accomplish in the next week, month, before you leave. I don't know about you, but it really helps me sort out my thoughts and be more relaxed if I write everything down.

And most importantly...

- Know that it is perfectly normal to feel Satan's presence more now than ever before. Satan works hard to tell us we're not good enough and to tempt us to do things we wouldn't normally do. You are good enough. You are a child of God and He will help you. It is very normal to feel discouraged, but do your best to push aside those feelings and focus on doing what God wants you to do. You can do it!!

Why should I serve a mission?

No, I did not fall off the face of the Earth. I'm still here! I just... well... life is crazy. But I'm back! At least for now...

Ever since the announcement of the new ages for missionaries, a whole new slew of people started thinking "Should I serve a mission??"
This is a decision between you and your Heavenly Father, but hopefully, this (as well as my other posts) will help you with that decision.

Here are some reasons why I will be eternally grateful that I served a mission. If you are an obedient and hard-working missionary, I'm sure you will experience these as well.

-  I learned how to love like Jesus Christ does
     I certainly haven't mastered this yet, but my mission helped me get one big step closer to it. I learned how to get along with people who are very different from me. I had some companions that I loved and became very good friends with. I had some companions that I did not get along with very well. It was very hard working with these companions. But I learned how to see at them like Christ would. I learned to forgive them of their weaknesses and focus on their strengths.
     I learned not to judge others just by their appearance. I learned not to be picky about who to talk to and how to just talk to everyone I see.
     I learned that I could love others even though some of them are so very different.
     I love pictures like the one above. You can see the love in Christ's eyes. How do you think Christ would look at YOU? Can you see other people with that same love?

- I learned how to live on my own
     I grew up in a home with spectacular parents who taught us how to do chores and how to take care of ourselves from a young age. Learning to live on my own was not that difficult for me. However, it was more difficult than I thought it would be. I thought I already knew everything I needed to know. But it's different not having your mom there to ask questions whenever you need to. It's different planning your own meals and going grocery shopping for yourself.

- I played a part in spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ
     I had the opportunity to teach people from many different countries. Some of them, including some of my most positive investigators, were from countries where missionaries are not allowed yet. China, Iraq, and Iran to name a few. In my last area, we often had a copy of the Book of Mormon in Arabic with us since we gave those away almost more than Swedish and English.
     Like most European missions, Sweden did not see a lot of baptisms. However, I still gave away countless  copies of the Book of Mormon, talked to and taught who knows how many people, and brought a little more of the Light of Christ to Sweden.
     Spreading the gospel brings a joy into your life that nothing else can.

- A California Redwood -
The author of this blog took this picture and 
has all rights and privileges associated with it.

- My testimony and my understanding and knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel became more complete. 
     Like most missionaries, I had a very strong testimony when I entered the mission field. Serving a mission made it grow in a new way. I guess you could say that it didn't really grow a lot "taller," it was already a pretty tall tree, but it grew "deeper" or "thicker," if you know what I mean.
     My knowledge on the basic principles and doctrines of the gospel was challenged. Why do we have prophets? What does it mean to really forgive? I had to study these things thoroughly and really come to an understanding of the gospel like I had never had before.

- I learned that I can do more than I think I can. I learned how to work hard. Because I served a mission, I was more prepared for future hard times.
    I learned how to work until I felt like I was going to collapse, and then kept working. And then woke up the next day and worked even more. I learned that if I was obedient and had faith in Christ, I would have the power to do whatever I needed to do (Moroni 7:33).
    Being a mother is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. At the time, a mission was the hardest thing I had ever done in my life. I not only survived serving a mission, but I look back on it with great happiness and with great satisfaction. As I go through today's trials and struggles, I remember my mission and I remember that I can do hard things! I can do this! With God, anything is possible!

Live from the MTC advice

I have to admit, one of the biggest reasons for this blog (my sister) left for the MTC a couple weeks ago. So my motivation has gone down a little. BUT, I know there are still plenty of you out there who want missionary advice, either for yourself or for a friend/family member, so I will be thinking of more things to post. I am always open for suggestions so let me know if you think of anything!

Anyways, on to today's post. I got an email from my sister today with some "live from the MTC" advice. Cool, eh? Here's what she suggests for the MTC:

-Bring a robe. Showering without it is a right pain. You've got to bring your clothes into the showering area and make sure they stay in a little dry spot. If they fall on the floor, they're goners! But if you bring a robe, you can just bring a set of garments and not have to worry about bulky skirts n such.
-Bring a bathroom bag that you can hang on a hook. It's a lifesaver for the reason above
-Bring Airborn or vitamins or *something.* We're rubbing elbows and shaking hands with hundreds of people over here! Colds travel faster than Professor Snape confronted with shampoo. 
-Wake up a little early to beat the shower rush. It's worth it. 
-Love your bag--you'll be taking it *everywhere.*
-Use the planner they give you! It's a total lifesaver!
-Don't use others' disobedience to excuse your own. I was somewhat surprised to see that not all missionaries here follow the rules with exactness. Just remember that their obedience (or lack of) has little to do with your own. 100% obedience will bring blessings for you, and that's all you need to focus on.
-Not everyone loves the MTC naturally. In fact, there are bits of it that drive everyone nuts. (For me, it's laundry. Urgh.) It's important to pray for help and decide to love it. You'll have a much better time if you do.
-Be humble. You'll receive lots of helpful criticism here. There is so much to learn, being unteachable and easily offended would severely limit you. 
-Eat healthy! It's reeeally tempting to eat all the yummy desserts they have here, along with the soda pop and hamburgers... but really. Their salads are delicious and water keeps you extra healthy. Take care of yourself! It'll pay off!
-Study *before* the MTC. Not only will it be less of a culture shock when you have to come here and study for a long time, you'll get a lovely head start. You'll be glad you did. Trust me on this one. S-T-U-D-Y. Become familiar with the Preach My Gospel. It's *amazing.*
-Don't always believe the rumors. There's a lot of news going around. But unless it's from the mouth of a leader you trust, take it with a grain of salt. 
-Practice being worthy of the spirit. Everything you could possibly learn is *useless* and a waste of energy without it! You could be the best teacher ever, but without the spirit, you will convert no one.
-Be patient with yourself and others. You'll be doing so many new things and learning in so many new ways... it's *perfectly normal* to feel overwhelmed. It's perfectly normal to feel discouraged. Just remember that the Lord is on your side! He wants you to succeed even more than you do! 
-It's not about you. If you come to give, you will gain. If you come to gain, you will waste your time. Get your act together early so that you can make the most of your time here. 

UPDATE: To read Advice from a 6-month-old missionary (from this same sister) click here