“How to Prepare for a Mission,” Liahona, Oct. 1996, 30
How often have you heard returned missionaries say that their missions were the best years of their lives? A successful mission, in fact, should leave a missionary feeling that way. But success isn’t automatic. A successful mission depends a lot on what you put into it. And what you put into your mission depends a lot on how well you have prepared for it.
Here are some things you can do right now to make your mission one of the greatest experiences you’ll ever have.
Find good role models. Talk to and spend time with teachers, parents, friends, returned missionaries, priesthood leaders, advisers, and any others who can inspire and encourage you.
Learn to love the scriptures. Find a way of studying them that interests and inspires you.
Learn how to recognize the Spirit. Be aware of how and when it works in your life. Live in a way that you will be receptive to the Spirit’s promptings.
Bear your testimony. Practice telling people how you feel about the gospel. The more you do it, the more natural it will feel.
Attend seminary. Not only will it give you the doctrinal background that you need, but it will also help you develop discipline, which you’ll also need.
Don’t just believe—do. Get in the habit of going the extra mile, of sacrificing, of serving. That’s what a mission is all about.
Mind your manners! It’s important to have a gracious attitude. Learn how to be gracious, how to observe good table manners, and how to speak well and politely.
Make an effort to get along with everyone. Focus on the good in people and try not to let the ways they’re different from you bother you. This will help you in your relationships with your companions and with those you serve.
Learn communication skills. You’ll need to express yourself with ease and sincerity, and you’ll need to help others to do the same. Honesty and openness are important. So are good listening skills.
Learn to lead. You’ll be leading members, missionaries, and investigators. To give them the help they need, you need to know how you and the Lord can work together.
Learn to follow. Be grateful for the guidance your leaders provide. If you excel at following instructions, you’ll be better prepared when it’s time to give them.
Find fine friends. Be around people who will uplift you, and do your best to uplift them. Learn to give, not just to take, and to be sensitive to people’s needs.
Learn to love. Find out all you can about charity—the pure love of Christ—and pray about it. It will be one of the most valuable traits you can obtain.
Get a job. Your mission will mean a lot more to you if you can help pay for it yourself. A job will also teach you good work habits.
Sell some of your stuff. Many missionaries have helped support themselves by selling some of their personal possessions. You might look around to see if any of yours would be worth parting with.
Save. If you don’t already have one, open a mission savings account now, and never take the money out until you get your call.
Budget better. Your parents won’t be with you on your mission to help you out financially. You’ll get a certain amount of money each month and no more. If you haven’t done so already, learn to budget and get used to limiting expenses.
Buy now, use later. As you approach mission age, buy scriptures and other items you will need on your mission. By buying in advance, you’ll ease the financial strain later.
Shape up! You’ll need a lot of physical stamina for those workouts in the MTC and for the rigors of mission life. When you’re in good shape physically, you’ll feel better mentally and spiritually as well.
Start eating right. A balanced diet will help you keep your energy through a tough missionary day. Eat fruits, vegetables, and healthy carbohydrates.
Get a physical checkup. Make sure your premission physical is a complete one, and try to solve health problems before you go. Make sure your doctor knows what you’re going to be doing on your mission, so he or she can accurately advise you.
Get a haircut. It wouldn’t hurt to get used to wearing your hair in a style that’s nice but easy to take care of. The last thing you’ll have time for is spending a lot of time on your hair.
Learn how to take care of your clothes. Know how to do laundry, how to mend clothes, how to get spots out.
Preparing well can increase the likelihood that your mission will go well. Enjoy the preparation. By extension, it will be part of one of the greatest experiences of your life.