“Adjusting to Missionary Life,” Adjusting to Missionary Life (2013), 51–53
“Adjusting to Missionary Life,” Adjusting to Missionary Life, 51–53
It is common for new missionaries to experience some degree of stress or discomfort when they leave behind family, friends, and the things they used to do. The normal transitions of transfers, new companions, and new assignments will also require some adjustments. Be patient as you learn to recognize the blessings of devoting your life more fully to the Savior. Remember, the Spirit will be with you as you make this transition and will assist you in adjusting to your new missionary responsibilities.
Like many who are entering a new situation, missionaries often go through four phases, or stages, in their emotional adjustment when they enter the MTC and again when they enter the mission field:
Discovering the Unexpected
“I Can Do This”
You may feel eager for the challenge (see 1 Nephi 3:7).
You may feel an increased sense of purpose and allegiance to Heavenly Father (see 3 Nephi 5:13).
You may feel happy and look forward to meeting new people and experiencing new places.
You may begin to miss home, family, and friends and even question your decision to serve (see Alma 26:27).
You may notice physical manifestations of stress, such as disturbed sleep, appetite changes, or irritability.
You may unexpectedly find yourself critical and impatient with rules and expectations.
Your teaching and language skills begin to improve.
You learn to willingly comply with mission rules and expectations.
Your physical symptoms of stress, if you had any, begin to diminish.
You feel comfortable navigating the daily routine.
You recognize your personal strengths and progress.
You attain an understanding of what it means to take life one step at a time (see D&C 98:12).
You develop greater self-confidence and an increased desire to serve.
Find ways to serve others. Missionary work is a call to service. Focus on looking outside of your own feelings of discomfort to minister to those who are in need of a kind word, an act of charity, or friendship. (See Preach My Gospel, 168–69.)
Talk with others about this adjustment. Make time to discuss the following questions with parents, priesthood leaders, or returned missionary friends:
What can we learn from scriptural examples of God requiring people to do things that are beyond what they feel capable of doing? (See Exodus 4:10–12; Jeremiah 1:6–9; Alma 17:10–12; 26:27; Ether 12:23–27; Moses 6:31–32.)
Why is it important to go to bed and wake up on time, maintain good nutrition, get regular exercise, and have personal prayers?
How can writing in a journal help us during challenging experiences?
How can we respond when troublesome thoughts or feelings don’t go away?
Read the article “Preparing Emotionally
for Missionary Service” by Robert K. Wagstaff (in Ensign, Mar. 2011, 22–26; available online at LDS.org).
Focus on strengthening your relationship with your Heavenly Father. Seek His Spirit through personal prayer, scripture study, uplifting music, reading your patriarchal blessing, and other ways you have found to be helpful.
Be kind to yourself and others. Talk to yourself with the same comforting, kind words you might imagine the Savior using. Remember, thoughts of helplessness, hopelessness, or harsh condemnation are not from the Lord.
Expect the unexpected. Your experiences as a missionary will not be the same as someone else’s. Everything will not go exactly as you’ve planned or as you think it should. Examining your expectations will help you be open and receptive to change.
As you serve your mission, prepare to embrace change. Life as a missionary will likely be different than anything you’ve yet experienced, but if you come with a positive attitude, exercising faith in the Lord, and anticipating the need for patience with yourself and others, the Lord will reward and bless you. Remember the counsel given to the Prophet Joseph Smith at a very difficult time in his life: “Know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good” (D&C 122:7).