10 Things every Pre-missionary Should Know

Categories: The Mission

If you’re going on a mission, your parents, your bishop, and everyone in your ward has already told you how wonderful it is. They’re right, but they tend not to tell you everything. Missions are incredible, but you should have realistic expectations of what you’re going to experience.

1. By “best 2 years” they mean “hardest 2 years”

LDS Missionaries on BikesWe’ve all heard RM’s say “It was the best 2 years of my life.” That may or may not be the case for you, but I can guarantee that it’ll the hardest 2 years of your life, both physically and mentally. I’ve seen guys on the mission fall over from exhaustion, develop medical issues that will never go away, and be bedridden from mental breakdowns. I’m not sure if it’s a selective memory or if they’re trying to impress, but I’ve never heard a single missionary refer to it as the best time of their life until after they’re home. A mission is tough!

2. Not everyone is there for the right reason

Everyone shows up in the field with the naive assumption that everyone else is there to serve the Lord and spread His word. In reality, a whole lot of them are there because of social pressures, whether it be from their girlfriend, friends, or family. Usually it’s more subtle, but you’ll even hear of parents who tell their missionary son “If you come home early, it better be in a box.” Make sure you’re one of the ones going for the right reasons. No, that does not include “to marry a hot Mormon wife”. If not, I promise, you will be miserable.

3. You are never alone

With the exception of the shower, you will always have someone right next to you. If there’s one thing missionaries miss more than their girlfriends or boyfriends, it’s being able to spend even 5 minutes by themselves.

4. Bible bashing gets you nowhere

This seems like a no-brainer, but that doesn’t stop some Elders from doing it. No hardcore Christian ever walked into a fight and walked out a Mormon. It’s unchristlike and unproductive. Not only that, but you’ll turn away anyone who might be watching.

5. You’re going to get asked some really tough questions

Don’t underestimate the people you teach. They’re going to have some very difficult questions and you’re going to need to have answers. There are several scary sounding historical events and doctrines that very few pre-missionaries have ever even heard of. Without plausible explanations, you can’t expect them to take a leap of faith and trust you. Study, understand, and make peace with both sides of these issues before you attempt to teach others. Here’s a list of the most common difficult questions you’ll get asked about Mormonism.

6. Your carnal desires won’t magically go away

You know how it’s super tough to keep your thoughts pure, especially when you’re with a girl or alone at your computer? Well, that doesn’t go away. In fact, in a lot of ways it gets worse. Even if girls never gave you the time of day before, they will flock to you when you have that name tag. I don’t know if it’s because you’re unattainable, well dressed, or something else, but attractive girls (and boys) will do their best to get with you. A two year dry spell doesn’t make that easier. You’ve been warned.

7. You’ll probably have a gay companion

Before you say eww, try to understand the position he’s in. By deciding to be a Mormon and go on a mission he’s giving up his chance at a loving relationship with someone he’s physically attracted to… forever! You, on the other hand, get to enjoy sex one day. Not only that, but he has to completely hide the fact that he’s gay. Any hint of homosexuality and he’ll be completely ostracized by other missionaries. His mission and life in the church is going to be a whole lot tougher than yours so if you know of a gay missionary, instead of telling people and harassing him, try to be understanding.

8. Don’t spread lies, even if they serve a higher purpose

Have you ever heard the phrase – faith promoting rumor? They tend to run through the mission field like wildfire. When used as parables, they’re great. When they’re passed off as true events, they can be manipulative. The most common one at the MTC is about an older convert who gets  his patriarchal blessing which says – “You would have enjoyed the blessings of the gospel 20 years earlier had Elder [insert your name here] stayed on his mission.” This never actually happened. It’s just a simple scare tactic. The true church doesn’t need to lie to keep missionaries on their missions. Don’t listen to or spread these rumors.

9. She’s probably not going to wait for you

Yes I know, your relationship is different. Your love is pure and true and will withstand the test of time… just like everyone else’s. The reality is that the chances of this actually happening are dismal. If it makes you feel better, it has nothing to do with you or the amount of love you have for each other. It’s just time and circumstance. Two years is long enough for a person to move on from a deceased spouse. Unfortunately, there are other guys who are just as fun as you who are already home, who she doesn’t have to wait for. Don’t worry though, you’ll get to come home and marry a girl waiting for her missionary.

10. You will not spend 2 years on a spiritual high

More missionaries struggle with this fact than about any other. When visualizing their missions, they picture constant promptings from the Holy Ghost and surges of the Spirit. Just like before your mission, truly spiritual experiences are few and far between. Boredom and frustration will be far more constant companions.

There is no doubt that going on a mission will be the most important decision you make until the day you decide to marry. Make sure you do it with your eyes open.

Author: Elder J

28 Responses to "10 Things every Pre-missionary Should Know"

  1. Kai Posted on June 12, 2013 at 5:52 pm

    This website is a bad joke, hahaha. Obviously the people that run this site think anyone going on a mission is going to be making a mistake. I’m going on a mission in a couple months, and no matter how hard it will be, I know it’ll be worth it. This life was never meant to be easy. Look at what Christ went through. Look at what some people in third world countries have to endure. Is a mission really that hard?

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on July 20, 2013 at 11:49 am

      That sounds just like my son Kai B G, so proud

    • annonymous
      annonymous Posted on October 13, 2013 at 10:20 pm

      If you go out seeing yourself as Christ, you’re going to have a very difficult time. Take your servant’s heart. Leave on good terms with everyone if you can. Repent and make restitution. Prepare your heart more than anything. Then you’re ready to go.
      Most of the advice given is practical so you should read again.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on February 13, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      Ha ha yeah sure you have actually been on aid soon only 1% of Mormons are gay and a only a 1/4 would go on a mission and most of them are already to old so it’s a REALLY REALLY low chance one of you partners would be gay plus no one ever said you would magically know everything you have to be patient and listen to the holy ghost

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on June 16, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Haha this comment made me laugh. I can’t wait to see what you say after you’ve actually served. It is THAT hard. But the satisfaction and progression you’ll experience makes it all worth it. And sadly after mission life is harder than the mission life so live it up on your mission and don’t give up. It’ll be worth it in the end

  2. Bryant Posted on June 13, 2013 at 12:06 am

    The probability of having a gay companion depends on your assumptions of the rate of homosexual Mormon males, their rate of serving missions, and how many companions a missionary has over the course of his mission. At a rate of 10%, 100% and 6 companions that is still less than a 50% chance you’ll serve with a gay companion, if I did my math right, so you’ll be more likely to not have a gay companion.

    Based on conversations i’ve had with gay friends and interviews of gay mormons I’ve listened to, I do agree that being LDS and serving an LDS mission can be extremely difficult for our gay brothers and sisters. I appreciate and share your love and concern for them. The few people I’ve personally known whom I’ve known to be gay are all wonderful, intelligent, loving people who have enriched my life.

    • Hunter
      Hunter Posted on October 21, 2013 at 9:11 am

      And despite them enriching your life, they are performing evil acts, making wrong choices and not worthy of the same validation of their relationships as you are. Right?

  3. Chanelle Posted on June 13, 2013 at 11:09 am

    I served a mission and I loved it then! I mean seriously even then I did. It was amazing to help people rid themselves of addictions and helping them find a direction. It actually was more fun than hard. Yea walking all day isn’t super easy but I honestly didn’t have to walk or bike that much because I was able to serve and teach all day. More time spent on couches than on the street which is why missionaries gain weight! Members and non member love you so they feed you and for some reason they think you are starving so they feed you more. Also they said you will be bored.. NO way!! You have fun zone prep days spent with a bunch of people your same age playing sports and talking. Everyday you meet new people with fun, sad, happy, exciting and spiritual stories. Some random guy on the street tried to kiss me and I was able to give a dress of mine to a homeless sister. If I could do it again I would. I’ve never felt more Christian in word and in deed then I did on my mission.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on February 24, 2014 at 1:11 pm

      So are you a Christian or Mormon?

    • Veritas
      Veritas Posted on May 23, 2014 at 11:21 am

      If you feel Christian then why are you LDS? You can’t be both.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on May 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm

      Actually you can be Christian AND be LDS. Being part of the Mormon religion is also being a Christian. Any church with the name of Christ is a Christan so those people are wrong^^

  4. Bryan Posted on June 20, 2013 at 3:18 pm

    Talk about shock value overkill. I agree with the above post that this site is probably has noble intentions but the tone of the site suggests missions are abject misery and unless you study gobs of anti-literature or come to grips with the fact that you’ll have some kind of irreversible mental breakdown the mission is not for you. I respect the fact that there is much truth and sincerity in this but ease off of the bombardment with non-edifying material. #1 on this list, for example, is just ludicrous. How about the positive side of hard work and the sacrifice that ennobles and changes our nature. My mission was incredibly hard but that’s exactly what I needed. difficulty is exactly what I signed up for when I chose to come to earth. Suffering can be sanctifying, pain is not punishment, and the path to virtue is fraught with opposition. Unfortunately, this website thinks they can foster virtue by creating opposition through “realism”. Why not have ennobling lists. The suggestion for #1 – “Best Two Years because it was the Hardest Two Years”.

  5. Lynden Posted on June 23, 2013 at 12:38 am

    It seems that whoever wrote this is basing a lot of this on their personal experience on a mission. I served my mission a few years ago and was shocked at many of the claims made here.

    Response to:
    1) On my mission almost every missionary I encountered loved being there and was often on a spiritual high. This was the case for me. I loved it and would have loved to stay on my mission longer. I would go again now if asked (I have been home almost 4 years).

    2) If you go, do go for the right reasons. This has been combated by the church by trying to raising the bar. The box story is a common myth, I have never met someone who said this (doesn’t mean it still doesn’t happen). In my personal experience, most qll go out for the “right” reasons. There are some that don’t.

    10) I can honestly say that I was closer to God and relieved more clear revelations and guidance on my mission than at any other continuous time in my life. Honestly it was draining at first, I had to get used to it. If you consecrate your life you will have the spirit with you. Boredom was one word I never would have used to describe a mission, perhaps that is more a reflection of the authors mission than missionary service in general…

    Overal, a mission is the best decision I have made in my life thus far. It was the hardest two years of my life. It has been the best two years so far, the closest I have felt to God.

    Do not be soon shaken by wolves in lambs clothing. Much of the perspectives found here are from ex-Mormons trying to pass as mormons in order to better persuade you against the church, that is their bias. As for my bias, I’m a believing member who loves the church and loved my mission. If you love The Lord and want to serve Him, then I have NO doubt you will love your mission and afterwards you will look at this website and be as shocked as I was.

    God bless you all, authors, readers, and future missionaries. We are all children of God seeking for truth and peace within Jesus Christ.

  6. Lindsay Posted on July 14, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    I must say that #9 is silly. Yes, many girls do not wait for their missionaries. But my parents were a missionary couple – my mom faithfully waited for my dad’s return, and they have been happily married for over 25 years now. I know many couples with similar stories. Maybe it is true that she probably won’t wait for you, but please don’t assume that this means that you have no chance and she absolutely will not wait for you. I know some hecka stubborn girls out there who will wait for their missionaries for two years, no matter what anyone says. Maybe they won’t work out when the missionary gets back, but those girls will wait even if it kills them. Don’t make any guarantees that she won’t wait; most of the statistis are wrong, anyway.

    • ElderJ
      ElderJ Posted on July 14, 2013 at 8:04 pm

      Which is just what probably means. ;)

  7. Kim Posted on July 16, 2013 at 7:18 am

    I find it ironic that you say “never lie” when from the beginning the purpose you have stated for this website is obviously a lie….just be real…you didn’t like your mission…you aren’t a believer…you never had a testimony…whatever…but seriously…this won’t stop anyone from going on a mission. Bad try…seriously bad try.

  8. Kristen Posted on August 13, 2013 at 8:51 pm

    As a former LDS missionary to a European country, I found this list to be very accurate actually. Everyone has some sort of agenda, including those who say they didn’t experience or see most of these things on their mission. I wish this website had been here when I was planning my mission, I might have not gone into it so naive.

  9. Roger Posted on August 13, 2013 at 9:07 pm

    I served a mission in Brazil. I got a parasite and almost died from it. I still suffer from stomach problems (I’ve been home 23 years) and ever since then I’ve dealt with really bad depression which I suspect was triggered by the malnutrition. I’m not aware of any other missionaries who were out at the same time who had the same issue, but I have spoken to a handful of others who had parasites mess up their insides. I don’t think any of my companions were gay.

  10. Anonymous Posted on August 13, 2013 at 10:47 pm

    Kristen and Roger are right. The rest of you are naive and/or in denial.

  11. Dave Posted on August 27, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    I am a recently returned missionary(months). I believe I served a very successful mission. I served in Sierra Leone and Liberia.
    I think people need to ease off on the author, these are all true in my experience, this is just a reality check. I dont think anyone who is serious enough to go on a mission for good reasons would be deterred by any of this.
    It is an overview of 10 harsh realities that some people might be shocked by and useful positive advice on how to manage them. Im not sure if Jason has any hidden motives in creating this site, but i dont think so.
    Non edifying? Its all true, so I would say its shedding light on the matter, therefore edifying?
    The only item I would debate is the statement “You’ll probably have a gay companion.” I think its a lower chance than that, but I knew and counseled with some on my mission, they are out there, handle with tact.

  12. Kevin Posted on September 5, 2013 at 10:02 pm

    I haven’t reviewed the full web site but I agree with the tone. My wife served a mission and before she left, her older sister had a conversation that was very much in the same vein of thought. Give her a clear perspective on the real stresses and challenges of serving a mission. The net effect was that while her companions were blindsided by the ups and downs that every missionary faces. She would catch herself thinking, “This isn’t half as bad as my sister told me it would be!”
    Good work Jason!

  13. anon e. mouse Posted on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 am

    Guys, this isn’t trying to dissuade anyone from going on a mission, it’s giving helpful advice so you have a more realistic expectation of a mission. I don’t know why you people are attacking the author by saying he doesn’t have a testimony, or that he’s a liar, or that he doesn’t want people to go on missions.
    While I’m here, I’d like to say that I’m going to be that gay missionary you get companion-ed with. The author is absolutely right in what he said on the subject. So if my future mission companion is reading this (actually, this applies to everyone), please be kind.

  14. Steve Frahm Posted on November 4, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Yeah, I think this is good stuff, but also outta balance. While you raise 10 potentially important points, there are also benefits and good results from going through the difficulties of serving a mission that you have left out. I suspect that the emphasis on negative aspects only is for ironic effect and is probably useful in capturing attention, but not altogether honest or helpful.

    Good job, as far as you went with it.

  15. Melody Helland Posted on December 13, 2013 at 2:20 am

    If I may…….I share the following with experience and love;

    I served my mission in the States 8 years ago. As far as I can remember I’d always desired to be a missionary. Prior to serving, my vision of the mission was by far, a fantastical view of spiritual highs, experiences and baptisms. Jason’s article is wonderfully true, in my experience with the mission. I’m naturally an optimist and happy go lucky type person, I was transferred 13 times during my 17 1/2 month service, even for someone as positive as I am, being transferred many times was tough..sometimes questioning why I wouldn’t stay in an area, if something might be wrong with me. But, through heartfelt prayer during long nights, especially those first 6 months…I felt the love of my Heavenly Father encourage me.

    I believe every person to be an individual and have varied experiences. No one person is the exact same as the other, and we all have different trials to go through, hence the reason the Adversary’s plan of no agency was so terrible. To any future missionaries; read this article plus good LDS literature with (of course) the Scriptures and ASK your Heavenly Father for advice and answers, He has your best interest at heart. Daily personal and MOST importantly, companion study will make your mission soar. The adversary attacks missionaries viciously…he is VERY cunning and clever. This is why obedience to God’s commandments with love and work be key to withstanding any warfare that comes from Satan while on the mission.

    I feel I had a good, but very challenging mission and I learned so much there. It has shaped my life in many ways. I’ve been married 5 years and now have 3 little kids…both challenging and joyous, teaching me to be more like Christ everyday as I turn to Him for answers on how to handle a 2 or 4 year old who screams for ice cream before dinner. Do I have regrets thinking back on my mission? sure. Was I 100% everyday?, no…because we are not perfect, but through Christ, can be forgiven through the Atonement, and become better. When we fall, make mistakes big and small, the power of the Atonement and what Jesus Christ did for ALL mankind pulls us out of the deepest pit, if we let Him.

    3 months before I was to return home, evil spirits took hold of my body. We lived in a basement apartment that never quite “felt right”, there was usually an eerie weirdness while living there…and somehow they’d gotten the best of me. I remember thinking it might be an evil spirit and would pray most fervently that they’d go away in the name of Christ, but there were several. I never announced this to my mission president or companions because I felt guilt….like I had to have done something wrong in order for spirits to “get me”. Eventually, 2 weeks before my release date, I was sent home due to “depression”. The next 6 months were the most torturous, wretched months I’d ever experienced. My parents and siblings thought I was “depressed”, never knowing the true reason until we visited with my dads old mission president who saw right away what was going on, having experience previously. God bless that mission president for that suggestion to my parents. I was blessed later that day, just like any other blessing, soft hands over my head, being my dads, my brothers and that mission president, with a soft commanding voice, casting the spirits out…and 3 weeks later I returned to my normal happy go lucky self. Even now I have tears of gratitude for the Savior, streaming down my cheeks. How did I survive all those months? I cannot tell you, perhaps it was my older brother (over 30 and not married yet) who lived at home, perhaps my mother and father…but I’m so glad to know the difference between bitterness and sweetness to the fullest extent. To know the light from the dark, to have felt the pains of hell and differentiate how wonderful and magnificent Christ and Heavenly Father are to the evil, Lucifer and his servants.

    Thank you, Jason, for this article! I hope it will benefit many, as I hope my comments will. In summary;
    1. Hold to the Rod, the word of God and follow Him through heartfelt prayer and action
    2. Be joyous and happy, we are meant to be! “that ye may have the spirit to be with you…ALWAYS”
    3. NEVER allow Satan or his servants get you down, and if they do….ask for help. Don’t wait several months like I did, because of pride or guilt or whatever. There is always help, and it comes through the Savior and His Atonement!
    4. Endure it well, God be with you till we meet again at Jesus’ Feet!

  16. Anonymous Posted on December 16, 2013 at 1:02 am

    More true words have never been written about a mission. You hit this one right on the head.

  17. Anonymous Posted on January 15, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    This was spot on. I served a foreign mission 23 years ago and although I served the full two years and I continue to be an active member, I look back and think I should’ve stayed home. I went not because I wanted to, but the worry of what others would think if I didn’t pushed me out. Don’t get me wrong, I met wonderful people, learned a language, and saw an amazing country, but the two years put me back mentally and emotionally. It did no good for me – the whole expectation of “your conversion”, “spiritual growth” of which everyone still expects (even today) never occurred. I did though have a gay companion and although his gayness was noticeable, he was a great individual and one of my more enjoyable companions. My carnal desires never went away and although I never acted on them – thanks to rubbing a few off – the desire is strong out there. I don’t think I ever had a spiritual high, what is a spiritual high anyway? Now I have two sons, and I don’t know what to tell them about a mission As a matter of fact I haven’t encouraged, or said anything about my mission or told them they have to go. I want the decision to be theirs and go because THEY want to go – -not because of others – despite what their mom says (we don’t agree on the mission thing). I think the benefit of a mission continues to be blown way out of proportion – – how many have not gone on missions and still been successful (without the emotional and mental toll a mission has)? I would hope thousands.

  18. Senior Missionary Posted on June 12, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    I don’t know the age of the author of this post so I can’t gauge his level of life experience. We have been blessed to serve three missions as senior missionaries and hope to serve a few more. Our lives are blessed by hundreds of young missionaries with whom we’ve served and whom we love!

    But I question the life experiences of the author who wrote, “Two years is long enough for a person to move on from a deceased spouse.” Really? I haven’t yet had that experience, so I cannot confirm or deny the validity of the statement. But I can tell you that two weeks from today will be the fourth anniversary of the sudden death of our 26-year-old daughter and we have NOT moved on from a deceased child and never will . . . until we hold her in our arms again! The author’s statement is ludicrous, hurtful, and not relevant to the article. God bless all our missionaries!

  19. anonymous Posted on July 24, 2014 at 11:33 pm

    I find this to be very accurate it is biased towards the downsides of a mission but that was the point of the article to be a reality check that a mission is not only good things. There are many good strong missionaries but there are also disobedient ones and gay ones and unmotivated ones. It won’t be easy. But there are also many good points to serving. Also some areas have more disobedient missionaries than others so done people may never deal with some of these problems.

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