Too many missionaries show up in the field with no idea what to expect. That can make for a rough first few months. Learn now to avoid being a deer in the headlights (a greenie).



Is it really the “best 2 years”?

We’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 be the hardest 2 years of your life, both physically and mentally. I’m not sure if it’s 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!

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Should I serve a mission?

There is going to be a lot of social pressure from members, friends, and family, but this decision is completely between you and God. Don’t let others pressure you into it. If you go for the wrong reasons, it may still turn out great, but you could regret it for the rest of your life. The one and only reason to go on a mission is because you have a firm testimony that this is Christ’s only true Church on the earth, and you have a strong desire to spread his message. Although it’s written for sisters, this blog post might be helpful to potential elders as well.

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When should I go?

Men now have the option of serving a mission as early as 18 and women can now serve at 19. The big advantage of going at 18 is you get to go straight from living with your parents, to a mission, to marriage, and adult life. This allows you to skip young single adulthood, which is where you’re most likely to stray from God’s plan. On the other hand, this does make things like getting a college education more difficult, so keep that in mind as you’re making your plans.

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Is the mission a break from stress?

Deep depression, mental breakdowns, and other stress-induced sicknesses are disturbingly common among missionaries. This comes from a perfect storm of extreme social pressure, loneliness, physical exhaustion, and not being able to take a mental break. Though the church is great at helping spiritually, they tend to lack expertise in physical and emotional help needed. If you’re feeling depressed or stressed, insist on seeing a specialist, not just the mission doctor, who rarely has experience with these types of issues.

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What if I really want to go foreign?

When asked where they’d like to serve, most pre-missionaries respond “foreign.” They want to learn a new language, experience a new culture, and have the grand adventure they always dreamed of. Some are even bummed when they get a stateside calling. Though this is a completely natural feeling, it’s the last thing in the world you need to worry about. Wherever you go, you will have amazing experiences and learn new skills. God obviously has a reason for you to go wherever you go.

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What does a missionary’s schedule look like?

You work 11 hours, sleep 8, study 2, with 3 spare hours each day to eat, shower and plan your day. It’s a grueling schedule that doesn’t end for 2 years.

Every day, but P-day

  • 6:30am – Rise and shine, pray, exercise (30 min), shower, get ready, and prepare for the day
  • 7:30am – Eat breakfast
  • 8:00am – Personal study (scriptures and other missionary-approved material)
  • 9:00am – Companion study
  • 10:00am – Go forth and spread the word
  • 9:00pm – Come home (unless you’re teaching a lesson, in which case you can stay out until 9:30), document what you did during the day, plan your next day, get ready for bed
  • 10:30pm – Bed time


  • 6:30am – Rise and shine, pray, exercise (30 min), shower, get ready, and prepare for the day
  • 7:30am – Eat breakfast
  • 8:00am – Personal study (scriptures and other missionary-approved material)
  • 9:00am – Companion study
  • 10:00am -Begin your P-day, which includes grocery shopping, writing home, cleaning, and other chores
  • 6:00pm – Go out and do regular missionary work
  • 9:00pm – Come home (unless you’re teaching a lesson, in which case you can stay out until 9:30)
  • 10:30pm – Bed time

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Do missionaries work on Sundays?

Yes, Sundays are a complete work day just like every other day (besides P-day). The only major difference is that you also go to church.

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Is P-day a day off?

No, P-day doesn’t stand for play day – it’s preparation day. That’s when you do your laundry, clean your house, go grocery shopping, write letters home, and all of the other things you’re not allowed to do during the week, including some mission-specific tasks, like washing your car. Some missions allow you to do some sight-seeing during your 8 hours of P-day, but others do not.

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What books can you read?

You can read The Book of Mormon, other scriptures, missionary guide books, and approved language books (if applicable). Most missions don’t allow you to read Mormon Doctrine or The Miracle of Forgiveness.

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Am I allowed to listen to music?

In some missions you may listen to hymns, but you cannot use headphones.

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Do I have to share a room?

Yes, even if there is a spare room, the rules state that you must share a room, but not a bed, with your companion.

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Do you eat dinner with members?

It depends on the mission. In many missions, there’s a strict policy of ‘no investigators, no dinner.’ When you receive your call, you can write your mission president to find out what the rules will be for you.

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Are you alone during the baptismal interview?

Yes, it’s just you and the investigator.

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How many people should I expect to baptize?

These are people, not numbers. Missionaries and even some leaders will try to tell you otherwise, but they’re wrong.

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What are the mission rules?

There are too many mission rules to list here, but you should definitely read the entire Missionary Handbook before you go. The handbook will cover everything from skirt length, to which sports you can play, to when you need to turn the lights out.

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What if my investigators get anti-Mormon literature?

There are two different types of anti-Mormon literature – blatant, hateful lies and true history or doctrines painted in a negative light. With the lies, respectfully help educate them. With the difficult, hard-to-swallow truths, be honest and help them understand in the correct light. Here’s a guide on how to answer the scariest things about the LDS church.

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Should I avoid Masons?

Of course not. Most of the founding LDS leaders were Masons. Do keep in mind that a lot of them will try to mess with you because their temple ceremonies and secret tokens almost exactly match ours. They like to come up to you and give you a special handshake.

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Are there religions I should avoid?

Definitely not. Although members of some religions tend to be more prepared to argue, they are still children of God who deserve to hear His message.

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How do I handle a horrible companion?

Every missionary gets at least a few companions they just can’t stand. The fact that you can’t leave their side for months at a time doesn’t help. Pray, pray, pray, pray for patience… and don’t punch them. :)

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What if my companion is lazy?

Being a missionary from sunup to sundown is exhausting! Even the most dedicated missionary has a slow day. Be understanding, but also be motivating. If it gets too bad, talk to your leaders.

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What if my companion is a rule breaker?

It really depends on the severity. Try to help him, but if you can’t, go to your leaders.

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Are there gay missionaries?

Yes, there are a lot of homosexual missionaries, though very few who are actively living a gay lifestyle.

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What if I get a gay companion?

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. The suicide rate among gay members of the LDS church is far too high to mess with something like this.

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Should I break up with my girlfriend before I go?

It’s highly unlikely she’ll wait for you, and even if she does, you will both be completely different people by the time you get home. That said, receiving a letter from someone who cares about you is sometimes the only thing that keeps you sane.

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When can I call my family?

Calls home are only allowed on Mother’s Day and Christmas. Although it varies from mission to mission, a 45-minute limit is common.

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Can I write my friends?

You can write your friends, but you can’t call or email them.

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Will she wait for me?

Statistically your chances are super low. In fact, she’s far more likely to marry your friend who decided not to go on a mission. However, it does happen occasionally.

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Have missionaries died while serving?

Unfortunately, many missionaries have died while on their missions. From 1999 to 2006, three LDS missionaries were murdered and 22 died in accidents. Others have been kidnapped, raped, and robbed. However, these instances are very rare; you are statistically less likely to die on a mission than commuting to work every day. Having only 25 die during this 7-year period is no minor miracle, but don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re doing the Lord’s work, you’re immune from death or accident. Be aware of your surroundings, don’t take unnecessary risks, and always look both ways when crossing the street.

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What if I have food allergies, or other special needs?

Let your bishop know far in advance so the church can plan your call accordingly.

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34 Responses to "What’s an LDS Mission Like?"

  1. Momo Posted on June 11, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    For the question “How many people should I expect to baptize?” in addition to what you included, you might consider noting that baptismal rates vary widely throughout the world and that the number of conversions that they will likely be a part of depends on which mission they serve in.

  2. Chanelle Posted on June 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

    It is called serving a mission because your time is spent serving. The question do you work on Sunday is poorly stated because it lead you to believe that you are breaking the sabbath when in fact Christ healed and served on the Sabbath which is what missionaries will do.. so yes you will serve on the Sabbath like Christ Himself. You get to take a cross upon your back during your mission and that is exactly what Christ asks of us. However a mission is no where near as hard as carrying a cross. It is honestly so much fun. When we weren’t teaching we were doing some fun pranks and I did art and man oh man I loved that time.

  3. Terry Holland Posted on June 13, 2013 at 8:34 pm

    “Should I avoid Masons?
    Of course not. Most of the founding LDS leaders were Masons. Though keep in mind, a lot of them will try to mess with you because their temple ceremonies and secret tokens almost exactly match ours. They like to come up to you and give you a special handshake.”

    Good Lord, if you’re going to pretend to be giving missionaries advice, you have to stop short of being absurd. At least you’re incompetent enough to be revealed as deceptive.

    • Rodney Thomson
      Rodney Thomson Posted on June 14, 2013 at 2:38 pm

      Are you suggesting that Masonic rites and Mormon rites are different?

    • admin
      admin Posted on June 14, 2013 at 4:16 pm

      I don’t honestly know much about freemasonry, but yes, they are different.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on June 21, 2013 at 1:22 am

      Yes Terry anyone that has the Holy Spirit as their constant companion can see that this site does NOT have genuine intentions . As if a mason will come up and give you a secret handshake pleeeease this site is laughable .

    • Joe
      Joe Posted on August 28, 2013 at 10:14 pm

      I am a Freemason. Why would a Mason “come up to” a Mormon missionary and “give them a special handshake”? While I can’t say this would NEVER happen, I’m having a difficult time imagining a scenario in which this would be at all likely. What purpose would it serve? The idea that someone Mason somewhere is going to “try to mess with” a Mormon missionary in this way seems to me to be rather childish fantasy. I think a Mormon missionary is far more likely to be struck by a car, or attacked by a gang of wild tree-monkeys, or . . . well. Let’s just say this would be silly to worry about. Certainly far too unlikely to post as a concern on a website of advice to potential LDS missionaries.

      A scenario that would be far more likely, is that a missionary would encounter questions about the relationship between Mormonism and Freemasonry. So why not just answer with that? “You may encounter questions from those familiar with Freemasonry and its ritual about similarities between this and the Mormon Temple rituals.” There are a number of online sites that provide fair answers to such a question. Yours doesn’t appear to be one of them. I wonder why that is?

  4. Terry Holland Posted on June 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Rodney, you’re missing my point. My point is that no future missionary would ever be inclined to ask a question like “Should I avoid Masons?” The makers of this site put that absurd question on here in furtherance of their deceptive goal, which is for fewer Mormon youths to go on missions. I don’t dispute the information, just the dishonest presentation. And I wish the creators of this site would give up the act and apologize.

    • Parker
      Parker Posted on August 15, 2013 at 1:38 pm

      Terry, as a faithful and active return missionary, I had every one of these questions on my mission, and they really shook my faith. I would have absolutely appreciated having a resource like this to see all of the adversary I had in front of me for the next two years. Having said that, not every missionary is the same, and not every one would be bothered by issues like masonry and the translation of the pearl of great price, but I think it would not be a stretch to say a missionary will come across almost every one of these issues either in their own personal study or in their interactions with people of other beliefs.

      What is wrong with giving future missionaries a simple heads up before the enter the MTC? I was actually with a companion who received a certain handshake from a mason after a friendly conversation. He had a panic attack and was very distraught about it for weeks. Luckily, I wasn’t completely ignorant on masonry and it’s association with Mormonism and was able to explain a lot of things. Just because something about the church isn’t pretty doesn’t mean future missionaries should be sheltered from it.

  5. Jenna Posted on June 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    On the “who are we?” page, the site owners identify themselves as apologists. This is not an apologist site. Not even close. Attempts to liken it to FAIR are ludicrous, as are attempts to present insidious information in the guise of helpful FAQs. Anyone who stumbles across this site, especially actual future missionaries, would do well to read Matthew 7:15-20 very carefully.

  6. Thankful Posted on June 20, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    Thank you for this website! I know lots of people are trying to paint it in a bad light, but nothing on here is incorrect. A fact is going to stay a fact no matter how bluntly put, or how sugar coated it is! It gives me a warm feeling in my chest when I go to websites like this, fairlds or mormonthink because I know people are dedicated to the truth! Once again, thank you!

  7. Maestrophil Posted on June 20, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    You said: ” The one and only reason to go on a mission is because you have a firm testimony that this is Christ’s only true Church on the Earth and you want to spread his message.”

    I disagree. As an active member myself, I believe the LDS church to be the “most correct” church. I believe all have some truth. I also go to spread the GOSPEL” and serve, not the ‘church” .

    Seems like a small thing, but it is huge. potential missionaries should not be discouraged from going on a mission for holding a more inclusive view of the gospel. Just sayin’

  8. Lynden Posted on June 23, 2013 at 12:52 am

    This is one of the most silly sites I have seen :) for anyone actually thinking this is genuine it is not. It’s had a professional infatuation with mormonthink, a website whose official mission is designed to lead member out of the church. they essentially pretend to be believing Mormons, or imply it, but they are doing this so that member will accept their negative conclusions. It’s a wolf in Sherpa clothing. Quite amusing website though even if I think the premise is unethical.

  9. Lynden Posted on June 23, 2013 at 12:54 am

    P.s. don’t forget about the missionary library on your book list and church endorsed publications (pamphlets, ensigns, small booklets, etc.). I was on a continuous hunt for history articles out of old ensigns.

  10. Dan G Posted on July 16, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Truth mingled with error. Shame on you…

  11. James Posted on July 18, 2013 at 1:58 am

    This site makes me so sad. … Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth… But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 2 Tim. 3:7,13

  12. iseektruth Posted on July 28, 2013 at 4:21 am

    This is a very unethical site. You anti LDS have sunk to new lows. I am working on a blog site. Because of sites like this I know exactly how I am going to present the information. I bet this will not even get posted.
    @ Thankful: there is a lot of incorrect and bad information on this site.

    • Parker
      Parker Posted on August 15, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      What specifically is bad and incorrect? I feel like they have done a great job with this site, and have addressed some of the darker and less transparent issues that almost all missionaries will face. Yes I am an RM, and yes I am active and faithful, and I absolutely believe there is a need for more transparent with some of the trials missionaries will be facing.

  13. Kenneth Logsdon Posted on July 29, 2013 at 6:46 am

    I joined the church when I was 18. My local ward paid for my mission. My mission was only 1 1/2 years, and my mission president gave me 1 month extension. I returned home late 1983.
    During my mission in central California, I learned sign language, some Spanish, I was a district leader, a trainer, a zone leader and my last few months were spent teaching Thai, Lao, Hmong and Cambodian refugees from the Vietnam and other wars in southeast asia.
    I met staunch anti-Mormons – what should you do with them? Just walk away!
    As a zone leader, one elder under my care was found to be smoking weed on his mission. Companionships were changed and I spent the next two weeks with him until his interview with the mission president. He was able to stay and complete his mission.
    Baptisms were few, but each one made a meaningful change in that persons life.
    That’s what its all about, bringing people closer to God. It isn’t easy.
    Your website is truthful and accurate, good job!

  14. Anonymous Posted on October 30, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Your website here was just quoted to me by a firm anti-Mormon Atheist.

    I had to explain to him how half your stuff was garbage.

    Get rid of this website. You’re shooting all of us LDS people in the foot.

    • ElderJ
      ElderJ Posted on November 18, 2013 at 5:23 am

      I’m pretty well versed in Church history and experienced mission life. That said, I’m not infallible. If you can see something that’s inaccurate, let me know.

  15. Anonymous Posted on March 22, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    I don’t get how there can be gay missionaries. Like if they are gay they are going against the Word of Wisdom. I am mormon so I know what the word of wisdom is. Like being gay is against the church. In a way. I mean I’m only 13 so maybe I don’t understand yet but if someone would explain this.

    • Anonymous
      Anonymous Posted on August 6, 2014 at 11:18 pm

      Do you know what the Word of Wisdom is? It relates to food and other nourishment for your body—nothing about your sexual orientation. They are completely unrelated.

      Same sex attraction is not a choice, and it’s not evil, but it is against the church’s teachings because the Gospel teaches that marriage between a man and a women is ordained of God. Any relations between a man and a man and a woman and a woman would happen outside of marriage, because that sort of marriage is not ordained in the church, therefore it falls under the category of ‘sexual relations outside of marriage’.

      You can be gay and go on a mission (male or female). You can be gay and still be a righteous, faithful member of the church. Your sexuality has nothing to do with your morality. There have been plenty of men and women who experience same sex attraction that have gone and completed faithful full time missions. So long as you don’t act on your same sex attraction, you’re just the same as everyone else in the church.

  16. Twin Lights Posted on April 6, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    So your purpose is clearly to dissuade missionary service but you purport to help prepare missionaries. I thought that was called lying.

  17. Anonymous Posted on July 7, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Regarding your answer to the gay companion question – remember, some gay people are female! It would be nice to have an answer that contains both pronouns…

  18. Mark Posted on September 24, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Do you really believe going on a mission will help someone not have a single adulthood experience? God can use that time for someone to earn money and develop talents.

  19. Anonymous Posted on November 2, 2014 at 1:20 am

    This blog seems like it was built on good intentions, but it is highly opinionated and controlled by one person’s opinion. Each missionary will have different experiences, and each individual is different. While some questions are poorly stated, this post fails to recognize the different ways each individual can choose to react to each situation. It paints an almost negative light on serving a mission. Maybe your family will support you, maybe you won’t be challenged with an extremely difficult companion during your time of service, maybe the schedule is perfect for you and your hard working ethic, maybe your girlfriend waits for you and you live happily ever after. Keep an open mind about your mission, you will love it! Don’t let all of these negative things scare you, you might only have to deal with a couple of them. Either way Heavenly Father is watching out for you, so if you have a desire to serve a mission look for the positives!:)

  20. Anonymous Posted on February 1, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    I see a lot of people bashing on this website for being anti-Mormon, but I know that I personally agree with a lot of the stuff on this website, I’ve just been too afraid to warn pre-missionaries about it because if I do then I know I would get treated like this website: at best, a pat on the head with a “Oh you poor soul, you just don’t understand.”, and at worst, a shaken fist in my face with a “Well if you had a stronger testimony you wouldn’t of had HALF of those problems!” Both of which would have hurt.

    I know that missions vary from person to person, but as Angela Carter once said, we “Hope for the best, expect the worst.” I know that many missionaries go in blindly to what could possibly happen to them in the mission field, and having the general theme of this comments of the website being “Only talk about the good stuff! Be Positive!” will honestly do more harm than good in my opinion. I don’t think it will shake any young man’s testimony to know what trials may await them, and I personally think that they are old enough to know. Hiding the negative aspects of a mission is just counterproductive to helping young men legitimately prepare to serve.

  21. Phillip L. Cardon Posted on May 27, 2015 at 8:24 am

    When you have difficulty with a companion, always remember that it takes two to make a good relationship. Also, remember to polish your companion’s shoes without them knowing – this seems to always work for me. If that doesn’t do it, make their bed for them.

    Believe me, these service acts will work!


    Elder Cardon (California, Fresno Mission, 1985-1987)

  22. Anonymous Posted on September 14, 2015 at 1:42 am

    What happens if I lied in my missionary interview? If I didn’t confess a very old sin that I made but I did repent and I never didn’t again. But I haven’t confess it before.. And they already submitted my papers But I don’t have my call yet.. Am I still at time or are they not going to let me go to the mission.. I am so afraid..

  23. ultraLDS Posted on March 23, 2016 at 10:01 am

    during my mission, I’ve spoke to a member who is also a freemason. He told me about the hand shakes which is somehow similar to those in the temple. He owns the missionary apartment in that area and his house is joined by a sliding door to the kitchen’s apartment so me and my companion always have a conversation with this family.

  24. Shashi Kumar Kumar Posted on February 19, 2017 at 8:32 pm


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