The best way to prepare for a mission is regular scripture study, attending a mission preparation class, and recognizing your potentials and weaknesses, according to returned missionaries at BYU-Hawaii.
Jarom Skarda, a sophomore from Minnesota studying biochemistry, said, “Go to the temple a lot. It’s like a school to prepare you. It’s really great when you go and perform an ordinance. But going and receiving the gift of your endowments will help you learn and be able to receive even more.”
Autumn Wahl, a freshman from Utah studying hospitality and tourism management, explained the importance of learning how to deal with stress in a way missionaries are able to within their mission rules. She said, “A lot of times, people nap or watch a video or listen to music, but you can’t do that on your mission. Find ways that help you distress because missions can be stressful. Find your own motivation.
“Something people can start reading is ‘Adjusting to Missionary Life’ found in the Gospel Library. It can also help with studies, homesickness, managing stress, and even being patient. Take it one day at a time.”
Preach My Gospel is a very helpful tool even before your mission, Skarda stated. “Focus on chapters 6, 8, and 10. … You will learn so much from reading those.” The chapters cover Christlike attributes, using time wisely and teaching skills. He added, “The best way to prepare is to go through the readings, highlight important details, and take notes.”
In addition to Preach My Gospel, sophomore Thomas Johnson, a biochemistry major from Laie, suggested religion classes such as foundations of the restoration to help get started on mission prep. Johnson served in the Tacoma Washington Mission. He said, “Getting in a regular habit of scripture study, and realizing that you won’t ever fully be prepared, is important. Nobody is ever completely ready, and everyone has different weaknesses.”
Johnson emphasized the temple as one of the best sources to utilize. He said, “Work in the temple as much as you can and receive your endowments whenever you feel like you should - with counsel from the Lord.”
Before his mission, Johnson said he was curious about what promptings from the Spirit really felt like. “You always hear stories about the different ways everyone recognizes the Spirit, and I was worried that I didn’t know what it felt like. I wanted to make sure I could do what the Lord needed me to.”
Wahl shared her biggest concern was learning the language and figuring out how to use it in the mission. She was born in Germany, grew up in Utah, and went back to serve in the Berlin Germany Mission.
She said, “I wish I would’ve known that missionaries aren’t perfect. I spent time with missionaries when I lived in New Zealand, and I knew they weren’t perfect. When you learn that you aren’t expected to be a perfect missionary, it’s a relief.
“Don’t set your expectations too high for yourself. Focus on your growth. Leave room for yourself to improve. Otherwise, you will only feel like you’re letting yourself and the Lord down, when you really don’t,” Wahl added.
Skarda served his mission in Baltimore, Maryland. He said he wished he knew the importance of understanding who you are. He stated, “In your mission, you are identified as a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You know who you are –you’re a son or daughter of God.”
Wahl said, “I really enjoyed mission preparation [class] every Sunday. Even though it was an hour and a half drive, it was fun to go and learn from people who recently finished their mission. I also found it helpful to talk to my grandparents and family members who served.”
A set schedule is a big part of being a missionary, said Johnson. He relayed, “I wish I would’ve known better how to get on a regular study schedule. I would’ve liked to know how to manage my time and better understand the scriptures of course.”
Wahl’s advice to those who are thinking about serving is to always pray about your mission decision. She stated, “If it’s a good thing and you feel good about it, then do it.”
When deciding whether or not to serve, Skarda’s advice is: “For men, they should go 100 percent. You will learn so much about how to be able to provide and things you couldn’t learn otherwise. For sisters, the Lord has a plan and He knows who needs to serve. He will let you know.”
Skarda stated, “It’s really about the small things, even praying before meals can take you so far. God doesn’t expect perfection. He expects you to do what you can to be ready to go on time. It shows that you want to be obedient to what the Lord asks. You want to align your will with God’s, and you have to master the small things to be able to start the big things.”