tips for the future missionary.

about a week ago, one of my really good friends left on her mission. right before she left, i gave her a journal with some tips for making her mission rock. i decided that they were good enough to share on here, so here you go. tips for making your mission rock! 

{these are in no particular order... except the last one. it goes there.}

1. love every minute. even the hard minutes. trust me, there will be hard minutes. but if you will allow yourself to partake of the Atonement, those hard times will be some of your most treasured times because you will grow so. darn. much. = BUT = the moments that you will truly treasure/remember the most are the REALLY, really, r e a l l y amazing moments: when you invite someone to be baptized and they say yes. when you ask someone if they've read their scriptures and they say yes. when your investigator walks into church. when the seemingly grouchy less active lady smiles at you and welcomes you into her home. when you give away your first Book of Mormon. when you and your companion get along incredibly well. when someone gets baptized. when the dogs stop barking because you prayed for that (that's a true story. ask me about it later.). sometimes we have to know the bad before we can know the good; that's a part of life.
chelsey's baptism!!
t.j.'s baptism!! 
the martin family. = felix & shawna's baptism =
george's baptism & endowment one year later!!
2. teach everyone you meet. i once had an assistant say (something along these lines), "you're wearing a name tag, you don't need to introduce yourself. immediately start teaching." and trust me-- that intimidated me to no tomorrow. but i'll tell you what, giving those people an opportunity to feel the Spirit was a much better introduction than me trying to sell the gospel with a practiced and routine door approach. teach when you find, find when you teach. it's that simple. and protip: the members will trust you WAY faster if you'll apply this principle with them as well.

3. become good friends with the missionaries you serve with. some of my very best friends were other missionaries i served with. being friends with those missionaries made the work a lot more fun and it pushed me to be better. i can promise you that you will serve with amazing elders and sisters. learn from them and seek to be their friend. they will help you more than you know.
the sisters from my MTC district.
a sister p-day at the arch.
p-day at the arch.
one of my districts.
another district. please notice our socks...

4. rely on God. rely on God. rely on God. rely on God. you can't do missionary work without Him. so just don't try to. you'll only frustrate yourself.

5. when all else fails, teach of the Atonement or the Restoration. the Atonement is the "good news" of the gospel. so teach about it. without the Atonement, nothing and i repeat N O T H I N G else matters in this life. // and the restoration-- if that didn't happen then our church is the same thing as any other church. so preach it, kid! tell EVERYONE that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored. because it. has. 

6. choose to learn from those you teach. i had the amazing opportunity to serve in the mid-west. let me tell you: those folks LOVE Jesus. their faith is impeccable. i learned so much about trusting in the Savior from those that i came in contact with. you will have opportunities to learn from those you teach and meet. so learn from them. "we seek for truth wherever we might find it." {president dieter f. uchtdorf}

7. pray for missionary experiences. i wish this had dawned on me like day one in the mission field, buuuuuut it didn't. missionaries need to pray for missionary experiences too. what do you say to the man in front of you at the grocery store on p-day? *shrug* i don't know. but you are told to open your mouth and talk to everyone. if you will pray and ask Heavenly Father to give you missionary experiences throughout the day, YOU WILL GET THEM. however, you must put in some effort. you're standing in line at the grocery store. that man probably won't run away. he's waiting in line too. so start up a conversation because that's a moment that Heavenly Father has given you. "every morning... missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching. if they will do this, a new light will come into their lives. there will be greater enthusiasm for the work. they will come to know that in a very real sense, they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf. they will find a different response from those they teach. as they do so by the Spirit, their investigators will respond under the influence of the same Spirit." {president gordon b. hinckley; preach my gospel, chapter 4, emphasis added}

8. laugh every day. when you go to the mtc, they aren't trying to turn you into a missionary droid. you are still allowed to have fun. seriously, you're going to the mission field where you profess to have the key to happiness. if you aren't happy-- people can tell. so laugh. and laugh a lot. enjoy the work you are doing. be yourself. one of my mtc teachers told us that if we weren't being ourselves, then we weren't being the missionaries that God called us to be. and i fully agree with that. only here's the catch: seek to become a better version of yourself. you should be changing for the better. so let it happen. but enjoy the journey. "in all of living, have much fun and laughter. life is to be enjoyed not just endured." {president gordon b. hinckley; emphasis added}
car selfies. one of my faves.
light saber toothbrushes? yes, please.
mustache monday. it was a thing.
balloon hats from a member.
mustaches again, see? i told you it was a thing.
that one time where i hashtagged my entire email to president. and then he hashtagged me back.
selfies with the pres.

9. become a local. follow the mission rules, but take in the culture of where you are serving. when you do this, you are better able to love and serve the people you are around. missouri/illinois is my second home. make this happen with your mission too. integrate yourself into the specific area you are serving in; the wards you serve in; the districts and zones you are in; your mission; your companionship. make it all yours. open up space in your heart and watch your love grow. and then be so torn when it's time to go home. also. try all of the weird food-- that makes for excellent stories later on.
trying balot.
squirrel, frog legs, and wild turkey breast.
... white castle...

10. be obedient. be exactly obedient. nuff said. but really. be obedient. "obedience brings blessings, but strict obedience brings miracles." {every missionary that's ever served. i'm pretty sure of it.}

11. work hard. play hard. die hard. i had the opportunity to serve my mission while my cousin was serving his. as the time drew near for him to go home, we started ending each of our emails with this. in mission lingo "dying" means going home. we decided that working hard for the first 21/15 months of your mission and then being lazy for the last three was really stupid so we decided that we were going to "die hard" and basically work our hinders off the last three months of our missions. this choice and little motto changed the way i did missionary work. i thought about it often. go out there and kill it. as a missionary you will be tired. you'll be more tired than you've ever been in your entire life. but you'll also be more happy than you've ever been in your entire life. so work hard. play hard-- be yourself and love it. and then you can die hard.

planning on the roof of our apartment.
that ONE time i won a chess match.
fhe activity - boxcar drive in movie. 
the drive in movie. 

fort night. 
fyi: baby goats cry.

zone conference.
more car selfies.

dying hard. my last picture as a missionary with my mission president and his wife.

other little tidbits of awesome:
- write in your journal every night. you think you'll remember, but spoiler alert: you don't. so write down people's names. first and last. (i taped pictures right into my journal. and actually, that became a trend because it was way cool... sooooo... try that too. ;))
- remember that over 15 million people are praying DAILY for your success. YOU are "the missionaries" and that means you have a fan club of 15 million+. go you. annnnd the primary kids pray for you, i'm like 98% sure God has a special tune in device for their little prayers, so if that doesn't boost you up, i don't know what will.
- study preach my gospel like it's going out of style.
- DON'T load and start your washing machine and then leave.
- when the road on the GPS stops. you stop. or this happens:

- be obedient.
- follow the Spirit.
- trust your mission president & mission leadership
- don't pet dead armadillos on the side of the road-- they carry leprosy, so just take a picture:
- take district pictures. these are some of my favorite photos from my mission. they're classic.

seriously kids, love your mission. there are thousands of returned missionaries that would give anything to trade you places.
other missionary posts:
waiting on a missionary. part one. part two. part three.
my grand adventure.
called to serve.
a part of history.