Tom Smart, Deseret News
Going on a mission is expensive and emotionally taxing. Newly called missionaries can easily spend more than $1000 BEFORE even going into the MTC, which can be stressful for anyone. So, any missionary would appreciate friends and family helping them prepare for their upcoming journey. Here are 5 simple things you can do to help out newly called missionaries.
Charge them up
Now that they know where they're going, see if you can't find a way to expose them to the culture. Going to Italy? Rent an Italian movie complete with English subtitles. Off to Mexico? Go to a drop-in salsa dance class, like ones offered by Utah Ballroom Studio, where they can get a feel for Hispanic culture. Introduce the new missionary to local people from that mission field so they can talk about what to expect. Whatever it is, it will help ease their anxiety and make them even more excited about the mission.
Avoid the wrong gift
Each missionary receives specific instructions for items they need because not all missions are the same. Think of tracting in an Alaskan winter versus a summer in Brazil. Even if you think you're safe by donating a tie or white shirts or scripture cases and skirts, you might not know the size, style or taste of that missionary-to-be. Play it safe by setting up an online donation through a service like zPerfect Gift that allows friends, family and ward members to contribute so the missionary can purchase exactly what he or she needs. Just make sure to choose a free service so all of the contributions go toward the missionary.
It seems to have become some sort of unwritten law that you can only donate to a missionary on the date of the farewell address. You always have the option of mailing a check or gift card to someone, but you can also use online services to send gifts. Just don't wait until the last minute because by then they will have purchased everything they'll need.
Capture the memories
Being away from home for extended periods of time can take its toll on anyone, but for missionaries, it often makes them reflect on the people who are most important to them. Take the time to make a short video or film yourself telling that missionary how proud you are to know them. Let's face it people love to know how much they're loved! If you take this route, don't forget to share it with your future missionary via YouTube or another service. If you're not comfortable on camera, make an audio recording or write a nice letter expressing your feelings to that future missionary.
The gift that keeps giving
For those that go the extra mile and want to help a missionary not only before the MTC, but also while they're in the field, you will go down in history (even if it's only in that missionary's journal). The online world has made gift giving easy today, but along with that, consider gift cards to popular national or international franchises. They can prove to be answers to prayers when pants rip, food runs out, or adversity strikes.
Now is the time to show your support and send the missionary off right so they can be successful, create lasting memories, and have the best experience possible.
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