5 ways to help out new and future missionaries

Published: Thursday, March 20 2014 5:00 a.m. MDT

Newly called missionaries need lots of love — and lots of things. Here are some ways to help support and send them on their successful way.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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Newly called missionaries needs lots of love and lots of things, both tangible and intangible, from comfortable walking shoes to strong testimonies.

They're excited. They want to teach well. They want to get going.

It can be overwhelming and expensive to send a missionary to the field, so it can be helpful to have a list of items to buy and supporters who understand what it takes to work effectively away from home.

If you know a newly called missionary who is brimming over with enthusiasm for the work and the journey, it can be difficult to know just how to help. Here are some practical and useful ideas, suggested by people with experience.

Develop good habits

Joanie Rich of American Fork, along with her husband, has sent three missionary sons into the field (two are twins). They have at least one waiting in the wings. They know that besides planning ahead for the financial cost, prepping a good missionary really starts when that boy or girl is still little, by teaching the child to do household chores, work hard and be responsible for his or her choices.

"Doing their own laundry, developing good habits like saying personal prayers, reading the scriptures, that's all important," Rich said. "It's not like any one big thing; it's all the little things."

Rich said it's also important to teach children and teenagers to talk to other people, be around people, and get comfortable in what might be, at first, an uncomfortable social situation.

Take the time and invest

It helps to have future missionaries spend some time away from home. Rich recommended visits to grandma's and Scout camp and advised taking advantage of adventures like school choir and band tours.

Friends and family who want to invest in a future missionary's success can contribute financially to those kind of opportunities, earmarking the gift as one aimed at a future mission.

Give the perfect gift certificate

Once the call comes, there are plenty of tangible ways to help support and send missionaries on their successful ways.

Think gift cards, like ones from zperfectgift.com that let a new missionary buy exactly what he or she needs, whether it be extra socks, a warm coat or another white shirt. Other ways to help missionaries get must-have items:

Make sure there's money for scriptures and materials from the approved mission library list.

Help the missionary buy a portable copy of "Preach My Gospel" and markers for his or her scripture study.

Send copies of the small, white missionary handbook (one for the missionary and one for the family).

Missionary men can always use another simple tie, especially one bought and given by his or her local branch, ward, youth group or stake.

Take advantage of opportunities

A newly called missionary can get a small taste of doing the work by offering to go on splits with missionaries in the area. It doubles the workforce and the "real" missionary can carry the load while the "wannabe" missionary gains insight and experience.

Hosting a video call opening is a novel way to share the enthusiasm. Invite Facebook and Twitter friends to be there when the call is opened. (Be sure to get it on camera so you can upload it later. Missionary work begun!)

Send a "Welcome to the mission field" letter ahead to the MTC. Everybody likes to get a letter, especially when it's unexpected and full of love.

Spiritual savvy

Larry and Lisa Laycock, who recently served in the Chile, Santiago East mission as the president and matron, suggest missionaries arrive armed with plans and an arsenal of helpful materials.

In addition to scriptures and personal strengths, they advise missionaries to bring along a laminated copy of one's partriarchal blessing. They also suggest bringing pictures of home and family and a four-generation chart of ancestors along with stories to share with investigators.

They know missionaries do better if they arrive prepared, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

"Take lots of determination and desire," the Laycocks said, "and a deep and abiding love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ."

Sharon Haddock is a professional writer with more than 35 years' experience, 17 at the Deseret News. Her personal blog is at sharonhaddock.blogspot.com. Email: haddoc@deseretnews.com

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